This month’s spotlight is on Michele Ross, a designated paralegal at West Coast ADR Law Group Ltd. and Quay Law Centre, and host of Ethics, coming Spring 2017, part of CLEBC’s Paralegal Core Competency series.
How and why did you get involved with CLEBC?
To be honest, I don’t specifically recall when I first got involved with CLEBC; however my recollection is that I was "voluntold" by my lawyer to present at a CLEBC course! I’m glad she did because it has allowed me to form some great working relationships with the CLEBC lawyers and staff, whom I’ve enjoyed working with over the years.
What are you currently working on (or have most recently worked on) with CLEBC?
The last CLEBC project I worked on was hosting the Paralegal Core Competency series which was a five part series of CLE-TVs in May/June 2015 that was designed for recent graduates from a paralegal educational program and focused on providing a foundation for a successful transition into the workplace - to bridge the gap between schooling and employment. The five topics that were covered were:
- Basic Legal Office Skills;
- Interviewing & Communicating with Clients;
- Drafting Affidavits;
- Dealing with Difficult People.
This allowed me the opportunity to work with wonderful speakers who each had expertise in the subject matter they spoke about. In terms of what I am currently working on, I have been asked to host the next program which is being added to the Paralegal Core Competency series, "Ethics". This is scheduled for April 26, 2017.
What has been your most memorable CLEBC experience?
In November 2012, I was fortunate to be a part of the faculty for the CLEBC, Designated Family Law Paralegal: The Evolving Role. This was an opportunity to educate paralegals on how to become designated and the best practices for training as well as how to succeed in the role of a designated paralegal. This was a great opportunity to promote our profession.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you have received?
Challenge yourself. If you don’t know the answer about how to do something, use your resources to attempt to figure it out. Put in some effort before you ask questions.
What advice would you give newcomers interested in working in the legal profession?
Make sure you have writing materials on you at all times! You need to be able to take notes on everything, whether it is something related to a computer program or instructions/tasks to do on a client file. You will appreciate having notes to refer to rather than relying on your memory. While this is something very basic, I’m surprised at how many junior legal administrative assistants and paralegals don’t do this.
Also, stay on top of the most recent law and legal trends in your field. Keep yourself current!
Finally, attention to detail - so basic, but so important.
What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
Assisting clients in difficult emotional times. I have been working with the same lawyer for over 20 years in the area of family law. Over the years, I have helped clients go through what many consider to be the worst time of their life. It is rewarding to help a client through a difficult process and see the benefit they receive as a result of my services.
I also consider mentoring young paralegals or legal administrative assistants to be very rewarding. When I was a junior, I did not have a senior paralegal at the office I worked in that I could consult with. I have tried to be a mentor to the juniors in my office, where possible. A couple of them developed a saying, "WWMD". What would Michele do?
Other than law, what are you passionate about?
Boating in the coastal waterways of BC with my significant other. There are so many beautiful places in BC to explore.
What are some of your favorite legal resources?
The Courthouse Libraries BC website, www.courthouselibrary.ca is a wonderful resource. They have some great tools on their website including the Family Law Picklist as well as the Family Law Practice Portal.
Anything you’d like to shamelessly promote?
The British Columbia Paralegal Association (BCPA). I have been a member of the BCPA for several years and in April 2016, I joined the Board of Directors as the Education Chair. I would encourage those paralegals who are not a member of the association to join. Joining a professional association such as the BCPA allows members access to networking events and to create professional relationships. This gives the opportunity to share ideas, ask for advice or to volunteer as well as to take advantage of the BCPA's career resources, which is available to members only.
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Ardith Walpetko We’dalx Walkem