The magic of paralegal conferences is that you can learn new things about your profession and make connections that you couldn’t have otherwise, all while actually having fun. In this episode of the Paralegal Voice, host Carl Morrison talks to Lauren Rentz and Tara Hughes about their experiences of the NALS 67th Annual Education and Networking Conference. Lauren, a new paralegal, and Tara, a seasoned paralegal, discuss about the sessions that stood out to them as well as tips and tricks for new attendees. Stay tuned to the end for 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]
Tara Hughes, PP-SC, ACP is employed as a paralegal at Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, PC, in Phoenix, Arizona where she specializes in family law.
Lauren Rentz is a paralegal in Greenville, South Carolina.
Special thanks to our sponsors, NALA, ServeNow, and Thomson Reuters Firm Central.
The Paralegal Voice
NALS 67th Annual Education and Networking Conference
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 at 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.
Today, I am recording from the NALS 67th Annual Education and Networking Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. I am mixing it up here a bit and we’ll be interviewing a couple of attendees from the conference, and so, you can think of this as me asking questions from the “woman on the street.”
So, my first guest today with me is Lauren Rentz, a paralegal from Greenville, South Carolina. This is her first national paralegal conference, and my second guest will be Tara Hughes, a certified paralegal and the national president of NALS, and she’s from Phoenix.
But first, we’re going to start with Lauren.
Thank you so much for agreeing to do this and be here as a first-timer to the National Conference.
Lauren Rentz: Well, thank you for inviting me. I feel very privileged and honored.
Carl Morrison: Oh, well, great. I’m glad you’re doing it. So, we’ll have a lot of fun and don’t be afraid. So — 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; and so, like I said, today we’re mixing it up a bit.
Of course, the weather is beautiful and warm and sunny here in Phoenix. I call myself a Desert Dweller or aka Desert Rat now being here and living out in the Southwest for about three years now, and like I said my first guest, it’s Lauren Rentz and she is a first-timer and I wanted to share with the listeners impressions of a first-timer at paralegal at a national conference.
So, like I said, Lauren, thank you for agreeing to do this, to be here, but before we get into the meat and potatoes of the questions, this is your first conference, right?
Lauren Rentz: Yes.
Carl Morrison: So, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself first before we start talking about the conference.
Lauren Rentz: Well, I’m about to be 27. I’m from South Carolina. I’ve been working in a law firm for almost a year just shy of a year. First time I’ve ever done anything like this and I am truly blessed that I have found a job at this young of an age. Well, not really young but that I absolutely love waking up in the morning and getting to go to work and I just — I love what I do.
Carl Morrison: You are young and I’m so excited to hear that you feel so blessed to be in such a profession because I was a little bit younger than you when I first started and absolutely loved it and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
So, I’m glad to hear that you had the passion and drive for the paralegal profession. So, as a first-timer and sort of as a newbie to the profession at heart what prompted you to register for a National Conference, Legal Professional Conference? What was the hook to get you to come to the conference and really you travel on the cross, entire country?
Lauren Rentz: Yeah. Well, I was kind of — I tell Tara Brown, she’s our president-elect for our chapter for Ellis, our legal staff professionals at Greenville. I tell her I’m her mini-me because literally our president now is my office manager. She told me like in March, she was like, hey, you need to come with us, to one of our luncheons and I was like, okay, cool. I get there and like two weeks later she’s like, hey, I’m nominating you as treasurer and I was like, what?
I am like, I have barely been here. She’s like, no, you’ll be okay, you’ll be okay. So, I started doing all that and I started hearing them talk about. I think it was in Vegas a couple years ago and are there paralegal networks for this virtually. They were telling me about it and I was like it sounds like a lot of fun, I’m super-excited and I’m kind of a nerd like I love to learn new things, so when they were telling me that there was going to be different classes I could take that was really like what got me excited there and to be kind of get out of my shell a little bit and meet new people so.
Carl Morrison: Right. You’re speaking to another nerd in the room. I love to learn and I’ll never forget. When I graduated from high school we won’t say the year, but when I graduated from high school I had a lawyer actually give me a particular book and he inscribed in the cover of the book that to never stop learning and I took those words to heart and I have never stopped learning, you can always learn something new.
So, coming to the conference the hook was one of the things I hear what you’re saying is that it’s learning, you wanted to learn more.
Lauren Rentz: Yeah.
