Name: Shirley A. Hughes
Occupation: Contract paralegal
E-mail address: email@example.com
Participation in AAJ: Paralegal Affiliate
I primarly handle cases dealing with: I contract with primarily solo practicioners who specialize in personal injury.When
Number of years in the paralegal profession: 26 years.
Employer: Self-employed contract paralegal
Education: High School; Paralegal Course at Ft. Lewis College, Durango, Colorado; Continuous CLE for NALA certificationWhy
Pluses/Challenges of paralegal profession:
Pluses: Unlike bagging widgets on an assembly line where you know what your job will be each day, being a paralegal guarantees that what you thought you were going to do that day never happens. Helping people when they have no where else to turn. Challenges: Staying abreast of rapidly changing laws.
Core Skills Needed:
Curiosity, imagination, and a good sense of humor when the going gets rough. Ability to organize and prioritize with little time to do either.
Advice to Fellow Paralegals:
Never forget there are two sides to every story. That's why it's called a trial. Learn from your losses to win the next case.
Career Path to Current Position:
I was an artist for a large printing firm then worked for a small town newspaper, tire company, and propane company. I began my career in the legal field as a secretary in Texas in 1977, then moved to Pagosa Springs, Colorado in 1979 and worked for attorneys who practiced real estate, banking, and corporate law. When I moved to Albuquerque, NM in 1988, I wanted to learn the medical/legal field so I began working for personal injury attorneys. In 1996 I started doing contract paralegal work. Depending on the case, I do everything from investigation at the beginning of the case to assisting through trial.
Influences and Mentors:
Being a child of the early days of television, I was hooked on Perry Mason but learned from that program that Della Street was the real power and imagination behind the cases. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is one of my favorite movies and taught me that sometimes taking a risk is worth it. I love story telling and there is no greater master than Gerry Spence.
Professional Affiliations and Activities:
Certified Legal Assistant with NALA
Recent Professional Publications: Seminars through Lorman and NBI for paralegals
Memorable Career Moment: I prepared a Power Point presentation for an attorney that he presented at mediation. The defense counsel stayed very focused during the entire presentation, crossing his arms and glaring at the screen. As soon as the lights came on, he got up from his chair and came over to my place at the table and lifted his hand as if he were going to hit me, then slapped his hand on the table and said, "That's the best d..n thing I've ever seen." Talk about relief! The attorney settled the case in short order.
Interests: I am raising two teenage grandsons, so personal interests have been put on hold for the time being. Learning new slang words, new music, and dress codes for this generation is full time entertainment.