What things keep you engaged and motivated as a paralegal? Burnout is all too common, but self-assessment and self-advocacy can help you develop a bold vision for your career. Paralegal Voice host Jill Francisco talks with Kristine Custodio Suero about the tactics she has developed for helping paralegals find greater fulfillment in the profession.
Kristine Custodio Suero is an Advanced Certified Paralegal, a paralegal educator, and a highly sought after speaker.
Special thanks to our sponsors, NALA, ServeNow, CourtFiling.net and Legalinc.
The Paralegal Voice
The Power of You: Building a Paralegal Career That Will Move, Touch, and Inspire
Jill Francisco: Hello everyone. Thank you for joining me for another exciting and informative episode of The Paralegal Voice on the Legal Talk Network. I am Jill Francisco, an advanced certified paralegal, current NALA President and your host of this episode of The Paralegal Voice.
I have over 22 years of paralegal experience and I am so excited to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for the paralegal profession with you.
We have a wonderful guest for today’s show, but before we welcome her, we would like to thank our sponsors.
Today’s sponsor, CourtFiling.net; e-file court documents with ease in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. To learn more, visit CourtFiling.net to take advantage of a free 30-day trial.
We would also like to thank Legalinc, makes it easy for paralegals to digitally automate tasks like business formations, corporate filings and registered agent services nationwide. Visit legalinc.com/podcast to create your free account.
Thank you to 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.
And also thank you to ServeNow. ServeNow is 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.
I am so very excited to have Kristine Custodio Suero, ACP. Kristine is an advanced certified paralegal and an award-winning legal professional and a highly sought after speaker in her profession, inspiring legal professionals to achieve authentic, purpose-driven careers and lives. A true servant leader, she has lead the San Diego Paralegal Association and the California Alliance of Paralegal Associations as President and is proud to champion diversity as the first Filipina at the helm of the statewide professional trade association.
There are so many topics that Kristine could discuss with us today but I am so excited to have her share her knowledge on The Power of You: Building a Paralegal Career That Will Move, Touch, and Inspire.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Thank you Jill. This is definitely one of my favorite topics to discuss.
Jill Francisco: So I just want to throw out before we begin Kristine just a little bit of the reason why — I mean beyond the fact that you’re awesome I had to get you on the show because I feel like it’ll really help our listeners that obviously our paralegals, they’re in their career, they might be at varied stages of their career and one of the reasons why your topic really spoke to me is because I feel like sometimes if you’ve been in your career for awhile, mid, maybe to a longer period of time, sometimes people will ask me because I’ve been a paralegal for 22 years now, they’ll say, what keeps you interested? What keeps you motivated? How do you keep doing this every day?
And yes, I do some of the same tasks every day but I also do other things that relate to my career to keep me motivated, to keep me enthusiastic, to keep me energized and I think that that’s what a lot of the things that you are going to try to tell us about today speaks to.
I did tell a little bit about Kristine’s background when I did her introduction and Kristine can you elaborate just a little bit more and tell our listeners about your background and experience.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Yeah absolutely. So in my 9 to 5 job I’m a senior paralegal and business development director for a small law firm here in San Diego, California. And outside of that in my extracurricular activities, I am very involved in my community and not just the paralegal profession. So I am also an educator, I am an instructor at a paralegal program here at a local university and I’ve been doing that since 2018. I teach the introduction to law class. But outside of that, I’m very, very involved like you Jill in my community.
One of the things that you had mentioned is how do you stay engaged? How do you stay engaged in your career after so many years and really the answer to that for me is that I am very abundantly clear about who I am and what I want out of this? You know I say this to my students a lot when I teach them. My class is pretty quick. Its four weeks and we meet twice a week. So a total of eight classes and you can only imagine that we cram 14 chapters in their textbook within that time period.
So I’d like to have it academically rigorous but I also like to include some career coaching in there. So I drop a lot of career coaching into that practical aspect of their class and I tell them you must know who you are.
