|Robert S. Hrouda, RP|
As of 2008, Bob is a PACE Registered Paralegal (RP). He is a member of the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals (PAP), the South Jersey Paralegal Association (SJPA), and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).
He serves as the current Vice President and Director of Positions and Issues for the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc.
1. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? My father put the idea in my head, wanting me to look into Maritime law. But Mr. Conti's Business Law course I took at North Catholic High School cemented it.
2. What is your favorite part of your job? The Law is forever changing. Being able to research and stay on top of current changes, mainly e-discovery, is the most favorite part of my job. Staying current on technology is key.
3. How has your membership in professional associations benefited you? Membership in these associations has benefited me greatly in many areas including keeping up with current trends in the profession, keeping up with case law and legislation affecting the profession, and networking. The ability to call or email a colleague in another jurisdiction in order to ask questions about local rules, finding a vendor, etc, has been a huge help and major cost savings to our clients.
4. What has been the highlight of your career? My election to President of the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals and my elections to the NFPA Board of Directors have been great highlights of my career. But I have to say that my biggest highlight was being involved in a pro bono case here in Philly.
The firm at which I worked represented a family of children where both parents were incarcerated and we were trying to end parental rights and get the children into permanent foster homes or adopted. The youngest boy nearly starved to death and weighed less at 6 months of age than he did at birth (hence the incarceration). Our trial team was successful. It was a very emotional case and to this day I still think about it and wonder what those children are up now.
5. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? Regulation by far is the hottest trend. After over more than 20 years of hearing "it's coming", the time has come to push it as much as possible.
While I totally understand how the profession has developed, and appreciate what our pioneers have done, the time of what I term "apprenticeship" is now over. I believe gone should be the days of someone just starting and "working their way" up to the position of paralegal. Standard educational requirements and regulation are necessary.
I've heard one too many times that Joe Attorney is bringing in their neighbor's child for the summer - "let's just call them a paralegal". While I truly believe we ALL play a major role in the legal team, just because I handle some associate duties does not make me an associate. The same should hold true for others doing some administrative paralegal duties.
6. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? My first advice would be to stay current on technology. When taking electives, they should take computer courses and public speaking courses. While in school, also get used to being very organized and at times not sleeping much.
7. What advice would you give yourself if you met you as a first-year paralegal? Watch that sense of humor - it can get you in trouble some times.
8. You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success?
My adoptive father was the person to influence my drive in my career. He had a work ethic like none other I've seen. He was a fleet manager for a dairy distributor here in Philadelphia, managing their fleet and fixing diesel engines.
I remember him falling on the sidewalk during winter, breaking his arm, going to the hospital, coming home with a cast, putting on his work clothes and off to work he went. When he retired, he had a huge amount of accumulated sick and vacation time.
He was an extremely hard worker and always said "It doesn't matter what you do. Just be the best at what it is you decide to do". I will tell my two daughters the same thing as they grow up and contemplate their careers.
9. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Get involved in your local and national associations. If you cannot make meetings, join committees or boards, then volunteer to write articles or do other things from home and help shape your profession. Volunteering doesn't have to mean "face time". There is so much that needs to be done from all areas that anyone who wants to help can help. The network you create is tremendous.
10. Who would play you in a movie of your life? Adam Sandler.
11. What electronic device can you not live without? My Korg keyboard. It's a great escape to the end of a bad day (at which times you'll hear me banging out the Stones or Kiss) or the end of a good one (going softer with Styx, Billy Joel, and Elton John).
12. What time in the morning do you first check your email? 5:30 am except weekends.
13. If you could not be a paralegal, what would be your dream job? I would be a professional soccer player.
Bonus Question: What three items would you want if you were stranded on a desert island? A tarp, soccer ball, clean water.