Here at The Paralegal Society, we like to feature our members. We’ve launched a series entitled: “Sketches of Our Society,” which will provide you with an up close, personal and professional look at various paralegals, students, aspiring paralegals and other legal minds that make our society so great. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we do! Let the mingling begin…
FEATURED PARALEGAL: Ruth Holstead Boren
HAILS FROM: Houston, Texas
How long have you been a paralegal, what is your current title and what are your area(s) of practice?
I have been a paralegal for 24 years. My area of practice is defense, business litigation, as well as tobacco defense.
Tell us about your educational background, i.e., did you attend “the school of learn or get fired” or a college? Also tell us about any paralegal associations you participate in, as well as any accolades or special honors you have received.
I obtained a BA in Home Economics from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas in 1980. I obtained my paralegal certificate from Southwestern Paralegal Institute in 1989.
What made you become a paralegal?
I was working in a chiropractor’s office and became friends with an attorney who was a patient. He suggested that I go to paralegal school.
Did you face any challenges in trying to become a paralegal? If so, how did you overcome that challenge, and what advice would you give to others facing that challenge now?
I sent 100 resumes to law firms when I first got out of school. I received 5 rejection letters and one letter requesting an interview. I was not particularly interested in the job I was offered. I started telling everyone, even the cashier at my cleaners that I was looking for a job as a paralegal. Eventually, another patient at the chiropractic office where I was working invited me to the building where he worked and introduced me to several attorneys in the building. One of the attorneys that I was introduced to asked me to come back to talk with him. He had never had a paralegal and wanted to know what I could do for him. He offered me a job on the spot and I worked for him for 11 years. He is still a dear friend.
Being a paralegal often comes with a lot of stress. What’s your favorite way to handle the stress?
I play Angry Birds on my Nook during lunch and I take a hot bubble bath at the end of the day.
What are your secrets for being successful? In life? At work?
Find a job that you are passionate about that stimulates your mind. Work at being the best at what you do. If you are unhappy with your job or anything in your life, don’t complain, do something about it. Learn to get along with everyone and accept and embrace your differences. Always do the right thing. If you make a mistake, own up to it right away. Most mistakes can be fixed. Worry about what you are doing, not what people around you are doing.
What particular task in the paralegal world is your least favorite?
I can’t think of any.
What particular task in the paralegal world is your favorite?
Preparing for and assisting in trial.
If one of your good friends had to decide whether to become a paralegal or some other professional, what advice would you give? Why?
If they don’t have good organizational skills, don’t have the ability to multi-task or prioritize, they need to look into some other profession.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever done as a paralegal?
I once had to hunt down a client in a really bad part of town. I then had to get her cleaned up, and take her shopping for an outfit to wear to a mediation that afternoon.
What’s the proudest moment that you’ve had as a paralegal?
When an opposing attorney called me after I had assisted the attorney I worked for in a trial, and told me that he had never used a paralegal in trial and had never understood the benefit until he saw what I could do.
What’s your craziest story stemming from your experience in the legal world?
We needed a crane loading chart and went to the Port of Houston to look at cranes. We apparently ended up in an area where we were not authorized to be and were chased out by the Port Authority.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change, and why? What wouldn’t you change, and why wouldn’t you change it?
I would not change a thing. I have worked with wonderful people, many whom have become lifelong friends. I have worked on both sides of the docket and in many different areas, which has allowed me to continually learn new skills.
If you were teaching a paralegal class in your area of practice, what would it be? Why is it so important?
I would teach Civil Procedure, because there are severe consequences if procedures are not followed.
What things have you learned about yourself over the years as a paralegal? How have you personally grown?
I have learned that I am more outgoing and confident than I thought I was when I was younger.
What does The Paralegal Society mean to you? How have you, or how can you, benefit from being a member? Please share your thoughts with us!
The Paralegal Society is a place where one can share ideas, gain knowledge and be inspired by others in your field.
What major accomplishments and accolades would you ultimately like to see listed on your paralegal obituary when the time comes?
That I always had a good attitude, volunteered to help out in all situations and had high integrity.
What are your three top professional goals at this time?
Continue to learn new skills, particularly in the fast changing area of technology, continue to be an example to co-workers in the area of diversity and assist in bringing new books of business to the firm.
What is the most difficult situation you’ve ever overcome (personal or paralegal)?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and had to take a short leave of absence from my job.
What makes you a unique person?
I have the enthusiasm for life, much like that of a child seeing a butterfly for the first time.
What is the most unique life experience you’ve had to date? Tell us about it.
I became friends with the woman that my husband was having an affair with while I was pregnant with our child. After her death, her friends and sister have included me in their circle of friends.
If your friends were to tell us about your worst quality(ies) what would it/they be?
I am too forgiving.
If your friends were to tell us about your best quality(ies) what would it/they be?
I am loyal and would do anything for my friends, including taking phone calls or going to pick them up in the middle of the night.
What is your most life-defining “paralegal moment” to date?
The first time I went to trial with a baby lawyer and was having to tell him what he needed to do.
What are three unusual facts about you?
1. I set up and decorate 12 Christmas trees at my home during the holiday season.
2. I can touch my nose with my tongue.
3. After a 34 year break, I am now dating my high school boyfriend.
If you could choose any meal for your “final supper” here on planet earth, what would you choose? Is there a specific memory tied to your selection?
Homemade chicken and dumplings and marinated tomatoes and asparagus with fresh basil.
Very few people have never experienced a setback in life. What setback(s) or extenuating circumstance(s) have you dealt with in your life thus far and how did it/they make you stronger? What did you learn from them? How has it changed you?
I was working at one of my husband’s clinics and pregnant with our first child when I learned that he was having an affair. When I filed for divorce, I moved out of our home, and had to find a job and take care of an infant by myself. Then while working a full-time job, I eventually attended paralegal school at night. When I completed my paralegal certificate, I knew that no matter how difficult life might get in the future, I would always be okay.
Robert Fulghum wrote a book entitled “All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.” If you were six years old, but had the same knowledge that you have now, what would you do differently?
I would have gone to law school.
Are you interested in contributing a “Sketch” a/k/a profile piece to The Paralegal Society? Feel inclined to play a fun game of 20 questions with the grand prize of being featured via the TPS platform? If so, send an e-mail to our fearless leader, Jamie at: firstname.lastname@example.org with “TPS Sketch” in the subject line, and we’ll gladly send you our most fabulous questionnaire. We’d love to get to know more of our paralegal peers, so don’t be shy! We’re looking for regular readers just like you! Go send that e-mail!
Have an absolutely fantastic weekend! We’ll see you on Monday.