One of the topic today we’re talking about is the power of you and who you are authentically and what you have to offer with your gifts, and your skills and your talents and let me back up just a little bit before I became a paralegal. I actually wasn’t supposed to be a paralegal. I was – right Jill like so many people in our profession, so many people re-career into this profession.
I was reading something on the Bureau of Labor Statistics about the paralegal industry and it said, it’s slated to grow for 12% over the next several years. So you can only imagine how many people are so interested in entering our field. So people who have little to no experience and some people who are like us who are 15 plus years in the field, maybe even transferring into a different practice area. Well so long ago when I was about 16 years old, I actually told my mother, her name is Xena, yes like the warrior princess. I told her mom, I want to be a civil rights attorney and she looked at me and she said, no we’re going to redirect you into the medical profession, you need a stable job.
You don’t know, I just can’t imagine my dash dreams at 16 years old being told by my mother, my loving, loving involved mother, said no and just kind of squashed my dreams to enter the law and she kind of redirected me into medicine and so I ended up studying for my master’s in physical therapy but as fate would redirect my career path, my mother who was a small business owner, also my mentor and my hero or shero if you will, she fell ill and I had to come home and I was away at college and I had to come home and run her business, which I did for 17 of the 20 years that we owned that small business and it was a boarding care facility where we took care of adults with developmental disabilities. So I was also in the helping profession because I had identified that early on.
I don’t know about you Jill but for me I had a great self-awareness at a very young age and I knew whatever I did was going to be in service to others, in helping others. So when I came back to San Diego to help my mother with her business and help rehabilitate her, I looked around there was no school — I was studying for my master’s in physical therapy. There were no at that time physical therapy schools here in the region. So I had to take a long hard look and say, what do I really want to do with these skills that I have acquired, over these four years in college and I found a paralegal program and I just kind of happened upon it and just kind of reignited my passion for the law and it was a life-changing decision for me.
It not only prepared me for my 15 year career in this field but it also taught me how to be a better business owner. So that’s a little bit about my background. It was kind of like a circuitous way of getting into the law. That is something I had thought about as a young person and kind of set aside due to my redirected career path by my mom but I kind of found myself back into the law and just really being a passionate advocate.
Jill Francisco: Yeah and it’s funny. A lot of those characteristics that you were mentioning, helping and serving, started being the servitude and like you were talking about I mean, I think it’s funny but the more and more you meet people in the paralegal profession and you form relationships, it’s like you think, I think those are a paralegal characteristics — I mean of our profession.
Like it’s everybody always – I mean the paralegals, we want to be helpful but then we also gravitate to other like teachers and to other things that are also helping people whether we ourselves are doing that, we support those, we promote those, we try to emphasize those types of things because I think it’s just part of the whole facet of being a paralegal. We’re just — we want to help each other, we want to help others. I mean how can you go wrong with that.
And I think that’s awesome that it just, things sometimes they just work out the way they’re supposed to and I know that you — it definitely was great that you came into the paralegal field.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Absolutely and on top of and aside from my career my 9 to 5 job, and teaching and kind of how I found myself in this position, I have a lot of activities I do outside of work where I volunteer my time.
I was actually appointed by our mayor here in the City of San Diego as a Commissioner and I serve to advocate for traditionally underrepresented people to contract with the City of San Diego, to make it really a vibrant city to live, work and play. I also served on my town council. I do so, I’m like a professional volunteer. I love doing pro bono activities. You’ll constantly find me like for example this past weekend, I was volunteering at the high school mock trial competition where we’re looking at our future legal superstars. So you often find me outside of work, serving my community to make sure that we are enhancing and empowering each other.
Jill Francisco: Yeah and also the paralegal like you’ll notice that as a paralegal it’s like you don’t even probably realize when like you’re going to take on, being the commissioner like you were saying, it’s like how many of your skills and connections and community things that you’ve already done helps you out and helps you do things that you’re trying to volunteer in a different area, you’re thinking it doesn’t have anything to do with being a paralegal, the job that you do but then you’re using your connections, you’re using your skills, you’re using things that you learned that through the paralegal profession.
