Michele T. Pfeiffer, CLA Freelance Paralegal - Orange County, California
I went back to school and obtained my Certificate of Completion from a local ABA approved paralegal program. When I finished the program, I couldn’t find a job so I took a position for a $1,000+ a month more as a Legal Secretary with a paralegal certificate! Luckily, within 6 months I was promoted, and the rest is history.
2. What is your favorite part of your job? As a freelance paralegal for the past 14 years, I have had the privilege of working on all kinds of projects, for all types of cases, in various areas of law. It allowed me to be more flexible with my time as a mom and yet work with a variety of attorneys in So CA and have a fulfilling career.
3. What professional associations do you belong to? Paralegal Associations: California Alliance of Paralegal Association, SPA, and NALA. Bar Associations: Newport Harbor Bar Association, Lex Romana Bar Association, OCTLA, Celtic Bar Association, West Orange County Bar Association, OC Criminal Defense Bar Association; promoting California’s Business & Professions Code §6450, et seq. and recruiting speakers for MCLE programs.
4. What has been the highlight of your career? Working on my first federal felony case from inception through trial, being on the trial team and sitting with the attorney in trial, and handling all the exhibits, for a several week trial. Then, finishing up by assisting the attorney through the sentencing phase. I’m ready to do it again. Second, mentoring students.
5. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? The technology that makes my job easier. I appreciate it when software products cuts down on my ‘busy work’ time, so I can spend it on the important aspects of the project. Also seeing the new options and/or opportunities for paralegals (i.e., teaching. When I went to school, only attorneys taught our courses.)
6. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? Find the ‘arena’ in which you want to work in, (i.e., law firm, solo, or corporate, etc.). Do short internships or work temp jobs while in school. Take on anything that will get you in the door. Secondly, be a sponge and open minded, and make sure you are learning something new every day. Finally, you don’t have to know the answer to everything, you just have to know where or how to find it.
7. You’ve enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? For me there were several attorneys who mentored me and took me under their wings, who taught me and worked with me; while others allowed me to take on projects I wouldn’t otherwise have been assigned; and finally, attorneys who gave me the confidence to do more than I could, which resulted in work-product exceeding even their expectations. Never be afraid to ask questions.
8. What is the best live concert you’ve ever attended? Fleetwood Mac Rumors; Recently, Celine Dion in Vegas and Paul McCartney, Honda Center, OC, CA.
9. What’s your favorite food? I love to cook so this is hard, yet anything with bold or spicy flavors, my friends’ cooking (they are great cooks too). My rule is eat something out you don’t cook better at home.
10. What’s your favorite vacation getaway? Lake Havasu, AZ in less than 4 hours I’m in a completely different state, awesome scenery, and renewed state of mind.
11. If you could not be a paralegal, what would be your dream job? An airline stewardess ~ I love to travel.
12. Strangest thing you ever ate? 1) armadillo and 2) all parts of a cow!
13. You’ve been given the chance to have dinner with anyone living or dead. Who is it? I'd have a dinner party with Jesus, Jacqueline Kennedy, Prophet Job, Napoleon Hill, Benjamin Franklin, and Susan B. Anthony, to name few.
14. Bonus Questions: What college classed did you love? I minored in languages and enjoyed taking Spanish, French, and Italian.