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Jill Francisco

Jill Francisco, ACP, is a paralegal at Dinsmore & Shohl in Huntington, West Virginia. She currently serves as the...

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Carl Morrison

Carl H. Morrison, ACP, RP, PP, AACP, is an experienced certified paralegal and paralegal manager and has been in...

Episode Notes

In the buildup to the 2019 NALA Conference & Expo, the Paralegal Voice host Carl Morrison talks with NALA president Jill Francisco to discuss why NALA is a valuable resource to paralegals, how paralegals can participate in leadership, and what obstacles NALA and the paralegal community will face in the coming years. As Jill prepares for the conclusion of her tenure as President in 2020, they also look back on her career path, her leadership style, and what legacy she hopes to leave.

Stick around for Listener’s Voice, Carl’s recurring segment featuring questions and comments from listeners like you. Send in your own question by emailing Carl at [email protected]

Jill Francisco is an advanced certified paralegal, a paralegal for Dinsmore & Shohl in Huntington, West Virginia, and the president of NALA.

Special thanks to our sponsors, and Legalinc.


The Paralegal Voice
A Conversation with NALA President Jill Francisco


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 to 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.

Before we begin, we would like to thank our sponsor NALA. NALA is a professional association for paralegals providing continuing education, voluntary certification and professional development programs. NALA has been a sponsor of The Paralegal Voice since our very first show.

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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 and of course, you guys know, I always had to throw that fun in there. So today, my special guest is Jill Francisco, Advanced Certified Paralegal, President of NALA and a paralegal for Dinsmore & Shohl of Huntington, West Virginia.

Jill, okay, you and I know I could read pages and pages of your amazing background and resume and I thought you know what, instead of boring my listeners with my voice, I want the listeners to hear from you. I’d love for them to hear a little bit about yourself in your own words.

So if you wouldn’t mind why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit of your background and tell me who is Jill Francisco.

Jill Francisco: Well, first of all, I’d like to thank you for having me. I appreciate it. And gosh this answer could take up the entire show but I assume this isn’t your only question.

So I will try to hit the highlight. I’ve been a paralegal for 22 years. I began with Huddleston Bolen, which was in 1997, and we merged with Dinsmore & Shohl in February of 2015. I graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Criminal Justice for the concentration in legal studies from Marshall University in 1994. Go herd.

I obtained NALA’s certification paralegal credential in 2005 and I also, as you mentioned, I have two advanced certifications in discovery and trial practice.

I’ve been involved in NALA in one capacity or another since 2002, and eventually, I was installed as NALA’s 24th President in July of 2018 during NALA’s Annual Convention & Expo that was in St. Louis Missouri last year.

I’m also and maybe the most important thing is I’m a mom to my son J.D. Francisco, who is 14-years-old, getting ready to go to high school which of course I’m still in denial, and I’m also a wife to my awesome and very tolerant husband Shawn. We recently celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary.

And like you said, I could go on and on too, but I am sure that you have some more questions for me.

Carl Morrison: Well, there are a couple of things that I want to say is A, I knew there was — well there’s many things that I just find so wonderful about you Jill, and I just have this kindred spirit with you and I’ve just heard one of the reasons why, it’s because you have your advanced certification and trial practice and I’m a trial junkie and I love the courtroom.

So I think that’s one of the reasons I love you.

Jill Francisco: Good. Thanks for 00:04:50 one of them.


Carl Morrison: And how amazing that you’ve got a wonderful husband, wonderful son to help support you, because everyone knows that being a paralegal, there are days that you want to kill everybody and our loved ones that are patient with us as we go through our trials and tribulations of being a paralegal in the legal industry is fantastic.

So great, that you have a wonderful support for you.

Jill Francisco: It is, it really is, it’s important.

Carl Morrison: So okay, I’m going to mix it up a little bit today, and for my listeners that normally listen to the show, I always got to have that fun question thrown in there and sometimes, I may do in the middle of the show, sometimes I do at the end, almost start our show Jill off with a bang. Woohoo.

So, and I want to know and of course, the listeners want to know you’re a leader in NALA and you’ve served on the National Board for several years now. I want to hear and our listeners want to hear what’s your funniest or if you’re willing to share with us your most embarrassing moment at the national level. What’s the funniest Jill story and don’t tell me you don’t have one, because come on, I know you got to have one? So tell me what’s your funny Jill story?

