Debbie Arbuckle, Pa.C.P. answers my Thirteen Questions this week. Debbie is employed by Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, PC in Blue Bell Pennsylvania. She is a Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal (Pa.C.P.) and a member of the Montgomery County Paralegal Association, as well as the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.
You'll enjoy reading how association membership has benefited her. Thanks, Debbie, for taking the time to share!
1. Where do you work and what is your job title? I work at Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter & Stein, PC, Blue Bell, PA as a paralegal in the Land Use, Zoning and Development Department
2. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? One of my first jobs out of high school was working for a sole practitioner in Philadelphia. I had basic secretarial skills and was placed through an agency.
Those who have worked for sole practitioners know that you do everything! I typed pleadings (back in the days of carbon paper), made copies, figured out the required forms and filings fees, and then took the document across the street to City Hall to file it.
Because it was such a "hands on" position, I really got to see a case from beginning to end and became curious as to the WHY's of the practice of law and went back to school, obtaining my paralegal certification from Penn State in 1994.
3. What is your favorite part of your job? Being a part of a team in accomplishing a goal for a client.
4. What professional associations do you belong to? I have been a member of the Montgomery County Paralegal Association (MCPA) for approximately 7 years. I have been on the Board for 3 years, currently as First Vice President. I am also a member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and serve as MCPA's primary representative to NFPA.
5. How has your membership benefited you? The obvious, most quoted answer is, of course, "networking". Another benefit has been the personal friendships that have developed. I take great pride in being part of these organizations that are comprised of other professionals in my field.
6. Do you have any professional certifications? I am a Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal.
7. What has been the highlight of your career? Up until this point, I think obtaining my Paralegal Certificate has been one of the highlights. I went back to school at night after being out of school for 15 years. My ex-husband told me that the night before my first mid-term I was talking Latin in my sleep! Of course, I was also still working full time and raising a daughter. The process, due to various reasons, took almost 10 years.
8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? Keeping up to date with new and expanding technology is not only a trend, but sometimes a challenge in this day and age .I truly believe, however, if you stop learning, you stop growing!
9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? I did finally start a Facebook page earlier this year. I was home after knee replacement surgery and my recuperation period encompassed 3 major snow storms this past winter. I could not get out to drive and finally got curious about Facebook; now I'm hooked.
10. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? Find someone who is passionate about their paralegal career to take you under their wing. Make sure you really want this to be your profession, don't go into it unless fully engaged.
11. Is there a quote that inspires you? "I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." This quote is attributed to Ettiene De Grellet. I found it on a card in an eclectic shop many years ago, framed it and it has inspired me ever since.
12. You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? I would have to say my first employer, Robert Rosin, Esq. Learning from the ground up working for a sole practitioner was an invaluable experience...one that I did not fully appreciate until many years later.
13. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Never stop learning.
Bonus...just for fun question: I understand you make a mean Pomegranate Martini. What's your secret? This recipe goes to the grave with me!