Linda McGrath-Cruz is a litigation paralegal from Miami, Florida and has been since 1997. In addition to owning her own...
Carl H. Morrison, ACP, RP, PP, AACP, is an experienced certified paralegal and paralegal manager and has been in...
Paralegal conferences can be overwhelming even for proud extroverts, but building relationships with other legal professionals is an important practice for every paralegal. In this episode of the Paralegal Voice, host Carl Morrison talks to Linda McGrath-Cruz about how to get the most out of paralegal conference networking. Whether you need advice as a first time conference-goer or you’re a conference veteran who just needs a refresher, tune in for tips on topics like how to choose between conflicting seminars and make yourself more approachable. Linda shares how networking has directly impacted her paralegal career for the better. The end of the podcast features Listener’s Voice, Carl’s recurring segment featuring audio questions or comments from a listener. To send in your own question, email Carl at [email protected]
Linda McGrath-Cruz has been a litigation paralegal from Miami, Florida since 1997.
The Paralegal Voice
Getting the Most out of Networking at Paralegal Conferences
Carl Morrison: Hello everyone. Welcome to The Paralegal Voice, here on Legal Talk Network. I am Carl Morrison, a certified paralegal, devoted to law, and your host of The Paralegal Voice.
I am a certified paralegal and paralegal educator and I am devoted to not only the paralegal profession but to all legal professionals, from legal support professionals to paralegals, to those whom we support, attorneys. I am devoted to helping others enhance their passion and dedication for the paralegal profession through entertaining and engaging interviews.
My guest today is Linda McGrath-Cruz of Perfectly Paralegal Consulting. Thanks for being my guest today, Linda.
Linda McGrath-Cruz: Thanks for having me on the show. I am really excited to be here.
Carl Morrison: I think we are going to have a great time. I know we have got a great topic.
But before we begin we would like to thank our sponsor, Thomson Reuters Firm Central, cloud-based legal practice management that streamlines your day and automates non-billable administrative tasks, so you can accomplish more with less.
And also NALA, NALA, The Paralegal Association is a professional association for paralegals providing continuing education and professional certification programs for paralegals at nala.org.
NALA is a force in the promotion and advancement of the paralegal profession and has been a sponsor of The Paralegal Voice since our very first show.
And finally, ServeNow, a nationwide network of trusted prescreened process servers. Work with the most professional process servers who have experience with high volume serves, who embrace technology and understand the litigation process. Visit serve-now.com to learn more.
The goal of The Paralegal Voice is to discuss a wide range of topics important to the paralegal industry and share with you leading trends, significant developments and resources you will find helpful in your career and everyday job.
My guests will be engaging and informational with a little bit of fun thrown in. Our topic today is all about making the most from networking at paralegal and legal conferences.
Linda, it’s really great of you to join our show today and share with our listeners of course all your tips and tricks from getting really the most out of networking at those paralegal conferences and other legal conferences that most of us attend.
But first, let’s talk about you a little bit, so tell our listeners a little bit about yourself Linda.
Linda McGrath-Cruz: Thanks Carl. Well, like you, I have been a paralegal for over 20 years. I work primarily in the area of product liability, medical malpractice and premises liability, always on the defense side; I have never done plaintiff work. And about three years ago I transitioned from regular law firm life to an in-house position in the Risk Management Department of Royal Caribbean Cruises.
I am an advanced certified paralegal with NALA, a Florida Registered Paralegal, and I also have several degrees in the field, including my Master’s in Paralegal Studies.
I am also the owner of Perfectly Paralegal, and through that company I provide a variety of resources for paralegals and other legal support superstars, including an online community, educational resources, training tutorials and an annual paralegal cruise conference.
The name of the company is kind of tongue-in-cheek, since we all know that nobody is perfect, not even us, but the goal here is to help paralegals to be as perfect as the attorney expects us to be.
Carl Morrison: Wait, you are not perfect, I am not perfect?
Linda McGrath-Cruz: I hate to break it to you guys.