Carl Morrison: That’s great, so nerd to nerd.
Lauren Rentz: You get me, you understand me.
Carl Morrison: I get you, I get you, and I am sure there is other listeners that get it as well.
So, I guess two days ago was the first day of the conference, so that was like the big keynote speaker first session. So, tell the listeners what was your impression as you came into the keynote, the first session right off the bat, what was your impression, what was your thought?
Lauren Rentz: It’s a little overwhelming to begin with because I’m kind of not like a real social person, so it was a little overwhelming being in a room of people like I barely knew but then like everybody started coming up to me, I have my bright yellow batch, so I’m a first-timer. So, everybody is like coming up talking to me, saying, hey, and introduced me and I just kind of started to feel at home and I just — I love that, that everybody just kind of made me feel welcome.
Carl Morrison: That’s great, that’s great.
Lauren Rentz: Yeah.
Carl Morrison: I remember my first national legal conference. I had been like practicing paralegal for several years before I even went to a conference and the only reason I went was because the senior paralegal I worked with at the law firm she couldn’t speak. She had some other engagement trial or something and so she said, boy, I want you to go do my presentation for me and I’m going what? And I went in there and killed it and was like I love conferences. Gosh, I got to go to the next client. So, 11 years later I’ve been doing it and love it and so — but that first impression of going in you are going, woow.
Lauren Rentz: Yeah, and especially coming from like a super small town in the south like you get out of here and it’s like completely different, and like culture shock.
Carl Morrison: Right. So, we’ve been going now for a couple of days and attending a lot of sessions. So, tell the listeners what was your favorite session so far? Do you have a favorite? You may have multiple favorites?
Lauren Rentz: Yes.
Carl Morrison: And what was your least favorite? So, what’s your favorite and least favorite?
Lauren Rentz: Let’s see, my most favorite was the sweeter side of business that Dean Knowlton did, he was really engaging and it was just kind of like how you could, I guess, kind of pay it forward, go around and make sure that your employees, or paralegals or legal staff has been – they are taking care of themselves, they’re feeling wanted, because that’s the main thing that is — how I am going to put, that means a lot to me is that my boss actually cares.
Carl Morrison: Right.
Lauren Rentz: I’ve never left a job because I didn’t like the job, I left because I didn’t like management, and now where I’m at now, my boss is amazing and great like he’s been texting me and checking on me like, hey, are you enjoying it, are you having fun? And I’m like, it’s just the light bulb, and I’m like, this is about my boss basically.
And then my least favorite, I don’t really know, I’ve enjoyed all of them. Like I’ve learned something new at all of them, and there’s not one of them that I haven’t taken something away from.
Carl Morrison: Right. I will tell you that like most paralegals that go to conferences just a little bit of mentoring here, you will find that your boss will always be pestering you when you come into conferences, it happens to me as well, but I wouldn’t do it any other way.
Lauren Rentz: Right.
Carl Morrison: Then “checking up” on us is really they’re missing us, because they can’t function without us.
Lauren Rentz: Exactly.
Carl Morrison: And he’s realizing the worth that you have and give to his particular practice. So, kudos to you that he’s checking — “checking in” with you. So, if there are listeners in today’s show listening to the show that maybe they’ve never gone to a national paralegal or legal administrators or whatever type of legal conference, National Legal Conference?
If they’ve never been to one before what advice would you give to them about attending as a first-timer?
Lauren Rentz: Just do it.
Carl Morrison: Just do it?
Lauren Rentz: Just do it. You meet so many people that you can connect with, you can — and I was talking to again Tara Brown, she was telling me that when she sold my boss actually on letting us come, probably five-six years ago I think that she hadn’t met somebody from Hawaii I think and she said, hey, I called her up, I had client and had a property in Hawaii and I was like, hey, I need a deed.
She got in touch with that lady and they got everything done for and she’s like chase, she’s like you get these connections, she’s like it’s something you can’t pass up on it because you have somebody everywhere that eventually is going to help you, you network and you connect with everybody and that’s just been — and I’m beginning to see that now. I’m like, hey, I can keep this person in mind for this, we do this and they do it in a different state. We can kind of bounce off each other.
Carl Morrison: I tell students all the time that networking is a key component to being a very successful paralegal.
Lauren Rentz: Yes.
