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Rebecca J. Buttorff, RP, Pa.C.P., serves as a senior civil litigation paralegal for Lepley, Engelman & Yaw, LLC, in Williamsport, PA. Since graduating from college, she has worked for attorney Douglas N. Engelman, Esq. at the firm, where she specializes in civil litigation and personal injury law.
Rebecca graduated from Pennsylvania College of Technology in 1996. Rebecca passed the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam in August 2000 and earned the PACE Registered Paralegal (RP) designation. In January 2009, she received her Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal (Pa.C.P.) designation through the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations.
She has been featured in several publications including "Legal Assistant Today," "The Paralegal Mentor," and "The Pennsylvania Paralegal." Rebecca has also spoken at a number of events. In 2007 and 2008, she discussed LCPA Membership Benefits with the Law Society at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. Rebecca appeared on The Ken Sawyer Show to talk about "What is a Paralegal - What do Paralegals Do?" in May 2007. In 2008, she spoke about the Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal Program (Pa.C.P.) at the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations' Pennsylvania Summit on the Paralegal Profession. During that same year, Ms. Buttorff discussed Pennsylvania State Regulation at the American Alliance of Paralegal Associations' Third Annual National Paralegal Summit. She was also a keynote speaker at the Delaware Paralegal Association's National Affairs Luncheon on March 19, 2009. In addition, Rebecca was asked to be a paralegal expert in a personal injury case in Dauphin County. She provided an expert report on Paralegal Duties and Physical Demands.
When asked where was she born and raised, Rebecca said:
"I was born and raised in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. Jersey Shore is a small town in Central Pennsylvania located in the Susquehanna Valley. Our area is a great place for outdoor activities in all seasons. There are great mountain hiking and running trails and our country roads are perfect for cycling. Also, there is a local rail trail nearby to bike, run, walk and cross country ski."
Rebecca and her husband Rich have three adult children - Sumer, Misti and Tyson. She noted:
"I was fortunate to be a stay-home-mom. After my youngest went into kindergarten, I decided it was time for me to go back to school to get my degree. I had always been interested in law and law enforcement. A paralegal degree seemed like the logical direction for me. I would consider my family to be the most important thing in my life. I cherish every minute we spend together. We are fortunate to have our children living near us. During the summer, we have family gatherings almost every Sunday after our bike rides. Our children also appreciate the outdoors. They love cycling, running and hiking too. Our daughter and two son-in-laws cycle with my husband and I. We have 3 grandchildren. Our 6-year-old grandson loves to hike and run on the trails with us too."
When she isn't working, Ms. Buttorff enjoys cycling, trail running, hiking and cross country skiing.
Ms. Buttorff's Successful Career
How long has Ms. Buttorff been a paralegal? She acknowledged:
"I have been a paralegal for almost 18 years. I have worked for the same attorney since I graduated college. I have been fortunate to have an attorney like Douglas N. Engelman, Esq. to learn from, and to provide guidance. He and his firm support my participation in professional organizations. Also, he encourages and supports continuing legal education and maintaining my paralegal certifications."
What advice would she give to someone who's brand-new to her position? Ms. Buttorff asserted:
"There are several things I would recommend to a new paralegal:
Take notes when being given instruction and document everything.
Get organized from the start.
Pay attention to detail.
Manage your time and do not procrastinate.
No task is too small.
Do not give legal advice.
Join a local paralegal association and network."
What does Rebecca think are the keys to becoming a successful paralegal? "To be a successful paralegal I believe you need to be detail oriented, analytical, organized and have good writing and oral communication skills. Also, I believe you need to attend continuing legal education courses to keep up on the changes in the law."
What does she think makes the difference between a good paralegal and a great paralegal? Rebecca stated:
"Going above and beyond what is asked or expected of us makes the difference. I believe every task given should be done at each person's greatest potential. I strive every day to do my very best. I have always set a high standard and I work daily to maintain it. The choice of being good or great is ours every morning when we walk in the office door. I have a little saying on my work computer that says, 'Wherever you are, be there.' When I am at work, I do my best to stay focused, pay attention to detail and work to my highest potential."
What's one of the things that Ms. Buttorff finds most challenging about her job? "I try to keep ahead of deadlines to help avoid stressful emergency situations. However, there are always those fires that seem to erupt and need to be put out. I do my best to deal with those challenging situations when they arise."