Carl Morrison: Dang it. Well, I will tell you, it’s funny listening to you talk a little bit about yourself. I didn’t realize that you and I share very similar backgrounds that we both come for the medical malpractice world and we both transitioned over into the corporate arena just a couple of years ago, so how funny. I didn’t realize we have that much in common, so great to know Linda.
Linda McGrath-Cruz: Yeah.
Carl Morrison: So let’s jump right into it. So in light of it now being what I call conference season, because a lot of different associations and organizations have conferences around this time of the year, I thought our topic for today is very relevant and may help some of our listeners really get the most out of their first or even their 15th, 20th conference that they have attended or that they are going to maybe attend in the future.
So I love attending conferences, absolutely love it, and whether it be a NALA conference, NALS education conference, even attending genealogy conferences; I do genealogy in the side, I love it and I love to network and I know that you love networking too. But not everyone is like us, not everyone is the social butterfly, and some people really have anxieties about attending conference, especially the very first time.
So I want to ask you, do you remember your first conference you attended? Tell our listeners a little bit about your experience at the very first conference that you ever attended.
Linda McGrath-Cruz: Absolutely. The first conference I ever attended was not my best experience. It was actually a local bar association conference. The attendees were made up of mostly judges and attorneys, and I was one of only a couple of non-attorneys who were attending. I attended the conference because I wanted to start gaining visibility in the local community, because I was interested in changing jobs after being with my small firm that nobody had ever heard of for 14 years.
I knew that networking was really important in accomplishing that goal. So when I went to the conference I felt really out of place and it wasn’t a very positive experience. I didn’t really know anyone there and I didn’t really feel welcome.
So of course, this is quite a few years ago, and I think paralegals are much more respected these days by bar associations and are much more involved in events typically frequented by lawyers.
And also, I am more confident in my networking abilities as well compared to a lot — this was a long time ago. So that was my first experience and it was a little bit of a turn off for me, only because I was very uncomfortable and very anxious and I didn’t really feel welcome. So hopefully we can share some tips today that will make other people have a much, much better first conference experience, if they haven’t attended before.
Carl Morrison: Well, I will tell you, I remember my first conference that I went to and it was a NALS conference, and luckily, I had a couple of friends that were attending, so they took me under their wings and made it easier for me to meet people, because they did all the work. They were introducing me to people left and right, so it helped to have someone to go with.
But I know that not always, like yourself, you attend a conference and not everyone attends a conference knowing someone. So for someone going to a conference for the first time, what would be your recommendation for those first-timers that go to a conference?
Linda McGrath-Cruz: Well, my biggest recommendation would be to start networking way before the conference actually happens. With the use of Facebook and LinkedIn, networking in advance of an event has gotten so much easier.
Also, networking from the safety of your computer or smartphone can be a lot less intimidating than networking in person with total strangers. So once you decide to attend an event, and this is the same whether it’s your first conference or your 15th conference, see if there is a Facebook page or group for the event that you can follow or join. If there isn’t one, look for a Facebook or LinkedIn group for the association that’s hosting the event or even a general Facebook group, such as Perfectly Paralegal, where you can ask others if they are attending.
Once you find some fellow attendees, start getting to know them. You can send them friend requests on Facebook or connect with them on LinkedIn and start developing a friendship.
Compare interests and also goals for the conference, such as attending a particular seminar or social event, and then by the time the conference comes around, you will already have some connections made and it will be really easy to transition from those online discussions to some in-person discussions over lunch or between seminars or perhaps over a cocktail after the day is done.
Carl Morrison: Those are really great tips. Reaching out beforehand is a smart idea, and if you start to develop those relationships and friendships before even getting to the conference, if you are comfortable with your network that you are developing, exchange telephone numbers, text each other.
I am a texter; I love to text, and so texts, Snapchat, Marco Polo, which is something I have been now hooked on, connect with those people and start meeting them before, that’s a great idea.
