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<<In her position as a commercial real estate paralegal, Strickland's primary focus is title searches and recordings for her firm's residential and commercial transactions. She also lends a hand with closings and document preparation when needed. But what she enjoys most is the opportunity to travel to different courthouses and not always be tied to the office. "I enjoy being able to work independently, and I also enjoy investigating the titles to properties—it is like putting together a puzzle at times," said Strickland.
The Cary, NC, resident commutes 20 miles to work at Ragsdale Liggett PLLC in Raleigh. However, while travel is one of the admitted joys of her position, it is also one of the more difficult challenges.
"In traveling to other courthouses, you have to make sure that you are checking everything in that office that needs to be checked," she said. "Most of them are set up the same [way], but each one has some little difference, whether it is how they keep their assessments or tax bills. Also, you have to be very detail-oriented and like to work on your own."
By her own admission, Strickland started out studying business in college but quickly realized her heart was not in it. "A friend of mine was taking some criminal justice courses and convinced me to take a couple," Strickland said. "I soon changed my major, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to law school or not." Her academic advisor broached the subject of a career as a paralegal and recommended a school in Philadelphia, PA. After checking it out, Strickland said she liked what she saw and decided it was the career she wanted to pursue.
For Strickland, paralegal school was invaluable in that it exposed her to a broad overview of all areas of the law and helped her chose a concentration. "I realized early on that I like to be the support person and not the one in charge, and being a paralegal provides that for me," said Strickland.
After 20 years in the industry, what does she consider to be some of the most important issues facing the law community today? "One main issue in the real estate area is whether paralegals will be allowed to handle real estate closings," answered Strickland. "North Carolina is an attorney-driven state, and paralegals are not allowed to conduct closings. This has been a big issue for years in North Carolina."
What do you do for fun?
I love to shop and read.
What CD was most recently in your CD player?
Kidz Bop 10 (my daughter's)
What's the last magazine you read?
In Touch or US
What is your favorite TV show?
Who is your role model?
My daughter. She has serious health issues but is always happy and never complains when she has to go in the hospital for IV treatments. She amazes me every day with her courage and her love of life.
In contrast, the biggest change she has witnessed over the years is the integration of technology into the workplace. "Most register of deeds offices are now online, which makes it very easy to search titles from your office instead of having to physically travel to them," explained Strickland.
On the subject of paralegal associations, Strickland said they are great places to hook up with student mentors, as well as a place to network and garner great employment advice. "Now that paralegals have to meet certain standards, it is a great place to find out about continuing legal education seminars as well as talking to other paralegals about what they think about the changes in the paralegal community. It is a great place to get advice from people who have been in the profession and have probably experienced a lot of the same issues," said Strickland.
What you didn't know about the United States Tennis Association:
It was founded in 1881
It's a non-profit organization with over 665,000 members
It invests 100% of its proceeds into the develop and growth of tennis
It's a volunteer-based organization led by a board of directors
According to Strickland, because her profession is still going through growing pains, there remain some attorneys who don't know how to fully utilize their paralegals. Her advice to up-and-coming paralegals is to ask plenty of questions during the interview process. Applicants need to make sure they understand upfront exactly what is expected and what the job entails. "Attorney expectations vary widely depending on the area of law they are in. You have to be organized and also have the ability to communicate and ask questions. A lot of the time you have to work independently and be able to manage your time effectively. You also need to have strong word processing and computer research skills," said Strickland.
Incredibly romantic circumstances surround Strickland's home life. She and her husband Greg were high school sweethearts and have been married for 22 years. They have a daughter, Jordan Michelle, who is nine-years-old and, according to Strickland, runs their lives! "Jordan plays USTA tennis and between lessons three to four times a week along with tournaments once a month, she keeps us pretty busy, but we enjoy it and have met so many new people from all over the state," said Strickland.
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