Friday, February 26, 2010

Paralegal Profile: Thirteen Questions for Karen McElroy, PP, PLS

1. Where do you work and what is your job title? I am employed by Tiffany & Bosco, P.A. where my title is 'legal assistant'.

2. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? I've always had an interest in the law and politics. While going to college I took a summer off to work as a receptionist in a law firm (I already had good secretarial skills, but no legal experience). Instead of returning to day time college classes, I continued to work at the law firm and went to college at night. The law firm promoted me to a legal secretarial position after only a few months, and the rest is history.

3. What is your favorite part of your job? Probably the variety in all of the different types of litigation I work with at Tiffany & Bosco. There are cases in commercial litigation, construction law, contract law, tribal law, personal injury, bankruptcy, and banking. It keeps me on my toes.

4. What professional associations do you belong to? NALS...the association for legal professionals.

5. How has your membership benefited you? I joined NALS in 2002 (somewhat a late bloomer) and have been involved on the local, state, regional and national levels of leadership.

My experiences with NALS have given me so many opportunities to advance my education and leadership abilities, and I believe the best benefits are meeting and getting to know so many of my peers across the country and traveling to great conference locations.

Whenever I'm in a situation where I need to know or find something quickly in a different jurisdiction, all I have to do is send an e-mail to my network of NALS members to find the answer. NALS friends never cease to amaze me and life is so much more exciting with them!

6. Do you have any professional certifications? Yes...Professional Paralegal (PP) and Professional Legal Secretary (PLS).

7. What has been the highlight of your career? Passing my certification exams and then receiving my PP and PLS were definitely highlights for me and my career, and then when I received the NALS Award of Excellence in October 2009 I felt that my 29 years in the legal field were truly worth all my efforts.

8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? Virtual paralegals and law offices seem to be the wave of the future, which also means that law offices will need to continue to speed money on technology. Clients demand it and the legal industry is silly if they ignore it. Also going paperless and relying on electronic forms of all documents is more efficient, less expensive, and environmentally friendly.

9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? Yes, I am connected daily to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and NALS Community. This is a most important way to stay connected with business associates, friends, family, and I just don't want to miss anything!

10. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? Join a professional association and begin attending legal seminars and conferences. There is valuable education and networking offered and this helps anyone to make a decision and/or develop a career, increase their knowledge and interact with the people who work in the legal field.

11. Is there a quote that inspires you? I could not at any age be content to take my place in a corner by the fireside and simply look on. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

12. You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? I know I would not be who I am today without NALS. NALS continues to give me leadership opportunities, education, and the most important networking with my peers, which continues to make working in the legal field enjoyable.

13. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? In one word: read! Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker, was a powerful proponent of reading every day to enhance your life and I believe this to be true for our legal careers and life in general.

Here is a quote from Jim Rohn: "All of the insights that we might ever need have already been captured by others in books. The important question is this: In the last 90 days, with this treasure of information that could change our lives, our fortunes, our relationships, our health, our children and our careers for the better, how many books have we read? Miss a meal if you have to, but don't miss a book. It isn't what the book costs, it is what is will cost you if you don't read it."

Bonus...Just for Fun Fact: I am a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and Ohio Air National Guard and had at one time thought of making a career of the military. I am happily married to my husband Brian (we are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this year) and have a wonderful home in Avondale near Phoenix, Arizona. My interests (in addition to NALS) are: reading, crocheting, shopping, traveling, law and politics.

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