February Paralegal of the Month

SPI is proud to announce Sharon Patterson as our Paralegal of the Month for February!

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Sharon Patterson is a Legal Assistant Supervisor at Goldberg Kohn Ltd. In addition to her responsibilities there she is also a member of the Illinois Paralegal Association, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations and the International Practice Management Association.

Her depth of knowledge and experience make her a true standout in the field. Recently SPI’s President/CEO, Lindsay Gates had the pleasure of sitting down with Sharon to pick her brain on her journey to become a paralegal as well as her advice for others looking to join the industry.

SPI is proud to showcase Sharon as February’s Paralegal of the Month!

What got you interested in becoming a paralegal? 

When I was a junior in high school I was taking classes in a business program at my school. A law firm called the school and asked for a recommendation for a runner. They sent me to that interview, and I got the job. I was obtaining medical records at hospitals and Dr. offices for Workers’ Compensation and Medical Malpractice cases. That got me interested in pursuing a career in the legal field and I have been in the industry ever since. That was “back in the day” when if you wanted to get a job as a paralegal you needed to get an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. I got my paralegal associates degree and never looked back.

How long have you been in this field?

 32 years

What is your favorite part of being a paralegal?

Mentoring new paralegals. I am a teacher and a manager so I really enjoy imparting the knowledge I have gained over the years.

What tips do you have for time management?

Always ask for a deadline.  The attorney may not always be forthcoming with that information, but they usually have one.  Knowing the deadline will make it easier for you to prioritize your projects.

Also, try to enter your time spent on a project into the management system as you do it. This one is a struggle for me too, but it’s one of my new year’s resolutions every year and I’m getting better at it!

What do you find is most challenging in your daily work flow when it comes to being a paralegal?

The emergency projects that inevitably come up that you are not expecting. As a paralegal, the attorneys can come and say “I need this right now” sometimes 5 at one time. They don’t always tell us when they start on a project so by the time it gets to us, everything is a rush.

What tips would you offer up for anyone looking to become a paralegal?

The Chicago market requires a bachelor’s degree and paralegal certificate. Go to an ABA approved paralegal program to get a certificate.

If you can do an internship, do it! I also tell my students to go to a staffing agency and try to get your foot in the door by doing some temporary work. You never know what it might lead to.

What do you do to relax after work?

I am married and have 2 kids so I like to spend as much time with my family as possible, planning our vacations to Disney and playing with our puppy, Bailey.

What are your hobbies or favorite past times?

I love to read.

Do you have a favorite saying or motto?

Your procrastination should not be my emergency!