Well-known Paralegal Nancy L. Jordahl Reflects on a Long and Rewarding Career

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Professional Overview

Well-known Paralegal Nancy L. Jordahl
Nancy L. Jordahl ACP, FRP, FCP, serves as a paralegal at Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell, PA, in Orlando, FL. The firm specializes in commercial litigation and the defense of civil lawsuits. Ms. Jordahl has assisted primarily regarding breach of warranty/lemon law cases against automobile manufacturers, products liability cases, and insurance defense cases.

Prior to joining Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell in 2003, Ms. Jordahl worked for a small firm that specialized in personal injury, family law, and criminal law. She then worked for a sole practitioner for eight years who handled insurance coverage and insurance bad faith cases. Ms. Jordahl is a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants, the Central Florida Paralegal Association, and the Orange County Bar Association Paralegal Section.

She was born in Naples, Italy, and she grew up in Cottage Grove, MN. Ms. Jordahl moved to Orlando, FL, in eighth grade after her dad got sick of the snow and cold after one particularly bad winter. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Russian Studies from Stetson University and she graduated with honors from the Rollins College Paralegal Studies Program.

When she isn't working, Ms. Jordahl enjoys traveling, reading, boating, and spending time outdoors with her dog. When asked about her favorite book and restaurant, she stated, "I cannot limit myself to one favorite book or even one favorite author. I will say the best book I have read in 2014 so far has been The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Restaurants are like books, I cannot limit myself to a favorite. I love to eat almost any kind of food. One of my favorite parts of travelling to different places is trying different restaurants and food/drink."

Ms. Jordahl's Successful Career

Why did Ms. Jordahl decide to become a paralegal? She noted:
"I was working in retail management and had to get out of it. Every day people were getting meaner. I did not know what to do so I took a career aptitude test that suggested I would be good at being a paralegal. At the time, there was a college nearby that offered a post baccalaureate Paralegal Studies Program so I signed up for it, quit my job in retail management, and went to work as a receptionist at a law firm while I attended school at night. The receptionist job led to a paralegal position."
What advice would she give to someone who's brand-new to her position? Ms. Jordahl asserted:
"Work in any position you can in a law firm and volunteer to take on any tasks that you can get. Once you volunteer to take on a task, do it timely and with an eye for detail. Keep up communication with the attorneys about the progress (or not) of the task. I was a receptionist in a law firm but was offered a paralegal position because they would ask me to help out with little projects. I did those little projects well and little projects led to bigger projects that led to a paralegal position."
What information does Ms. Jordahl wish she had when she were starting out? She claimed:
"I think I went into this career with my eyes wide open so I cannot think of a good response to this question. I knew it was going to be hard work and that I would be dealing with difficult personalities and that has been true. I guess when I was first starting out I did not realize how important deadlines are in the legal field. Other fields have deadlines but not many have the consequences that a missed deadline can have legally."
What does she think are the keys to becoming a successful paralegal? "You have to want to work hard. A paralegal job is not a job that you can just sleepwalk through. It is demanding and it requires you to constantly learn new things."

What does Ms. Jordahl think makes the difference between a good paralegal and a great paralegal? "The difference between a good paralegal and a great paralegal starts with a desire to be a great paralegal. A lot of people do not care if they are great, they just want to be average. It is a purely an attitude. I know several people who have the ability to be great but not the desire."

What's one of the things that you find most challenging about your job? "Hands down, the most challenging thing about my job is handling different personalities. I do not work for just one attorney at my firm. Every attorney is different and they all have different expectations, personalities and work styles. Some are much more challenging than others."

What would Ms. Jordahl say is the most important thing that she learned as a paralegal?

"The most important thing I have learned as a paralegal is to have faith and confidence in myself. I have made it this far without screwing anything up too much so I feel I can handle almost anything."

What is the difference between her and other paralegals doing the same thing that she does? "I am not sure. Definitely some paralegals are better than me and some are worse than me."

What is the best part of Ms. Jordahl's job? She acknowledged:
"Preparing for and going to trial. I really enjoy trials. Unfortunately (and fortunately), I have not gone to trial in almost four years. I say unfortunately (and fortunately) because while I really enjoy trial, it is usually not the best decision for the parties to go to trial. My theory is only crazy people go to trial. Sometimes the crazy person is your client and sometimes the crazy person is on the other side. Most not-crazy people compromise and settle a case at mediation or before then."
What's her favorite part of her day as a paralegal? "This does not happen every day but my favorite part of being a paralegal is when I have some background and knowledge about the case and can use that insight to help the attorneys assess the case and strategy moving forward."

What does Ms. Jordahl have a knack for? "I feel that I have a 'customer service' knack. I really try to treat my bosses and our clients (our customers) like they are an honored and respected part of the litigation process. I think this comes from my years in retail management. I try to anticipate needs and fill them."

What does she think about the paralegal field in Florida today? "I think the paralegal field in Florida will only keep growing. It will be interesting to see how regulation and certification issues keep progressing or not."

If Ms. Jordahl were not in this profession, what would she most probably be doing? "I would like to say retired but I would not have enough money to live. I do not know the answer to this. I would have to take another career aptitude test and see what it says."

Where does she see herself in five year's time? "I hope to still be here at Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell and still learning new things every day."

What motivates Ms. Jordahl to be a paralegal every day? "I like my job and feel that I am well suited for it. That is pretty motivating."

Inspiring Parents, Volunteer Activities, Accomplishing Tasks and Mentoring People

Who has inspired Ms. Jordahl? "My parents inspired me with a strong work ethic."

Is she involved in any volunteer activities? "I am a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority alumnae association and we frequently are involved in volunteering for domestic violence shelters (locally Safe house of Seminole and Harbor House). I also volunteer at Coalition for the Homeless and Second Harvest Food Bank. I like to participate in walks or runs for charitable organizations (heart walk, breast cancer, cystic fibrosis, etc.)

Ms. Jordahl wears many hats. How does she accomplish all of her tasks while working as a paralegal? "It is always a matter of prioritizing what is important to me. I have to say 'no' a lot of times but I try to say 'yes' as often as I can."

Does she consider herself a mentor? "I do not really consider myself a mentor. Even though I have worked at my firm for over ten years, I am one of the paralegals who has worked here the shortest amount of time so there really is not even an opportunity to mentor anyone. This is an area of my career that I would like to become more involved in."

Winning the 2010 Paralegal of the Year Award, Being Featured on Vicki Voisin's The Paralegal Mentor Blog and Her Goals

Ms. Jordahl is the recipient of the 2010 Paralegal of the Year Award. What does this award mean to her? She admitted:
"I was honored to receive this award for a couple of reasons. First of all, I have never won a 'major award' (think of the leg lamp in 'A Christmas Story') in my entire life so it was nice to finally win something. Second of all, the biggest part of the reason I received the award was because one of my bosses wrote such a great nomination letter. It really meant a lot to me that he took the time to write such a nice letter. I take my job very seriously so it was an honor to be recognized for something that I value."
She was featured on Vicki Voisin's The Paralegal Mentor blog. How does it feel to be recognized on this blog for her paralegal work? "I submitted my information to Vicki so I would not say I was recognized for my work for this. Any paralegal can (and should) submit their information to Vicki. She is a true champion for paralegals and anything paralegals can do to support her is important."

Ms. Jordahl accomplished a lot in her career. What's next for her? "I do not know what the future brings, but I hope to be open to new opportunities and possibilities as they arise."

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