Jill Francisco: Well, I definitely have one, you’re definitely correct on that. And I went for the funniest story because I know you’re all your listeners do not know me personally, but I’m really somebody that doesn’t really get embarrassed, although I’m sure I should sometimes, but I don’t have that filter I guess, but.

So I think my life is a really one big funny story actually, but anyway, here’s a story that recently happened to me last year during NALA’ Annual Convention in St. Louis and I was performing some of my duties as NALA’s Vice President, this was before I was installed and it was early in the convention, where I went up on stage to the podium, the entire, all the attendees were in there and I was going to do one of our special award presentation.

And the presentation went as planned, everything was fine and then during the next break when I was going to post some, was taking photos and whatever I was going to post them on my Facebook page and social media and I noticed some photos of copy of the other conference attendees were posting of the award presentation that I had just done, which was awesome, except for one thing.

All you could see was me and my big hair peeking over the podium. It was absolutely hilarious. And like I said for those who don’t know me I am five feet tall and so my first or a presidential business was mandatory step stool at all podiums. I do have to take first to prove it.

Carl Morrison: Funny thing is, is I was not able to go to the conference last year and of course, I was following social media very closely and I saw that picture and I was just cracking up.

Jill Francisco: Yeah, I’m sure it’s still circling around out there because it was seriously hilarious.

Carl Morrison: Well Jill you’ve been serving on the NALA National Board for several years like I said since 2009. So I would like to know what was it that made you want to serve at the national level. Was there one thing that said Jill, this is your inspiration do you know, I want you to serve or were there different experiences, combination of different experiences that led you to want to lead at the national level?

Jill Francisco: Well, I’ll tell you what to be honest my inspiration to lead came from watching my mom be active in local state and national professional association. She was in a different profession because she was a dental hygienist in the school, and she served two terms as the President of the Department of People Services, so that’s what I grew up watching.

Obviously early years I didn’t really understand, possibly when she was going away to various conferences and things like that, but I knew that she absolutely loved her job and she always used to tell me to pick something that I loved, to go to work every day because it’s hard to do something that you don’t love and feel passionate about day in and day out.

And so, I did grow up watching that, and actually now I am using her presidential gavel when I preside over the meetings of the NALA Board of Directors and obviously, this is all very special and meaningful to me, because my mom passed away in May of 2008.

Carl Morrison: Wow that is really — that story just means so much to me because like you I had a mother that was very influential in why I chose my particular profession and actually kind of found me but how special that you use her gavel when you preside over different functions as President of NALA. So I think that’s such a really neat story. Thank You Jill for sharing that.

Jill Francisco: You are welcome.


Carl Morrison: If I was a new paralegal and I’m joining my local NALA affiliate or any paralegal Association for that matter but and I’m like you know what, hey this podcast is really speaking to me and maybe I want to serve in some sort of leadership role. What advice would you give to me if I’m a newbie about stepping up to the plate and serving? What should be my first step or steps?

Jill Francisco: Well I get asked this a lot when I’m going around. When I go out to visit some of NALA affiliated associations and I always say, which sounds funny, but I say just do it. Whenever I travel like I said around to the NALA affiliates, I tell them step up and get involved somehow, someway start small if that’s what your schedule allows, but whatever you do, just do it.

The possibilities are endless once you take that first step, and sometimes talking to just your friend if you’re in an organization, saying hey, I’d like to get involved, what can I do. Some people step up but then also on the flip side, I try to — as a leader, I try to look out for people that I think hey, they’re coming to meetings regularly, they’re kind of beginning to come out of their shell.

I feel like there’s might be some more there and sometimes, those type of people just need to be asked. And so I try to look for that too. But the moral of it is if you want to get involved, you’re interested, you’re kind of itching to do something, just try to just go all in and do it, just speak to somebody, speak to the leaders of that association and say what can I do, because I’ll guarantee they’re going to have something for you to do.

And it’s going to be something that you can — it’s going to be interesting to you and it’s going to speak to you and it will get you off on the right foot.

Carl Morrison: It’s funny that you are saying all that because a lot of times, some of us that step up and say oh, I’m interested, we have those members that almost voluntell you, you don’t get to volunteer, you get to — you’re voluntold to step up.

Jill Francisco: No choice.

Carl Morrison: No choice. But you know sometimes, that’s the best way is just to jump in and start swimming, and that’s one great thing about this particular association is that there’s a huge support network, and you’re not going to be left alone.

