Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Paralegal Profile: Thirteen Questions for Julie A. Abernathy, PLS, PP

1. Where do you work and what is your job title? I am employed by Haynes and Boone, L.L.P. My title is Legal Secretary.

2. What prompted you to choose a career as a legal professional? I have worked as a legal secretary, legal assistant, and paralegal off and on for 35 years. My current position is Legal Secretary. However, I do perform various paralegal tasks when asked to assist.

3. What is your favorite part of your job? Communicating and serving the clients. It gives me great joy to know that the clients are well-informed as to the progress of their projects and they are kept up-to-date with all events coming and going from our office.
4. What professional associations do you belong to? NALS...the association for legal professionals. I am currently the NALS President
5. How has your membership benefited you? I cannot imagine my career without my membership in NALS.
I have been a member of NALS since my very first job in Waco, Texas back in 1975. NALS has offered to me not only top-notch education through conferences, webinars and online sessions, but has also afforded me to excel in my career by assisting me with becoming certified both as a professional legal secretary and as a professional paralegal.
The networking is "priceless," and it has given my employers over the years an edge in obtaining documents quickly because of my contacts through NALS. NALS has also groomed me into a true professional and dedicated employee to my employers.
6. Do you have any professional certifications? I have both the Certified Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) and Certified Professional Paralegal (PP) designations.
7. What has been the highlight of your career? My current status as NALS President. When I first became a member of NALS over 35 years ago, I never had the goal to once serve NALS as its national President. After being elected to the NALS board in 2003, I realized then a new goal was formed, and that was to become NALS President. I have met so many people this past year as NALS President, and those connections and visitations all through the U.S. have given me a lifetime of friendships and memories.
8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? The evolution of how the paralegal and attorney will work in a "satellite" or "virtual" working relationship.
9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? I am involved in Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, and Twitter; although I predominantly spend most of my social networking time on Facebook mainly due to Firm practices and policies at my current employer. The networking opportunity afforded by these social networks are vast and our employers and clients are reaping the benefits.
10. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? Go to school, gather your skills, and work in all areas of the law, then focus on the field of law that most interests you. Never ever settle for mediocre when it comes to employers. Always strive to work for the best firms and provide the best service you can to your employer and their clients.
11. Is there a quote that inspires you? Breathe in the chance to change and the ability to grow. ~Jennifer Lewis-Hall
12. You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? No single person or event can be placed on my successful career.
I have had numerous mentors throughout the years, and each one was special. For example, when I was studying for my certification exams, I had a particular mentor.
When I was growing in my leadership skills, I had yet a different mentor. The great thing about these mentors is that they are all still mentors in my life and are very near and dear to me.
13. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Remain flexible. You must "go with the flow" in order to achieve your ultimate goal or goals. Being structured will not allow you the ability to grow in your career.
Bonus...Just for Fun Fact: I have been a single parent of 2 children since my daughter who is now 34 and my son who is now 30 were 7 and 3 years old. My children and my 3 gorgeous granddaughters (ages 13, 7 and 6) are the "love of my life."

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