Well-known Paralegal Cheryl J. Nodarse Reflects on a Long and Rewarding Career

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Professional Overview

Well-known Paralegal Cheryl J. Nodarse
Cheryl J. Nodarse serves as a paralegal for The Hubbard Law Firm, P.C., in Lansing, MI. Her current areas of specialization include litigation, environmental, municipal, and drain law. Ms. Nodarse began her legal career in West Palm Beach at Gunster , Yoakley, Criser & Stewart. While working for Gunster, Christine Murray, CP, served as an excellent mentor and guide for her. Through good friends and contacts, Ms. Nodarse had a wonderful five-year professional experience in Florida before she decided to move back to her hometown in Michigan with her husband, Ruben, to start a family. She has more than twenty-five years of paralegal experience in Michigan and Florida.

Ms. Nodarse is currently devoting a lot of her time outside of work to her profession. She sits on the boards of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the Great Lakes Paralegal Association (GLPA), and on the council of the State Bar of Michigan Paralegal/Legal Assistant Section. Ms. Nodarse previously served as the Chair of the Section. In 2008, Ms. Nodarse was a guest speaker at the State Bar of Michigan's Annual Meeting. She also has presented to Lansing Community College classes, as well as other functions in Florida and Michigan.

Ms. Nodarse was born and raised in the small town of St. Johns, MI, which is about twenty minutes north of the state capitol, Lansing. She earned her B.S. from Central Michigan University in 1987 and her Certified Legal Assistant status in 1990. In addition to her ongoing legal education, Ms. Nodarse's specialized training includes courses from the Michigan State University Institute of Watershed Training (2002) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in Grant Writing and Administration (2001, 2002, 2004). She is currently working towards her Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP) certification from NALA. Ms. Nodarse is focusing on a Real Estate-Land Use course.

From 1999 to 2000, She served as a member and fundraiser with the St. Johns City Park "Fantasy Forest" Playground Committee. From 2008 through 2012, Ms. Nodarse was an active member of the St. Johns High School Band Boosters. She also frequently serves as a volunteer for various school and community events.

Ms. Nodarse resides in St. Johns with her husband. When asked about her family, she stated:
"My husband, Ruben, is originally from Cuba, so at any given time you will hear both Spanish and English spoken in our house. Alas, though I had several years of Spanish classes, I still am nowhere near fluent. Ruben and I will soon be empty nesters, as our daughter is in her second year at University of Chicago, and our son will graduate from high school in June and attend Central Michigan University in the Fall."

When she isn't working, Ms. Nodarse enjoys reading, shopping, and harassing her children. She admitted, "I have an abiding love for Chicago deep dish pizza, so I was happy with my daughter's choice to attend school at University of Chicago." One of Ms. Nodarse's favorite contemporary authors is Mitch Albom. She added, "I find his writing thought-provoking, and he never fails to make me cry."

Ms. Nodarse's Successful Career

Why did Ms. Nodarse decide to become a paralegal? "I became a paralegal after taking a single business law class in college, and becoming hooked on law. I chose the paralegal route instead of becoming an attorney because research has always been my 'thing,' regardless of subject."

What advice would she give to an entry level paralegal? "There is no better advice I could give than to get involved in paralegal organizations. There, you will meet people who will help to shape your professional life in ways you can't begin to imagine."

What information does Ms. Nodarse wish she had when she started out? "Don't be afraid to ask a paralegal for help. We in the profession seem to share the trait of being generally generous by nature."

What does she think are the keys to becoming a successful paralegal? "In real estate, the term is 'location, location, location.' In the paralegal field, our term is 'organization, organization, organization.' A paralegal must have an organized, inquisitive mind to succeed."

What's one of the things that Ms. Nodarse finds most challenging about her job? "Sometimes, it can be very challenging to keep my cool under pressure. It is something I pride myself in, but I can't say it isn't a struggle at times."

What is the best part of her job? "The best part of my job is the people I've had the pleasure to work with along the way. I have worked with some truly excellent attorneys, legal secretaries, and paralegals over the years."

What's the favorite part of Ms. Nodarse's day as a paralegal? "My favorite part of my paralegal day is when I can have some quiet time to sink my teeth into my latest research or writing assignment."

What is she known for professionally? "I am known as a fairly decent legal writer. I love the creative process of putting pen to paper to 'make our case.'"

What does Ms. Nodarse think about the paralegal field in Michigan today? She noted:
"Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a paralegal curriculum review committee at a community college here in Michigan. Through that process, we found that our job descriptions varied dramatically. Some of us were in litigation, some were in the corporate world, some were working with patents and trademarks, and some were solely working with e-discovery. And, yet, with all the variety of descriptions, our basic job functions were still essentially the same: organizing and making sense of documentation."

Where does she see herself in five year's time? "In five year's time, I'm certain I will still be working as a paralegal. However, with the rough winter we've just had here in Michigan, I'd like to think that I might be a paralegal back in Florida by then!"

What motivates Ms. Nodarse to be a paralegal every day? "From the time I was an undeclared college freshman taking an elective course on Business Law, I simply knew that I was going to work in the legal profession. It is simply a part of my human make-up."

Mentoring Paralegals, Volunteer Activities, Accomplishing Tasks and People Who Inspire Ms. Nodarse

Does Ms. Nodarse consider herself a mentor? "I like to think that I have helped young paralegals who cross my path in whatever way I am able."

Is she involved in any volunteer activities? "I used to be a regular volunteer in various school activities. Now that my kids are older, I am seeking out other volunteer avenues, with professional associations taking the forefront right now."

Ms. Nodarse wears many hats. How does she accomplish all of her tasks while working as a paralegal? "A long time ago, I heard a saying that I believe and try to practice: 'You make time for those things that are most important to you.'"

Who inspires her? Ms. Nodarse asserted:
"The people who have inspired me are those paralegals who were 'in the trenches' at a time when no one knew what a paralegal was or did. It has been my pleasure to meet and get to know the trail-blazers among us, including Vicki Voisin and Ida Farhat, two Michigan women who have made their mark on the national front. And one other woman must be mentioned: Marge Dover, the Executive Director of NALA since NALA's inception, has led the organization through all of the many changes these past 39 years."

Civic Engagements, Being Featured on Vicki Voisin's The Paralegal Mentor Blog and Her Goals

Ms. Nodarse volunteers for many community and school events. Will she continue her civic engagements? "These days, I enjoy being an 'on call' volunteer for community events and happenings. When called, if I'm free, I'm there."

She was featured on Vicki Voisin's The Paralegal Mentor blog. How did it feel for her to be recognized for her work in this way? "It was truly a sense of pride and accomplishment to be featured in a blog by Vicki Voisin, whom I have respected and held in the highest esteem for many years."

Ms. Nodarse has accomplished a lot in her career. What does she plan on doing next? "Now, it's time for me to give back to the profession that has done so much for me. That's why I am so active in NALA and GLPA, and plan to continue volunteering with those organizations for as long as they will have me!"

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The Hubbard Law Firm      Cheryl J. Nodarse      Paralegal      Lansing      MI     

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