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RP® Testimonials

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Testimonial of Julianne Maguire, RP®

My reason for deciding, after many years of avoidance, to seek my certification as a PACE Registered Paralegal® was twofold:  1) My employer was increasingly looking for professional commitment and involvement as a subjective measure for advancement, and 2) my leadership position with the Oregon Paralegal Association placed me in a role where I was, by default, mentoring other paralegals and encouraging them to excel in their field.  I did some investigating and discovered that very few paralegals in Oregon were certified and, even more shocking to me, no other paralegals in my nationwide firm were either.  I decided it was time to “put up or shut up” and take this step to set me apart from the standard and inspire others to do the same. Fortunately, my employer was very supportive of my goal and agreed to pay for 100% of the costs, including my time for taking the exam.

Preparing for the exam was grueling. I have a very demanding job and outside personal commitments, as well. Had I not enrolled in the online course to have a firm time line for studying, I am certain I would not have succeeded in my studies. That course was not a walk in the park–sitting down to study in the evening after working a full day and tending to personal commitments was extremely hard—and many of the topics were foreign to me—such as litigation and intangible property rights. But I had made a commitment and I was not going to back down. I did try a study group, but unfortunately it did not work out– the other paralegals also had grueling professional and personal schedules, so the time conflicts proved to be difficult to overcome.  After I finished the study course with flying colors, I scheduled my exam for two months later. I intentionally set it for a day following a long weekend so I would have extra time before to do some focused study. (Not sure I would do that again–my ENTIRE holiday was taken up with 9 hours of studying.) The test itself was grueling and I found myself second guessing my answers and re-reviewing many of my selections before finishing. I truly did not think I had passed the test, but I ran out of time and finally clicked the “submit” button–and I passed!! I had intended to return to work that afternoon, but I was so mentally exhausted that I took the rest of the afternoon off.

Was it worth it? YES!  I have experienced a new level of professional respect both within my firm and in the outside professional realm. I find myself encouraging others to take the step, as well–although I recognize that not everyone’s path is the same. But for me, even though I internally fought taking this step for many years, I am glad I did, if for no other reason than my own personal satisfaction.

Julianne Maguire, RP®

Testimonial of Leah Aldred, RP®

Q. Why did you choose to sit for PACE®?

A. I chose to sit for PACE for several reasons. One, I’m proud of this profession. It is what I chose to do as a second career, and I wanted to show my personal and professional commitment. Two, the profession is currently unregulated, and certification is voluntary, but I believe we are on the cusp of change in this area and I wanted to get in front of it. Which brings me to three, I took the test to differentiate myself from others and build a stronger resume.

Q. What was the hardest part about getting ready for the test?

A. I did not join a study group as my personal schedule made that rather difficult. Instead, I did the online review course. The hardest part was relearning practice areas that I do not practice in. As a litigation paralegal focused in employment and labor law, I had to really focus on learning other practice areas. The questions on the exam were difficult and broad in scope and it was by far the most difficult exam I’ve ever taken.

Q. What was the best part about getting your RP®?

A. The sense of personal accomplishment and the fact that my firm supported my professional goals, as I know this isn’t common in our industry yet.

Q. What would you say to those paralegals who are not sure about certification?

A. Obviously this is a personal decision and I respect all views on certification. However, as a believer that paralegals are a separate and distinct profession, and that the public benefits from our existence; I believe there should be a standard for who is categorized as a paralegal among legal staff. Certification is one avenue to ensure a minimum standard is met.

Leah Aldred, RP®

Testimonial of Tom Holmes, RP®

To watch Tom Holmes, RP®’s video testimony, please click here.

Testimonial of Diane L. Thompson, CP, RP®

Q. Many people have asked why I have two paralegal certifications, especially when Oregon does not currently require a paralegal to be certified, licensed or regulated.

A. My response:

1) a certification behind a paralegal’s name is proof to the general public that the paralegal is skilled, competent, and has continuing legal education requirements to maintain the credential(s); and 2) it was important to me personally and professionally because I do not have a degree, but I do have years of experience, and I wanted to prove that I have the skills and expertise needed to pass the certification exams and prove to my employer that I can handle substantive legal task assignments.

Q. Why two certifications?

A. When I took my first certification exam, the certified legal assistant/certified paralegal (CLA/CP) offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), was the only exam available. A year later the registered paralegal (RP) exam was offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), and I decided to get that certification as well. Although both exams tested knowledge on communications, ethics, legal research, judgment and analytical ability, and substantive law, they differed in that the CLA/CP exam was a 1-1/2 day classroom administered exam, and the RP exam was a 4-hour computer exam taken at a testing facility. Now the CLA/CP exam is also taken at a testing facility on a computer, but it is still a 7-1/2 hour exam.

Q. What are the benefits of certification?

A. Personal and professional growth, and validation of your capabilities.

Q. Would you do it again?

A. Absolutely.

Diane Thompson, CP, RP®

Testimonial of Karen Russell, RP®

Plain and simple, being an RP is a positive addition to your credentials.  I have no doubt it was looked upon favorably when I applied for my current position.