So that’s why I think a lot of the skills crossover and compute into different things and you never know, when you stumble upon something that it’s so beneficial that you have that background.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Absolutely. Another thing I know that you know I share this as well. We just really love people. We love meeting people and we love helping people. So I think that’s really a common thread that I see amongst people who enter this field as well.
Jill Francisco: I know you said you formally, you started as paralegal and I know you were in different law firms and things. We briefly work for the same employer. We have to mention that for a very short time, gone before I knew it but I’m still there but that was fun.
And so how did you kind of translate which I know you’re still in your role, as senior paralegal but like how did you translate for those paralegals that want to, they’re in maybe just their traditional role of a paralegal and they want to kind of like branch out. Like what’s kind of the first thing that you kind of did to start looking at either teaching or the mentoring or the coaching. What kind of got you out of the traditional role? What did you do first?
Kristine Custodio Suero: Well I was very active with the San Diego Paralegal Association also known as SDPA. I practically served in every role before becoming the president of SDPA but my favorite role was as school liaison, where I would go to speak to different paralegal students and provide resources and mostly encouragement to them, because it can be a scary thing.
I do a lot of career coaching and the two things I keep finding, that keep coming up are competence and confidence and I think because they’re so new and so inexperienced in the field that they really lack a lot of confidence. So I come in and I provide a lot of encouragement to them. Yes, you can do it and you had mentioned that I had also become the president of the California Alliance of Paralegal Associations, CAPA and it’s so funny because as president of CAPA, I actually earned a nickname, The Chief Encouragement Officer and –
Jill Francisco: I love it, I love it.
Kristine Custodio Suero: It is and I think that’s a huge piece of how we stay engaged and how we really advance ourselves in our profession and others. I was asked to speak at many schools across the state, even across the country and I always said yes and even when it scared me, a lot of people don’t realize this about me because I do so much public speaking but I hated public speaking. I hated public speaking up until about maybe two years into being a paralegal and what I tell people is because I kind of found my voice.
I had started doing this thing with the San Diego Paralegal Association as school liaison. I started going out and speaking to students and empowering them, and encouraging them and I felt so compelled to share this message of encouragement to others and I think that really helped me, also explore a career in teaching because it was, it really primed me for being in that position where I’m transferring 15 years of knowledge that I have acquired over my career.
I have really felt — when I started teaching in 2018 I really did feel compelled to pass on my skills because I said because I work for a very small law firm with very low turnover. So there’s not too many folks here that I can pass my skills on to and so when this opportunity came up, I was absolutely a yes, because I said, I feel really compelled to share these skills.
A lot of people when you go from school that book knowledge absolutely, we need that as the foundation for our career, to be excellent in what we do in our profession. However there’s nothing like on-the-job training and having that kind of mentorship from someone, I think that’s also a key component. I have mentored so many people and I think that has not just helped them but it’s helped me too.
Jill Francisco: Yeah. I agree with that and also I think that it’s a lot easier when you were talking about public speak, I think it’s a lot easier to do something and like you probably didn’t even really think about it, about oh, I really don’t want to speak, I’m going to be embarrassed, I’m going to be, I’m going to feel weird whatever because the passion takes over. It’s more important to you to get your message out and to just spread and help people then that you’re nervous.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Exactly. It just kind of, it becomes more important than you, becomes bigger than you.
Jill Francisco: So Kristine before we move on to our next point of discussion, we need to take a quick commercial break. We’ll be right back.
Advertiser: 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.
Looking for a process server you can trust, serve-now.com is a nationwide network of local prescreened process servers. ServeNow works with the most professional process servers in the industry, connecting your firm with process servers who embrace technology, have experience with high-volume serves and understand the litigation process and rules of properly effectuating service. Find a prescreened process server today. Visit www.serve-now.com.
