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By: Karen R. George, FRP
We hope this post finds you “living the dream.” While our goals and endeavors may certainly not always feel like living the dream, it’s important to constantly keep a current dream in mind. In other words, perhaps your umbrella goal is to become wildly successful. That’s a great goal! However, “living the dream” is all of those things you do from day-to-day to turn that dream into a living, breathing reality. That, my friends, is living the dream! Not quite as grand as the white, sandy beaches of Hawaii, but in order to “live the dream,” one must, in fact, actually LIVE the dream! We hope you catch our drift. Enough about dreams, and white sand. Here’s Karen…
The other day, I was walking my two German Shepherds in the morning. It was around 8:30 a.m. and I was enjoying the day. My son drove by, coming home from a night of working for an ambulance company and called out, “Living the Dream!” I smiled and he drove on to get some much deserved sleep. As I continued walking I thought to myself, I am living the dream. At least my most recent dream. I have a job that permits me to walk my dogs at 8:30 a.m. and not stress the time.
I have had many dreams through my career and life, but what I talk about here are my professional dreams.
When I started working for my first law firm the year was 1976 — I was young. I watched the legal secretaries typing away, seeming to know so much about their jobs. I dreamed of becoming a legal secretary. I took a class and got a certificate attesting to the fact that I was now qualified to be a legal secretary. I got a job as a legal secretary and I was living my dream.
Later, I wanted to be a legal word processor. This was a great job; all I had to do was work on legal pleadings and no scheduling or the minutia that is a legal secretary. I strived, I applied for and ultimately got such a job. I was living my dream. Then of course, I wanted to be a word processing supervisor and worked and maneuvered my way into such a position for a large firm. I was living my dream.
The years passed and the word “paralegal” became a term repeated through the offices and in conversations among my co-workers. I looked into what a paralegal was and realized I was already doing that type of work…so why wasn’t I a paralegal???? Well, I found out about some classes being offered for paralegal and started taking them. However, due to a big medical malpractice trial in another county, I had to stop school and get ready for and attend trial (actual paralegal work). One thing led to another and I was given the title and position at my firm of “paralegal.” I was living my dream. The year was now 1994.
Around the late 1990’s, I started reading the newspaper that our state’s Bar Association puts out. I would read the articles, always looking for anything that mentioned paralegals. Things were happening! Paralegals were being interviewed about what was happening. Paralegal associations were being mentioned and I began to see this profession I fell into as something that people were really involved in, not just working at. These people were living another dream, the dream to be proactive about their profession. I had a new dream.
About that time, I got married and then there were kids to care for, as well as my elderly parents. I kept working, but my time off from work was packed. I read the articles when I could, but didn’t get involved.
Then in 2006, the craziness slowed down in my personal life – sort of. I began to think about my profession again. I joined our local paralegal association and ultimately appointed a position on a committee. I attended one of our State Bar’s annual conventions and my appetite was wetted for more information.
It was around that time that my mother passed away and I took a couple years off from all extracurricular activities. I needed to heal. During this time, the paralegals I had read so much about through the years joined forces and got the Florida Supreme Court to enter Rule 20 which created the Florida Registered Paralegal Committee at our State Bar. I joined immediately and the game was on! These paralegals were amazing people and I wanted to be involved again!
Our Local Bar Association opened membership to paralegals and I joined immediately. I later found out I was the first paralegal to join. To be a member of our local bar association was the answer to a dream I hadn’t even dreamt was possible!!!
It got better. After being a member of the local bar association for a couple of years, always looking for some seminar or event for the paralegal members and never seeing one, I went to ask why. In fact, the way it happened was, I was walking back to my car from the courthouse and passed by the offices of the local bar association. I thought to myself, why not just go in and ask why there aren’t ever any events for paralegals. It seemed crazy but hey, I’m not always sane anyway – I’m a paralegal!!!
I met with the director of the local bar association. I didn’t know the next day was a Board meeting and the director presented to the Board the creation of an FRP Committee. The idea was passed unanimously and I was appointed as inaugural chair of the Committee! Not only was I now a member, I was the first paralegal member and – thanks to my craziness – I had created a paralegal committee and was the Chair! Wayne Dyer had nothing on me!!!! I had surpassed my dreams and moved into my wildest dreams!
With the help of my Vice Chair, we increased membership from the original 4 to 54 in one year! We had a hugely successful seminar and brought money into the Bar! We were a success! Beyond my wildest imaginings – dreams surpassed.
Since then I have held various positions for various paralegal and legal assistant associations. I have been legal education chair and put on some really good seminars and introduced continuing legal education credits where there previously weren’t any. I have been appointed to two different committees of our state bar by the Florida Supreme Court and continue to hold those positions. I am very active in my paralegal community and I love every minute. (Well just about every minute). There is one week a month that I have back-to-back-to-back meetings (and more pizza than I’d care to mention), but each is a wonderful way to give back to my profession and interact with really great and smart people who care about our profession.
I have held very interesting jobs, I have worked on extremely interesting cases. I have learned so much from so many facets of life and people. Every minute there is a challenge, a goal and growth.
Today, I have worked my way into a situation where I can walk my dogs at 8:30 in the morning, no stress about the hour and go into work and have a great day with a great attorney, doing interesting work.
I am living the dream. I am an example of the dream and I haven’t stopped dreaming because I know that my profession as a paralegal always has a new and wonderful plan for me. I just have to wait because it will come to me.
Imagine it, dream it and it will come to you. I am proof.
We’ll see you on Monday! Until then, keep living the dream – at least your current one, anyway! You just never know when the next dream might find you, and who you’ll become once it does. White sand, anyone?
Imagine it, dream it, and it will come to you.