So if you’re a little afraid of step out, because I guarantee you someone is going to support you and help you become the leader that you want to be, which kind of leads me to my next question, when we’re talking about leadership skills is Jill, do you think that leadership and leadership skill or skills I should say is really an innate skill or do you think it’s skill that can be learned or is it a combination of both, what do you think?

Jill Francisco: Well, I think honestly, I think it’s a little bit of both, but I kind of lean to think that it’s maybe more of an innate skill. I think you’ve heard the quote, do you have it in you. And I think however some people don’t know or realize that they have it in them to lead.

Sometimes, it takes someone like we were just talking about being asked or someone outside from like an outside circumstance that brings it to their attention, so to speak, for them to realize that they are a leader. I think you can also know you are a leader and then still learn, constantly learning actually, and to perfect your leadership skills.

And I never know if I’m doing it right, if there is even such a thing, but when I have people tell me that I inspire them to step up or lead or take the certification exam or to serve on a committee or that I’m a mentor to them, it makes me think that I’m doing okay, and those kind of things obviously mean so much to me to get those types of comments from people.

But to answer your question I do think it’s a little bit of both, I think it’s a combination.

Carl Morrison: I agree with you I think that most leaders and you don’t have to be someone to become the president of a National Association like yourself, but even taking on the step of chairing a committee or overseeing, if you think about it in the workplace, overseeing a project, preparing a case for trial, we all have some level of leadership skill and we may not realize that we’re actual leaders, because we don’t have that title bestowed upon us.

Jill Francisco: Very true.

Carl Morrison: And it’s recognizing that you are a leader and that you’re a leader in the rough, if you don’t have a lot of leadership experience leading a whether it be a local level or national level, whatever the case might be, you have it in you and it’s just a matter of fine-tuning that skill or those skill sets.


And figuring out what your leadership style is and Jill, all leaders have a leadership style and many leaders have more than one leadership style. What would you say is your leadership style? How do you think someone would define your style or could you define your own style?

Jill Francisco: Well, I kind of had to research this a little bit to really probably make it make sense, but I kind of knew what it was but I didn’t really know how it fit in, so to speak, but anyway. I think I’m the strategic leader and I look this up and like I said according to Wikipedia strategic leadership is the ability to influence others to voluntarily make decisions that enhance the prospects for the organization’s long-term success.

And when I saw that I was like wow, I feel like that’s definitely it and it hit home with me. It went on to say in simple words it refers to the leaders’ potential or capability to express a strategic vision for the organization and to persuade them to pursue that vision with the help of right strategies and tools.

And I also think that’s a part of my leadership style too is I tried to develop a positive attitude and transmitting that to others to encourage them to reach a common goal, and of course, in this case, it’s to fulfill NALA’s goals, mission and vision. So I think that’s a strategic leader.

Carl Morrison: And I probably should have led in the question so our listeners also understand. When you talk about and when I was talking about leadership styles, there are — what’s known as like seven common types of styles and from like a strategic like you’re talking about to a democratic or a charismatic, and a lot of times, a lot of these styles, most leaders aren’t just one style, they have and utilized these different styles depending on the situation.

How you behave in a board meeting and how you operate as a leader in the board meeting, it’s going to be a little bit different and you may switch to the charismatic type leadership style when you’re presenting before the membership, you used the strategic leadership style in the board meeting but charismatic when you’re –

So yeah, we all have — when you talk about leaders, we all have one really dominant style and for you, your dominant is what you’re saying is your dominant is your strategic. For me, I’m kind of a really a hodgepodge, I mean I tend to think of me as being a democratic. I want everyone to provide their input into the decision that maybe being made or whatever the case may be, I’m looking to have everyone’s voice being heard.

But like you, when you’re at the podium, you’re going to really tap into that charismatic, because that’s just how you are with the members, and we all have our particular style, but really we have more than one style that we really tap into.

Jill Francisco: Yeah I think I agree, totally agree with that.

Carl Morrison: Yeah definitely, definitely. So let’s take a short commercial break and when we come back we’re going to continue our conversation with Jill Francisco; President of NALA. Don’t turn that dial.


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Carl Morrison: Welcome back. We’re talking with Jill Francisco, an Advanced Certified Parallel and the President of NALA, the Paralegal Association and before the break we were talking about leadership and leadership styles.


And Jill, you know as a leader, you have served in many different roles within the Association, and for many years, so how do you keep it exciting and not suffer that what I call the leader burnout?

