Log in
  • 15 May 2019 7:00 AM | Sheila GRELA (Administrator)


    Douglas Lusk, J.D.

    Brief History: 

    As a 1L law student frustrated by the state of the current curriculum being offered to teach legal technology at his law school, Doug founded the National Society for Legal Technology in 2015.  The organization started as a local student club, but quickly spread to in-classroom curriculum once schools starting discovering the curriculum made available through the NSLT were better than the textbooks currently being utilized. By the time Doug graduated from law school, the curriculum he created and distributed through the NSLT was being utilized by thousands of students in over 75 schools and had independent study students in 9 countries.  As of spring semester 2019, the number has now grown to 132 schools using the NSLT system and teaching Doug’s curriculum.

    Services offered: 

    The NSLT offers unlimited, on-demand interactive training on 26 legal software programs for one low annual subscription price.  

    Something unique about the representative:

    Douglas Lusk, the Founder and CEO of National Society for Legal Technology (NSLT).  Doug received his Juris Doctorate in May 2018 from the University of La Verne, College of Law, in Ontario, California.  Doug’s goal, as Founder of the NSLT, is to promote the need for on-going legal technology education in the legal industry as a whole and works to connect students and professionals with legal technology educational resources.  In November 2016, in recognition of the NSLT’s new Legal Technology Certification program, the NSLT was nominated for an Innovation in Legal Technology Education award at  Doug also served in 2016 as Committee Chairman of the Legal Technology Committee of the Ready for Practice Section of the American Bar Association Law Student Division (try and fit that on a business card!).  Doug’s committee work involved working with the Ready for Practice Section Committee to develop best practice recommendations and informational seminars for the ABA to promote legal technology education as part of the law school curriculum.  Doug is a nationally recognized expert in the field of legal technology education and has been a guest speaker at various bar association conferences across the nation. Doug’s article on “What is missing when it comes to legal technology?” was published in USAToday in March 2018. The NSLT’s Legal Technology Certificate is used as curriculum in 132 Universities as the required courseware to teach Paralegal and Law Students how to use legal software programs.

    Besides being involved in legal technology, Doug is also very passionate about religious freedom and currently serves internationally on the Committee for Diversity for the J. Reuben Clark Law Society.  Doug is an Adjunct Professor of Law teaching Law Office Technology at Fullerton College, Mt. San Antonio Community College, and Salt Lake Community College.  Doug resides in Valley Village, California with his fiancé, Peter, and their 13-year old son, Jared. 

    Contact for more information.


    Patrick Beardsley 

    Hello, my name is Patrick Beardsley and I'm from San Diego, CA.  I attended college at UC Santa Cruz and earned my paralegal certificate from UCSD Paralegal Extension.  I currently work for Kirby & McGuinn, A P.C. in the field of loan servicing.  I wanted to work in the legal field so that I would be able to help people.  I love writing, music, nature, and meditation. I collect tickets from movies, concerts, plays, museums, basically anywhere I go, but these documents I don't scan into my computer.  I'm happy to have these in paper!

    Helen Glenister 

    I was born and raised in Donegal, Ireland.  After high school, I went to a specialized training Academy where I studied Advanced Secretarial, Accounting and Legal Studies.  After working in Accounting and Administration for a few years, I moved to London where I worked for 5 years before applying for a Green Card to come to the US through a special lottery for US Visas.  

    My sister and I moved to the US in 1992 and when we first moved here, I had 4 jobs and worked 7 days a week.  One of those jobs was as weekend receptionist for a large Real Estate brokerage, which led me into the Real Estate and Property Management business.  As well as doing Secretarial and Accounting work, I was also responsible for generating property management and lease agreements.  It was then I discovered my love of contracts, which led me to work for Scripps Institute of Oceanography as a Research Assistant and Contracts and Grant Administrator.  I also started taking a lot of classes in the legal profession and in 2000 I went to night school to earn my Paralegal Certificate at Cal State San Marcos. By then, I was working for a Biotech company doing Contract Administration and my mentor decided to bring the Patent business back “in house” for the firm.  Together we navigated the Patent and Trademark industry where we authored 2 handbooks for other “newbies” entering the Patent field.  

    My husband is a 30 year career officer in the Navy so we moved 12 times in 15 years, so my career has taken me to Washington, DC (twice), Texas, Japan(twice) and San Diego and each time I had to reinvent myself and my career but having the broad background in Patents and Trademarks has allowed me find amazing opportunities in the IP field. I am currently working with Procopio in the Del Mar office and will celebrate my 2nd year anniversary this month.  

