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  • 26 Feb 2019 11:10 PM | Anonymous

    By Ellen Zacarias

    Thanks to Veritext for hosting SDPA's February 2019 mixer at its beautiful offices! We were happy to see all the members and new faces that showed up. Much appreciation to Sheila Kristine Wise for the lovely snack spread and delicious cookies! Veritext offers court reporting services among other legal solutions for attorneys, law firms, and companies. 

    A couple of attendees brought toiletry donations for SDPA's 2018-2019 Charity of Choice, StandUp for Kids. We will also be accepting donations at our March mixer and Bridging the Gap event in April. 

    For the duration of the mixer, folks mingled and snacked on the scrumptious spread of thinly sliced meats, cheese cubes, crackers, and soft shortbread cookies.

    As the mixer drew to a close, SDPA's pro bono chair Dawn Regner spoke about upcoming volunteering opportunities and passed around flyers for events. In her calm, compassionate, and loving manner, Teri Burg of StandUp for Kids shared moving stories of the young people she works with. Donations to StandUp for Kids help homeless San Diegan youth. 

    It was a pleasure to see everyone at the mixer and meeting. Each of us has something good to contribute to the world around us, and we hope to share with you opportunities to do so. The legal community in San Diego is small, and the kindness you show to others can come back to help you someday. 

  • 25 Feb 2019 7:00 AM | Anonymous

    Sustaining Member(s) 

    UNISEARCH was founded in 1991 by Jan Hopton in the capital city of Olympia, Washington. Over the last 25 years Jan has grown the company into one of the leading research and public retrieval firms in the country.

    Services offered: Registered Agent Services, Corporate filings, UCC searches and filings, document retrievals 

    Contact Name: Alexandra Soukeras


    Voting Member(s)

    Linda Graham


    I am a southern California native from the suburbs of Los Angeles.  When my ex-husband retired from the Los Angeles Police Department, we moved to Washington State, where I worked as a real estate agent for 13 years and raised our two children. 

    A drastic life change then found me living in the heart of Mexico, where I lived for 5 years, purchased a home and opened a restaurant/bar. I’ve come to love the Latin culture, music, dancing salsa and cumbia, and (although not fluently) I now speak Spanish! 

    Since 2016, I’ve been working as the General Trial Unit Paralegal, supporting 20 to 25 criminal attorneys with the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. Our unit prosecutes misdemeanors, consisting mostly of DUIs, manslaughter, theft and prostitution cases. In addition, I have been handling some civil procedure, as our office recently began to litigate Asset Forfeiture cases as a result of the prosecution of illegal marijuana sales and dispensaries.

    Prior to working for the City of San Diego, I was employed for 3 years with the Law Firm of Stutzman & Klotz, primarily preparing trust and estate planning documents. This is where I acquired my passion for working in the legal field— as I realized how many people really need help in navigating the complex legal jungle— and decided to go back to school.  I obtained my degree in Paralegal Studies at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon.

    Through the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association (SDLRLA) I volunteer with the L.E.A.D. Project, teaching inner city 5thgraders valuable life lessons, such as positive values, self-esteem and the importance of staying in school. And recently, I began volunteering with the San Diego Rapid Response Network near the border, by helping migrant families in securing travel arrangements to arrive at their temporary destinations while they await the outcome of their application for asylum. I not only get to practice my Spanish, but it has also been very rewarding!

    I look forward to attending future SDPA events to meet more of my comrades and make new friends!

    Student Member(s)

    Giovanna Luevano

    My name is Giovanna Luevano and I am from Tijuana, Mexico. I am a graduate of UC San Diego's Accelerated Paralegal Program. 

    One of my favorite things to do is travel, the farther the better. There is something magical in seeing new places, experiencing different cultures, and meeting people from all around the world. My hobbies include dancing and reading. I also enjoy walking/playing with my dogs, spending time with my loved ones, and working out.

    I want to work in the legal field because I love the law. I am a licensed attorney in Mexico, and I have been working in the legal field for over six years. My areas of expertise are litigation and contract law. I am really enjoying learning about the American judicial system and I look forward to learning more about it as a paralegal.