Jill Francisco: I keep from getting burned out because I try to feed off my passion and my enthusiasm that I have for NALA and the paralegal profession. I absolutely love being a paralegal, and I want the paralegal profession to thrive well into the future. And so whenever I kind of think, oh, same old, same old, whether it’s with my job or leadership and associating activities and stuff, I think we need to keep going forward because I think being involved in your professional associations, being leaders is one of the ways to ensure that the paralegal profession will thrive well into the future, when you’re mentoring paralegal students and you’re inspiring young paralegals to advance in their paralegal career. So I try to mix it up, keep it interesting like that and remember doing what I love and it’s an honor and I try to just keep the passion alive that way.

Carl Morrison: So you know Jill, doing it for so many years you have to have that passion and drive to want to keep doing it and sometimes you can hit what I call that proverbial brick wall at times where you feel like can I keep going on but then you stop and realize, you know what, I’m doing this not for me, I’m doing this for everyone that comes behind me. And I want everyone behind me to succeed and talking with you Jill, you sound like me when you talk about your leadership style and type in the way of having that servant heart, having that servant leadership heart where you want to serve others, you want them to succeed, you want to see them succeed professionally and personally, and that’s what keeps you motivated, that’s what keeps you going, that’s what keeps you from being burned out and that’s how I look at it is that’s how I don’t get burned out.

I’ve been doing this now just like you for 10 years and in a leadership, some semblance of a leadership role, and you just keep doing it. We’re crazy I guess.

Jill Francisco: Yeah, some say, some say. It’s funny because when you say we keep doing it, it’s like sometimes people ask why you keep doing it and why are you going on and it’s almost like you are making an excuse of why you are so enthusiastic and you want to do it, because you don’t want to make somebody feel like that that’s not their thing, that it’s about –

Carl Morrison: Right, right, and that’s one thing as a leader you have to remember is there’s others that aren’t that way. They just want to be able to utilize the resources that are given to them by the association, come and be a network, but they don’t necessarily need to be a leader, they didn’t necessarily don’t need to lead something and that’s okay.

Jill Francisco: Right.

Carl Morrison: And we as leaders have to remember we don’t want them to feel guilty because they’re not, taking on a leadership role.

Jill Francisco: Right. We are making them —

Carl Morrison: We have to remind them hey, right you’re still making a difference by coming and network. I mean being a part, being a member. So yeah, definitely.

Jill Francisco: Yeah.

Carl Morrison: Well you know Jill, particular author Simon Sinek in his book called, ‘Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Others to Action’. He wrote that people won’t truly buy into a product, or service, or a movement, or an idea until they really understand the why, the why behind it. So I’ve got kind of a two-part question.

So the first part is, why do you think some people and more importantly organizations like NALA are more innovative in influential than others? What sets NALA, the association apart from some others?

Jill Francisco: Well, I think it’s all about being at the top of their game. I mean whether it is an individual or an association, I think it is about striving to be the best and in our case and in my opinion, always learning, open to change, being passionate, being enthusiastic and like we were just talking about paying it forward, mentoring and being committed. I mean you have to be all-in and willing to do what it takes to succeed, to succeed in your chosen profession and in your career goals really.

And I think it’s all about like, are you really that passionate, that level that you want to get at? I think that’s what sets it apart and then of course that’s an individual and I think it also applies to association, what are they willing to do. They’re willing to put in the work, they are willing to put in the time, the dedication to strive and keep ahead of the curve to set themselves apart from other Association.

Carl Morrison: You know NALA really has been a force in the paralegal, legal assistant industry since really the inception, since 1975, and what do you think is really NALA’s key success, or more importantly what is NALA’s why?

Jill Francisco: Well, I’ll tell you why. I have to say this a little bit, but last fall the Board of Directors we approved NALA’s new mission statement which states advancing paralegals through certification and professional development. So NALA is why has got to be, its certification paralegal exam. I mean NALA has the National Commission for Certifying Agencies which is the abbreviated NCCA, it’s the only accredited paralegal certification program. And as of 2019 there’s over 19,000 paralegals who have achieved the certification credential and like you were talking about NALA certified parallel program has been recognized both nationally and internationally for over 40 years, and so, so to speak that has got to be NALA’s why.

It’s like so to speak our golden handcuffs. I mean it is that’s our thing, that’s our thing, and I think that’s what sets us apart.

