Paralegal Profile: Cyndi Hitsman, ACP

Cyndi Hitsman, ACP is a Certified Paralegal/ESI Manager at the Herring Law Group where she specializes in Electronic Discovery; Family Law; Litigation and Trial Preparation and Assistance.

She took the California Proficiency Exam in high school to graduate early. Following graduation she attended junior college classes. She started working in a law firm at 17I

Cyndi has been a Certified Paralegal since 2001 and an Advanced Certified Paralegal in Discovery since 2005.


Why did you choose a paralegal career? Actually, I don’t think I did! It is more like the paralegal career chose me. My first legal job was filling in for a friend, a solo practitioner, when his office assistant went on vacation. I have worked in law offices in various capacities ever since.

What is your favorite part of your job? Finding needles in haystacks! I love reviewing and managing large document cases. The feeling of being able to find a random email or document pertaining to a specific issue out of thousands or millions of pages of documents is awesome!

What professional associations do you belong to?

  • Ventura County Paralegal Association (former President, Treasurer, NALA Liaison);
  • Santa Barbara Paralegal Association (current President, former Treasurer, NALA Liaison);
  • California Alliance of Paralegal Associations; and
  • Former member of National Association of Legal Assistants

How has your membership benefited you? I have formed life-long friendships with other paralegals who understand the “paralegal life.”

What has been the highlight of your career? Trials. I love the feel of being at trial – the all-encompassing game of litigation. One day we’re up, another down – the twists and turns of the process and advocating for our clients and the relief and appreciation by the clients for a favorable result!

What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? Electronic discovery. I have literally sat across from an attorney who said he would rather retire than have to deal with ESI. For so many attorneys it is not what they signed up for and they are lost – we can offer a huge service here.

If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? Work hard, do as much as you can, and participate in associations and continuing legal education. After 30 years, I can tell you nothing beats experience in my opinion… but experience takes time. Keep. At. It!

You’ve enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? I was blessed to work with the Honorable James E. Herman for seven years during his litigation career. He taught me so much – trusted me, took me to trials, introduced me to the beginnings of electronic discovery and electronic presentation of evidence (way back in the late 90’s!), taught me about giving back to the legal community in terms of his service as President of the Santa Barbara County Bar Association and eventually as President of the State Bar of California and Governor on the Board of Governors of the State Bar.

What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Find what inspires you and do that! For some people it is working with issues involving domestic violence or children, it may be criminal law, or assisting with corporate start-ups. Whatever you love – do that! There are so many paralegal positions available for a person who is willing to work hard – work in a field that inspires you if you can.

What advice would you give yourself if you met you as a first-year paralegal? You will be great at this if you do not give up and keep working hard.

If you could not be a paralegal, what would be your dream job? I always wanted to own and run a recovery home for mothers with children.

Is there a quote that inspires you? “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” – Tim Notke

What electronic device can you not live without? My phone.

What was your first car? A 1977 Cutlass Supreme I bought from a friend for $700 in payments. You could open the trunk with a screwdriver. It was glorious.

What unusual item do you own? A Yamaha FZ-8….? Not unusual, but not too many women ride sport bikes.

What was your first job? A scooper at an ice cream store.

From American history, who is your hero? Frederick Douglass.

What is the best live concert you’ve ever attended? Prince in the round at the Los Angeles Coliseum He was nothing short of amazing.

What’s your favorite food? Oh there are so many… but lasagna!

What sports team are you passionate about? Chargers, Clippers, BSU football, Gonzaga basketball and the UFC. I am a huge sports fan.

What’s your favorite vacation getaway? Cancun.

What is the one thing you wish you were better at? Taekwondo. (I have a black belt but I so wish I had started when I was younger!)

What is your favorite hobby? Taekwondo, motorcycle riding, running and painting.

What makes you lose your patience? Mean people.

What Web site do you visit daily? Facebook. I love it. People criticize social media (sometimes rightly) but I love how people can keep in touch and it can bring families and friends together.

What TV channel do you most often have on? ESPN or Fox Sports 1.

What scares you the most? Losing a child.

Is there one thing in the world you wish you had the answer to? My initial reaction would be what is going to happen in the future! But on further reflection I think that would be kind of like the movie Click! with Adam Sandler… Truly the beauty of life is the process, the not knowing, the unfolding and the surprise. I wouldn’t want to miss that. So I guess I would like to know what happened to my silver earring I lost last week.

What word do you always have a problem spelling? Hysterical.

What is your favorite Web site? Ummm… Facebook. Work wise: the local court websites are invaluable. I don’t even keep copies of the Code or Local Rule books anymore – it is all online.

What college classes did you love? I was a fan of English Literature and Psychology – but as I said, I did not get to go to college much. I hope to go back someday!

Where do you like to go to have fun? Riding my motorcycle in the hills behind Malibu.

What’s your favorite thing to cook? I prefer to order out!

You’ve been given the chance to have dinner with anyone living or dead. Who is it? My ex-husband, and he would be dead. (Just kidding!) I would say Maya Angelou. The love and compassion from her was amazing. She had been through so much in her life and always found a way to turn it around – her story could have been very different but for her attitude.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go? Back to when my children were born. The early years balancing life and work and babies was so hard – I feel like I missed a lot being busy and didn’t appreciate it enough. I would like a do-over.

What is your guilty pleasure food? Salt and vinegar chips and diet soda!