I am a nerd and I love education, so there’s always multiple sessions that I want to go to and inevitably, they are always scheduled at the same time, and so it’s like dang it, which one do I want to go to. So how would you resolve that conflict, especially when there are sessions that apply to say your specific area of law that you work in and you can’t go to two places at one time, even though attorneys think we can do magical things like that, how would you resolve that conflict; what are a couple of tips that you would recommend?
Linda McGrath-Cruz: Well, it’s always a really tough decision when you have to choose between two seminars that conflict. I always keep my fingers crossed that the seminars I really want are not going to conflict, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always do the trick. So having a friend who attends and can take notes to share with you is a fantastic option.
Some associations have options available that will allow you to obtain the recordings of sessions, so you can watch them later. This can be really helpful if you can’t attend due to a conflict or simply if the session was amazing and is teaching you new skills and you need a refresher later on while you are learning. We do this on the Paralegal Cruise and of course NALA does this as well.
If the association doesn’t record their sessions, you may be able to reach out and request copies of the PowerPoint or any handouts that were used in the session. Many times they are loaded with fantastic information that you can learn from, even if you can’t get a full recording of the seminar. So if you are not sure what options are available to you, you should reach out to the association that’s hosting and ask and maybe they will even consider recording them if enough people ask.
Carl Morrison: I will tell you, the upcoming NALS Conference that’s in Phoenix, they are recording some of the sessions. So I am excited because it will be attractive education that if I have to miss a session, I will know it will be recorded, so I am going yay, I will finally be able to maybe not miss some sessions.
So when I attend a session, I try to always sit with people I don’t know and strike up a conversation with them. But I know it’s sometimes hard to break into a group of people or even individual to break the ice with and strike up that conversation. It’s happened to me in the past, attending different other associations and organization’s conferences and I don’t know anybody in the room. Sometimes people get into their little cliques and not in a bad way clique, but their little group and it’s hard to break in and jump into the conversation.
How would you do it or how do you do it, Linda? What are some tips that you would recommend for someone just jumping in the middle of a conversation, shy of literally jumping in the middle, what do you recommend?
Linda McGrath-Cruz: Sometimes just literally jumping in the middle might be the best way to do it. This may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but I actually consider myself an introvert and I am extremely shy. Networking never came naturally to me, which is usually a surprise for people.
Carl Morrison: What?
Linda McGrath-Cruz: So I know firsthand how — yes, it’s true, it’s really something that I have to kind of force myself to work on and I usually do retreat to the safety of people that I already know, and it’s a bad habit. So I always try to force myself to get out there. So I know firsthand how painful it can be to put yourself out there and to kind of like expose yourself in this networking environment, but there are definitely ways that you can approach it to make it a little bit easier.
So the first thing that you can do is draw on your surroundings. So if you are at a paralegal conference, most of the other attendees are all paralegals, which means that right off the bat you have similar interests, similar experiences and maybe similar things to grumble about, and this makes it really easy to strike up a conversation in your comfort zone.
So if you are at a social event or you are walking around the vendor hall or simply lingering in a common area during a break between sessions, the most important thing that you want to do is stay off your phone. And that’s a big mistake that a lot of people make is they kind of feel safer if they have their phone out and they can kind of look at it, even if they are not really looking at it, but it kind of puts a bubble around you as far as having strangers just come up and approach you. So put the phone away and you will immediately become more approachable.
Make eye contact with people as you are walking around and smile and look for opportunities to jump in, because sometimes they really just do kind of pop out at you.
You can look for name tags and use the information on them to strike up a conversation based on the person’s title, the company name that they work for or the state that they are from.
If you see that somebody is stopping to read a program, you can take the opportunity to ask them which seminar they are attending or which event they might recommend.
If you see someone wearing an unusual shirt or carrying an interesting bag, you can compliment them on it or ask them about it. That’s a really easy way to kind of break the ice with people. You can ask them what state they are from and ask them if they have ever been to the host city before, or if they are local, you can ask them for a great local lunch spot that nobody else might know about.
