Paralegal Profile: Tara Hughes, PP-SC, ACP

Tara Hughes, PP-SC, ACP is employed as a Paralegal at Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, PC, in Phoenix, Arizona where she specializes in Family Law. Her certifications include a PP-SC Family Law/Estate Planning from NALS and her ACP from NALA. She has an AAS Legal Secretary and a Paralegal Certificate.

Tara was the winner of the 2014 NALS Award of Excellence. First awarded in 1957. this is the highest award that can be given by NALS.

Tara-291.    What prompted you to choose a paralegal career?  I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up, so I started out at community college.  I just sort of fell into the legal secretary program and really enjoyed it.

2.    What is your favorite part of your job?  I really enjoy helping people through a difficult time in their lives, and helping to keep a child away from a harmful environment.  Working in family law can be very difficult, and at times it is, but it is those few cases where you really, truly help someone move through the process and into a better life.

3.    What professional associations do you belong to?  I am currently an active member in NALS…the association for legal professionals.

4.    How has your membership benefited you?   It has!  I have grown so much as a person, as a friend, and as a professional.  I could not have done it without this association and my NALS Pals.

5. What advice do you have for new paralegal? Be prepared!  This job is demanding and requires meticulous attention to detail and organization.  And while it can be stressful at times, it is very rewarding.

6.     You’ve enjoyed a successful paralegal career.  To what single event or person do you attribute that success? I don’t attribute my success to one person or one event.  I am ultimately responsible for where I am today, but I could not have made it here without the people in my life mentoring, teaching and encouraging me along the way.

7.    What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting?  Find an area of law that interests you and keeps you challenged.  If the work becomes mundane and rote, you will soon lose interest.  Also, keep learning. There is always more, new, better information out there for you to find!

8.  What was your first car? A 1980 red Pontiac Phoenix.  It was huge and indestructible!

9  What advice would you give yourself if you met you as a first-year paralegal? Keep going!  You will make it through, you are not getting fired, and you do know what you are doing!

The first six months I worked in a law firm were tough.  I was at a small office with two attorneys, one paralegal and me.  The paralegal was fired two months later and then it was just me and a file clerk, who knew way more than I did.  Luckily, the two attorneys and the file clerk helped me along the way.  I worked at that office for five and half years and learned so much.

10.  What was your first job? My first job was working at a family owned coffee shop as a barista.  I was 16 and only got the job because my dad wouldn’t leave the owner alone.  I ended up working there through high school and community college until I got my first legal job.

11.  What’s your favorite vacation getaway? If you are talking to the kid in me, I say Disney World!  There is no other place like it-you can be a kid and an adult all at the same time!  If you talking to the adult in me, I enjoy a new adventure.  I have been to Australia, Spain, France, Italy and Switzerland and while I would love to go back, a new location is just as exciting!

12.  What word do you always have a problem spelling? Subpoena – I always have to break it up to get it spelled correctly.

13.  Where do you like to go to have fun? I can have fun wherever I am!  As long as I have good friends, we make our own fun!

Bonus Question: What’s your most treasured possession or keepsake? A jade ring that belonged to a very dear friend of mine who passed away five years ago.  It is on a chain and I wore it every day for the first several years.  I now carry it with me wherever I go.