    Eva Carrillo


     My name is Eva Luz Carrillo. I was born and raised here in San Diego. However, I moved at an early age to pursue a career in fashion and art. This journey took me to a few interesting cities; Los Angeles, New Orleans, San Franciso, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I moved back to San Diego four years ago to be close to my family and to raise my son Diego.

     Two and a half years ago I started working for a Civil Litigation Attorney as an administrative assistant. Having zero experience in the legal field I was quite nervous about working in a new career field. I found that I was able to learn quickly how a law office runs. Last year I decided that I wanted to grow in the legal field and I enrolled in the online Paralegal Studies program at Bryant & Stratton College. I earned my Diploma and this Fall I will begin my second year to obtain my Associates Degree. I would like to work towards earing my certification.

    Other activities that I enjoy is hanging out with my son. We enjoy going to the movies, Balboa Park, and enjoying everything San Diego has to offer.  I enjoy cooking, painting and designing jewerly. I have a small line called Edgy Chola Designs ( 

     I'm excited to be a member of San Diego Paralegal Association!!

    Tatiana Mazzone


    My name is Tatiana Mazzone. I was born and have been raised in sunny, San Diego.  I am currently in the Paralegal Program at the University of San Diego, and I will be graduating May of 2019. 

    Some of my hobbies and interests include jogging, hiking, reading, yoga, snowboarding, organizing, and cooking. 

    I want to work in the legal field for many reasons. However, the main reason is that I want to be a part of the team that is advocating for those who face complex, legal issues and are in serious need of help. At the same time, I love to learn, and the legal field will provide me with the opportunity to continuously expand my intellect. 

    Georgia Murphy

    I'm Georgia Murphy, and I hail from the great state of New Jersey. Fun fact - I bet you didn't know it's the Garden State! A very proud graduate of the University of California, San Diego (ABA Approved) Paralegal Certificate Program, I enjoy family, friends and country music. As I continue to compose "my life story," my goal for the next chapter of my life's work is to be one dedicated to the service of others.

    Please e-mail your short, informal biography and a small photo to, include the following:

    • where you are from
    • where you are going to school or went 
    • where do you work
    • hobbies/interests/ something unique about you 
    • why you want to work in the legal field
  • 9 Feb 2019 4:18 PM | Anonymous

    By Ellen Zacarias

    Here at SDPA we are thrilled to present our Paralegal Q&A Series! Each Paralegal Q&A Series post will feature a paralegal answering questions about their career path and the type of work they do.

    Our goal is to showcase the variety of individuals, areas, and working environments in the paralegal field. To students, prospective and working paralegals, there are many possible paths, and this is a chance to take a look at what's out there.

    Robert Nguyen, Paralegal at the DA’s Office

    Robert Nguyen is a paralegal at the District Attorney’s office in North County San Diego. He spoke at my paralegal graduation ceremony at UCSD Extension back in 2016, and his wise and candid remarks about the type of dedication it takes to be a paralegal has stuck with me throughout my career. For this Q&A, I asked him questions on his career path and his advice on getting a government job.

    For his headshot, he presented the following, which bears an uncanny resemblance to him:

    Photo above: Robert Nguyen

    Let’s start!

    SDPA’s Paralegal Q&A with Robert Nguyen

    Where do you work? Which department?

    County of San Diego, District Attorney’s Office in regular channels.

    How is your office organized? Work space?

    The paralegals are assigned cubicles because office space is reserved for attorneys.

    Which paralegal program did you attend? How long did it take you to finish the program? 

    I graduated from the UCSD Extension Program in September 2008.  I was a part-time student and completed my program in 9 months.

    What were you doing before? Tell us about your life before you decided to become a paralegal. 

    I worked as a teacher’s aide in a special education class.  I was in the education career, but not able to complete my student teaching for reasons.

    Why did you choose to become a paralegal? 

    I transitioned into the legal field as I was unable to move upward in my education career.

    Was there a person in this field who inspired you? If so, who? 


    How’d you get started in your paralegal career? How did you get/find your first job?

    I interned at the District Attorney’s Office after graduating my paralegal program.  After several months of volunteer work, I applied for a position at a civil litigation firm by online research (

    Which was your favorite class in paralegal school and why?

    I think it was Tort?  My memory is fuzzy, this was over ten years ago.