    My interests include spending time with my husband and 2 boys, who are graduating High School and Middle School in June and discovering fun things to do around San Diego with my family.  I like to cook, read, walk, travel and think about home improvement projects we can do in the future. I also like to volunteer for causes dear to my heart like Irish Outreach, Boy Scouts of America and our son’s schools and church.  I have run several fundraisers and service projects for each of these organizations and I believe this is a good example to my kids to “show service before self”.  When we lived overseas, I volunteered with the American Red Cross, USO, and many military organizations, especially those who help families and spouses of servicemembers.  I also taught English to many local Japanese students and work with international organizations to help families serving overseas.

    This Fall our older son heads to college and my husband retires from the US Navy after almost 30 years of service as our youngest starts High School. I am fortunate to have my family in San Diego and an excited to see where this next chapter in our lives leads us.

    Associate MEMBER(S)

    Denise Blassak

    I grew up in Wisconsin—a land of cold winters, hot summers, custard, cheese and Packers.  My initial legal exposure took place there when I began working as a stenographer at  age 17.  Though it was really after taking the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) that I set out on the paralegal path.  I continued my education at Winona State University in Minnesota, obtaining an ABA approved Bachelor of Science-Paralegal Degree.  While in school, I realized my interest in constitutional law, research and writing.  After spending some time in civil lit and worker’s comp in Wisconsin, I headed west again.  While in San Diego I worked in immigration before entering the juvenile dependency field.  Beyond reading up on the latest immigration news, I enjoy travel, Netflix movies, music in the park, and spending time with family and friends. 

    Carrie McVay

    My name is Carrie McVay and I am originally from Sacramento, CA.  I moved to San Diego after graduating from the University of Southern California with a BA in Religion.  After a brief (8 year!) hiatus in Denver, CO, where I obtained by ABA Approved Paralegal Certificate from Arapahoe Community College, my husband and I are just recently back in San Diego.   I have about 5 years experience in the legal field, largely in employment law and higher education.  I find the legal field to be complex, fascinating and ever-evolving.  The bulk of my experience as a Paralegal was at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus where I worked on everything from employment cases to open records requests.  I remember responding to a grand jury subpoena while at CU, an experience that was both terrifying and exciting!  

    Having been deprived of the ocean for 8 years, my husband and I spend lots of time at the beach.  I also love elephants (my spirit animal) and if I wasn't a paralegal I'd probably be a zookeeper.  I am thrilled to be a part of SDPA and look forward to learning as possible from my comrades and their variety of experience and expertise.

    Want to be featured on our next Members' Spotlight Blog?

    Are you a new SDPA Member? Want to share your journey? Inspiring stories? 

    Send your short, informal biography and a small photo to Membership, 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 
  • 6 May 2019 1:14 AM | Anonymous

    By Ellen Zacarias

    Christine Stansall is a litigation support analyst at Procopio and works actively with Women in Ediscovery of San Diego to provide educational opportunities about legal technology. She has twenty years of paralegal experience, which has provided her with an extensive background in discovery, legal technology, and the issues surrounding them. She is an instructor at UCSD Extension’s E-Discovery and Litigation Technology program, where she teaches students basic project management concepts for Ediscovery processes. In addition, Christine frequently volunteers at local organizations such as the San Diego Clean Slate Clinic and Wills for Heroes.

    Christine is well known to the legal community for her expertise, involvement, and fun spirit! She has been a big inspiration to many people in our community. Below is SDPA’s Q&A with Christine Stansall. Many thanks to Christine for participating in our Paralegal Q&A series! To paralegal students and working paralegals, we hope this will be an insightful look into possible career paths for a paralegal, including Ediscovery and litigation support.

    You are a litigation support analyst at Procopio. Describe a typical day at work for you, and what you generally do.

    I currently help with all technical aspects of Ediscovery for all the litigation groups at Procopio.  Procopio is an Am Law 200 firm with multiple litigation groups across different fields of law.  Although discovery is governed by the same laws across all practice groups, every practice group has different processes and procedures, so I help make sure that those processes and procedures still comply with the law and best practices. 

    A typical day is helping any of the legal teams navigate their way through the EDRM.  I can go from helping the legal teams decide how to collect electronically stored information (ESI) on one matter to creating production sets in another.  I can process client documents into Relativity and then assist with creating deposition or trial exhibits for another client.  I help people figure out how to search for documents they need to review and what is the best way to review those documents.

