There are moments that can define a person’s career. For Patricia Emery, this moment happened in an elevator ride. The University of Florida graduate credits the encounter she had with an unknown woman in the elevator as the moment she was first introduced to the paralegal field.
“I studied political science and I did not know what I was going to do after graduation,” Patricia said. “It was fate because I was on my way to meet my advisor to talk about my future.”
In September of 1986, a few months after her college graduation, Patricia received her Paralegal Certificate and began her career in Miami. She worked for eight years in Miami as a paralegal in civil litigation cases before moving to Atlanta where she continued her work as a paralegal in civil litigation and insurance defense. After three years of working in Atlanta, Patricia made the decision to step aside from the work world to become a full-time mother. She spent the next 18 years as a dedicated stay-at-home mom for her two children.
Years later as her children were getting ready to spread their own wings, Emery too, was eager to return to the legal field. After receiving a postcard in the mail for our biannual open house, Patricia decided to attend the Paralegal Certificate information session and enroll in the program.
“I wanted to get back into the field,” Patricia said. “I was not comfortable trying to market myself after being out of the industry for so long. I wanted to refresh my skills. I needed to make myself marketable again.”
Because of her previous background as a paralegal, Patricia enrolled in what she thought to be one of the most difficult classes: Legal Research and Writing. Her instructor at the time was Kim Childs, now Cobb County’s Superior Court Judge.
“I learned many practical tips [in legal research and writing],” Patricia said. “Through her class, I got a part-time job. The job required writing samples and I used the memos and briefs that I prepared in class.”
Not only did Patricia receive an internship through the paralegal program, she also accepted her first part-time job in the field within months of starting the program. Patricia currently works full-time in Marietta for a criminal defense and personal injury attorney –an opportunity she also found out about through one of the program’s instructors.
“I was at the end of my program getting ready to go into full-time work when one of the teachers emailed me about a job opening,” she said. In her current role, she prepares entries and motions for her attorney and communicates with the court on a regular basis to check on the status of their cases. She also manages all of her attorney’s case files and ensures the corresponding paperwork is in order.
When asked what part of the paralegal certificate program she enjoyed the most, Patricia smiled and said she couldn’t possibly pick one because she enjoyed every class. She said she tried to utilize all the resources that were available to her in the program and encourages prospective students to do the same. “There are so many opportunities,” Patricia said. “Take advantage of the program and the assistance that KSU offers.”