Carl Morrison: And one way to network then there’s multiple ways to network with your peers, but one way to network is to go to the National Conference and bring a stack of business cards and start throwing them out, and if you don’t have business cards, create your own, Vistaprint and all those type of places you can get cards cheap.
And make a stack of your own business cards to pass out contact information because I have over the years of going to national conferences, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a situation in another state and I have literally met someone in almost every state, in the Union and been able to reach out to them; from Georgia to South Carolina to California to Washington and vice versa.
People have contacted me in my respective state because it’s like, oh, I know Carl, so I’ll reach out to him, and so yeah, networking is a huge component about going to the conference.
So, Lauren, I could talk to you for like two more hours, but I’ve got another guest just knocking on the door as we speak and I want to say thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me and kind of give —
Lauren Rentz: Well, thank you for asking me.
Carl Morrison: Of course. Of course, and being able to give a little bit of a first-timer’s perspective to coming to a national conference. I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference, we still have the rest of the day, and of course, I’ll see you around and let’s take a short commercial break, and when we come back, we’ll continue our show and meet with Terry Hughes, a seasoned Certified Paralegal and National President of NALS who is put on this particular conference here in Phoenix, Arizona. So, we’ll be back.
NALA offers continuing education, professional development and voluntary certification for all paralegals. The Certified Paralegal credential has been awarded to more than 19,000 paralegals. The Certified Paralegal Program is also the first paralegal certification program accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
NALA works actively with all those in the legal field to promote the value of paralegals and to advance paralegal professionalism. Learn more about NALA at www.nala.org.
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Carl Morrison: Welcome back to The Paralegal Voice. I’m Carl Morrison. I’m reporting from the NALS 67th Annual Education and Networking Conference here in sunny and warm Phoenix, Arizona. I’ll tell you guys it is very warm but we’re in the desert, so to be expected.
My second guest today is Tara Hughes. Tara is a Senior Certified Paralegal from Phoenix and she is the current National President of NALS and she’s here with us to get her perspective as a more seasoned paralegal, I never like to say senior paralegal, it makes us feel old, so you’re a seasoned paralegal, okay, so.
Tara Hughes: Did you know you called me a senior paralegal when you first started?
Carl Morrison: Did I really?
Tara Hughes: You did.
Carl Morrison: Oh, well, Seasoned Certified Paralegal, let’s put it that way.
Tara Hughes: I prefer that term better as well.
Carl Morrison: So, Tara before we get into similar questions, why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself.
Tara Hughes: Absolutely and thank you for having me on the show, Carl. I really enjoy listening, you have wonderful topics, and I know we all work in a field where it’s stressful and you bring a little levity to our day or at least to my day, so thank you for that.
Carl Morrison: Thank you.
Tara Hughes: I have been working in the legal field for about 22 years now, sorry, I always have to do the math when I do that. I got my start in Washington State and moved to Phoenix, Arizona where I have been working in private practice there since 2005, so about 13 years all in family law.
So, I am pretty seasoned in that area. I also have three certifications; one from each of the national associations. The first one I got was the NALA CP Certification, Certified Paralegal. I got that right after I finished my Paralegal Certificate at Phoenix College. Then I earned my PP, my Professional Paralegal NALS, the Association for Legal Professionals. And finally, two years ago, I got my RP (Registered Paralegal) from NFPA. So, I’ve got all the Ps.
Carl Morrison: Nothing wrong with that. I am a huge proponent of certification, education and I too am collecting my piece. So I’m right which is just one more left to do and that’s NALA’s Certified Paralegal exam, so very soon.
So my first guest, she and I were talking about the first-timer’s perspective of coming to a National Legal Conference.
Tara Hughes: Yes.
Carl Morrison: So, I’d like to kind of get your take as someone that’s been to other legal conferences and other conferences in general, because you and I were talking and you belong or sell, I guess –
Tara Hughes: I am a designer.
Carl Morrison: You’re a designer, excuse me with KEEP, right?
Tara Hughes: Yes, that’s correct.
Carl Morrison: Okay, and so first, what conferences have you been going to like besides NALS, NALA, American Bar Association, local-level type conferences, what conferences have you gone to and how long have you been going to like national level type conferences? And then I’m going to segue into another little portion about going to national conference so first question first.
Tara Hughes: Okay, first three questions first.
Carl Morrison: Right.
