Paralegal Affiliates

Paralegal Affiliates are eligible for AAJ membership. You must be qualified to perform substantive legal work under the direction of an attorney, sponsored by an AAJ member, and represent plaintiffs in civil litigation or defendants in criminal litigation


With over 400 members and growing, Paralegal Affiliates are dedicated to networking, membership, and education.

Paralegal of the Year

View Past Winners

  • 2023 Recipient – Assal Badrkhani
  • 2022 Recipient - Olga A. Patterson
  • 2020 Recipient - Kim Martel
  • 2019 Recipient - Lisa West
  • 2018 Recipient - Alesia Emison
  • 2017 Recipient - Amy Johnson
  • 2016 Recipient - Patti Artavia
  • 2015 Recipient - Christine Flynn
  • 2014 Recipient - Regina Valenti
  • 2013 Recipient - Dennyce Korb
  • 2011 Recipient - Christina Koch
  • 2009 Recipient - Linda Whipple
  • 2008 Recipient - Lori Tracoma
  • 2007 Recipient - Natalie Andrus
  • 2006 Recipient - Julie D. Hunt
  • 2005 Recipient - Julie L. McLaughlin

Nomination and Criteria


A candidate must be nominated by an AAJ Attorney Member in good standing or by another AAJ Paralegal Affiliate. The 2024 nomination period is now open! Applications must be submitted by May 1, 2024. Download the nomination form here.


Judges look for the following qualities/experience:

1) Contributions to the paralegal profession by:

  • Teaching, tutoring, or mentoring paralegal students

  • Speaking at seminars and conventions on issues concerning the profession

  • Displaying commitment and providing services to professional organizations such as local and national paralegal associations

  • Writing articles for legal publications

2) Commitment to continuing legal education
3) Commitment to community through volunteering

Judges also look for candidates who have demonstrated their value as members of a legal services team, shown dedication to the legal profession, and shown dedication to AAJ's mission.

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Headshot of Assal Badrkhani, Winner of the 2023 Paralegal of the Year Award

Assal Badrkhani

Arias Sanguinetti Emeryville, CA
2023 Paralegal of the Year AAJ Paralegal Advisory Task Force Leaders Forum Firm

Each year, an outstanding paralegal is chosen as Paralegal of the Year. The 2023 winner is Assal Badrkhani, a Senior Litigation Paralegal with over seventeen years of experience in personal injury, civil rights, sexual assault, and catastrophic injury cases. Assal holds a bachelor's degree in political science from UCLA and earned her Paralegal Certificate from California State University. In addition to AAJ, she is a member of CAOC and CAALA, speaking on legal topics within these organizations and serving in a leadership role among CAALA legal staff.

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