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Barbara Haubrich-Hass, ACP/CAS, serves as an administrative legal assistant with the law firm of Chain | Cohn | Stiles in Bakersfield, CA. In 1980, she began her legal career working for civil defense firms in Bakersfield. Since 1995, Mrs. Hass has worked for David K. Cohn, who is the managing senior partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. She is Mr. Cohn's senior legal assistant and administrator of his multi-million dollar personal injury practice. Mrs. Hass is responsible for managing cases for two attorneys while supervising a large staff of legal assistants and secretaries. She has worked with Mr. Cohn on several complex litigation cases, including wrongful death, catastrophic injury, premises, and product liability.
In addition to working at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Mrs. Hass is the owner and creator of Deadline Direct, a downloadable deadline calculating gadget. Deadline Direct "calculates deadlines with a notes field for specific tasks," which syncs the information to Microsoft Outlook as a calendar event, e-mail, or a task, according to her website. Mrs. Hass is also the creator and author of The California Litigator, a website that is designed to facilitate discussions and provide resources related to California state civil litigation. Finally, she serves as an adjunct instructor at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB), where she teaches personal injury law for the Attorney Assistance Program.
Prior to joining Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Mrs. Hass served as a civil defense legal secretary for William A. Bruce, Esq. She also served as a civil defense paralegal at the Law Offices of Arthur I. Pearl and at Wall, Wall & Peake.
Over the years, Mrs. Hass has been awarded with several honors and awards. She is the recipient of the 2012 Paralegal Gateway Superstar, and the 2011 and 2003 Kern County Paralegal of the Year. In 2002, Mrs. Hass was featured in The Bakersfield Californian as one of Kern County's Devoted Paralegals. She was also featured on Vicki Voisin's The Paralegal Mentor blog.
Mrs. Hass was born and raised in a small mountain community in California called Tehachapi. After graduating from high school in 1979, she attended Bakersfield College and completed their legal secretary's program. Then in 1989, Mrs. Hass completed the Attorney Assistant Program offered by California State University, Bakersfield. She earned her Certified Legal Assistant designation in 2000 and she received her California Advanced Specialist in Civil Litigation in 2002. In 2010, Mrs. Hass became an Advanced Certified Paralegal in Trial Practices, and Personal Injury - Wrongful Death. She also became an Advanced Certified Paralegal in Discovery in 2011.
When asked about her family roots, Mrs. Hass explained:
"I come from strong family roots. My parents were successful business owners in the trucking industry, and wanted a big family - and they got one! They had six girls that they raised to be independent thinkers, people who stand up for their beliefs, and love and care for their family. My 5 sisters and I had 17 children, and those children (so far) have had 33 children. When our family gets together, with our extended families and loved ones, there is a BIG crowd.
I am married to Tony Hass, who is a licensed minister. He keeps me grounded. Together, we have four kids, and five wonderful grandkids."
What are her hobbies and interests outside of work? She stated:
"My husband and I have a weekly home Bible study that we spend a lot of our evenings and weekend time preparing for. We also own a time share at the California Central Coast, so we try to spend time relaxing on the beach.
I am blessed to have my grandkids live a few blocks from my house, so Grandma and PaPa spend A LOT of time with them. It is very important to me to be a positive influence on their lives. Grandparents can make a difference."
Does Mrs. Hass have a favorite restaurant? "No. I love my husband's backyard BBQ while I relax and watch my grandkids swim."
Mrs. Hass' Successful Career
Does Mrs. Hass handle Mr. Cohn's trial, Federal, and Appellate matters? What does she specialize in? Mrs. Hass acknowledged:
"I do not exclusively handle his trials, Federal, and Appellate matters any more. There are too many at this point. I provide case management to approximately 175 cases. My son, Justin Madding, provides the case management for the other half. In addition, I supervise, train, and mentor the staff; ensure the smooth workflow of the department; track all of the statutes; close all of the cases; approve or seek approval for all of the case related bills; and provide additional legal or administrative support as needed."
