Melissa Dawn Frick, ACP ~ Newark, California
1. Where do you work and what is your job title? I am employed by Livescribe Inc. as a Senior Paralegal.
2. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? I heard it was where the growth was, and fifteen years later I am still growing daily. Challenges abound, and no day is ever the same. I love it!
3. What is your favorite part of your job? Finding that needle in the haystack moment whether it is dealing with an employment issue, intellectual property dispute, or reviewing a contact. It doesn't come along often, but when it does there is nothing like it.
4. What professional associations do you belong to?
5. How has your membership benefited you? It is great to have friends who are paralegals with knowledge from across the county, state and nation. I have had many experiences where I found that by picking up the phone or sending a quick email, the answer would be found. I have also had many friends who have served as referrals for jobs, and I would never have had that without my membership with the associations.
6. Do you have any professional certifications? I have an Advanced Certified Paralegal (APC) certification in Intellectual Property from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). I am also a Notary Public.
7. What has been the highlight of your career? Serving as President of my local and state-wide associations. I love meeting other paralegals from all around California and knowing that what I do does make a difference in their professional life.
8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? I think that, unfortunately, more paralegal jobs are being outsourced in California. The economy has forced firms, business, and governments to cut back on expenses. The legal community seems to have a hard time understanding the full benefits of the paralegal profession, and that we don't want to take the place of attorneys.
9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? I love LinkedIn. It's really set up for the professional world, and I love that I can jump on the site to look up potential co-workers, bosses, and 'need to know' folks in the legal industry.
I have a Facebook page, but it is 100% for my family and friends. I don't mix the two Media. I don't want my business partners to look through pictures of family and children.
I have two different worlds, and I don't want them to become one. My home life is personal, and my work life is professional.
10. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? Don't be afraid to start from the bottom. If the job is 50% paralegal and 50% secretary TAKE IT. Learn what you can from the experience and develop the skills to take you to the next step. Don't ever think you are too good for anything, take it all as a character-building, skill-setting, patience-creating experience.
11. Is there a quote that inspires you? My father died when I was four. He fought cancer for five years, and finally lost the battle. He carried around in his wallet a poem titled 'Just for Today'. The poem is a religious poem that starts with 'Lord, for tomorrow and its needs, I do not pray.' I read it every morning to remind me to keep focused on today, and deal with tomorrow when it comes.
12. You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? I don't think it is possible to say a single event or person. A true paralegal learns throughout their career how to be successful and how to continue to grow.
13. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Stop being a paralegal! Okay, that sounds a little weird, but a couple of years ago I was bored with being a paralegal. I wanted to try something different, so I went into sales. Oh boy, what a mistake! I am not a salesperson! But the experience was invaluable to me.
I learned that what I was, and who I am is a paralegal. I love being part of a team. I love working with clients. I love drafting documents and reviewing files. It was a strange adventure that ended up leading me back to the path I had been on. I found that everything I thought I was bored with was exactly what I loved about the job.
This year again, I stepped out of my typical paralegal role, and started teaching at an ABA-approved paralegal program. Wow! The experience of sharing my career with others has opened a whole new passion for my career.
I firmly believe that if skilled paralegals would take a moment to step out of their role and see what else is out there, they would discover the passion inside of them again.
Bonus...just for fun fact: I spent a couple of years as a Little League umpire. I have never had such sore knees and so much fun in my life. I found that being a paralegal is a lot like a Little League umpire, you need to know who the players are, and pay attention to the smallest detail.