1. Where do you work and what is your job title? I am employed by the Law Office of Joan E. Cook in Missoula, Montana where my job title is Paralegal/Office Manager.
2. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? My interest in the law began with a personal legal event. I could not afford an attorney so I went to the law library where I did my research and then prepared all my own paperwork. I found the law to be very interesting and a challenge so I returned to school for my Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies.
3. What is your favorite part of your job? That would be attending trials with my attorney. I enjoy the hard work that goes into preparing for and during the trial. I also find it rewarding to be able to work with the clients and help them through a tough time in their lives.
4. What professional associations do you belong to? I am a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) where I serve as Region 8 Director. I am also a member of the Montana Association of Legal Assistants (MALA) where I have served in several capacities as an officer and committee, including the office of President.
5. How has your membership benefited you? Memberships in associations have provided me with a network system across the entire United States which allows me to promote the paralegal profession.
6. Do you have any professional certifications? I received my Certified Paralegal (CP) designation in 2006 and my Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP) designation in Trial Practice in 2007. Both are from NALA.
7. What has been the highlight of your career? The highlight of my career would be the enjoyment I receive from teaching in the local paralegal program, being a speaker for paralegal associations, and representing the paralegal profession through my achievements in NALA and MALA.
8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? Technology will always be a hot trend. Paralegals need to learn as much as they can about the newest technology and the ethics issues that surround it.
9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? I have not at this time but this would definitely be something to research for the future.
10. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? The paralegal profession is not just about working in a law office. There are many other avenues a paralegal can take in their career. I would say, be open to anything and, most important, love what you do.
11. Is there a quote that inspires you? "Don't live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable."
12. You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? I would have to give credit to my husband for supporting me in my career choice. Because of his tremendous sacrifice, I am able to travel for work and for my associations. His willingness to allow me this freedom enables me to do what I love and promote the paralegal profession.
13. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting?
- Always be willing to learn.
- Join paralegal associations and get involved
- Attend conferences and continuing legal education events
- Network with other paralegals to gain valuable information
- Get your certification designation
- Be willing to take your career to a higher level of professionalism.