    What have you applied the most that you learned in paralegal school?

    Play nice with others.

    What is something that you learned post-graduation (outside of school)? (Skill, technique, piece of wisdom, software, how to do something, etc)

    Electronic filing in PACER in US District Court and Bankruptcy Court.

    Why did you join SDPA, and why do you stay?

    Initially I joined to get networking tips and the MCLEs.  I’m staying for the occasional MCLE that I’m interested in attending.

    Describe a typical day at work.

    Be crabby in the morning, check VM, check e-mail, check fax machine, save phone notes.  Answer phone calls, continue to be crabby until noon, work on items inside my inbox.  Engage with attorneys when necessary.

    What is the most challenging part of being a paralegal? How do you deal with stress?

    Tactfully disagreeing with an attorney’s decision and carrying out the same instruction you disagree with.  I don’t deal with stress well, so usually I’ll bottle it up and get a headache later. 

    What do you think is the future of the paralegal profession? What are some trends you’ve noticed in the paralegal profession?

    We have a future because we get things done, little things and big things.  My viewpoint is isolated as to trends since I work in government and we're not known for being trendy there.

    It can be hard to acquire experience for paralegal positions, especially as an entry-level paralegal. What are some tips you have for someone who is looking to find a job as a paralegal?

    1. Timeliness with tasks and assignments

    2. Efficiency with the firm’s resources

    3. Don’t hurt anyone’s feelings*

    4. Be prepared

    *certain exceptions may exist; confer with your supervisor

    Many paralegal students express an interest in working with the government. Do you have any advice on how to find a government paralegal position?

    It's really tough to get into a government job.  A simple thing to do is to sign up for notices when there is a job posting for that position.  That way the candidate can apply to take the civil service exam for it.  A harder suggestion is, apply for a lower ranking position and work at a lower rank, then work your way up.  That tip is not for everyone.  It does mean working for less pay than a paralegal with the anticipation that you'll be eligible to apply for an opening potentially in the future.  Lots of ifs.


    That was very informative. Thank you for sharing with us, Robert! 

    Stay tuned for our next Paralegal Q&A! If you are a SDPA member and a working paralegal, please email me at to participate. 

  • 2 Feb 2019 10:01 PM | Anonymous

    By Ellen Zacarias

    Happy February! Hope you’ve been staying warm in this rainy weather. Here at SDPA, we are passionate about helping each other develop as legal professionals and as a community. We enjoy sharing and taking part in all of these educational, networking, and volunteering experiences as we all grow together. 

    Make sure to RSVP for our February 21, 2019 mixer here:

    In addition to Valentine’s Day and President’s Day, below are some exciting events and news for this month:

    February 2, 2019 – SD Clean Slate Clinic

    Before the clinic opened this morning, Clinic participants waited in a line outside in the cold and rain in anticipation of the legal resources the clinic offers.

    This month’s group of volunteers was smaller than the last clinic—a big thank you to the volunteers who came to help! Much appreciation to James de Haan for providing volunteers with training. We received a generous donation of hot Starbucks coffee, which was quite welcome in this chilly weather!

    Helping people prepare their paperwork for expunging their old records so that they can regain access to housing and employment opportunities is a rewarding experience. If you missed this month’s Clean Slate Clinic, you can still RSVP for the next one on April 6, 2019, which will be located in at the South Metro Career Center on Imperial Avenue. You can go to for more information.

    February 6, 2019 – SD County High School Mock Trial Competition Begins

    Volunteers are needed to serve as courtroom monitors and other roles. Sign up here:

    February 7, 2019 – San Diego Public Law Library’s Open House

    Our city is extremely privileged to have such a wonderful legal resource. Our San Diego Public Law Library offers legal books and research databases for public use. The SD Public Law Library will be hosting its 7th annual open house event on February 7, 2019 from 5 to 7 p.m.  

    February 9, 2019 – CAPA’s California Certified Paralegal Exam

    Please visit for more information about CAPA or contact Ali Greenlee (your local CAPA rep) at

    February 21, 2019 – SDPA's February Mixer & General Membership Meeting (First of 2019!) 

