Major at CSB/SJU: Political Science
Year of Graduation: 2005
Graduate School: Minnesota Paralegal Institute (Certificate)
Current Job: Litigation Support Specialist, Faegre & Benson
Please give a brief description of your current position:
I work in the litigation support department at Faegre & Benson, an AmLaw 100 firm in Minneapolis. The litigation support department helps legal teams with all aspects of the discovery cycle - collection, processing, review, production and trial support. I have had lengthy assignments working with our pharmaceutical litigation team and am currently on assignment with our Finance and Restructuring group.
What path did you follow to arrive at your current job?
After college, I moved to St. Paul and got a job working at a bakery while I went to paralegal school. The bakery was kosher parve and I was able to take a lot that I learned about Judaism in my Senior Seminar and put it to good use.
Eight or nine months after graduating from paralegal school, I was contacted by a recruiter who had seen my resume on monster.com. I began at Faegre on a contract basis; it just so happened that they were losing a member of their staff to go to law school and were hiring for a permanent position. After seven or eight weeks of temping, I had proven myself and was hired.
I was given the opportunity to work on a large pharmaceutical case after someone discovered that prior to being a Political Science major, I was a Bio/Chem major and had worked a brief stint at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Once that case settled, I was asked to take my current assignment based on my outstanding performance.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
Take any opportunities to learn and use every MS Office product you can. I know Excel very very well, but I wish I would have taken advantage of short courses to better acquaint myself with Word.
Don't let your grades determine your destiny. I was a very average student; I am not a good test taker and I cannot cram for exams. Thankfully, that hasn't been the case in my job. My ability to keep learning and mastering skills doesn't [usually] involve any tests or essays. I am enthusiastic and demonstrate each day that I am willing to work hard to complete work projects and be a team player.
What skills are important in your field?
The ability to "figure it out"- a huge part of my job is problem solving in some form or another. Troubleshooting software and brainstorming how to reach a certain end product are daily occurrences. Teaching is a skill that I use all the time, too, whether it's explaining to a legal team why their project cannot be finished by the end of the day or walking someone through the use of software or hardware.
What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your job? Most challenging?
Working in the legal field involves maintaining high standards of work and often can be stressful due to deadlines and work demands. If you like the occasional adrenaline rush, working for lawyers will certainly fulfill that desire.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
I was able to take advantage of the knowledge I gained taking all of the Core Curriculum courses that I may have not necessarily enjoyed at the time. For example, Introduction to Jewish Ethics got my foot in the door at the bakery I worked at right after college; I became the bakery's leading expert in Jewish traditions with the other employees. Having taken several biology and chemistry courses got my foot in the door at the Science Museum of Minnesota.