Tara Hughes: Well, my very first national conference was a NALS Conference in Norfolk, Virginia, it was in 2008, and I’ve only missed one since then. So I’ve been coming pretty regularly to the NALS National Conferences. I have also attended the – we have in Phoenix, it’s Maricopa County, their Bar Association has a paralegal division that has a conference, a one-day conference every year. So, I’ve been to that as well. So, it’s not necessarily a national conference but it’s not a national organization, so we’re fine there, and I attend those fairly regularly.
I’ve also been to — I volunteer with the State Bar and I attend their two-day family law conference every year, it’s held here in Phoenix, again it’s a state thing, but I help out the State Bar, I help out at the registration desk but then I also get to sit in on the CLE. So, I get the same CLE that the attorneys do for no money.
Carl Morrison: What a deal, I mean, I want that.
Tara Hughes: But then you also mentioned that I was a designer for KEEP Collective, it’s bracelet — that we sell bracelets and there’s necklaces and it’s really about designing and your own unique story with that, but they had their annual conference in Nashville this year, they call it Hoopla, and that was really fun to go to, something a little bit different to see how it kind of differs for something in the legal field, which it doesn’t it doesn’t.
Carl Morrison: Right, pretty much all conferences kind of follow the same format, it’s just the substantive that’s different course. So, what was your experience going to your first ever national like paralegal-legal type conference, what was your overall experience?
Tara Hughes: Well, I was excited. I had been involved locally for a couple of years, when I went to that. So, I knew what NALS was, I knew what was about, I didn’t know the extent of what I was going to experience on the national level.
With people from other states, all around the country, I knew that my local chapter was friendly and nice and welcoming, but it was ten times that at my first conference when I went to national, and it continues to blow me away every time I go, even though I’ve been to I think nine now.
So, yeah, I just — I mean in the education, there’s just so much to choose from, it’s just a variety of things. We always have fun things to do. So, it was just all like new experiences that I got to experience with all these new people that I don’t get to see all the time.
Carl Morrison: Right. Did you think it was a little daunting at first, a little overwhelming at first?
Tara Hughes: Yeah, because there is a lot to choose from and you are not sure where to go and especially if you are in a city that you don’t know, you kind of feel stuck, but luckily I was with some people from Phoenix, so I was able to kind of glob on to them.
But then also just the other attendees that were there were kind enough and I can always ask anybody any questions, if I didn’t know where a room was or to sit next to somebody if I was going to a session by myself.
Carl Morrison: Right, yeah. What do you look for when attending a legal conference? What’s the hook? What gets you to attend? Is it like looking in substantive law, technology, the fun events, what is it that, ooh, I want to go to that, is it the location?
Tara Hughes: I think it’s a little bit of everything. I first look and see if I know the association or who is putting on the seminar, because I have been around a little bit longer, there are some that are, I am going to use the term funner, more fun than others because that I think is part of it. So I think I want to make sure that there is a good mix of good education and topics that I want to hear about, but also some of those fun elements and networking, because that is a — I use my networking every day, every single day. And so if there is time built in for that, along with the education, that’s what’s really important.
And about the education, I work in family law, solely in family law, but I like to go to CLE — I mean I do like to go to CLEs about family law because I learn things, but also I like to go to other areas of law, because family law does touch upon a lot of different areas. And so for me to even have an experience with that area of law, to have a little bit of knowledge about it, then I can actually do something when it comes up.
Carl Morrison: It’s funny that you mention that because conversely, when I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I worked for a large firm and started working with one partner that she needed family law paralegal assistants. My experience has always been civil litigation, that’s what I have done for a million years and I really didn’t know that much, but I still had a lot of the same skill sets that transferred into doing family law, all I needed to learn was the substantive procedural aspect of the family law world. And so being able to attend local conference where there were sessions on family law helped me get educated on that respective area.
Tara Hughes: Absolutely.
Carl Morrison: So yeah, even today I don’t do family law, but there were couple of sessions at this conference this weekend that it’s like oh, well, that’s really interesting, I want to go hear that. I learned a ton of stuff and some stuff that actually will transfer into what I do now.
So it’s exciting to go and to don’t always just — my recommendation is don’t always go into your track that you do, branch out.
Tara Hughes: Right, exactly. And don’t — when you are looking at what education is being offered, don’t just say well, there aren’t any family law sessions or any — there is always civil litigation, plenty of that, but there is no IP, there is no, whatever area of law you work in, look and see if there is actually something, because a lot of things do cross over.