How long has she been a paralegal? Mrs. Hass noted:
"I started out in 1980 as a legal secretary for a civil defense firm. By 1985, I was being trained and utilized in paralegal responsibilities in civil defense. I worked as a civil defense paralegal until 1995 when I went to work for Chain | Cohn | Stiles. I was hired initially at Chain | Cohn | Stiles to be Mr. Cohn's exclusive trial paralegal, and then within a year, became his practice's supervisor and lead paralegal, and now his practice has grown substantially in terms of attorneys and staff within his practice of the firm."
Why did she decide to become a paralegal? "After completing the legal secretary program in 1980, I went to work for a prominent defense firm. The attorney I worked for began to give me harder and harder tasks to the point where I was really doing senior paralegal work. That just naturally transitioned into going to school to become a paralegal."
What does Mrs. Hass think are the keys to becoming a successful paralegal? She admitted:
"Be patient with yourself and others.
Everyone makes mistakes, so don't beat yourself up over it. All you can do is take responsibility for the mistake, and learn from it.
Be positive and kind to your co-workers. Be honest, show consideration for others, and treat people fairly and with respect.
Be a leader who leads by example. Come to work on time, work hard, work consistently, and provide quality work product to your attorney. If you are the leader that sets the standard for the employees to rise to, then you rise to that same standard and higher.
Never ask anything of support staff that you would not do yourself, or that the legal team has not seen you do. Leadership by intimidation is not leadership.
Stand behind the direction and vision of the law firm or attorney you work for. Have a total commitment to the law practice. If you cannot believe in the vision, then you should work for someone you can believe in.
Always remember that it is the attorney's practice, not the paralegal's practice. Therefore, follow the instructions of the attorney within the ethical requirements of the profession."
What does she think makes the difference between a good paralegal and a great paralegal? Mrs. Hass said:
"A great paralegal is not self-minded, but team-minded. Someone who is flexible and willing to work on any project no matter how small, difficult, tedious, or mundane.
A great paralegal is adaptable. Someone who can shift gears at a moment's notice, and prioritize the work to meet all deadlines.
A great paralegal is knowledgeable in their chosen area of law, and stays appraised of the legal trends and laws.
A great paralegal is someone who consistently has the highest work ethic and standards of practice."
What's one of the things that she finds most challenging about her job? "For me, it is making the 'not so popular' staff decisions. I am a people pleaser. But the bottom line is…you can't make everyone happy. Sometimes, difficult decisions need to be made. Implementing those decisions, even if they are for the greater good, can be tough."
What would Mrs. Hass say is the most important thing that she learned as a paralegal? "Because I work in the personal injury area of law, I have learned to be compassionate to others in need. The clients that I serve have gone through trauma. The best part of my job is helping people in need."
What is the difference between her and other paralegals doing the same thing that she does? "I think outside the box. Failure to me is just the first step to achievement. My parents taught me that if I can think it, I can implement it. If you can't implement it the first time, try it again until you get it right."
What is Mrs. Hass known for professionally? "I am unafraid to take a stand for what I feel is right. I am known for providing the highest level of legal support in my field in the geographic area that I live."
Where does she see herself in five year's time? "I see myself still working for Chain | Cohn | Stiles. They are an outstanding employer. I also see myself as an author, speaker, and teacher."
Mentoring Paralegals and Students, The California Litigator, Accomplishing Tasks and People Who Inspire Mrs. Hass
Does Mrs. Hass consider herself a mentor? "At this point in my career, yes. Because of my blog, many paralegals e-mail me for mentorship. I also mentor the staff that I supervise, and I mentor the students in my Personal Injury class. Since I began teaching at CSUB in 2001, I have students that are now my colleagues, which is cool."
What motivated her to establish The California Litigator? How helpful has the website been for individuals in the legal profession? "At the time, my son, Justin, was new to the paralegal profession. He would say, 'Mom, you need to start writing this stuff down.' So I started the blog, The California Litigator. Surprisingly, it is very popular among paralegals, and I receive frequent e-mails telling me how a certain article has helped or inspired them."