    What drew you to Ediscovery and litigation support?

    I worked as a traditional paralegal for 20 years but I was always interested in using technology to streamline my work.  I was able to see that there were certain tasks a paralegal repeatedly does and I found ways to use technology to automate those tasks to save time and minimize costs for clients.  Ediscovery and litigation support are all about using technology to efficiently and effectively deliver legal services.

    How did your paralegal experience prepare you for your transition into Ediscovery and litigation support?

    Anyone working in Ediscovery and litigation support needs to understand the litigation process and how discovery works.  For example, when I’m creating production sets, I’m able to pinpoint and spot documents that may need another review because they could possibly be privileged in some way.  Also, as a paralegal, I had a high level of client interaction and communications.  I rely on those skills when doing custodian interviews.  Finally, a paralegal has to handle multiple cases with different deadlines.  In Ediscovery, I use project management skills to ensure that all cases are managed efficiently.

    What was your first paralegal job like? What did you learn there that would help you for the rest of your career?

    The first attorney that I interned with and worked for, Jim Eischen, taught me one very valuable skill:  Whatever tasks you do, do them in a way so that your tasks build upon one another towards your final end goal.  For example, if you are drafting a demand letter, draft it in a way that it helps you draft the inevitable complaint.  If you are summarizing a deposition, ensure that you are also issue-spotting for a possible motion for summary judgment.  That one valuable piece of advice helped me avoid reinventing the wheel throughout my career.

    You have passed NALA’s Certified and Advanced Certified Paralegal Exams. What was your experience like studying for the exams? Would you recommend the CP exams, and why?

    I believe that certifications and credentials are a good stepping stone to show that you have a certain level of competency.  But those certifications and credentials only give you credibility if you use what you learn while doing your job.  I gave myself a deadline to take NALA’s CP exam and took the CP Prep course at UCSD Extension to study for the course because that was the way I could keep myself accountable to my self-imposed deadlines.

    What do you enjoy about working in Ediscovery? What are some of the challenges of working in Ediscovery/litigation support?

    I love working in the Ediscovery field because ESI is always different from matter to matter.  It is fascinating to me to see how clients differ in using technology in their businesses.  Technology is always evolving and it is hard to keep with those changes.  For example, during the heyday of paper discovery, email was considered problematic in productions.  Once email became a common form of ESI to produce, text messages became the challenge.  Then social media presented problems.  Now, social collaboration tools such as Slack are the current challenges.  The standards of how ESI is preserved, collected, reviewed, and produced haven’t changed, but there are challenges in how new technology is handled.

    From your perspective, what are the most significant changes in legal technology over the past twenty years? 

    Legal technology is evolving at a faster rate than I have ever seen.  I remember when law firms were debating over whether to stay with WordPerfect or move to Microsoft Word and whether email was an appropriate method of communication with clients.  Many attorneys were loath to change but the most successful attorneys were the ones that realized that technology shouldn’t be feared but be utilized in their jobs.  They demonstrated the mentality of “Work smarter, not harder.”  Technology has also evened out the playing field and helped increase access to justice for the general population.  For example, there are many websites that people can go to draft documents to form businesses, get a divorce, or prepare will on their own. 

    What advice do you have for someone who’s considering transitioning into Ediscovery?

    Start learning as much as you can about the Ediscovery field.  There are many websites, blogs, and YouTube channels on Ediscovery.  Many of the vendors in Ediscovery publish whitepapers and eBooks on Ediscovery topics.  Don’t be afraid to seek out those that work in the field and ask questions and network with them. 

    What resources (programs, certificates, educational seminars, etc.) would you recommend for learning more about Ediscovery?

    The Association of Certified Ediscovery Specialists is considered the industry-recognized association.  It has a program for people that need to learn the rudimentaries about Ediscovery and then a certification for those that are immersed in Ediscovery.  Many companies that offer document review platforms such as Relativity have certifications for people to show that they are proficient in that tool but also offer webinars and educational resources.  Finally, many of the local colleges are starting to offer litigation support and Ediscovery classes.  There is a local chapter of Women in Ediscovery in San Diego and the San Diego ESI Forum offers a monthly MCLE on Ediscovery topics.

    From your experience and perspective, what does it take to excel professionally in the legal field?

    Never be afraid to ask “Why” and don’t be afraid to seek answers yourself and then run those answers by your attorneys and colleagues.  Build your connections in the legal community.  Look at how you are going about your tasks and find ways to streamline your work so that you can take on more responsibilities.  Ask your attorney if you can take a crack at new tasks so you can get experience in new tasks.  Finally, find what you enjoy doing in the legal field so that you don’t feel like you’re doing just a job, but you have a vocation.

