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Lissa Treadway: President, Nevada Paralegal Association, Las Vegas, NV

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<<"I'm very excited, but a little nervous," she said. "The two women who came before me are just amazing people, and there are big shoes to fill. But I'm very excited to be a paralegal. I love my profession, and I love what the organization can do for us. So I'm hoping I can at least take us forward a little bit."

Treadway thinks professional paralegal associations benefit both the individual paralegal and the paralegal community. Some of the benefits they provide for individual paralegals include networking, employment, and professional development opportunities, as well as CLA credit.

"If you need anything, such as expert witnesses or forms or something, in an area where you don't practice, you can send an email to some of the paralegals in our association," she said. "They're quick to respond and do everything they can to help you."

When it comes to serving the entire paralegal community, Treadway feels that paralegal associations serve as "the voice of the legal profession."

"Our strength is in the number of paralegals in our membership. And as we build a higher membership, our voice gets louder to address the issues that will directly affect our profession, such as certification, regulation, [and] unauthorized practice of law," she said. "If we want to be respected as the professionals that we are, and if we want to influence the way paralegals are viewed by lawyers and the legal community, then we have to have an association to bring voice to our concerns—and that's what the association serves as on a local, state, and national level."

The Nevada Paralegal Association is also working on developing a presentation that will educate attorneys in local law firms about the best ways to utilize paralegals. Treadway feels that while there are a lot of firms that use paralegals effectively, there are still some attorneys who need help determining exactly what is and isn't a paralegal's responsibility. She hopes to inform the state of Neveda about the tremendous benefits of using paralegals.

In addition to her presidential duties, Treadway is one of two paralegals at Shea & Carlyon. The small firm handles cases regarding creditors' rights, bankruptcy, and civil litigation. Treadway, who has been with the firm since it was created 10 ½ years ago, started out her legal career in poverty and public interest law.

"I started out 17 years ago at the clerk's office in Arizona. That's where I first learned about the law and the judicial process, and I was simply fascinated by it," she said. "And then, I went to work at the legal aid in Arizona, and that's where I fell in love with the law and cut my teeth as a paralegal. It was really empowering to fight the good fight—to advocate for those who were taken advantage of and couldn't advocate for themselves—so it really interested me the most. And then, when I moved up to Las Vegas about 10 years ago, I brought with me the passion for the law that I learned there at legal services and ended up at the firm here."

When asked what she enjoys most about her job, Treadway said she likes the challenge that every new case brings in and the teamwork that takes place in her office. Some of the more interesting cases she has worked on include some of the Las Vegas casino bankruptcy cases, which she said were both educational and exciting.

However, even though she loves her job, Treadway admitted that it can be quite hectic and stressful, especially when you are dealing with attorneys who have varying personalities.

"As the law is so detail oriented, it does get really stressful, especially right before a trial. But in reality, that's the nature of the beast in the legal field," she said. "It's also very exciting. I think dealing with the different personalities can be difficult, too."

In fact, Treadway advises paralegal students to work on their social skills before entering into certain areas of law.

"If [a student is] going to be working in the litigation area, [he or she] should be a people person," she said. "If you're a research paralegal and you're pretty much isolated to research, you probably won't have to be as much of a people person—but if you're working in, for example, litigation, and you have clients coming in all the time, plus the attorneys you have to work with, you have to have people skills."

In addition, Treadway has advice to give to paralegal students regarding the sort of work ethic they should strive for upon graduation.

"I think if they're interested in law, working hard, and learning, then the paralegal profession might be something for them," she said. "They should work hard and learn everything they can about it. And it's often hard to get into an entry-level position after you graduate. But when you do, even if you have to get your foot in the door as a legal secretary or something—sometimes that happens in the community—take the initiative to do more and to learn more. Do your job to the very best of your ability, and then, if you see something else you would like to take a crack at, try it. Take a chance at it, and learn from your mistakes, and move on."

Treadway also said that linking up with a senior paralegal at your firm and joining a local paralegal association are both great ways to get some much-needed guidance and mentoring.

Shea & Carlyon, Ltd.


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