Thursday, May 17, 2012

Paralegal Profile: Nancy L. Merritt

Nancy L. Merritt is a paralegal who has spent her entire career working in the Delaware Valley. This year (2012) marks her 25th year in the paralegal field, and her 18th year with her current firm, Archer & Greiner, P.C., in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

Nancy has worked in just about every area of the law:   matrimonial, real estate, environmental, labor, personal injury, estates, litigation.  Her focus now is on commercial litigation and a growing/relatively new field for paralegals: governmental affairs.

1. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? I was working as a legal secretary. The attornes asked me to consider becoming a paralegal. That was 27 years ago (ugh).

2. What professional associations do you belong to? The Philadelphia Association of Paralegals. I am a past Board member and current voting member.

3. How has your membership benefited you? Networking. There is tremendous benefit to gathering regularly with members of your field.

4. What has been the highlight of your career? I was blessed to work for many years with a partner, now a Federal Magistrate Judge, who took full advantage of my paralegal skills and capabilities. He valued paralegals and worked in a true team fashion with me.

I gained invaluable insight from him and honed my already-sharpened paralegal skills. His cases were ultra challenging (mass tort, class actions), and I joined him on several trials. Who would have thought, looking back, I would miss all that stress and the countless hours in the office? But I do.

5. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? E-discovery and the challenges technology has brought to the simplest of litigation cases. Every litigation paralegal should keep abreast of e-discovery/technology trends.

6. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be?  First, be very sure of your career choice. You need to be in for a penny, in for a pound to be an effective paralegal. Second, seriously consider the up side and down side of working as a paralegal. If you are looking for fixed hours and overtime pay, this career may not be for you.
7. You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? First, to myself because I have worked hard and never let my skills and abilities soften. Second, to everyone I have worked with throughout my paralegal career, because you grow as a paralegal with each attorney you work for and with each new case you handle.
8. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Continuing legal education, particularly in areas of the law that are not familiar to you. And to step outside of your comfort zone and take on work (cases, areas of the law) that is new to you. It keeps you on your toes and increases your value as a paralegal.
9. Who would play you in a movie of your life? Hmmmm. Joan of Arc or Wonder Woman? To be serious, the real value in my life is being a mother. Any strong and loving role model in the field of motherhood would be OK with me.
10. What electronic device can you not live without? I can live without them all! (Okay, my phone.)
11. What is your favorite hobby? Traveling, particularly when our trips take our family to new and exciting places.

12. What Web site do you visit daily? Most all my daily website visits are work related. I try to stay off the computer when I leave the office!

13. Where do you go to have fun? Nature. With my family and our dog. It’s our great escape.
Bonus Question: What is your guilty pleasure food?  It would have to be sugar; I can’t seem to live without it.

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