Born and raised in the small town of Graham, just ninety miles outside of Fort Worth, I was deep in the heart of Texas. Springs filled with bluebonnets, falls filled with football – it was home. Our claim to fame was America’s Largest Town Square. Located in that square was the Young County courthouse – where I began learning about the intricate workings of the civil litigation process.
At the age of seventeen, I accepted a position in a local law firm as a receptionist-bookkeeper. Under the mentorship of four attorneys and supporting staff, I became familiar with all of the processes of a profitable small town law firm. After a short period of time greeting clients, issuing paychecks, and managing the firm’s law library, I was given the opportunity to train as a legal secretary for the senior partner and his paralegal. Under their kind and watchful training, I learned to pay attention to even the smallest of details. The little things matter when establishing your professional reputation and the details of the process exist for a reason. I researched records at the courthouse and reviewed real property record indexes at the abstract office.
After accepting a law firm position in Arlington, Texas, I quickly learned that my attention to details was a good fit for the challenging practice area of civil litigation. While there was repetition in the processes, I loved the complexity of individual cases. I experienced growing pains as I adjusted to the much larger metropolitan courthouses and their vastly different procedures.
Although I never expected to leave my home state of Texas, my paralegal career took a detour up Interstate 35 following my husband’s relocation to Oklahoma City. That journey began in October 1995, just months after the Murrah Federal Building terrorist attack. As a family, we followed the court proceedings and convictions of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. In fact, the first law firm that I worked for in Oklahoma City was only steps away from the site. Walking from the parking garage, I passed the fences with teddy bears and photos displaying support for the victims. Though I was new to the state of Oklahoma, there was an immediate sense of community.
While the commute to downtown was nothing compared to what I had experienced in Dallas-Fort Worth, I still longed for a change in pace. Following my resignation from the downtown firm, I was inspired to take my professional career in a new direction in 2009. Through social media, I was introduced to the term virtual paralegal. Because of the training I had received in traditional brick-and-mortar law firms in Texas and Oklahoma, I felt I had the experience to take the necessary steps to launch Digital Paralegal Services, LLC®.
This year, I am proud to celebrate my sixth anniversary as a virtuaI paralegal. The ever-changing field of technology allows me to perform the same services for attorneys that I did in the traditional law offices. Although, my company functions on a virtual platform, I am still certainly a seasoned civil litigation paralegal. Having passed a grueling examination, I obtained my Certified Paralegal credential through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) in 2009. I then went on to achieve Advanced Certified Paralegal in the area of Trial Practice in 2011. I maintain my professional certifications by completing NALA’s continuing legal education requirements.
Sooner or later, every person reaches a fork in the road. Do you keep the status quo and restrict growth? Or, do you embrace change at the chance of greatness? This digital age has given me that opportunity. Going digital does not mean having to compromise quality and professional reputation. Believe it or not, utilizing virtual paralegals can actually increase your profitability and improve your work and personal life balance. More and more solo and small firm attorneys are considering engaging the services of a virtual paralegal. Will you be one of them?