Another thing that you can do is ask them about their area of law that they work in and ask them what they love or hate about it. Paralegals love to talk about their jobs and that’s a really good icebreaker.
So also, if you are sitting in a seminar it’s really easy to break the ice by simply turning to the person next to you and saying something like gosh, I am really looking forward to the session. Is this a topic that you deal with in your current position? Or depending on where you are in the timeline of the conference, you can ask them if they attended a prior seminar and how they liked it or ask them which seminar they are planning on attending next.
So you can really draw on your common interest because you all have a lot of things in common just based on the fact that you are paralegals. And definitely, like you mentioned, avoid sitting with people that you know, whether it’s in a seminar or at a social event. If you stay in your comfort core of people that you already know, you are never going to have the opportunity to meet new people and build new connections.
Carl Morrison: And that’s what it’s all about with our industry is networking, networking, networking, networking. I always tell students that a very important part of growing and being a successful paralegal is to network.
So Linda, those are great tips, definitely. Thank you so much.
So let’s take a short commercial break, and when we come back, we will continue our show.
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Carl Morrison: Welcome back to The Paralegal Voice. I am Carl Morrison. My guest today is Linda McGrath-Cruz.
Linda, before the commercial break we were discussing striking up a conversation with a complete stranger and hearing that you are not that much of an extrovert just shocked me, but that’s okay. So let’s talk about the opposite angle. When you get trapped in a conversation, and it happens a lot in conferences, especially if you are in a leadership role and really in life in general, I don’t shy away from a conversation and I can get into deep conversation with people and lose total track of time and I know other people want to talk to me, but some people just naturally take up more time with me and so it’s hard.
People want to come up, but they don’t feel like they can jump into the conversation and I see they are trying to come to me and I am like I have got to get out of this conversation, but you don’t want to be rude. So how do you do it? How do you break away politely from a conversation? What are some tricks that you use when you get, and it sounds bad, get sucked into a conversation, but you need to break away, but you don’t want to be rude?
Linda McGrath-Cruz: Well, this always happens, right. You definitely want to have time to at least say hi and have a quick chat with a whole bunch of different people and now you find yourself locked into a conversation. And that’s not to say that the conversation is not awesome; I mean it could be fantastic, but sometimes opportunities to catch someone else you were hoping to meet can be limited.
We are all trying to do a million different things while we are at conference and you have just got to try to fit everything in. So if you are in a small group and you are just kind of listening and occasionally chiming in, you may simply be able to just excuse yourself from the conversation without pretty much any explanation.
If you are more directly tied into the conversation, you will probably have to wait for a natural cutoff point and say something simple, but direct. Like, I would love to continue this conversation, but I see someone that I need to connect with. Is it okay if we continue the conversation later? Nine times out of ten they are going to move on, you are not going to have a problem.
If there is a natural lull to the conversation, it’s also a great time to excuse yourself to get something to eat or to refresh your drink or to even check in at the office as many paralegals will appreciate and sympathize with that, so that’s kind of a good kind of catch all excuse, not that I would ever say that, never, never, we would never say that.
But also, if you can’t seem to extract yourself from the conversation any other way, an excited utterance can often do the trick. So for example, you can look down at your phone or your watch and exclaim, oh my gosh, I just realized that it’s almost 4 p.m., I really, really have to get going, but it was so wonderful to meet you. So no matter how you excuse yourself, you really want to always end the encounter on a positive note by letting the person know how much you enjoyed meeting them.
And also, you should have your business cards handy and exchange business cards whenever possible. And exchanging business cards actually is kind of like serving dessert at a dinner, it’s almost kind of like an indication that okay, we are about to go our separate ways, so here is my business card. So that’s kind of like one good way that a lot of people will understand like okay, it’s time to wrap up the conversation, here is my business card.