Carl Morrison: Yeah, I agree, I agree. Our profession is really a young profession if you want to think about it, we’re only 45-50 years old when you think about the advent of the paralegal, legal assistant profession and I was just looking the other day at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and they stated that the job outlook projected job growth for paralegals for the 10 year timeframe of 2016 to 2026 is approximately 15%, which is twice as much as the average growth rate for all professions which, yeah — wow that’s amazing.

So when you look at this, we’re growing. Our profession is going to continue to grow and double other professions. So how does NALA keep up with that growth? What types of opportunities and benefits does the organization provide to its members and its membership?

Jill Francisco: Well I’ll tell you what. NALA keeps up with the growth in the paralegal profession but it also is always looking ahead in trying to provide what paralegals need at any stage in their career.

NALA offers its members volunteer and leadership opportunities and one of the benefits that I think is sometimes overlooked is the networking platform that NALA provides its members and whether it be in person during the annual convention or on one of its many social media sites and the level of benefit is hard to measure but it can make such a difference in your career when you’re out there networking and whether like I said it’s in person or in social media, it can make you look very efficient in the eyes of your employer a lot of times.

NALA also has measurable so to speak membership benefits, when you join as an active member type in NALA, that’s when you get the most benefits, such as you get a subscription to the Facts & Findings Magazine, which features educational and informational articles for paralegals. You have free copy of the Utilization and Compensation Report so that you can negotiate your compensation and your benefits successfully. And also that also aids your employers so their ears perk up so to speak. Higher billing rates for paralegals. It’s a lot of very useful information that also speaks to billing rates for paralegals based on education and experience and the like.

NALA members also get discounted rates on NALA Continuing Education Programs and select products and that includes the CP exam, the registration fee and also if you want to take an advanced certification. You also get Select Complimentary Membership Education and I check the website when I was preparing for this podcast and there’s actually, you get six free now, CLE that you can access when you join in the active membership type.

And then one of the really things that really people like is you get an $80 gift certificate that you can use towards any of NALA’s Continuing Education Programs and that includes all the online webinars that are on demand or live and also education in our conferences. So it really works out, you really can’t go wrong and if you think about it you’re the one that’s really benefitting, and that’s what NALA is trying to do, is benefit and provide services for paralegals at all stages of their career.


Carl Morrison: Well I have to hit on a couple of things that you said, number one, networking, and I always tell students when I teach that I’m threatened to break their bones because I’m going to beat into them the importance of networking and joining an association like NALA or even at the local level, a NALA affiliate because it’s just really important to network, that’s one of the best benefits you can get out of an association.

Number two, the survey that you talked about. When I moved from Oklahoma to Nevada four years ago, I utilized that survey, because I wasn’t sure what the average salary range for my particular years of experience and area of law, what it was going to be like.

And I was able to use it and negotiate a really good salary out here. So definitely and I will have to say that $80, I love it.

Jill Francisco: I know, right.

Carl Morrison: That’s – hey, I used it for –

Jill Francisco: Or it’s not the love?

Carl Morrison: I used it for this conference that’s coming up, it’s $80 off and that made it more even digestible to go, so definitely there are a lot of benefits. So I’m going to ask you to gaze into your crystal ball, look into the future. Jill, what would you see as a disruptive force that could affect our profession?

Do you think there’s a one thing or many things that are on the horizon that potentially could affect our industry and whether it be for the good or the bad?

Jill Francisco: I would tell well, I have a couple disruptive forces that have been lurking around. I feel they’re always lurking, aren’t they. But for example, I think one of the things that we are challenged with now, and I think will be even more challenging is engagement.

It’s a possible disruptive force because that may impact NALA and the parallel profession as the whole, because this is a new generation of members has emerged and like you mentioned earlier, the paralegal profession is young. You we are saying 45 to 50 years old and we need to think about it differently.

We need to reach out to the younger generation and this is largely due to the — I think the fast advancement of technology changing constantly. We must plan ahead and be prepared to change and always be willing to accept the trends to keep our profession relevant.

I just look for example my 14-year-old, he was never raised or never has lived I should say without his phone and instant access, anything he wants to do, he Googles or he looks up on YouTube.

Carl Morrison: Right.

Jill Francisco: And he’s 14 years old, and if it doesn’t happen instantly, he is upset and that’s because it’s lagging the Internet, but it’s amazing. And those are things also that’s distracting first of all, I mean what I’m talking about engagement it’s distracting.