So you may go to a real estate section about valuing homes. Well, we do that in family law. So you not only have to look at what area of law it is, but what the topic is and what the speaker is going to present on.
Carl Morrison: Right, yeah, exactly. So we really just wrapped up the weekend, the sessions, and this last session especially and so you have been attending the sessions, like I have, throughout the entire conference and the fun events and there has been some really fun things here. What’s been your favorite session so far? Was there like —
Tara Hughes: Gosh, I have to pick just one? No, I think I am going to put it into two categories if you don’t mind.
Carl Morrison: Sure.
Tara Hughes: So because there were sessions that were substantive and legal related and then there were other sessions that were leadership or kind of in the other category that weren’t necessarily substantive. And I would have to say that my favorite non-substantive was this last session that we had, Reignite Passion and kind of bring it back. We challenged our members and our attendees to bring it back to why they came, why they are here, why they are members.
And no matter what association you are in, it’s all about passion. I mean we are passionate about our jobs. We are passionate about the field that we are in. We are passionate about our personal lives. We are just — you should be passionate, I mean it makes you happy.
Carl Morrison: Right.
Tara Hughes: And so it was really exciting. We weren’t really sure how that session was going to go and if anybody was going to stand up, but we didn’t have to call on anybody, we had plenty of people to stand up and the stories that they told were so moving and amazing and it just re — even though I knew what was going on and what it was all about, it even more so reignited my passion.
Carl Morrison: Great. What about substantive sessions?
Tara Hughes: Substantive, so I think my favorite substantive session was we had a speaker on Trans 101 and it was providing information about that community, the trans community, what to say, what not to say, how to interact if you have never been around a trans person and also some of the struggles that they go through in their employment, in their housing, and what allies can do to help them out.
Carl Morrison: I will say that was one of the sessions that was one of my favorites was that particular session. And working in a corporate setting, there was a lot of things that while I work for a company that is very embracing into that particular community, there was still a lot for us to learn that I thought would be great takeaway. And in fact, I after the session went up to the speaker and talked to them about actually that attorney and the transgendered attorney, having those two come and speak to our particular company, so it was a fantastic session.
Tara Hughes: Yeah. And again, going back to my point earlier about looking at the session and seeing what it’s about, there are even family law issues that come up for transgender people. So again, you just never know and you have to be mindful and not just look at what’s on the surface and the schedule, what the title is or who the speaker is or what the area of law is, you have to really dive in and see what that is.
Carl Morrison: And that particular session touched on employment law and ramifications from the employer standpoint.
Tara Hughes: Absolutely.
Carl Morrison: And so it was like wow. Well, for me personally it was a subject that I was interested in any way that I was going to attend, I didn’t realize I was going to walk away with some employment law aspect to take back to my job. And so it’s like yeah, you can’t always necessarily take it at the cover, just by the description, you may have to actually go in and sit in on a session, you know.
Tara Hughes: Exactly, exactly.
Carl Morrison: So as a seasoned paralegal, not senior, who has gone to many conferences, what are some tips, tricks that you would give to a first timer, that individual that’s coming to a national conference for the very first time?
Tara Hughes: The first thing I would do would be to say sign up for everything, attend all of the sessions, attend the luncheons, attend the welcome party, attend any evening events, even if they are an extra ticketed event, and even if it may not sound fun to you, because I truly believe that you get out of it what you put in.
So if you are just sort of going to sessions or you are afraid to go by yourself, find a buddy, ask for a mentor, just ask questions. It’s never going to hurt to ask questions, but also participate and be an active participant. Don’t just go and sit in the back of the room because you are not going to get very much out of it, but network, meet people. That’s what this is all about, because you never know when you are going to need someone.
I am in Phoenix, if I need somebody — I had a NALS friend help me in New York about a filing because I couldn’t figure out their website and so I said instead of spending hours on this or getting on the phone, why don’t I just call my friend, and I got an answer in 10 minutes. So it’s meeting those people, especially at these national conferences that are from all around the country so that you can expand your network.
Carl Morrison: And I will even add to that, I have attended now NALA’s conference, a couple of their conferences and I have attended several of course NALS conferences. NFPA is next on my list of conferences to attend. And the reason why is I get a lot from all of them; I mean I got a lot from NALA’s conferences and I have met individuals and networked with individuals from NALA’s conferences in addition to NALS.
