Penelope has her CP and ACP from NALA and is currently working on her Intellectual Property Certification at the University of California San Diego. She also has a degree in political science from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and a paralegal certificate from USD.
You're going to say "WOW!" when you read about the highlight of her career! Penelope also shares 3 items she'd want if she were stranded on a deserted island, her favorite websites, with whom she'd have dinner if she could -- very touching! -- as well as some very valuable tips for making the most of your paralegal career. Thanks, Penelope!
1. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? My mother was one of the pioneer paralegals in the early1970s – before the term “paralegal” and when the role of the paralegal was more substantive.My mother was one of the pioneer paralegals in the early1970s – before the term “paralegal” and when the role of the paralegal was more substantive.
She went to court with her attorneys and did library research – all the fun stuff that most of today’s paralegals don’t experience. I thought about attending law school at one point, but my LSAT scores were just average.
2. What is your favorite part of your job? As a successful freelance paralegal, I have a diverse group of clients for whom I work mostly from my home office. I love the variety of work – from document review, investigative research and writing to interviewing witnesses. The freedom to choose the work and for whom I work is truly the best part.
3. What professional associations do you belong to? NALA, NFPA ; I’m on the board of USD’s Alumni Association.
4. How has your membership benefited you? I enjoy the news magazines and NALA provides many educational programs.
5. What has been the highlight of your career? My long career has provided many highlights, but two events come to mind:
First, traveling throughout Southeast Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Taipei and Borneo) doing witness interviews was truly a once –in-a-lifetime experience.
Second, I am in the process of e-publishing my book: Freelancing to Freedom: A Guide for Paralegals. Look for it soon via my website!
6. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? With the advances in technology and bio-research, intellectual property transactional paralegals are in demand. Freelancing is also lucrative in today’s economy. I turn down so much work, I know there is a demand for experience contract paralegals. I also believe more and more paralegals are obtaining advanced certifications.
7. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? To increase your chances in today’s economy, set yourself apart by obtaining advanced certifications – whether through NALA, or other paralegal organizations. Ask questions, take on new challenges. Don’t settle for pushing paper. Use your education! Never stop learning!
8. Is there a quote that inspires you? You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Wayne Gretsky.
9. You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? First and foremost, myself. I have pushed myself to learn and to set and reach goals.
Second and very important, my mentor, Mark Nadeau. Mr. Nadeau, now the managing litigation partner for DLA Piper’s Phoenix office, knew how to fully utilize his paralegals. Working for him was a career-changing experience and he took me to superstardom.
10. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Never stop learning. Set goals and focus until you reach them.
11. What was your first job? I worked part-time in the law library while looking for a full-time job. It was a good move. I met my next two employers there!
12. What is your favorite Web site? Probably http://www.dictionary.com/ (or http://www.thesaurus.com/).
13. What three items would you want if you were stranded on a desert island? A Kindle, a lighter or a huge box of matches, and Smart Phone.
Bonus Question: You've been given the chance to have dinner with anyone living or dead. Who is it? My deceased father. I miss him!