Carl Morrison: Right. And how I always do it is the similar type of thing is like oh, my gosh, I didn’t realize what time it is, I need to get to the next session, or I have got to meet with the board or whatever the situation might be, but go, here is my card, I really want to talk more about this conversation, it’s a great topic, so on and so forth, can I meet you for a drink before dinner or can we talk via email when you get back to your town or whatever the case might be, giving them an opportunity to say I am just not walking away, I want to continue this conversation, I just can’t do it right this second. So that’s always a great way to end it, end it on a high note, end it on a positive note.
So let’s talk about exhibitors and networking with them. Do you think it’s important for a paralegal to hit the exhibit hall and visit with all of the exhibitors? I work in corporate now, as a corporate paralegal and I really don’t have a need to visit with court reporters, because I have outside counsel that handles dealing with court reporting firms. So Linda, tell me why should I bother with visiting with them, for example, what would be the benefit?
Linda McGrath-Cruz: Okay, I absolutely 100% think that there is a benefit for paralegals to explore the exhibit hall and to network with the exhibitors. So first of all, I will say the obvious, swag. So who doesn’t love a giant bag filled with all kinds of goodies, but also it benefits the association and we all want to help and support our associations.
Because exhibitors provide a huge resource in the way of sponsorships, which can help provide additional events and resources that benefits everyone and also keeps registration fees lower. So if nobody interacts with the exhibitors, the exhibitors are less likely to want to get involved the next time. So just for that reason alone, it’s really important to support the exhibitors anytime you go to an event.
But for paralegals personally, I believe that you should never turn down an opportunity to make a connection. It’s all about building relationships and the relationships that you build with vendors or exhibitors or service providers can be just as valuable down the road as any other relationship.
And I want to give you a couple of quick examples. So like you, I also work in-house, but I do litigation. We handle a lot of our own matters in-house and we generally don’t have a lot of opportunity to use a lot of outside vendors, because we keep things kind of like really compact and short. So we don’t work with a lot of court reporters because we try to settle the cases before it even gets to that point, and we don’t work with a lot of process servers, for example, because we just — we are on the defense side and we can serve most of our subpoenas if we need to do that by fax.
But one example just on that point is the National Association of Professional Process Servers. So I met them for the first time at the NALA Conference last year and like I said, I rarely need to actually serve legal documents, so it would be really easy for me to dismiss them as a vendor that I would never use.
However, one thing I do need to frequently do is to obtain medical records and other sensitive data from providers all over the country and occasionally those providers demand that the records be paid for in-person or picked up in person from their office, and I found that many process servers are really happy to provide this service. So using the NAPPS Directory I essentially have a local presence all over the country.
Now, this is kind of one example of thinking creatively to solve a problem and using a vendor in a way that might not be obvious right off the bat.
So the other thing to keep in mind is that vendors are really, really involved in the legal community. They go to a lot of events. They go to a lot of law firms in the course of either doing their services or marketing their services and many times they really have their finger on the pulse of the legal community. Oftentimes they are the first person to hear about an upcoming job opening or other news and events that you may not otherwise hear about.
So I would say building relationships of all kinds, even if the benefit isn’t instantly obvious, is really important and can be very beneficial in the long run.
Carl Morrison: Definitely I agree with you on that, definitely.
Linda McGrath-Cruz: You also may be able to provide a friend or a colleague with a valuable referral down the road that may make a difference for them in getting a difficult job done. So you never know when the information may come in useful, even if it’s something that you don’t think you are going to use immediately, it might be something that you want to use in the future.
Carl Morrison: I agree, 110%. I always visit with all the exhibitors whether or not I am going to need their services or not because just like you said, you never know and I keep a stack of those types of business cards and of course their swag is peppered all over my office. So yes, I love the swag too, but I don’t go just for the swag, I definitely go to meet and to network.
So talking about networking, if I am a newbie at a conference and I start networking with people the first day, day-and-a-half, do you think as a newbie I should take the time and introduce the people I have just met to other people I meet, should I try to expand my circle, why do you think so, if so?