So I just keep adding to my collection of network and go, embrace another one and see what it’s like. You will find different perspectives in each association and going to those national conferences. I am a huge proponent about networking and so conferences is a huge way to really build and build your network quickly and large.
Tara Hughes: Well, and I think it’s important for students or people looking to get into the paralegal field, don’t wait to network, do it now, start now, even if you don’t have a paralegal job, that may be the way to get one. Even if you don’t have all of your education, you are going to get more and you are going to meet people and that’s how — I mean I truly believe most legal jobs are found — maybe even anything, I don’t know, I know about legal, is about who you know, and knowing about that job before it goes public and you have to start networking now, don’t wait.
Carl Morrison: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely true. Well, unfortunately you and I could talk for hours on in.
Tara Hughes: We can.
Carl Morrison: My voice is virtually, I am losing it because I have talked more in the past three days than I have talked in the past three months, so I am going to go back to work and I am going to have no voice, but that’s okay. But really that’s all the time we have for today’s podcast.
So I want to say to my guest here, Tara Hughes, thank you so much for agreeing to be my second guinea pig on today’s show. I really enjoyed you doing this and thank you so much.
Tara Hughes: Well, thank you Carl, I really appreciate it and hopefully I have had some wisdom for people and hopefully they go to their next conference and take advantage of everything it has to offer.
Carl Morrison: Thank you so much. That’s all the time we have for today’s podcast. Be sure and tune in to next month’s episode.
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Carl Morrison: Welcome back. 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 attend.
NFPA 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 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 legal conference.
And finally, we come to my favorite segment of the show called Listener’s Voice. This is an opportunity for you as a listener to send me an email with any of your questions, your career celebrations, etc. and I will go through them and I will select those to read on air, and if there is a particular topic you would like to have read on air, send me an email and make your voice, the Listener’s Voice, known and heard. Send the email to me at [email protected].
Actually today’s question comes from a legal professional that I met here at the NALS conference and we were talking and this gentleman asked me the following. He said Carl, I am a legal professional who works for a local government agency. I have a bachelor’s degree and I have a paralegal certificate. I am considering a move to another state and I am concerned about my ability to find employment as a paralegal.
Now, while I have paralegal education and I do have paralegal certification, I don’t have a lot of experience working as a paralegal and I am really working currently more — in a more management type role. So how should I go about looking for employment as a paralegal in another city or state?
So to that question my answer is first think about the skills that you have. I will tell you and this goes for anybody, whether you are moving across country or not and looking to transfer into maybe a different area of law or even into a more substantive paralegal type role, you have got skill sets that do transfer. You don’t realize them and it’s when you take stock and figure out okay, what do I do in my current position, well, list them out and go through them and figure out oh, okay, I supervise two or three individuals in my department.
Well great, well, you have A, leadership skills; B, you have management skills. You probably project manage over them, all skill sets that are relevant to what you do, even if you go from a corporate governmental department into a law office world.
I, me personally, have switched to the opposite, I went from law firm world to corporate. And when I took stock I figured out okay, these are all the skill sets that I have to transfer into my particular role.
Don’t sell yourself short, second. You really — you have your education, you have your paralegal certificate, you have all these things that you were taught in the way of being a paralegal. So you have to feel confident and believe in yourself to know that yeah, I can make that switch from a governmental management role into a paralegal working in a law office.
And also, don’t sell yourself short in areas, don’t think about well, I can only get a job as a manager for a courthouse or corporate type department. No, you can go into and work for a law firm, you can go and work for an e-discovery company, you can go work for a trial presentation company. The sky is almost the limit for paralegals.
We are taught and I teach students, we are taught that as a paralegal you are going to be drafting motions, drafting letters, doing research, while yes, if that’s what you are going to do 100% of the time, sure. But all those skills transfer into other areas. And so they are the cornerstone, the building blocks of building on your career. So don’t sell yourself short, believe in yourself and know that you can do it.
And I wish you twhe best. I wish you all the luck in the world. I think that you will make an absolutely fine paralegal anywhere that you go; whether you stay in your home state or whether you move across the country.
So that’s all the time we have for today’s Paralegal Voice. Keep the questions coming. Email them to me at [email protected] and stay tuned for more information in upcoming podcasts for exciting paralegal trends, news, and engaging and fun interviews from leading paralegals and other leading legal professionals.
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