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Robert S. Hrouda, RP, serves as a litigation paralegal for Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller in Philadelphia, PA. Since joining the firm in 2006, he has worked in several areas of litigation including antitrust, legal malpractice, insurance defense and many complex litigation cases. Mr. Hrouda also handles a lot of e-discovery and trial technology.
He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and he lived there until he was nine years old. Mr. Hrouda's family then moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he currently resides with his wife and two daughters. When asked about his family, he said, "I met my wife, Marilyn, when I was 15; I was a sophomore in high school. We will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this year and are the proud parents of two young daughters, Karoline and Shelby. In addition, we have 2 adopted poodles from Precious Paws Asian and Small Dog Rescue."
Mr. Hrouda attended Northeast Catholic High School for Boys in Philadelphia. After graduating high school, he enrolled in Holy Family College (now University) and then transferred to Temple University, where he obtained his Bachelors Degree in Law and Business. In 2008, Mr. Hrouda passed the National Federation of Paralegal Association's Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE), designating him as a PACE Registered Paralegal ("RP").
In 2006, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) awarded Mr. Hrouda with the NFPA Outstanding Local Leadership Award. He was nominated by his local association, the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals. Mr. Hrouda is a member of the South Jersey Paralegal Association (SJPA), the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals (PAP), and the NFPA. He is currently the President of the NFPA. Mr. Hrouda is the first male to ever be president of the organization.
What are his hobbies and interests outside of work? "I enjoy soccer and coach two traveling soccer teams for the Torresdale Boys Club in Philadelphia. I coach Under-14 girls and Under-9 Girls. I also enjoy golf, football, softball and playing the piano. I once played in a band with 2 other paralegals from one of my prior firms. We still jam every now and then, but stopped playing at venues a number of years ago." When Mr. Hrouda has time to read, he enjoys almost all of Tom Clancy's novels.
Mr. Hrouda's Successful Career
How long has Mr. Hrouda been a paralegal? "I've been a paralegal for 22 years. I started at my first law firm as a senior in high school. I worked in a law library. Upon graduation from Temple University, I was promoted to Litigation Paralegal. I spent 13 years total with that firm, spent about 6 years in a plaintiff personal injury firm, then came to Hangley."
Why did he decide to become a paralegal? "I was always interested in the legal field and it took hold based on a Business Law class in high school. My father told me about paralegals. I researched the field and decided this is where I wanted to be. Law school entered my mind a little bit, but I love this profession and all that we do."
What advice would Mr. Hrouda give to someone who's brand-new to his position? "Stay current on trends in technology. Social media, e-discovery, internet research, trial technology - learn everything you can. Learning the lingo is key to being able to work with the vendors who handle these programs."
What does he think are the keys to becoming a successful paralegal? "The keys to becoming a successful paralegal are education, work ethic, and continuing legal education. A paralegal must not only be smart through education. If they do not apply that education and work hard, it can be a tough field in which to become successful."
What does Mr. Hrouda think makes the difference between a good paralegal and a great paralegal? "Work ethic and personality. Being able to go the extra mile, willing to work odd hours to get the job done. Also, being able to be polite and interact with your colleagues in a professional manner. In addition, being willing to assist them if needed is important, because you will need them one day too."
What would he say is the most important thing he learned as a paralegal? Mr. Hrouda noted:
"One of the most important things I've learned as a paralegal is that you need to give back. Volunteering your time to help others, whether it is coaching a neighborhood team, volunteering at church or other organizations, or taking on pro bono matters within your firm. Handling pro bono cases not only gives you the opportunity to work in an area of law you normally would not, it also gives you the satisfaction of helping others in need."
What is the best part of his job? "The best part of my job is my colleagues. We have a great team, all willing to do whatever is necessary to assist each other. We rely on each other tremendously and all are willing to do whatever we can to make sure the job gets done."
What does Mr. Hrouda have a knack for? He stated:
"My knack is troubleshooting computers and databases. At my last firm, on top of my paralegal duties I was also their internal IT person the attorneys would go to with questions or issues. We had an outside vendor for larger issues, but even he would call me to go over how to handle an issue. I would often come in late at night to do upgrades to our server and PCs (for the case management software we used), then start my paralegal duties the next morning once everything was back up and running. This helped increase my computer knowledge. Knowing the lingo to be able to communicate with the vendors we use for trial technology is also important."
What does he think about the paralegal field in Pennsylvania today? What would Mr. Hrouda change about his field? "The Pennsylvania paralegal field has struggled with the economy, but is showing some signs of bouncing back. One change I would make in Pennsylvania is regulation. Pennsylvania should consider the LLLT program in Washington in order to assist with bridging the 'Access-To-Justice Gap' for the many unmet legal needs in Pennsylvania."
If he were not in this profession, what would he most probably be doing? "If I was not in this profession I would probably be a truck driver. I come from a long line of truck drivers."
What motivates Mr. Hrouda to be a paralegal every day? "The thrill of not knowing what is going to happen at any given moment. It can be changes in the rules or laws, a newly filed preliminary injunction, or a case that is now going to trial. The legal field is forever changing, which keeps it interesting."
Mentoring Paralegals and Students, Volunteer Activities and People Who Inspire Mr. Hrouda
Does Mr. Hrouda consider himself a mentor? "I strongly encourage mentorship for all working paralegals. Not only for our colleagues, but for the students who are the future of our profession. I do participate in mentorship programs at local schools, and I encourage the students to stay in contact with me when they enter the profession."
Is he involved in any volunteer activities? "As I previously mentioned, I am an assistant coach for the Torresdale Boys Club Under-14 and Under-9 girls traveling soccer teams."
Who inspires Mr. Hrouda? He asserted:
"My adoptive father was my most influential person. He had a work ethic like no other and always said to me 'It doesn't matter what you do for a living, just be the best at it.' And that is something I strive to do every day.
Others who have inspired me are the past and current leaders of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (NFPA), and the delegates from the various associations who are members of NFPA. The passion that everyone has for the profession is amazing. And, watching how they do things, their personalities and professionalism, inspires you to do the best you can to work with them. One learns a lot from all these individuals."
Being Featured in Vicki Voisin's the Paralegal Mentor Blog and Mr. Hrouda's Goals
Mr. Hrouda was featured on Vicki Voisin's The Paralegal Mentor blog. How does it feel to be recognized for his work? He acknowledged:
"It is very humbling to be recognized. Having others contact you to write about you, because you helped make a difference, is very nice and appreciated. But everything I've been blessed to work on, to accomplish or help move forward, is not done for the recognition but for the love of the profession. Knowing one is a part of something great goes a long way in making everything so worthwhile. The people you meet along the way, the networking and new friends, are what matter most to me."
Mr. Hrouda has accomplished a lot in his career. What's next for him? He admitted:
"On the paralegal side, after I am done with my presidency and board advisor for NFPA, I would like to turn my attention to promoting regulation in the state of Pennsylvania. I would like to see educational standards set for the profession.
On the personal side, my oldest daughter is entering high school next year and my youngest is following the very next year. I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and watching my children grow and flourish in their future. I am blessed with two very smart girls. Who knows, maybe two more paralegals for the profession! Time will tell. But so far, one was just accepted into a local arts academy for high school (visual arts), with a hope of going to Temple Tyler School of Art and the other one is thinking of pursuing a teaching career and attending Penn State University."
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