  • 6 May 2019 1:12 AM | Anonymous

    Big Thanks to everyone that attended and made BTG happen! Special thanks to the out-of-town Speakers and Sponsors! We look forward to having you all again next year! Thank you Arthur Chavez for the photos!

    Check out the photos HERE 

    Join Team SDPA for our monthly Membership Mixer and Board Meeting on May 15, 2019! Come learn what CAPA has to offer! Thank you AMN Healthcare for hosting and Summa Consulting Group for sponsoring the event! 


    Want to be featured on our next Members' Spotlight Blog?

    Are you a new SDPA Member? Want to share your journey? Inspiring stories? 

    Send your short, informal biography and a small photo to Membership, 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 

  • 17 Apr 2019 7:00 AM | Sheila GRELA (Administrator)


      File Thru Trial™

      Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time. First Legal is an attorney services and litigation support company founded on the principles of great customer service and a can-do attitude. Our team of seasoned industry veterans have been doing this for over 30 years, making us a leader in the legal support industry. We aren't just another eFiling provider, we're the first comprehensive File Thru Trial™ company, specifically offering you a streamlined experience with fast turnaround. Our five divisions work together to tackle every assignment with precision and excellence. As a result, we provide you with the highest level of service so that you can stay focused on what you do best.

      Services offered:  


      Contact Name(s):  James Kilmer           


      Website link:                     


      Miranda Barfield 

      I graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Environmental Science before returning home to San Diego, CA. I chose to enroll in the paralegal program at USD with the joint goal of pursuing my interest in environmental law and learning practical skills to help me launch a successful legal career. Upon receiving my paralegal certificate, I joined the Real Estate and Environmental Team at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP. I gained experience working on tribal law with Procopio’s Native American practice group, and later transitioned to my current position supporting John Lormon, Procopio Partner and Chair of the Energy and Environment practice. I work closely with our clients and consultants to address a wide array of legal concerns, with an emphasis on regulatory compliance and environmental remediation. As an SD local and enthusiastic environmentalist, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to address such legal issues in the city, region, and state I call home.

      Environmental Law Articles: 



      Bridget Winandy, MBA 

      Bridget Winandy is a member of the San Diego Paralegal Association. Bridget became involved with the association in 2015 as a student. Bridget obtained her Paralegal Certification in June of 2016. Bridget became a member of the Pro Bono Committee in 2017. Bridget has become involved in the Clean Slate Clinic volunteer effort to gain experience in the legal industry. During the opportunity to volunteer; Bridget has found each time since March of 2018 very rewarding to help the clientele base. Bridget's involvement with the Pro Bono Committee also includes being a member of the annual Pro Bono Committee for the San Diego Paralegal Association: Volunteer Legal & Community Fair. 

      Bridget is looking forward to growing her career in the legal field with the Paralegal Association, the Paralegal Certification, MBA and B.S. in Hospiality to serve the legal community. 


      Arthur Chavez 

      My name is Arthur Chavez. I was born on the lovely island of Oahu, Hawaii. At the time I was born, my dad was in the Navy and stationed on Honolulu; however, I was only a few months old when my family moved to San Diego, CA where I’ve been living most of my life. I am a paralegal student at Cuyamaca College and will be graduating in Spring 2019. I’m also studying economics as an undergrad at SDSU. I’m currently working as a freelance graphic designer specializing in print design and I am also a student intern for the Summa Consulting Group.

      Honestly, I started taking paralegal studies as a “fun” class before I transferred to SDSU as an Econ major. I had no serious aspirations to stay in the legal field since I was only curious about law, but then I decided to volunteer one day, and I got hooked immediately. The legal community, especially SDPA, is such a welcoming and fun group to be a part of. 

      My two favorite hobbies are boxing and traveling. I started boxing in 2015 and, as corny as it sounds, it has quickly helped define myself as a person. Reading body language, learning when to attack and when to defend, training myself to stay calm under pressure; these are just a few philosophies in boxing that have helped me greatly in all aspects of my life. 2016 was the first year I started traveling with my girlfriend. We first flew to Mexico to travel the Maya Riviera, then the following year we went for the big one and flew to Italy. The culture and experience from traveling around the world is too incredible and humbling. That moment I got off the train to see Venice for the first time is a moment I’ll never forget. Our next destination? China!