    Please join Team SDPA at our first mixer of the year at Veritext! Paralegals, students, other legal professionals of the community—you’re welcome to join us for some snacks, beverages, and networking. For those of you who haven’t been to a SDPA event before, this is a great chance to learn what our organization is about, and the types of resources we offer to the paralegal community and our members—education (MCLE credits), networking, employment opportunities, volunteering, and more! RSVP here: 

    We are thankful for Veritext's generosity in allowing us to have our mixer at their beautiful office. Veritext is a leading court reporting agency in deposition and litigation support solutions.

    We would love to see you all there! 

    ---sdpa's 2019 BRIDGING THE GAP mcle conference -- april 27, 2019 from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm at ucsd extension, university city center

    Save the date on your calendars! SDPA will be having its 2019 Bridging the Gap MCLE Conference at UCSD Extension, University City Center, 6256 Greenwich Drive, San Diego, CA 92122 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on April 27, 2019! 

    Registration will be available soon--we'll send out announcements on social media and email blasts, and you will also see it available under our "Events" tab as well. 

    For our 2018-2019 Charity of Choice, StandUp for Kids, we will be accepting toiletry donations. 

    Thank you for reading, and see you next month! 

    "The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." 

    --Coretta Scott King

  • 19 Jan 2019 8:55 PM | Anonymous

    by Ellen Zacarias

    SDPA’s 2019 Board of Directors held its board retreat at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP (on High Bluff Drive). Breakfast and lunch were held potluck-style—each board member brought a delicious dish or item to share.

    SDPA President Julie Schwartz gave an inspiring presentation on SDPA’s mission, and newer directors on the board received an overview of the board’s mission and their duties. In addition to updating bylaws and committees, we are also working hard on events for this upcoming year, so stay tuned for more information to come!


    Photo above: Kristine Custodio (left) discusses NALA events with fellow SDPA directors Brianne Williams (middle) and Dawn Regner (right). 

    Photo above: Our happy dessert section of the potluck table. Thank you to Joe Maniwan for bringing a delicious, SDPA-emblazoned coconut pudding from Home Sweet Home Dessert! 

    SDPA President Julie Schwartz gives an inspiring presentation about SDPA's mission to the board. 

    Emily Roman, Joe Maniwan, and Claire Hamilton hang out in Procopio's gorgeous kitchen during a break in between topics. 

    Procopio Del Mar's gorgeous front desk. 

    We were treated with this wonderful view on our way to the conference room. There is even an outdoors patio beyond the glass doors. 

  • 13 Jan 2019 11:19 PM | Anonymous

    By Ellen Zacarias | Photographs by Arthur Chavez

    We are honored to have Paul Chang of the U.S. Department of Labor, Carolyn Matzger, Deputy District Attorney, and Jamie Quient of Free to Thrive speak at our MCLE Conference on Human Trafficking on January 12, 2019 at AMN Healthcare.

    Paul Chang presented on labor trafficking and cases involving the exploitation of human trafficking victims by businesses, and the pervasiveness of labor trafficking in the United States.

    Carolyn Matzger discussed issues involving the nature of sex trafficking in San Diego, its perpetrators, and its victims.

    Jamie Quient spoke about the legal obstacles that human trafficking survivors encounter and how her organization, Free to Thrive, helps human trafficking survivors with legal issues so that they can obtain access to housing, education, and other opportunities.

    It was a phenomenal conference. Thank you to our speakers, all those who came, and to volunteers who helped with setting up and cleaning up! Your attendance and participation made this a big success! 

    More photos:

  • 6 Jan 2019 10:00 PM | Anonymous

    By Ellen Zacarias

    Happy New Year! Hope you had a happy holiday break. Here is a list of upcoming paralegal events in January.

    January 12, 2019 - SDPA’s MCLE Conference on Human Trafficking

    Need MCLE credits or paralegal education? This is a good way to get it. SDPA is teaming up with Free to Thrive to host a MCLE conference on human trafficking issues on January 12, 2019 from 9 AM to 12 PM at AMN Healthcare, 12400 High Bluff Drive, San Diego, CA 92130. Breakfast and coffee will be provided.