You really have to get something and it provide a service that they are not going to get somewhere else, that they need to, because it is not an automatic now to join your trade association like it used to be, that was automatic.

Carl Morrison: Right.

Jill Francisco: The employer pay for it you pay for it. Now, it’s what are you going to do for me? What am I going to get? And I think it’s getting them in is also a challenge, and that’s where I think the engagement comes in. But that’s definitely one thing I think is the disruptive force.

The other one, it’s a possible disruptive force, which is — this is kind of recent all this year was brought to NALA’s attention where, there’s recently in many states, there has been some legislation efforts underway to limit, restrict or regulate professional certifications and that’s by the government, by the states.

And so NALA has stepped up and we joined an advocacy group with similar associations that have their own professional certifications and obviously, we’re against this type of regulation. And we must keep ourselves informed and be prepared to combat the charge of this legislation.

And so, I’m really proud that NALA got in there and we’re trying to stay ahead of that game, we’re constantly monitoring that because I mean it was getting the certified paralegals in the state that they were seeing this legislation being proposed. I mean it was getting them in an uproar and we don’t want that.

Carl Morrison: I can’t believe it.

Jill Francisco: We don’t want that. So those are definitely two things that I think is a challenge.

Carl Morrison: I agree.

Jill Francisco: And I don’t know if they’re necessarily bad. I mean like I think the legislation is bad, but I think the engagement can go either way, because change is not always bad and I think it’s a form of change.


Carl Morrison: I agree with you, change is always — it can be a very good thing and you can make it good even if it’s negative. And I’m glad to hear that the Association is on the forefront of any legislation, regulation that is trying to be formed at the state level because we don’t want to have a governmental entity regulating us. We want to be self regulated, and so I’m glad to hear that.

Jill Francisco: Yep, we had to do it.

Carl Morrison: Right, yeah, definitely. This is it for you as President, right, then you roll off the board, am I right?

Jill Francisco: Yes, I have another year, I’ll be – yeah 2020, July 2020.

Carl Morrison: So of course, I know you’re not going to be put out to pasture and left to the wolves. I am sure I can almost guarantee you’re going to take on some other new role and you’re going to keep yourself busy and staying in the middle of things in the Association.

So what would you say is your legacy that you leave behind or you want to leave behind to the paralegal leaders that are up and coming?

Jill Francisco: Well one of the things I kind of touched on it earlier, I mean I like it to be known to be all in, be engaged, be enthusiastic. I want people to remember my high level of passion for NALA and for the overall paralegal profession. I also want people to remember how important it is to pay it forward.

There are so many paralegals and leaders that have helped me and so I strive to pay it forward and to help and mentor all the paralegals I can. I hope that I inspired paralegals to step up in one capacity or another, to do more and to be better than they were before they met me.

And I don’t have all the answers clearly, I have no idea if I’m doing the right thing here or not, but I do hope that when I leave NALA, it will be better than I found it and in a position to thrive and prosper well into the future.

Carl Morrison: Well, thank you for your leadership on behalf of members and non-members alike for being a leader in a national association, and I know that the association is better for your leadership over the years. So I can’t believe it our conference, the NALA’s Conference is less than 60 days away, and of course it’s in beautiful Phoenix, I should really say Scottsdale, Arizona.

You’re going to be there. I’m going to be there and I know you’ve got a full schedule while you’re there doing all your duties as a national board member, but I know you’re going to be squeezing some fun time right, don’t deny it?

Jill Francisco: Oh definitely.

Carl Morrison: I’m trying to get you and some other attendees, I will call them out on the air but to have a pop-up CLE in the Lazy river. Hey, wouldn’t that be fun?

Jill Francisco: I am in.

Carl Morrison: But seriously, okay good. What are your top three favorite things at a NALA Conference? What’s your why for going to a NALA Conference?

Jill Francisco: Well, let me first tell you that I have attended NALA’s annual conference every single year since 2002, and every year, I leave recharged and ready to take on the challenges of my job and my favorite thing at NALA Convention as we were already talking about is the networking.

I mean personally catching up with old friends, meeting new ones and like I said that doesn’t just transpire into friends, it also your friends but also friends that help you in your career, that you wouldn’t know somebody in New York on how to serve a subpoena in five minutes. That would take you a lot more work to figure out if you didn’t have these friends that you met at convention.

