Ruth has an Associates in Paralegal Studies, as well as an Associates in Claims. She has earned the following certification credentials: NALS – PP (Certified Professional Paralegal), PLS (Advanced Certification for Legal Professionals f/k/a Professional Legal Secretary); TBA Career Tech Center – Certified Computer Operator
1. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? I began as the receptionist in a small personal injury firm and really wanted to be the most help to my boss that I could be. I set out to become more educated and grew into a paralegal.2. What is your favorite part of your job? Getting to know and help our clients is the best part – but when I have that “a-ha” moment when research, investigation and file review come together to reveal that moment of clarity that brings the entire case together – that is my favorite part! Winning a big verdict or settlement is pretty great also.
3. What professional associations do you belong to? NALS, NALS of Michigan and Grand Traverse Area Legal Professionals. I am a former member of the State Bar of Michigan Paralegal/Legal Assistant section.
4. How has your membership benefited you? The education I have received as a NALS member is priceless and changed me from unskilled employee to valued paralegal. The networking has allowed me to make professional contact throughout the United States. The leadership opportunities have taken me from a shy wall flower to a national speaker and NALS of Michigan Past President. I am the person I am today as a result of my NALS membership.
5. What has been the highlight of your career? Assisting from the time the client walked through our door, through trial and verdict on a $3.4 million product liability case, and following that verdict my employer crediting me before my peers with an idea I had to show the impact of the incident on our client as adding the “real value” to our verdict. The verdict was the largest of its kind in northern Michigan, and for my employer to acknowledge my contributions was amazing. Being installed as NALS of Michigan President is a very close second career highlight.
6. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? Make sure to hone your typing skills; take every grammar/professional writing course you can; you can never have too much education and when you stop learning you are no longer effective. Love what you do and do what you love – but remember, being a paralegal and doing it right is not always a 9-5 job.
7. Is there a quote that inspires you? There are two. (1) Those who believe they can't do something are correct. However, those who believe they can do anything are also correct! (2) The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
8. You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? Margaret J. Scott, PLS, CLA. She was a charter member of my local GTALP chapter and early in my career she was named NALS National Legal Professional of the Year. She encouraged me to become an officer of my local chapter, asked me to study for certification and became my mentor without me even realizing it. Margaret was an amazing example of a genuine work ethic and pride in everything you do, including the little things. She gave me a love for this profession and a passion for learning. I owe her a debt I will never be able to repay.
9. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Remember that this is not your only case, but it is your client’s only case. Always make your client feel like they are your only client. If you learn to become profit and not overhead, when your boss has to make difficult staffing decisions during tough times, your name will never enter their mind for elimination. Become the employee no boss wants to practice law without.
10. Who would play you in a movie of your life? I would hope Erin Brockovich, but most likely Gilda Radner. I think I am a great paralegal, but in reality, I am a big goof ball with fuzzy hair!
11. If you could not be a paralegal, what would be your dream job? I would love to be a teacher and author.
12. What makes you lose your patience? Ignorance and prejudice.
13. Is there one thing in the world you wish you had the answer to? The cure for cancer. My mother, my mother-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law all died from cancer and way too many people I love have battled or lost their battle with cancer. I am involved in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, and if no one ever had to hear, “you have cancer,” again, that would be just fine with me!
Bonus Question: What’s your most treasured possession or keepsake? It really isn’t a possession, but my grandchildren and family and spending time with them is my most treasured gift.