    Our amazing speakers will include:

    • Jamie Quient, Esq. of Free to Thrive SD, an organization in San Diego that helps human trafficking survivors with rehabilitation and papers to enable them to thrive.
    • Carolyn Matzger, Esq., San Diego County District Attorney
    • Paul Chang of the U.S. Department of Labor

    RSVP here:

    Free for SDPA members, $10 for non-members – a great deal for MCLE credits.

    To show support for the human trafficking survivors, please wear blue! Blue jeans are welcome at the event. 

    January 8, 2019 – CAPA’s Webinar Panel Discussion on California Certified Paralegal Exam

    On January 8, 2019 at 6:30 PM, CAPA will be hosting a webinar-style panel discussion on the CCP Exam. Here is the link to sign up for the FREE webinar:

    Please visit for more information about CAPA or contact Ali Greenlee (your local CAPA rep) at

    Wednesday, January 15, 2019 (6:00 PM to 8:30 PM) - PRO BONO COMMITTEE CONFERENCE CALL 

    Want to get more experience while helping others? The pro bono committee, led by Pro Bono Chair Dawn Regner, is a great way to start. Dawn will be leading the conference call on pro bono opportunities on January 15 from 6 to 8:30 PM. Please email for more details. Thanks! 

    Things to Look Out for in February

    Stayed tuned for another post on February events as we head deeper into January. In the meantime, please see below:

    February 2, 2019 – SD Clean Slate Clinic

    The clinic is closed in January but will resume on February 2, 2019 at the South Metro Community Center. The RSVP link will be up soon on their website, during which we will post and promote on our social media.

    For those that do not know, SD Clean Slate Clinic provides free legal assistance with expungements, early termination of probation, and felony reductions to misdemeanor. It’s a great way to earn some legal experience while helping the community.

    February 6, 2019 – San Diego County High School Mock Trial Competition Begins

    Volunteers are needed to serve as courtroom monitors and other roles. Sign up here:

    February 9, 2019 – CAPA’s California Certified Paralegal Exam

    SDPA will be hosting CAPA’s CCP exam on February 9, 2019. Please visit for more information about CAPA or contact Ali Greenlee (your local CAPA rep) at

    Hope you have a happy January!

  • 22 Dec 2018 11:21 PM | Anonymous

    By Ellen Zacarias

    SDPA’s last mixer and membership meeting of the year took place at Troutman Sanders LLP on December 19, 2018. Thank you to Troutman Sanders LLP for hosting, and to Alison Greenlee for coordinating the event. It was a pleasure to see everyone at the mixer and board meeting, we had quite a few guests! Attendees also included officers of SDPA’s 2018 board of directors and 2019 board of directors.

    The meeting took place after the mixer. After the meeting, Team SDPA took a picture together and played a Christmas themed game involving mittens, multi-layered wrapped presents, and rolling dice. Hilarity ensued. You can find the photos from the game on SDPA’s Facebook page

  • 8 Dec 2018 5:27 PM | Anonymous

    By Ellen Zacarias

    Our biggest event of the year, SDPA’s Winter Wonderland Holiday Gala took place at The Dana on Mission Bay on Tuesday, December 4, 2018. It was a big success thanks to the support of volunteers, sponsors, and attendees. Our sponsors for the holiday gala include: Taylor Morse, UCSD Extension, Procopio, Butterfield Schechter LLP, and First Legal. Thank you all for coming and showing your support!

    Dovie King, Esq. was our keynote speaker at the gala. She is the founder and director of SOAR for Justice (Survivors of Abuse Rising for Justice), and has done amazing work as the human rights commissioner in Belmont, Massachusetts. Thank you for sharing your experience and cause with us, Dovie!

    Teri Burg of StandUp for Kids (SDPA’s 2018-2019 Charity of Choice) also spoke to attendees. She shared stories of the homeless children who are helped by her and her team at StandUp for Kids. Throughout the night, attendees donated jeans to StandUp for Kids, which will be crucial in keeping our city's homeless youth warm as we head into colder temperatures this winter. Thank you all for your donations!

    SDPA presented its annual awards. Procopio, LLP won Law Firm of the Year for all their pro bono and active work in the community.

    Arthur Chavez won the Making a Difference Award for all his contributions to SDPA and Cuyamaca College’s paralegal community.