Linda McGrath-Cruz: Absolutely, I do think so. It’s all part of building relationships. So, many times at conferences as we know, you are going to come across a lot of people who are also newbies and what better way to help break the ice but by helping that connection grow.
So introducing someone that you have just met to someone else you have just met really helps take the focus off you as well. So if you are uncomfortable networking, talking about other people is usually easier than talking about ourselves, so it kind of provides you with just like a built-in icebreaker. Plus, it makes you look like a networking superstar and the other two people will really, really appreciate the icebreaker as well.
Carl Morrison: Exactly. Exactly. I tend to be — you will be surprised and listeners will be surprised, I tend to be a little bit of an introvert myself, even though I enjoy networking, going into a situation where I know no one, I have to step outside of my bubble, and when I meet people then, just like you said, if I can introduce them to other, it deflects for me, so it’s not all about me, it’s about introducing people and now that conversation started and it’s not everyone is looking at me. So definitely, yeah, it’s a great thing to do.
So what about other non-legal related conferences, do you think it’s beneficial for a paralegal to branch out and go to, let’s say for example, WordCamp, put on by WordPress, or one of those multilevel marketing conferences like AdvoCare or LuLaRoe or Origami Owl or one of those, do you think it’s beneficial for a paralegal to go to something that’s not legal related to network?
Linda McGrath-Cruz: Yeah, I am actually really excited that you asked me this question. I am not, just to kind of clarify right off the bat, I am not involved in any multilevel marketing products of any kind, but I think attendance at their conferences can be really a lot of fun. So obviously, it depends on your goals and interests, but the more networking opportunities you can attend, the more comfortable you generally should become with networking in general, and conferences such as AdvoCare, Origami Owl and to date myself, Amway or Longaberger tend to be extremely upbeat, positive and energetic and just a lot of all-around fun. I mean it’s kind of like going to cheerleading camp.
So they usually have motivational speakers and leadership components that certainly reach far beyond the products that the company directly sells and they can really have a long-lasting influence in your life. I can definitely see the value in that.
And other conferences such as WordCamp provide some really outside of the box networking opportunities, but also they have amazing educational lineups as well.
So for example, the 2018 WordCamp Conference has sessions about creating accessible websites using plug-ins and overcoming writer’s block. So conferences like those would definitely help paralegals who wear many hats and take on, for example, the role of setting up and maintaining the firm’s website. So between alternate educational opportunities, motivational components and leadership components, I definitely think that there is a lot of benefits out there for attending them and people definitely should not rule them out.
Carl Morrison: Well, you mentioned one thing that I have to tell — do a little tell on myself, you said cheerleading camp, I wasn’t a cheerleader in high school; however, I always wanted to be on a cheerleading team. So maybe I will do it now at my age, although I don’t know if that would be a wise thing.
So let’s wrap it up here, I have got a couple of questions for you, how has networking at conferences helped in your career, in your success?
Linda McGrath-Cruz: It actually has had a huge impact on my career. We were talking before the show about paralegal education and one of the things in my background that a lot of people don’t know is that I was a high school dropout. So I finished tenth grade and that was it, I never went back and then I went back to school later on.
But when I got my first paralegal job, it was purely a fluke. I had no paralegal experience and I had no paralegal education. What I did know was I needed a job and I heard that being a paralegal paid like sacks of money and it was just an amazing opportunity and I would get tons of respect in my own office and I would basically be set for life.
So of course, we know that that’s not exactly how it works out, but that was what I had heard, as like 17 and 18 year old high school dropout, that was my perception of being a paralegal. And so through networking I found an opportunity where the firm’s paralegal of over 10 years had resigned. She gave them two weeks’ notice. They had not even started looking for her replacement by the end of the two weeks. And I knew somebody who knew somebody, I called them up and they got me in for an interview and they offered me the job the same day.