Karen Russell, RP®

Testimonial of Kelley Chaney, RP®

When I entered the NFPA PACE Essay contest in 2010, I was told by my employer, “You know, we really don’t care about this certification.”   I was not surprised to learn there are many firms that either do not know about certification programs for paralegals, or do not believe they are necessary (because they are not required by the state of Oregon).  I think that is why I worked as a paralegal for almost 16 years before I even considered taking the PACE exam. I had reached a point in my career and education where I wanted to go to the next level and I learned through OPA and NFPA that receiving my RP status could help me with my goals.   I was thrilled when I won the essay contest and even more excited when I passed the test.   After earning my RP, I realized that the importance of the certification came from my vision of what I wanted to be as a paralegal, not from my employer or an outsider’s view.   It is not mandatory, essential or even encouraged by some employers, however, my new firm included a certification on the list of requirements for the current position I hold; and I was happy to be able to include my RP standing on my resume submission. Having an RP certification is not the only path to success as a paralegal. PACE is, however, a notable option offered by NFPA to substantiate your comprehensive knowledge in this field.

Kelley Chaney, RP®

Testimonial of Linda Odermott, RP®

Q. Why did you choose to sit for PACE® ?
A. I looked around at my peers and found that I wanted to separate myself from the pack. I wanted employers and colleagues to know that I was serious about my profession and I was willing to put in the months to prepare and study for PACE®.

Q. What was the hardest part about getting ready for the test?
The hardest part for me was getting started. I could always find reasons why I couldn’t take the test – time away from family and friends, too busy at work, laundry; to name a few – but once I got past all of my excuses and committed to taking the test, I was able to submit my application, apply for a testing date (I gave myself six months) and then create a study calendar based upon that timeline. It wasn’t so different from preparing for a trial – the trial date is set and important deadlines are calendared according to that date. I broke up the different domains and then studied based upon the deadlines.

Q. Would you recommend a study group to get ready for the test?
A. I did not participate in a study group, so I cannot speak to that issue specifically. I participated in the 12 week PACE® online study program. The program is designed for distance learners. I would sign in each week and receive the required reading and written assignments based upon the domain topics that were the focus for that week (PACE® is broken up into specific domain types), participate in weekly discussion boards, and then take a quiz based upon the topics included in that domain. The subject materials were gleaned from a number of the different PACE® resources (not just the Study Manual) so you had to be prepared and be willing to think outside of the box.

With that in mind, I think every person learns differently and no one person’s path to getting ready for the test is the same as anyone else’s. If you are thinking of sitting for PACE®, think about the way you learn. Are you more accountable if you have to meet with a study group, are you a self motivator who does better on your own, or do you think you just need to have an online study group where you can post specific questions? Only you know what is best for you.

Q. What was the best part about getting your RP®?
A. I have found there are a number of perks in having the RP® – my employer publicly recognized my accomplishment, NFPA® published it in the National Paralegal Reporter®, my name is included in a very short list of RPs® in Oregon which makes the RP® extremely valuable – but I think the thing that was the most incredible, was when another paralegal told me that I had inspired her. That was an incredible moment for me.

Q. What would you say to those paralegals who are not sure about certification?
A. This is a tough one, because I know that there are paralegals who are very passionately for or against certification. I think my answer is, it depends. First, it depends on what the requirements are in your state. Then I would say, it depends on what your professional goals are. I don’t see that certification can hurt our profession, as it just ups the anti for everyone to do better and shows a commitment to furthering the profession in general. And since it is still currently a voluntary decision, I don’t see the downside. If we stop growing, we die…or something like that.

Linda Odermott, RP®

Testimonial of Melanie Carvalho-Sage, RP®

On March 31, 2008, I completed my goal and passed the PACE exam. My experience with passing this exam was unique to me because I let my lack of confidence and fears of exams overcome me the first time. However, I did not give up and knew that I could do it and after reading this quote “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time,” (Thomas Edison) I knew I had to see this through. The PACE exam is very challenging and you need to read the questions thoroughly, but I encourage anyone who has taken this exam and did not pass, to do it again. Also, those of you who are sitting on the fence, take on the challenge and “JUST DO IT.”

My company was so supportive of me during my studies and after I passed, I was given the title of Law Office Administrator/Paralegal, since my corporation needed me to wear several hats. My company also pays for all of my CLEs to keep my credential current; as well as, paying for my OPA membership. I know our legal community is very competitive and any credential you volunteer to do for yourself is always looked upon as favorable, as you work to advance in your positions or take on leadership roles. So, my advice, as Steve Jobs so eloquently put it, “Your time is limited…Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important have the courage to follow your heart and intuition…Everything else is secondary.”

Melanie Carvalho-Sage, RP®

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Disclaimer: Paralegals are not permitted to practice law in the State of Oregon and may not provide legal services to the public except as permitted by law. Read more from the Oregon State Bar here

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