      Sharon Zhu

      Greetings! Nice to meet you here! This is Shiyuan (Sharon) Zhu, who came to the United States years ago from China, Beijing and Shanghai, as an international student, followed by becoming a new citizen in San Diego. As a first-generation immigrant, I have adventured and explored a lot. When I was in China, I obtained my Bachelor Degree of Management in Public Administration and Master Degree of Law in Political Science from Shanghai Jiaotong University. After working as a financial professional for a while, I pursued my Master Degree of Science in Financial Analysis from University of San Francisco. I am very happy to find UCSD Paralegal Program and SDPA platform from which I have been offered various opportunities to learn and envision my potential. I am currently a paralegal intern at the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office as well as a part-time paralegal at a local firm for immigration, trust, business and corporation cases. When I have spare time, I love practicing for triathlon, playing the piano, cooking and communicating with my cat. I have passion towards law, and I don’t feel fatigued when I study and work in the legal field. I enjoy my journey in the legal field and I feel proud. I am very grateful for your empowerment UCSD Paralegal Program and SDPA! 

      Viktor Iarushin

      Hi! My name is Viktor Iarushin I from Volgograd, Russia.

      In 2012 I graduated from law school, in 2013 I obtained my first position as a paralegal in Law company “Meyer & Partners” in bankruptcy legal field, for three years I grow up and in 2016 I passed the bar exam.

      In September 2017 I moved to San Diego, California, in February 2018 I enrolled in the Paralegal (ABA approved) Certificate Program at the University of San Diego. I am enjoying this program. During the program, I discovered  an interesting new field - Discovery in Civil litigation.

      In my spare time I volunteer for San Diego Paralegal Association. I try to participate and help in every event. I am glad to be a part of SDPA!

      Want to be featured? 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 
  • 19 Mar 2019 7:00 AM | Sheila GRELA (Administrator)


    Summa Consulting Group was developed through our experiences in the legal industry.  We saw the need for full trial and litigation support services while also providing superior expertise in the handling of evidentiary materials.  With tenured networking and relationships developed across numerous paths within the San Diego legal industry, we felt compelled to bring our limitless services to life.  Without our mentors, colleagues, friends and supporters, we would not have felt empowered to take on this venture in the first place.  With that gratitude in mind, we came up with Summa Consulting Group, to offer the best services we can to our fellow professionals and network as a token of giving back. 

    Services offered:       Trial Technician, Paralegal & Consulting Services  

    Collectively Alicia and Kelli have over 25 years of experience in the legal industry. We pride ourselves in being women entrepreneurs who are shuffling the norms in our industry.

    Contact Name(s):            Kelli Moro Radnothy, Alicia Aquino

    Email:                        ; or

    Website link:           


    Emily Andelson, CPA 

    My name is Emily Andelson and I graduated from UCLA with a major in Business Economics and a minor in Accounting. During my time at UCLA I balanced my academics with competing on the UCLA Women’s Swim Team. The academics combined with athletics taught me about managing my time and prioritizing, both of which have proved to be invaluable lessons to understand in the office and in life. After college, I prepared tax returns as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in San Francisco and San Diego for four years. I decided to enroll in USD’s Paralegal Program to learn more about trust agreements and partnership agreements since I worked with both in my role as a CPA. During the Paralegal Program, I did an internship with a trademark attorney and took an Intellectual Property course and found both to be fascinating. I decided to pursue a position as a Trademark Paralegal with Procopio and have since been enjoying the work and expanding my knowledge in Intellectual Property.

    Laura McCarty

    I am originally from Colorado, and moved to San Diego for college and just never left!  I received a B.A. in English from the University of San Diego in 2008, and am currently exploring my options to obtain a Master's Degree.  I earned my paralegal certificate from the National Association of Legal Assistants through self-study under the guidance of my employer in 2012, and have worked as a paralegal since the beginning of that year.  I work for an employment attorney, and truly enjoy helping right the wrongs that have been done to our clients.  In my down time, I enjoy reading, writing, and spending time with my husband and new baby!


    Lindsey Thomson

    Hi! My name is Lindsey Thomson.  I was born and raised in Northern California.   After graduating from San Francisco State University, I worked in the advertising industry directly for a few years until I realized I didn’t enjoy working in that field as much as I thought I would.   I’ve always been interested in law and enjoy research, writing contracts, and gathering facts.   

    I moved to sunny San Diego upon being accepted into the Paralegal Certificate Program at the University of San Diego.   While attending the program, I obtained my first position in the legal field, as a Legal Assistant with Golden & Cardona-Loya, LLP.   I received my Paralegal Certificate (ABA approved) in July 2018 and was promoted from Legal Assistant to Paralegal.   