What would she say is the most important thing she learned as a paralegal? "Always check the rule book. The local, state and federal court rules change periodically. Failing to double check the rule book could prove to be a costly mistake. A document that was time sensitive could be kicked back for something as minor as a missing cover sheet."
What is the difference between Rebecca and other paralegals doing the same thing that she does? "With the advancements in technology, case files are virtually accessible. This allows some paralegals to work remotely from home offices. Technology has provided these paralegals the opportunity to stay home when their children are ill, school is delayed for snow, or just to avoid long commutes into the office."
What's her favorite part of her day as a paralegal? "I enjoy researching and analyzing issues. I find it fun to persuasively argue an issue."
What is Ms. Buttorff known for professionally? She replied:
"I was fortunate to be actively involved in the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations in 2007 when the members began discussing the issues of regulation of the paralegal profession in Pennsylvania. I was a member of the three-person Ad Hoc Committee who researched the issue, and made recommendations to the members. The Committee presented to the Keystone Alliance a framework for the Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal credentialing program (Pa.C.P).
In 2008, while I was Chair of the Keystone Alliance, the members ratified the Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal credentialing program. This certification program established by the members was a significant advancement for paralegals in Pennsylvania. I then Co-chaired the Standing Committee for Pennsylvania Paralegal Certified Paralegal program for several years and further developed the program. I feel fortunate to have been so closely involved in the development of this historic milestone."
What does Ms. Buttorff think about the paralegal field in Pennsylvania today? She pointed out:
"The Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations is the voice of paralegals in Pennsylvania. They currently consist of eight paralegal associations from within Pennsylvania. They strive to promote the paralegal profession within our Commonwealth. I believe the Keystone Alliance works hard to maintain a statewide communications network among paralegal associations and other members of our legal community. They have set a standard for our profession through the Pa.C.P. Program."
Where does she see herself in five year's time? "I would love to have a telecommute paralegal position!"
What motivates Rebecca to be a paralegal every day? "I enjoy a challenge. Interesting and thought provoking issues arise within the course of my job that present challenges. These challenges help me develop my skills and grow as a paralegal."
Mentoring Paralegals, Professional Associations, and People Who Inspire Ms. Buttorff
Does Ms. Buttorff consider herself a mentor? She admitted:
"I did my paralegal internship under Michelle Lincalais, a paralegal at the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. It was during that time that I realized the importance of an internship and a mentor. My firm has allowed me to hire paralegal interns. I have been fortunate over the years to work with many, many paralegal student interns. I try to expose the student to as many aspects of the job as possible. I believe it is important for them to learn as much as they can during their internship to prepare them for their first job. It is very rewarding to me to be able to mentor students during their internships."
Is she involved with any professional associations? Rebecca stated:
"I was a member of the Lycoming County Paralegal Association (LCPA) for more than eighteen years. During that time, I served as President, Vice President, and Editor of the Gavel, as well as chaired a number of committees. I also served as the LCPA's Primary and Secondary Representative to the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations for a number of years.
I served two terms as Chair of the Keystone Alliance, and sat on the Regulation Ad Hoc Committee and was a Co-chair of the Standing Committee on Paralegal Certification. Currently, I assist in reviewing new and renewal applications for the certification program.
I am member of the Central Pennsylvania Paralegal Association (CPPA).
I am a member of the Pennsylvania College of Technology's Legal Assistant Advisory Board as well. This Board consists of paralegals, attorneys, and other legal and business professionals within our community. Each individual brings a unique prospective and plays an important role in guiding, strengthening and improving the Paralegal Program at Penn College."
Who inspires Ms. Buttorff? She claimed:
"I am inspired by those who spend countless hours promoting and advancing our profession. One of those individuals is Bob Hrouda, RP. I met Bob several years ago when I first became involved with the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations. At the time, Bob was the primary representative from the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals. He has been actively involved in promoting paralegal regulation, not only within our state, but nationally. Currently, Bob is the President of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. and he continues to dedicate himself to the advancement of our profession."
Being Featured on Vicki Voisin's The Paralegal Mentor Blog and Ms. Buttorff's Goals
Rebecca was featured on Vicki Voisin's The Paralegal Mentor blog. How does it feel to be recognized for her work? "I was very honored to be featured in Vicki's blog. She provides helpful information for paralegals."
She has accomplished a lot in her career. What's next for her? "I am not sure what is around the corner for me. I am always looking for new challenges!
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