Jill Francisco: Welcome back to The Paralegal Voice. I am Jill Francisco and my guest today is Kristine Custodio Suero, Advanced Certified Paralegal and today we’re discussing The Power of You: Building a Paralegal Career That Will Move, Touch, and Inspire.
Kristine, before we took that last break, we were talking about how beneficial we thought. You got into mentoring people, you got into coaching people, eventually you were into teaching and obviously the students, that’s a wonderful platform right there for you to like you said mentor them, give them coaching skills even before they get out because if you wait and they try to do that once they get out, I kind of feel like it’s too late.
It’s so nice for them to get some of that information, get some of the inside scoops, get those connections that you can provide for them before they’re out, trying to get a job and are panicking and need those skills. What are — I know you have some basic principles that you kind of go on, like your concepts about the power of you and kind of like that you’ve kind of outline where people can get this career to move, touch and inspire. So maybe just touch on a couple of the basics of your concepts that you have with that.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Sure absolutely. And I focus on three main things Jill and I like to kind of reframe this as advocating for yourself, because we know that part of the rules of professional conduct for our lawyers are to be zealous advocates for your clients. Right? So we understand this advocacy thing but sometimes we don’t put ourselves as a priority.
So I like to encourage people to advocate for themselves in three ways, really define these things very clearly. Who are you? What you want out of this? And how you plan to get there? And let me start with that who are you?
When I earlier said, I am very clear, abundantly clear about who I am. Socrates said, know thyself, and when you know yourself and really what you want out of this because I tell my students, in this life, we don’t have a do-over button.
Jill Francisco: Yeah
Kristine Custodio Suero: It’s just kind of a one-shot deal. So be clear and be mindful about the way that you move forward in not just your career but in your life and also don’t be afraid to explore. What makes you get up every morning? What is that fire inside that makes you want to do what you do every day?
Because like you said, sure we have routine parts of our job but that’s not our focal point, our focal point is really that overarching goal of helping people of making a difference in this world and the second point about, what you want out of this. Set specific goals. That’s really important. A lot of at our workplace, we set up these project plans or case management plans for our cases but we don’t even do that for ourselves, we don’t take the time to do that for ourselves. So it’s really, really important to set specific goals for yourself.
I like to call it a career development plan and I break it out into three phases. The first phase is in six months where will I be. And I usually say, don’t do more than three goals that you’re setting for that six month period and then in a year and then in five years and why I like to have these written down and goals because it’s time bound, that’s what makes it a goal.
I like to revisit these plans to see if anything has changed. Check in with yourself. Is this really honoring you authentically, is this what you really want to do with your time and talent and also this is another very important thing, just start. So many of us in this field, we suffer from this analysis paralysis. Right?
Jill Francisco: We have to investigate the you know what out of it, before we can do it.
Kristine Custodio Suero: So we have this analysis paralysis where we are like it must be perfect before I move on. And that is just a false narrative that we all have to stop. We just have to stop with that, just start. There’s this great quote, I think it was by Arthur Ashe — oh actually was I think it was Theodore Roosevelt and I’m paraphrasing but it basically says, just start with what you have, with what you have and what you intend to do with it. Just start, just start.
And the last thing I said, how you plan to get there? Those are the things that you’re going to have to identify. What are the tools and resources that you need in order to get you to where you want to be? Where you envision yourself to be?
I like to say, where there is vision there is life. When you can envision it, you can make it happen. You will become exactly who you decide, you will become, and then doing that you must be bold. You have to ask for what you need, you have to be your own cheerleader. You have to. And, this is really important.
There’s two final points here, surround yourself with people who you want to be like, people that you admire, people who inspire you and my last point is really do what you love and love what you do. It sounds so basic, but these things help you really facilitate your career in ways that you could not imagine. I mean, putting myself around, I am 15 years into this, Jill, and I still have five mentors that I rely on and I’ll bring them up from time-to-time and they’ll just kind of coach me and speak — praise over me and it’s a wonderful thing because like you said, how do you keep yourself engaged and passionate and evolving in this kind of career because it’s easy to become stagnant and to kind of just keep doing the same thing over, and over, and over. Isn’t that the very definition of insanity?
Jill Francisco: I think so, I think so.
Kristine Custodio Suero: You want a different result, but you keep doing the same thing over and over.
Jill Francisco: Well, I think it’s just changing.
Kristine Custodio Suero: I know exactly. That’s really — it’s kind of like that’s sage words of advice that I have kind of learned over all these years from my own mentors, from my experience and wisdom with all these years.
Jill Francisco: Well, and I think those are so great. All those points are great because actually they apply, and the reason why I think this is so helpful for paralegals to hear is because like you said I think that as paralegals we might want to change something, to try something, to do something, and it’s like, oh, there’s never a right time and like you were talking about just do it, just start, just start and that’s reaching out to people, having the people that support you, using your connection, taking your strengths and going with them.
If you’re not good at X, Y, Z, that’s fine, there’s probably 10 other things that you are great at. So gravitate towards those, recognize those strengths and go with them, and I think that a lot of these things, like I said, I think they translate into the paralegal field because they can — you get these feelers out and like you said, you can go into teaching. You may be a paralegal and then you want, you inspire to be maybe a law office management and now that’s a field that paralegals go into and it’s like, you have to find those skills, you have to have confidence in yourself like you were saying and go for it because it’s so surprising, I don’t want to say nine times out of ten but it’s probably pretty close of what happens.
Whether it happens the way you thought it would happen but it goes for the positive side, rather than the negative when you take those leaps of faith, when you strive to be your best and focus on a real goal that you have and that you really want to achieve and it means something to you.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Absolutely and everything usually has a way of working itself out, and like you said, even if it isn’t exactly what you had envisioned, usually you learn some of your best lessons through those journeys.
Jill Francisco: Yes, and I also think that some of this stuff goes to minimizing burnout, that’s one thing that when I go around as President of NALA, I talk like you were saying you’re asked to speak to a lot of things, I talk to affiliates, I talk to different schools things like that and a lot of the paralegals, you have them about, how do you keep from getting burnout and even — I even had funny story an associate that had worked at the firm, I worked with them for probably seven years and he could not understand how I was still like all excited and laughing and carried on and just bee-bopping around, doing my thing every day and I’m like, well, you’re right, I don’t like some of these tasks that I have to do every day that is just law-related, we have to do the things that we have to do or else we’ll be getting ordered from the court or something, but I said, I do other things, like you were saying, I reach out, I got involved with my national professional association. I got involved with my local professional association that’s in my paralegal field.
I started to go up and speak at the local paralegal school because if you love the profession you want it to thrive into the future and so you’re going up there, you’re speaking to students, you’re maybe making connections with them, helping them out, that’s going to be the future of the profession and I started to do these little things and like you said, it snowballed obviously back 14 years ago or whatever it is, I would have never thought, I’d be the President of the National Association but it just happens, like it just happens.
And when you were talking about mentoring, I of course want to mentor and I could never help. I always say, I could never repay the people that have helped me and mentored me along the way but sometimes it’s funny. I’ve helped somebody and I didn’t even know it. I want to do it purposefully but a lot of times it’ll be a note, or it’ll be of call or it’ll be a text that’ll say, well, Jill, I did X, Y, Z and I stepped out of my comfort zone and I volunteered to do this and now I’m achieving this because you encouraged me and I know that’s one of your points that you said back to encouragement, sometimes people just need to be encouraged, I think that’s one thing with paralegals too.
You get in a habit, you work under the attorney, you know your role, you are not the boss, you are in your role and I think a lot of times we kind of continue in that role and you forget that you’re not always in that role. You can branch out and you can be in-charge, you can be — hold a leadership position, be a leader, a position, even though you’re not the boss, so to speak, in your office that doesn’t translate in other things you do when you get out of the office, and sometimes these paralegals new or even mid-career that hasn’t done it before they just need to be asked to do something. Hey, would you like to serve on this committee, would you like to do this, would you like to teach, would you like to share your experiences. It just takes you to ask somebody.
When you ask them, they are like, oh, I never really thought I could do it or you say, hey, I think you’d be great at that and then they’re wonderful and they’ve helped and they’ve shared, and then it also makes them feel great, honestly like you said.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Absolutely. That is. It is the antidote to burnout.
Jill Francisco: Yes.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Helping, sharing is caring. So, when we help people it really helps us, right, and that’s – there are, the struggle is real, Jill, with burnout, it’s not even a joke. We see this across the Board, not just lawyers but also people in legal support roles because this is — it’s a tough, it’s a tough gig.
Oftentimes, it is pressure-driven, it’s like a pressure-cooker environment, right, but there are — yes, there are ways that we can handle burnout or nip it before it becomes that bad where it gets to that stage of where you are in burnout because it’s hard to come back from that.
People can but it is really hard so you should be really mindful. Practicing mindfulness, revisiting your goals, helping — it just helps you to stay on course, but also another thing that people need to really be aware of is self-care, self-care is not self-ish, it is self-less. You know that saying where they say, “The Cup Runneth Over”, what’s in the cup is for me and what runneth over is for everyone else.
Jill Francisco: I love that, I love that.
Kristine Custodio Suero: It’s like one of the flight attendants, what do they say when the oxygen mask falls from the cabin above you what do you do first, put it on yourself, why because you’re useless for everyone else. If you don’t take care of yourself, you are worse, you are no good to anyone.
Jill Francisco: That’s great advice, I mean, obviously in our hard stress, I want to say a field our paralegal careers, but that’s good advice just all the way around to anyone actually.
Kristine, before we move on to hit our last little point of discussion, we need to take another quick commercial break. So we’ll be right back.
Advertiser: Today’s episode is brought to you by Legalinc. Legalinc is empowering paralegals to embrace their inner legal rockstar by automating the everyday tasks that hold them back. Through their free dashboard solution, paralegals can quickly and easily automate services like business formations, corporate filings, registered agent services, and more. Visit legalinc.com to create a free account and check out legalinc.com/podcast for a chance to win legal rockstar swag.
Advertiser: This episode of The Paralegal Voice is brought to you by CourtFiling.net, your solution for electronic filing in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. CourtFiling.net provides a better e-filing experience so you can spend more time helping clients. Because they know that work sometimes happens after hours, CourtFiling.net offers 24/7 phone, email and chat support. Visit CourtFiling.net to receive 30 days of unlimited free electronic filings and see how you too can e-file court documents with ease.
Jill Francisco: Welcome back to The Paralegal Voice. I am Jill Francisco and my guest today is Kristine Custodio Suero, advanced certified paralegal, and before the break we were wrapping up our discussion about how to minimize career burnout, and the last thing that I wanted to kind of get Kristine to talk about because I know she has so many fabulous ideas to share and to help paralegals about is, advice to paralegals, really kind of specific advice that want to branch out in the many areas and activities and things that we’ve been talking about. I wanted to kind of get your advice, Kristine, on how does someone begin that and where do they go and what can they do?
Kristine Custodio Suero: The first thing I would really implore people to do is to join you local paralegal association. That was really one of the decisions I have ever made for my career. It connected me with people that I could never have connected with on my own and just the fact that we were doing things to advance our profession was amazing to me. We developed such great networks by some of the projects that we had worked on through our local paralegal association and now we’ve kind of evolved into this group of people that have a heart and a passion for social justice.
So you’ll find a lot of our members in mass actually, volunteering for the Clean Slate Clinic where we help process expungements for people who have misdemeanors or like I just did the mock trial, I was a courtroom monitor for the high school students. There’s so many opportunities throughout the year where we encourage our members to really make a difference, to really use your skills in service tethers.
Another thing is, is to make sure you invest in yourself. A lot of us think about, well, I went and got my paralegal training, I don’t really need to keep going and refreshing myself, but you really do. The law is dynamic, it changes, and we need to partake in continuing legal education, but on top of that invest in yourself in other areas.
For me I actually went through NALA’s — back in the day it was called LEAP, LEAP program and that was leadership development for paralegals and that really I caught the bug and I actually developed a program for CAPA for the California Alliance of Paralegal Associations to develop our association leaders across the State of California and I went on to do more leadership development for myself.
In fact, I just — I think I mentioned this to you, Jill. I was just selected as part of the 2020 cohort for the Anti-Defamation League Glass Leadership Institute, where I’m going to be learning about what the ADL does and championing this human relations and civil rights movement by the Anti-Defamation.
Jill Francisco: And look how that Civil Rights comes back to you that you wanted to do, that’s so cool though. That you think about that and then I know that has to make you, it’s almost like it’s a little message, like here’s a little something that you wanted to do.
Kristine Custodio Suero: It’s validation for my 16-years-old self, right? Even I’m like see I was —
Jill Francisco: Super cool. I’m so proud of you. Congratulations on that.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Thank you so much, Jill. I appreciate that, but on top of that in that same vein be a lifelong learner. Really, have that habit of curiosity and really asking why, why does that happen, why is it that way? That’s where innovation is bred, right? It’s from asking those kind of questions like challenging the status quo and asking why are things done this way, could we do them differently, what would that look like, and that’s part of your evolution as a leader, and making change and things better.
And also to look and ask for opportunities to develop yourself not just in your workplace, but in these other avenues such as volunteering with the paralegal association or other areas, wherever you have a passion to serve and use your time make sure you ask for opportunities to really develop yourself, and last but not least, never, never, never, never give up. Never give up, just keep going.
When it gets hard you have to find that deep within yourself that strength, that flame, that thing that drives you. You have to keep going. Because I talk about failure a lot, I say fail big, fail big.
Jill Francisco: Fail big or gone.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Right, right. I mean, like think about some of the most famous people that we know like Lucille Ball, right, she’s the most famous comedian that we know and she was like a b-list actress and she was told by an agent that she was not pretty enough to be on TV. Even I heard a story of Michael Jordan that he got cut from his JV Basketball League.
Jill Francisco: Yeah, I think if he would have quit back then.
Kristine Custodio Suero: I know. All the greatness that we would have missed out on. So, the point is just don’t give up perseverance. Really have that eye on the prize and know that you can get there.
Jill Francisco: Yeah, and I love when you said “be a lifelong learner” because one of the things that I always talk about as paralegals, you never know I never ever turned down education, whether it’s a little CLE, whether it’s something I got an email on about a webcast that kind of sparks my attention or even if it doesn’t it’s right in front of me and I can go to it because you never know what you’re going to need, you’ll never know when someone’s going to ask you to do something whether it’s in your job, whether you unexpectedly lose your job and you all of a sudden need to find another job and you’re like, oh, well, I took a class on that or I took an advanced certification on that or I took a college class or whatever it is that has now helped you when you thought I’m not going to take that, that’s not for my job, I don’t need that.
Like you said be a lifelong learned. I never say “no” to education and so many times I’ve taken a class on something and then it’s been 3 months, 6 months, a year, and then all of a sudden somebody’s like, hey, do you never know how to do this? And I’m like, oh wait, I think I had took a class on that, and here you go. I mean, a perfect example was way when it first came out how to properly preserve the Facebook and the social media and all that kind of evidence, so it can be admitted into evidence and use the trial, and when I did it we weren’t even looking at that stuff, and now it’s so hot topic and I know all the programs and I know the process and I know what you — the do’s and the don’ts and it’s like I could have easily not gone to that seminar, that taking that class.