Mrs. Hass wears many hats. How does she accomplish all of her tasks while working as a paralegal? "I like hats! First, these accomplishments didn't occur at once. They occurred over time. The gadget was created because I needed something on my desktop to quickly calculate deadlines for documents that I was in the midst of creating. I thought that if I created a gadget, then I should make it sync with Outlook because it was the most common law office tool."
Who inspires her? Mrs. Hass replied:
"Jesus. He is the perfect example of how we are to be as human beings. My parents, Tom and Bernie Haubrich. They taught me to be independent, the importance of family, and to never give up. My husband, Tony. He has strength of character and believes in me. My children, Justin, Megan, and David. They motivate me to be the best I can be. I want them to be proud of their momma. My grandchildren, Ava, Jacob, Nathaniel, Gabby, and Alex. They show me the simplicity of unconditional love."
Being an Adjunct Instructor at CSUB, Serving on the Board of the Kern County Paralegal Association, Winning Awards and Her Goals
Mrs. Hass lectures on different topics of civil litigation. What motivates her to teach? She asserted:
"Teaching challenges me professionally. At first, I was very uncomfortable speaking in front of people, so I agreed to teach at CSUB in 2001 to work on that weakness. What I have learned from teaching is that the teacher learns more than the students, because the teacher studies the topic to its fullest before the topic is taught. Additionally, I enjoy teaching at CSUB because I get to know the paralegal students who are soon to be paralegals in my area."
From 2010 to 2011, Mrs. Hass served as a Public Information Officer for the Board of the Kern County Paralegal Association and CAPA Secondary Representative. What was her role? "I have served on the Board of the Kern County Paralegal Association in several capacities, including the Programs Director, Public Information Officer, and CAPA Secondary Representative."
She has won many awards. How does Mrs. Hass feel to be recognized for her work? "These awards are dear to my heart because they come from my peers. This means that I have touched and made a difference in the lives of other people."
Mrs. Hass has accomplished a lot in her career. What's next for her? "I have finalized the first full draft of my book called, A Paralegal's Role in Pre-Litigation Personal Injury. It has been a four year project that I am happy to say is almost complete. I gave the book a test run as the required reading in my Personal Injury Law class at CSUB. I am now finalizing the book with improvements that I gleaned from teaching the class, and hope to get the book to the public by the end of the year."
What to Expect When Working with Mrs. Hass
Shelly Tinsley, an Administrative Legal Assistant at LeBeau Thelen, LLP, stated:
"I worked with Barbara in the past and found her to be extremely knowledgeable in the legal field. Barbara has been a great mentor to many and as long as I have known her, she has continually sought to increase her knowledge in the legal field. Due to her hard work and dedication, she has attained outstanding credentials. I feel privileged to know Barbara both as a colleague and a friend."
"Barbara has a reputation as a top paralegal in Kern County. Even if you've never worked with her, you have heard of her excellent work. While I was President of the Kern County Paralegal Association, Barbara volunteered to be its Public Information Officer. Barbara's energy and enthusiasm made the public aware of the existence of KCPA and the importance of paralegals in the legal field. She has been a valuable member of the board of directors, and a good friend."
Brooke Hayes, Owner of Discovery is Continuing, noted:
"I have had the pleasure of knowing Barbara for a little over a decade now and have found her to be a great representative of the Paralegal profession…of showing what the Paralegal CAN become. She is both determined and resourceful, and has a keen ability to analyze potential issues and potential problems in a case…an ability that is vital for success. In addition to her work ethics, I admire her for her dedication to the Paralegal 'cause' and for her encouragement to others who have chosen this as their profession."
Steve Nunez, an attorney at Ward & Hagen, acknowledged:
"Barbara possesses the rare skill of understanding the importance of both an attention to detail and procedure as well as allocation of limited resources. She is adept at applying those skills in a manner that near perfectly complements an attorney in preparing a case. She has become the standard by which I have attempted to measure all legal assistants with whom I have worked since."
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