So granted, you’re having fun with them, we know we’re having fun but it also translates into very useful information that networking does.

The other thing that I absolutely love doing is obviously attending the hot topics CLEs. So like every time, I go there seems to be always something that they are offering that it’s hot topic that I am — I see on the agenda and I can’t wait to learn about it, and also the other thing is the meetings. I mean granted, I’m having to run some of the meetings now for a different perspective, but it is a unique opportunity when you think about it to be a part of a large association and to be able to attend the annual meeting in person.

It’s a very neat experience and I feel like that when I am an active member of NALA that I am making a difference in my paralegal career and also in the paralegal profession. And those are my whys for attending and I think that if I didn’t attend that I would feel like something was missing by year, the networking, the CLEs, the meetings and just feeling that you get when you are attending a conference with — I mean it could be anywhere 350, 450 paralegals.


I mean it’s just an awesome feeling to be there with your colleagues and your co-workers and like you were talking earlier sharing stories, war stories. I mean it’s priceless really when you talk about attending NALA Convention. It has become an essential part of me advancing my career and like I said, just being able to come back and not be burned out or not have some struggles about, okay, I got, I will have to look on these same cases or do the same thing, it really gets you energized, and recharged and ready to take on that next year of challenges.

Carl Morrison: Well, you were talking about the hot topic sessions each year. On the schedule for this year is a topic on searching the dark web, and I am like beyond thrilled about going, but I’m not going to use my laptop to be searching the dark web.

Jill Francisco: I’m so excited about that. Carl, I am so excited about that too. I cannot wait, but I’m kind of like you. It’s like I’m going to kind of be sitting back and seeing what’s going to be going on.

Carl Morrison: We will purchase the throwaway laptop so we can search the dark web during the session.

Jill Francisco: That’s right. That’s right, no evidence.

Carl Morrison: Right. Well Jill, thank you so much for joining me today on our show. You are just an amazing woman and I really enjoyed getting to talk to you, getting to learn a little bit more about you.

If a listener wanted to get in touch with you, how would they do it?

Jill Francisco: Sure. Right now, the easiest way is my email is [email protected] That does go directly to my work account. So but this is the [email protected] is much easier to remember them my working mail address. So that’s a good way to start right now, and please don’t hesitate anybody that’s listening to this to reach out to me. I would love to hear from you.

And Carl, I really appreciate you inviting me on your show. You do wonderful things for the paralegal profession. I know you’re out there like I am, and so I really appreciate all your dedication and all your work that you’re doing to help paralegals, help the paralegal profession, help NALA, help all professional associations. I truly personally appreciate your hard work.

Carl Morrison: Jill, thank you so much. If you were here right now I would give you a giant hug. So I’m going to give you a giant virtual hug. I will give you a hug when I see you in Scottsdale.

Jill Francisco: And I can’t wait to see you. We are going to have a great time and I hope everybody joins us and also if anybody has any questions too, obviously they can email me or they can contact NALA headquarters about the conference.

Carl Morrison: Yeah definitely. Jill, thanks again, and stay tuned after the break for the Listener’s Voice, your segment to share with me and my listeners, your questions and comments. We’ll be right 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

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Carl Morrison: Welcome back. Of course, don’t forget about NALA’s upcoming conference. Be sure and join over 300 NALA members for the 2019 NALA Conference & Expo, July 11th through the 13th. This year’s conference will be held at the luxurious Westin Kierland Resort & Spa which is located in Phoenix or really what I should say Scottsdale, Arizona. This three-day educational event will provide attendees with superior networking opportunities like we talked about, a chance to earn up to 13 continuing legal education hours and over 30 sessions developed to help elevate your paralegal and professional skills.

So come find me at the conference. I’m going to plan something a little bit special, something up my sleeve, so you definitely don’t want to miss out.


And before we go to my favorite portion of this show, I want to share a little tidbit that happened to me professionally just recently. About two weeks ago, I was able to attend a conference what’s known as the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium and this was at the Bellagio Resort here in Las Vegas, and I’ll tell you, I was blown away. There were over 2,000 legal operations, attendees, over a hundred exhibitors and there was like three-days, solid days of great CLE education, all about legal operations in the legal operations profession.

And by the time it was all said and done, my head was completely spinning and but what I really wanted to share with you was how impressed I was with these legal operations professionals talking about the importance of paralegals, not just in-house corporate paralegals, but also paralegals in a law firm, and how to efficiently and effectively utilize paralegals in the legal operations realm, having a law firm and a corporate legal department run efficiently and effectively.