Now, the funny thing is I didn’t find out until later that they really only offered me the job so that they could have someone there while they were trying to find someone with more experience. But that’s not the important part. The important part is because of networking, I was able to get in the door, and once I got in the door, I was able to show them what I could do. And I ended up working there for 14 years, and I basically learned everything I learned about being a paralegal in that position and it really made me the paralegal that I am today.
And when I was ready to leave that firm after 14 years, networking in bar associations and other local opportunities is what led me to my second paralegal position, which was at a much bigger firm. And so coming from a small firm, which was relatively unknown, with just not a lot of big firm experience or big case experience, there was no way that I would even have been considered for a position like the one that I got without having something else going for me. And so a lot of times networking and getting out there and meeting people can open doors that might not necessarily be open.
And so in addition to helping me further my career by having access to these positions that I may never have known about otherwise, I have also had additional opportunities through speaking for paralegal associations, writing articles for legal publications and things of that nature, that have all come to me through networking.
So whether it’s networking at a paralegal association event, a bar association event or even on LinkedIn, which has opened many doors for me, there’s just a lot of benefits to kind of putting yourself out there, and I think everyone really should — everyone should be doing it, because there’s just so many opportunities out there that you are never going to know about if you don’t put yourself out there in the way of those opportunities to allow them to come to you.
Carl Morrison: You are exactly right, and I teach students this all the time is the fact that networking, when you network, especially going to conferences where you are meeting people face-to-face and being able to talk with them, that’s how you find the jobs, that’s how they find you, and they seek you out to write an article to present at a seminar, so on and so forth. It’s all about networking. And so it is important and networking at conferences does help your career.
You think it’s all going and having fun because it’s in Orlando, but yeah, there’s fun, but there’s also fun and networking. So definitely networking plays a part in a paralegal’s career success.
I will tell you, it looks like we are running out of time. I know I have had a fun time with you, Linda. I hope you have enjoyed yourself.
I have got a final question. I always have to have a fun question of my guests and so you are not any different, so you don’t get away from it, sorry. So my question to you is, if you were a new addition to a crayon box and I love to color, I still love to color, even as an adult, but if you are a new addition to a crayon box, what color would you be and why?
Linda McGrath-Cruz: Oh my gosh. I love these tricky interview type questions. I think, let’s see, I think I would be yellow, and so I would be yellow because yellow is the color of optimism and I always tend to be optimistic. No matter what’s going on around me, whatever craziness is happening around me, you can always count on me to be the optimistic one.
And the other nice thing about the color yellow is that it’s believed that the color yellow stimulates the left side of the brain, which also helps with clear thinking and quick decision-making and those are two qualities that benefit all paralegals.
Carl Morrison: So I am going to test you then, when I see you at the NALS Conference in Phoenix next month, and I am going to see if that’s true, see how much of the color yellow you are. No, I am kidding.
Definitely, Linda, thank you so much for being my guest. I greatly appreciate it. If any listeners on today’s show want to get in contact with you, how would they do that?
Linda McGrath-Cruz: I am pretty easily found on Facebook or LinkedIn or you can just go to my website, perfectlyparalegal.com and you will find all of my links. My email address is [email protected] and I am always open to receive questions or comments, or anything that I can help you with, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Carl Morrison: Linda, thanks so much for being our guest again.
And that’s all the time we have for today’s podcast. Be sure and tune in to next month’s episode where I will have a fantastic guest or guests, surprise guest, as I will be reporting from the NALS 67th Education Conference in Phoenix, Arizona and it’s going to be a great time. So definitely tune in to next month’s Paralegal Voice, and with that, we are going to take a short commercial break and when we return, I have got a couple of follow-up announcements and I will do our Listener’s Voice. Stay tuned.
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Carl Morrison: The following are some upcoming paralegal and paralegal related conferences worth noting, and more importantly, attending, so be sure, and if you haven’t registered for one of these, you do so soon and definitely attend.
NALS, the Association for Legal Professionals is hosting their 67th Annual Education & Networking Conference, September 20-22 in Phoenix, Arizona at the Phoenix Marriott Mesa. Fun and unique education and networking opportunities for legal professionals will be presented, so be sure and attend.
