Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Professional Profile: Tina M. Keller, ACP

Tina M. Keller, ACP, of Sacramento, CA answers my Thirteen Questions this week. Tina is employed by the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office. She is a member of NALA.

You'll enjoy reading Tina's profile, particularly what she would tell someone contemplating a paralegal career. Thanks, Tina!


1. Where do you work and what is your job title? I am employed by the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office as a paralegal for CEPD (Consumer and Environmental Protection Division).

2. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? I was in the process of earning a degree as an Industrial Engineer when I realized that although I could do the work and understood the theories, I simply hated it.

Once that realization hit home, I took the aptitude test at the college learning center and the results indicated I should work in the legal field. Attorney was a possibility, yet the 'new profession' at that time -- paralegal -- had a job description that felt more like me. I burned the Engineering Calculus book and switched majors the next week.

3. What is your favorite part of your job? I have a sense of purpose with my current position. I am in a unique position in that I help protect this little part of the world for my grandson and his future grandchildren. I am as my husband says a 'tree hugger' and proud to say I am paid to do what I believe is important.

4. What professional associations do you belong to? I am an active member of NALA. I joined long ago while serving as an officer for the ILA in Indiana. I have also had the privilege of membership with the APA when I lived near Phoenix for a few years.

5. How has your membership benefited you? I have met some of my dearest friends through NALA and its affiliates. I have also relied upon my NALA friends to help me with my many job searches as I move from place to place. I always know I'll find work as a paralegal. Membership with NALA provides me with the contacts necessary to know where the best positions are in each state.

6. Do you have any professional certifications? I am a NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal. I achieved my CLA in 1996 and my CLAS (now ACP) in 1998.

7. What has been the highlight of your career? Hopefully it is still to come. I have worked as a PI, family law, banking law, and social security paralegal in both large and small firms. I owned SOS Paralegal Services for four years, and now work in the public sector. I have served on boards, held offices, and am an active member in my professional associations. At the time, each new position was the highlight of my career, so I personally can't wait to see what the REAL highlight is.

8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? Technology in general. In order to stay on top in our field, you must naturally keep up with the latest rulings and the decisions that will change every form in your system. That part is assumed. It is the technology that makes it possible to perform all of our job duties, skills and handle our deadlines efficiently. The key is to use the technology to assist you with your tasks rather than create additional work for yourself.

9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? I finally joined Facebook last December, after researching and checking the privacy settings available. I enjoy keeping up with friends, family and peers on the site. I thought I didn't like interactive games. It turns out I just don't like gore and gloom. I love farming! So if you want to be my 'friend' you'll need to be ready to either game or hide/block games from your wall. The brain drain aspect of the games relieves stress for me, and socializing, having fun and joking around are important to me.

10. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? I would suggest a pros and cons list of the reasons and expectations she/he has regarding the career. I would also suggest that this decision not be made after watching Erin Brockovich (which I loved, but it does not truly portray our profession).

Do a little soul searching and research before making any career decisions. It is a choice I would make over and over for myself personally, but it is a lot of work without a lot of kudos. A person who has a personality that requires attention and validation should avoid this profession. Perhaps others have found great warmth and appreciation with spotlights and a large office. I haven't seen any of that myself. Know yourself and what type of environment brings you happiness.

11. Is there a quote that inspires you? Yes, I love quotes! I have quotes for all occasions from Poe to Twain; movies to TV; and lyrics from songs. Currently, my choice quote is "Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there; with open arms and open eyes." (Incubus from Drive).

12. You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? There is no single event or person. I attribute any and all success in my career and life in general to so many good and wonderfully supportive people. One I will name is my husband of 32 plus years, Steven. He has stood by me through the education process, the job searches, the sole practitioner years, and the soul searching. I was fortunate to have instructors with passion for the legal profession, and then later to be hired by 'bosses' who became my dearest friends. It's not fair to name any one person for fear of leaving out others.

13. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Make a conscious decision to learn something new every day of your career. It works for life too of course. Keeping an open mind to new ideas, technology, and other opinions than your own will keep your career interesting.

Bonus - just for fun question: What sports team are you passionate about? I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I respect all teams and love football in general. However, Steelers' fans blend to form a very large family that is spread all across our nation. I have been a proud member of that family since I was 7 years old. On any Steelers game day, I'm the one wearing a Steelers T-shirt, with a terrible towel tucked in my jeans, and my logo ball cap. All accessorized with the socks and earrings to match naturally. My black car has a Steelers plate holder, and my office at work would make Hines, Troy and all the 'kids' proud.

No comments: