Job Title: Litigation Paralegal
Employer: Yosha Cook Shartzer & Tisch, Indianapolis, IN
Years of Paralegal Experience: 14
Specialty Areas: I have an associate degree in Paralegal Studies from Ivy Tech. I am also finishing up my bachelor’s degree in Business Management at Marian University.
Career Highlight: Winning a wrongful death trial last October. Our client’s wife was delivering newspapers in the early morning hours of December 21, 2004, when she was struck by a police officer head on. The officer was allegedly driving 94 miles per hour on his way to a Tylenol overdose call at his parents’ home which involved his brother. It was a call that was overheard during a police meeting on a different scanner, so it wasn’t “really” their call, but the officer requested and was given permission to respond. Our client’s wife was facing the wrong way in her lane of travel, in order to deliver newspapers out of the driver’s side window, as many newspaper delivery people often do.
The trial was bifurcated; we had to try the liability portion first. We were completely the underdog in this case. When we entered the courthouse, people could tell we were “the big city lawyers and paralegal” from out of town by the way we were dressed, and I guess just the way we looked, in general. I’ve never experienced that before. It felt like we were in a scene from a movie. We presented a perfect trial from start to finish (if there ever was such a thing). At several points during the trial, the judge even got down off the bench to take a look at our blow ups and to watch the video evidence we presented. Our case was on the front page of the local newspaper each day of the trial (ironically, it was the same paper our client’s wife had delivered for over 20 years). It was a big win in a small town. When the verdict was read, there wasn’t a dry eye at our table. Our client had waited six long years and gone through three appeals to gain closure for his wife’s death. It was the highest level of professional satisfaction I have ever known to date. It will be a hard one to top.
Future Professional Goal: To grow The Paralegal Society into a full blown paralegal movement all across the country! Our mission is to educate, motivate and inspire paralegals to engage in the pursuit of excellence for all paralegalkind. We are a warm and friendly group. Check us out at http://www.theparalegalsociety.wordpress.com/ and join our cause! (Disclaimer: It’s a social forum for “friendly” paralegals only! No dark clouds allowed.) We also have a “social club” on LinkedIn. Please feel free to join us.
Paralegal Practice Tip: Be sure and learn the 5 Ws and 1 H for every task (and case) you work on…the who, what, when, where, why and how. This will allow you to master your skills and increase your knowledge and paralegal expertise at a fast pace.
Favorite Way to Deal with Work-Related Stress: Margaritas. No, I’m kidding. I would say to try to focus only on one particular task (or one step of a project) at a time and to turn off the negative voices in my head, i.e., “I can’t get this done,” “This isn’t even possible,” while I’m working on a particular task. I try not to think about a project in its totality and to focus on what I am doing right now. I also approach any new task with a “how” and “why” mindset. This helps me master all tasks that come my way.
Greatest Strength as a Legal Professional: Reliability, commitment, and full ownership over all that I do. When I left my last job, my former boss said I was “rock solid.” When attorneys can rely on you and they trust you — almost to the point of fault — that is the highest form of professional accomplishment and flattery, in my opinion.
Favorite Internet Resource: Drugs.com, http://www.drugs.com/. When I write demand letters, I frequently look up a client’s prescription medications by name to determine if they are related to the claim.
Favorite Social Media Site: LinkedIn, http://www.linkedin.com/ – hands down! I have truly met the most amazing paralegals from all across the country on LinkedIn, many of whom I now consider friends. Heck, I even found all of the Mentors for The Paralegal Society on LinkedIn. I have networked with tremendous paralegals…new and experienced from all over…even as far as Dubai! I have landed my best professional gigs on LinkedIn, as well. It’s an invaluable professional and interpersonal networking resource. I highly recommend it to everyone, but especially to the paralegals working in smaller firms who crave more camaraderie and interaction with their peers. It’s fabulous. (LinkedIn, I would like to be your poster child, please send $ my way! Ha ha.)
Fun Fact about You: I spent six years of my early childhood in Stuttgart, Germany because my dad was a helicopter pilot in the army. I’ve been known to listen to hip-hop music, in addition to many other genres. I frequently stream Pandora on my office computer, so hip hop parties are often in full swing! That scene on The Proposal with Sandra Bullock dancing around the campfire chanting a hip-hop song has made me laugh so hard I’ve cried on more than one occasion. It’s my favorite movie scene of all time because it could totally be me…very relatable.
Last Book You Read: The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Cat or Dog Person: Dog. We don’t have one, although my five-year old son, Gavin, is currently grandstanding for one! The “magic eight ball” says he may be an attorney when he grows up. We’ll see if his compelling arguments ever persuade his parents to actually buy him a dog.
Recipe Your Family Begs You to Cook: Spaghetti with meat sauce or macaroni salad.
One Gadget You Can’t Live Without: My computer.
Favorite Quote: “My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the face of adversity, negotiate…at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in a maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, or slow up.” ~ Robert Moorehead
Paralegal/Legal Association Memberships: I am a voting member of the Indiana Paralegal Association; a member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA); a program review board member and repeat guest author for the Institute of Paralegal Education (IPE). I am also a panel member for the Paralegal Studies program at Marian University.
The Paralegal Society, http://www.theparalegalsociety.wordpress.com/
Yosha Cook Shartzer & Tisch, http://www.yoshalaw.com/
The Estrin Report, firstname.lastname@example.org
KNOW: The Magazine for Paralegals, http://www.knowparalegal.com/
Many thanks to Jamie for sharing her professional profile with Practical Paralegalism. If you haven’t already checked out the new collaborative blog, The Paralegal Society, I hope you will, and support Jamie and the other Mentors in their goal to raise the profile of the paralegal profession.