    Bridget Winandy won the Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year award for all the great volunteer work she has done. 

    K-Rad Consulting, headed by Alicia Aquino and Kelli Moro, won the Sponsor of the Year award. Congratulations to you all!

    SDPA’s award committee also presented its secret awards to Julie Schwartz and Kristine Custodio for their lifelong commitment to the paralegal profession. Congratulations to you two!

    Of course, we also held raffles! Thank you to everyone who donated raffle prizes: SDPA, Rob and Donna Mihalco, Sara Lutz, Rena Sugarman at Plush Salon, Krystal Dyer, Jaylin Allen at Boutique Fitness, Jillian at Cali4Fitness, Alison M. Greenlee, Andrea Laparra at Doterra, Carlina Fonseca at PEterson Reporting, and Susanne de la Flor at Litivate. All proceeds go to benefit our charity of choice, StandUp for Kids. 

    Dovie King presented the new 2019 board of directors: President Julie A. Schwartz, VP of Programs and Education Alison Greenlee, VP of Membership Joe (Souriya) Maniwan, and Secretary Claire Hamilton. SDPA Directors for 2019 include: April Amador, Kristine Custodio, ACP, Sheila Grela, ACP, June Hunter, Donna Mihalco, Dawn Regner, Emily Roman, Brianne Williams (Cohen), and Ellen Zacarias. We are looking forward to another great year!

  • 15 Nov 2018 10:41 PM | Anonymous

    By Ellen Zacarias

    SDPA held its annual Friendsgiving event at Procopio in downtown San Diego on November 14, 2018. It was great seeing both familiar and new faces, and listening to the excellent and inspiring speeches of keynote speaker Jamie Quient (holding the bouquet in the photograph above) and SDPA's 2018 Charity of Choice, Teri of StandUp for Kids. Following the speeches, SDPA directors spoke about their various committees and projects, encouraging both current paralegals and paralegal students to become active with SDPA and the community.

    A big thank you to Jamie Quient for being our keynote speaker. Some SDPA members mentioned that Ms. Quient's speech inspired them to sign up for opportunities to help Free to Thrive, an organization that assists survivors of human trafficking. Director Kristine Custodio also mentioned that Ms. Quient did a wonderful job of intertwining themes of inclusion and diversity into her speech. Thank you very much!

    Also, a warm thank you to Teri of StandUp for Kids for talking to us about the homeless children that StandUp for Kids assists. We thank everyone for donating their jeans, they will keep many San Diegan homeless kids warm. 

    Below are some other highlights from the event: 

    Photo above: Team SDPA presents Teri of StandUp for Kids with a bouquet of flowers as a gesture of thanks for her speech.

    Photo above: Attendees at Friendsgiving write what they're thankful for and contribute to the Thankful Board, which was put together by our wonderful SDPA Vice President, Alison Greenlee.

    Photo above: Laurie Smith (left) and Michele Mitchell (right) enjoying Friendsgiving. Thank you both for coming!

    Photo above: SDPA Director Sheila Grela gives an inspirational speech about mentorship within the paralegal community to an attentive audience at Friendsgiving.

    Photo Above: SDPA Director Dawn Regner presents SDPA Director Joe Maniwan with a certificate in recognition of his commitment and and efforts. Congratulations and thank you for your work throughout the year, Mr. Maniwan!

    Photo above: Viktor Iarushin stands by the SDPA slideshow. He has prepared some excellent SDPA videos which we are excited to put up on the website and share with you all at our upcoming holiday party on December 4, 2018. 

    Photo above: SDPA member Arthur Chavez wins a raffle prize. Arthur Chavez has done lots of great work for SDPA and the Cuyamaca College Paralegal Club.

    Photo above: A fabulous SDPA member wins a raffle prize! Congratulations! 


    Thank you all for coming to Friendsgiving, and thank you for donating jeans to StandUp for Kids. If you forgot to bring jeans to donate this time, no worries! We are accepting donations at SDPA's upcoming holiday party on December 4, 2018. Don't forget to RSVP! This is our fanciest event of the year, and it is going to be at The Dana on Mission Bay. Here is the event link for registering:

Mailing Address:

501 W. Broadway, Ste. A #220
San Diego, CA 92101

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