Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Paralegal Profile: Thirteen Questions for Cathleen M. Cummings FRP

1. Where do you work and what is your job title? I'm employed at High Stack Gordon where my title is Paralegal/Legal Assistant (or as I just told one of my clients when he said that my boss called me his secretary: "He calls me his secretary, I call myself a paralegal, but you can call me Cathie and I'll do my best job for you during our firm's representation of you.")

2. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? My interest in law and history and the availability of a Bachelor of Arts degree through University of Central Florida.

3. What is your favorite part of your job? Finding the needle in the haystack to help my boss achieve the desired result for our client. Also when a client is truly grateful for the work done on their behalf.
4. What professional associations do you belong to? NALA, Paralegal Association of Florida, Inc. (PAF), Brevard Paralegal Association (BPA), and as a Paralegal member of Florida Bar Association and Florida Justice Association.
5. How has your membership benefited you? Education, education, education and networking, networking, networking! It's both what you know and who you know!!
6. Do you have any professional certifications? Yes, Florida Registered Paralegal (FRP) designation through Florida Bar Association.
7. What has been the highlight of your career? Acting as President of Brevard Paralegal Association (our local chapter under Paralegal Association of Florida). Our association has a membership of approximately 60 paralegals and has worked hard to be a significant member of Brevard's legal community. It was a great opportunity for me to meet so many members of our legal community. But the best part was meeting and interacting with my fellow paralegals and being their representative at the local and state level.

8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? Definitely, I think the use of a virtual/f'reelance paralegal. Even in my small community, we have a few individuals who have thrived as f'reelance paralegals for the last few years. Also the use of social media as a research tool as an exchange for information and as a tool for mentoring.

9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? Yes, I have joined LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. LinkedIn and Twitter were for the networking during recent job searches. My Facebook account is mainly for friends and family but I do remember that it is searchable by prospective contacts and employers. Plus, all of these resources are great search engines to find out information for on your clients and opposing parties.
Also I'm serving as publicity chair for BPA this year and hope to have LinkedIn and Twitter accounts opened for the association soon to spread the word about all of the good we're doing in Brevard County, Florida. (Note: Cathie's been true to her word and already set up the BPA account on Twitter. Follow the association: @BrevParaAssoc)
10. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? Continue to think of your career as ever evolving and don't be satisfied with the status quo. It can only get you in trouble. As someone who does not like change, I've had to embrace change and uncertainty in recent years and if I had taken the above advice to heart, it might not have quite as painful.
11. Is there a quote that inspires you? 'Go forth boldly in the directions of your dreams; live the life you've imagined.' ~Henry David Thoreau
12. You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? I don't know that I can point to one single event/person. I've been very lucky to have had great mentors and peers to look to for guidance and inspiration.
Also I spent several years working for a successful firm that allowed me to take an active, and sometimes a guiding, role in the firm's representation in interesting and complex litigation.
13. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Keep learning, take those continuing legal education courses and seminars.
Bonus...Just for Fun Fact: I love art and music and would love to work at a museum, maybe the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in my next life! In the meantime, I volunteer at Brevard Art Museum on weekends. Also I love going to rock concerts and have traveled far and wide to see my favorite bands, U2 and Police.

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