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Blanche Berkowitz: Paralegal, Schell Bray Aycock Abel & Livingston, PLLC, Greensboro, NC

( 22 votes, average: 4.4 out of 5)
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<<She decided to become a paralegal after teaching elementary school in New York for four years. "I was a teacher and decided to get my certification as a paralegal so that I could enter the business world," said Berkowitz.

Berkowitz relocated to North Carolina in 1997 when her husband received a job transfer. A proactive move on her part assured that she too had a position waiting for her. "I faxed my resume [to Schell Bray Aycock Abel & Livingston], was granted an interview, and was hired prior to our actual move," said Berkowitz.


For Berkowitz, one of the more difficult challenges she faces is the time crunch. "[It's a challenge to handle] last-minute emergency assignments on top of an already-full workload," said Berkowitz.

Along with her legal duties, Berkowitz said that she enjoys both her work environment and her co-workers. "Since I deal with [business] entities, I have to be emotionally driven by the people I work with and for," said Berkowitz. "Over the years, some of the high points of working there have been going through the hardships and joys in life with my co-workers."

Over the course of her career as a paralegal, Berkowitz said she has seen the legal industry become more cost-efficient and more cautious when it comes to billing. "I believe we are more mindful of client dollars," said Berkowitz. "There has also been a boom in technology. We are a 24-hour service everywhere now, no longer just in the big cities. Clients place more demand on immediacy." She added that she believes the most important issue facing the legal community is the question of ethics and remaining steadfastly above the law.

According to Berkowitz, for the individual paralegal, professional associations provide opportunities for continuing education and networking and a venue to air opinions and find solutions to common problems. And for the paralegal community as a whole, associations are a way to give back to the community through activities and a cooperative spirit. "They are a vehicle to promote the professional standard of paralegals, give credence to the profession, and to keep the legal community informed," said Berkowitz.

Berkowitz has been a North Carolina Bar Association-Legal Assistants Division Council member for the last three years; she's a past survey chairperson and current treasurer. She is also the North Carolina Paralegal Association mid-year seminar co-chairperson and has been a past ethics chairperson; a Guilford Paralegal Association Executive Board member since 1999; and a North Carolina Certified Paralegal, certified by the North Carolina State Bar.

Berkowitz credits her organizational skills and analytical thinking for her career success. "Specific classes in my area of expertise also helped," said Berkowitz. "And in my case, being a teacher gave me the required communication skills."

Does Berkowitz have any advice for students who are preparing to become paralegals? "Complete an internship—either paid or unpaid—in the area of law you would like to work. Meet other paralegals who are doing what you want to do, and research what you desire to do," said Berkowitz. If Berkowitz could do things all over again, she said that she would go to law school and become an attorney. "I still can," added Berkowitz, "but the desire has left the building!"

Berkowitz lives in the nearby community of McLeansville, where she keeps active by hiking, playing tennis, and walking Beethoven, her 75-pound Airedale terrier/wolf hound mix. She practices tai chi chuan and yoga as well. Berkowitz is the proud mother of two young men, one a doctor and the other in his last year of pharmacy school. She is also passionately interested in working towards peace on earth and stopping global warming.

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