Of course, there is, like last month I told you guys, there is a fun foundation, NALS Foundation event, it’s called NALS Prom, which I will be sporting my formal attire. So definitely, if you haven’t registered to attend, register now at nals.org and check it out.
I will also be recording my next show from the conference, so you definitely won’t want to miss that show.
NFPA, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, will be hosting their 2018 Annual Convention and Policy Meeting in Seattle, Washington at the Hilton Seattle Airport Hotel & Conference Center, October 25-28. Come with me as we travel the Yellow Brick Road and head to the Emerald City, Seattle, Washington. It’s going to be a great meeting and you don’t want to miss out on this wonderful conference.
And finally, we come to that segment of the show called the Listener’s Voice. This is my favorite part of the show and it’s an opportunity for you as a listener to send me an email with any of your questions, your career celebrations, etc. I will read through them and select those to actually read on the air, and if there’s a particular topic you have a question that you would like for me to answer or maybe a prior guest that you want me to ask of the guest, have that question, send it in and make your voice, the listener’s voice, known and heard. Send your email to me at [email protected].
Today’s question comes from Erica Goss. Erica writes, Carl, I have listened to your show many times and absolutely enjoy every minute of it. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge. I have a quick question about paralegal certificates. Is it only viewed as beneficial when someone has an underlying degree in something else or does it stand well enough on its own without that person having a degree? I am looking into either going for my Associate’s in Paralegal Studies or just getting the certificate if it will actually help me obtain a job. And obviously, it’s completed in a shorter amount of time. Can you provide any insight? Thanks. I appreciate your advice you can give.
Well, Erica, thank you so much for listening to the show and writing in. Definitely, I love getting questions, especially about education because it is a passion of mine.
So to answer your question, well, depends if you actually have — let’s start with — kind of it’s a two-pronged answer, so let’s start first. If you already have a degree in something else, say for example a bachelor’s degree in biology, well, going and getting a paralegal certificate just is demonstrating to a prospective employer that you have the paralegal knowledge and skills in order to do the job. Your undergrad degree in something else demonstrates that you have the core skills in grammar and communication, things of that nature to do those types of skills. So if you already have a degree in something else, adding a paralegal certificate on top of it is definitely the way to go.
Now, if you don’t already have a degree, it kind of depends. I say any additional education you can demonstrate to a prospective employer is good. So my recommendation is look at an associate’s degree, definitely an ABA-approved program from a community college or a university definitely demonstrates that that school is doing everything that it’s supposed to do in providing high quality paralegal education to its students.
But if you are looking at a program that they have an Associate’s in Paralegal Studies, but they also offer a certificate, weigh the options. There may be just a shorter amount of time, it may be more condensed, the certificate program would be, and it may save you money, but you are still getting all the core knowledge and skills that you need in order to do the job that you are applying for as a paralegal.
So Erica, thank you so much. I hope that’s answered your question; I hope that answers other listeners’ questions that may have very similar. Always think about education and weigh, number one, the school that you are attending, how well received, what are its marks, how much their accreditation is. Look at the program itself, the length of the time, what classes are being taught to you, things of that nature. You have to kind of just not go into it blindly, and weigh your options.
So thank you. And listeners, definitely keep those questions coming.
That’s all the time we have today for The Paralegal Voice. If you have questions about today’s show, please email them to me at [email protected]. Stay tuned for more information and upcoming podcasts for exciting paralegal trends, news and engaging and fun interviews from leading paralegals and other leading legal professionals.
Thank you for listening to The Paralegal Voice, produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network.
If you would like more information about today’s show, please visit legaltalknetwork.com. And find Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or definitely download Legal Talk Network’s free app in Google Play and iTunes.
And reminding you that I am here to enhance your passion and dedication to the paralegal profession and make your paralegal voice heard.
Outro: The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, or subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
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