Thursday, April 5, 2012

Paralegal Profile: Heather De La Torre, CP

Heather De La Torre, CP is the President of the Houston Metropolitan Paralegal Association (HMPA) and employed is a paralegal with McFall Breitbeil & Smith in Houston.

In addition to an Associates Degree from the Center for Advanced Legal Studies, Heather earned NALA's CP credential and is also Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Thanks, Heather!
1.    What prompted you to choose a paralegal career?  I had been a mom and housewife for 13 years. While going through a divorce I realized I had to have a career where I could support my two kids.
2.    What is your favorite part of your job?  I love the fact that no two days are ever the same. And I love “putting out fires.”

3.    What professional associations do you belong to? NALA, State Bar of Texas and Houston Metropolitan Paralegal Association, where I am currently serving as President.

4.    How has your membership benefited you? I have grown professionally so much since joining HMPA, serving on committees and the Board of Directors. I never would have thought I could accomplish the things I have while serving on HMPA's BOD.

5.    What has been the highlight of your career?  Landing my job in April. I have come so far in such a short time!

6.    What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry?  E-discovery for sure, also I see eventually we will start to become more of a paperless industry.

7.    If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be?  Get into an approved paralegal program and join your local association and volunteer. It is easier to get a job through word of mouth than through a want ad.

8.    Is there a quote that inspires you? I get a lot of wisdom from Dolly Parton. She always has something interesting and clever to say.  My favorite quote of hers is “A peacock who sits on its tail feathers is just another turkey”

9.     You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career.  To what single event or person do you attribute that success?  I would have to say Andy Mihalick.  He is an attorney at my first law firm. He mentored me and taught me a lot of the things you don’t learn in school. He also helped me get the experience I needed to succeed in my career.  While at that law firm, we were affectionately known as “The Dream Team.”

10.    What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting?  Never stop learning, go to CLE’s, Join your local association and get involved, you will get so much more out of it than you put into it; and last but not least, volunteer  with your local bar association events like will-a-thons - - you never know,  you may meet that key person who will help you to take the next step in your career.

11. What is your favorite kind of music? My iPod suffers from identity crisis. When I shuffle you may hear Amy Grant then AC/DC and then David Allen Coe then the Fresh Prince.
12. What electronic device can you not live without? There are actually three:  my phone, my iPod and my ebook

13. If you could not be a paralegal, what would be your dream job? I’m not sure about a “paying” dream job, but sometime in my life when I actually have the time – perhaps when I retire, I plan to become a Child Advocate.

Bonus Question:  What is the strangest thing you ever ate? I didn’t actually eat it…but in 1992 I went to Belize (before it was a tourist destination). We stayed at what they call a “bed and breakfast” but what we would call a shack.  The morning after we arrived, the lady of the house was busy cooking a fried egg for our breakfast. When we came into the kitchen to eat, we looked down at the floor and saw two iguanas tied up that their son had caught that very morning.  They were to be lunch that day…so it was a good thing we were leaving after breakfast!