And so I love your advice to be a lifelong learner and that’s really invest in yourself. I mean a lot of these tie-in that you talk about, and like you said, the other thing is, it’s phenomenal advice, is join your local paralegal association because not only will you find stuff with your career, but as you know a lot of paralegal associations they volunteer at the Humane Society, they serve at the soup kitchen, they do all the stuff and so you’re going to find your passion through like you said the community other organizations, just helping out things that are not necessarily law-related, but that paralegal association provides the platform for you and the connections for you to do those things, because it takes everybody.
It’s like I always try to figure out why do people come? Why do people join? Why do people don’t join? And those are the type of things that you’re talking right there like say, San Diego Paralegal Association, they’re going to have a big event to help the homeless or do a breast cancer walk, and somebody, who knows, you might get them out of their shell and to become an active member because that’s their passion.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Oh, 100%.
Jill Francisco: I mean, takes all kinds.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Absolutely, it really does. And I’m glad you bring up the paralegal association too because we have talked about those too in the past about how we love to do work that impacts many, and that is really, really important. And one thing I didn’t want to share is, I had done an interview recently with someone I have mentored and coached over the years and she was actually, she joined the San Diego Paralegal Association and I did an interview on her for how to do that, because she went from paralegal to employer relations manager for a huge, huge company.
Jill Francisco: Wow!
Kristine Custodio Suero: I just admired her tenacity and perseverance, and when I did that online group coaching session, because my students kept asking me to work with me and I’m like, I’m only one person. So I said, let’s do this, you know, I’m a problem-solver. So I’m like, okay, we’re going to do an online group coaching session. Anyone can log in and I’ll post it, so that people can access it online, on demand, whenever they want and kind of get that messaging, but what I really loved from the person that I had interviewed, her name is Sarah Lutz, and she’s a certified paralegal. The last thing that she left everyone with that day, it was beautiful. She said, yes, you can learn all these skills and be the best in your profession, but be kind. She said be kind, as the —
Jill Francisco: So simple.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Right. And as the late Maya Angelou has said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Jill Francisco: That’s very true. That’s wonderful. And I listened to your interview with her and it’s amazing and it also speaks to your never give up. As paralegals don’t give up whether it’s in your job, you’re looking for that certain thing in the 14,000 pages of documents that we have to review to find that certain thing. We don’t give up there and so translate that into not giving up on yourself, not giving up on your goals, your dreams, your other things you want to do. That doesn’t — you’re not discounting yourself because you’re focusing on the future.
I think sometimes people think I need to just focus on what’s in front of me. I’m cheating what’s right in front of me if I’m always thinking to the future. I don’t think that at all. Like I think you need to be looking to the future and if you’re — and just because you’re looking to do something else doesn’t mean that’s a negative that doesn’t mean that what you’re doing in front of you is a negative or that you hate it and you want to move on, it’s just a goal that you have, it’s something you want to accomplish. Do it all. Do it all. Don’t sell yourself short.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Jill Francisco: I love all your advice and I really, really appreciate you and all the time that you give because I know we know each other personally and I value our friendship and I value all the stuff you’ve given and your time and everything to the paralegal field and all your other volunteer things, but it means a lot and your dedication shines through not just in your work, it shines through in all the things you do, so I really appreciate it.
And I hate to say it, but that’s all the time we have for today on this episode, and thank you so very much for being my guest today. I so appreciate it and you discussed a lot of valuable information that some of our listeners will definitely, I know without a doubt, want to get some more of. So what’s the best way for them to contact you?
Kristine Custodio Suero: Well, you can find me on social media, Kristine Custodio. You can just search me I’m on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, but I’m also on my website kristinecustodio.com, or by email at [email protected].
Jill Francisco: Oh, Kristine, thank you so much again. I really appreciate you joining me.
Kristine Custodio Suero: Thank you Jill.
Jill Francisco: Also thank you so much to all our listeners today who tuned in. If you have any questions or comments for me, please contact me at [email protected].
I hope you will join me for our next episode next month.
I’m Jill Francisco for The Paralegal Voice. Signing off.
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.