And really, they talked about career paths for seasoned paralegals wanting to transition into the legal operations arena. And I was so proud to call myself a paralegal and being a paralegal in this legal operations arena and share with others and network with others the importance of using a well-qualified and talented paralegal.

And I’ll tell you guys it was a conference to behold and I cannot wait until the same time next year to attend their next conference. I’m now a member of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, CLOC, as it’s known. So definitely, stay tuned to future podcasts of The Paralegal Voice, because I’m going to get a couple of legal operations professionals on as my guests. So I think it would be really informational and great for you, my listeners, to hear more about other realms of the legal profession.

And now, we really come to my favorite part of the show and I know it’s your favorite part, The Listener’s Voice. The Listener’s Voice is an opportunity for you as the listener to send me an email with your questions, your career celebrations, et cetera. I am going to go through them, I’ll look at the ones, I’ll pick the ones to read on air and if there’s a particular topic you have a question that you’d like for me to answer or there’s a prior guest that you have listened to and maybe you have a question for them or you want me to ask them, be sure and send me an email, and make your voice The Listener’s Voice known and heard.

So send your email to me at [email protected], that’s [email protected]

Today’s question comes from an independent paralegal and this individual says, Mr. Morrison, I’m a new listener to The Paralegal Voice. I was wondering if you had any segments discussing independent paralegals, virtual paralegals and/or non-traditional paralegal roles. I asked because I’ve been working off and on as an independent paralegal and really want to get more information on how to make my experience better, as well as more information on how to transition out of the law office.

I love your show and hope to hear more interesting segments. Thank You, Paralegal in Transition.

Well, Paralegal in Transition, thank you so much for listening. I’m glad you love this show. Definitely, I need to get a virtual or independent paralegal on the show. What I was just talking about with a legal operations individual, some of those that I networked with were paralegals and transitioned in their particular role in the legal operations, which is a non-traditional paralegal role if you want to think about it.

So definitely I have to get some of those types of guests on, but you’re asking how do you get more information, how do you make your experience better.

Well, number one, again networking. Reach out to those other independent paralegals that may be in your respective city or geographical location, if you’re living a rural community, maybe there’s more in your state or even the surrounding states and just reach out, send a blind email to these individuals. You’ll notice that a lot of these, I’m sure as yourself, advertise in some semblance that you’re a paralegal, an independent paralegal, and are seeking other paralegals to network with independent paralegals and collaborate with them on particular roles or particular skills that may be you want to improve on.


Reach out to your local NALA affiliate or other paralegal Association, that’s local or close to you and see if there are other independent paralegals that belong to that respective association.

If you want to transition out in the law office, sometimes we ask paralegals especially if they have been doing it for many, many years like myself, it was a little bit of a daunting what appeared to be a daunting task to want to transition out.

Sometimes, positions and jobs they find you when you’re at least looking for it and that’s how I switched from working for a litigation law firm, a large national law firm to transitioning into a corporate in-house paralegal role. I was actually headhunted by the general counsel.

And so it was — I didn’t go funny although I wanted to, I still have a long career life ahead of me. I’m sure as most of you guys do, and you have to find ways to make it engaging and exciting and sometimes, it’s stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a leap of faith and seeing what other positions are out there and networking.

I can’t stress it enough, every job I’ve ever had has been as a result of a network. It’s been as a result of someone I knew. So I can’t say enough about networking and that’s really how you make your experience better as an independent paralegal and really any paralegals to be honest but networking is how you make that experience better and that’s really the strongest step to being able to transition out of a law office practice room is taking on other roles and just networking with your peers.

Well keep the questions coming. Thank you so much Paralegal in Transition, I hope that helped and definitely stay tuned for future podcasts because I will definitely be in search of getting a guest that is an independent paralegal or a virtual paralegal on the show.

And that’s all the time we have today for The Paralegal Voice. If you have any questions about today’s show, please email them to me at [email protected] Stay tuned for more information in upcoming podcasts for exciting paralegal trends, news and engaging in fun interviews from leading paralegals and other leading legal professionals.


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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Episode Details
Published: May 31, 2019
Podcast: Paralegal Voice
Category: Paralegal
Paralegal Voice
Paralegal Voice

The Paralegal Voice provides career-success tips for paralegals of any experience level.

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