    A few of my hobbies include puppy adventures with my two Miniature Pinschers.  I love taking them out to places like the Ocean Beach Dog Park, Lake Murray, Sunset Cliffs, even up to Julian and the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.   I enjoy yoga, hiking, trying new restaurants, reading, and enjoying time with my new friends here in San Diego (a few of which I have met through the San Diego Paralegal Association).   I also work as an Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay, and additionally, am a Monat Market Partner.   Feel free to message me directly with any questions here:,

    Working in the legal field, primarily, civil litigation, has been rewarding as it has allowed me to assist others by enabling them to protect their unalienable rights, and I firmly believe all are entitled to justice.  I love the idea of law and how it benefits those in need.   I also enjoy continuously learning, and working in law allows me to expand my knowledge while helping those in need.  

    Andrea Coghill 


    Though a native Californian, I have traveled extensively and have lived abroad several times. My family comes from a small Greek island called Ikaria. It is a known Blue Zone - one of a few spots in the world where people live extraordinary long lives. I recently obtained my Paralegal Certificate from UCSD Extension. In my free time I enjoy gardening, though insects seem to enjoy the harvest as much as I do, and hiking. A personal highlight is walking a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. After years of administrative roles, I had the opportunity to work in the corporate legal department for a independent power producer. I found the work very interesting and decided to pursue additional schooling in the legal field. I am delighted to be a new addition to the San Diego Paralegal Association.

    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 fiel 
  • 2 Mar 2019 9:54 PM | Anonymous

    by Ellen Zacarias

    Christina Hough is an in-house paralegal for a Fortune 10 company through Legility, LLC. She has been in the legal field for over 17 years, and has experience working in-house and for law firms. On top of being a paralegal, she is also a notary and volunteers as an on-call notary for the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program. In this Q&A, Christina Hough provides insight on what it's like to work in-house, being a notary, and how the legal industry has evolved since she started working as a paralegal.

    Name, firm/workplace, areas of law you work in? How big is your company?

    I am currently employed by Legility, LLC, a legal recruiting, placement, and temporary assignment firm. I am on assignment with a Fortune 10 company that employs over 250,000 people worldwide. I was offered full-time employment two months into my assignment and I am currently waiting to be onboarded.

    Paralegal program attended? Other educational background?

    University of San Diego Paralegal Program. I will be graduating from Southern New Hampshire University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration this year. I also have many hours of continuing education credits.

    For how long have you been working as a paralegal?

    I have been working in the legal field for over 17 years now and have been doing paralegal-level work for over 12 years but I was not able to call myself a paralegal, at least in California, until May 2014 when I graduated from USD with a paralegal certificate.

    Per your LinkedIn profile, you have experience working in a law firm as well as your current in-house experience. What is it like working in-house compared to a law firm for you?

    Working in-house has been great. It is actually the least stressful position I have ever held. Everyone has their eye on the ball and does a great job of keeping on top of deadlines which helps to minimize and even eliminate stress. I am responsible for investigating and resolving small claims and limited civil actions in the West region, which is comprised of 13 states. I have a lot of freedom to handle cases in a way that I believe is most conducive to a quick resolution. I also act as the liaison to outside counsel for matters being monitored by senior legal counsel in our California corporate headquarters. I also provide paralegal support on various litigation matters, both plaintiff and defense, being handled in-house.

    Working in law firms is completely different than working in-house. It is great to have experience in both environments. Solo practitioners, small to midsize law firms, and/or large law firms all have very different dynamics. I am glad I had the opportunity to work at one firm in each of those environments before moving to my current position.

    How has being a notary public helped you in your career? What led you to becoming one?

    Being a notary is a very interesting and rewarding opportunity. In California, notaries have to renew their commissions every four years and take continuing education courses so that actually helps with meeting the paralegal continuing education requirements set forth in California Business & Professions Code. In my first legal position, the principal at the time offered to pay for me to become a notary because the company filed numerous recorded documents involving mechanic’s lien claims, lis pendens, and the associated releases and withdrawals so it was only natural for me to become a notary so the company could avoid having to pay an outside notary every time it needed a document notarized.

    Also, for approximately three years, I have volunteered as an on-call notary for the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program (“SDVLP”). SDVLP provides free legal services to low-income, disabled, and terminal residents in San Diego County. That work gives me an opportunity to give back to the community and SDVLP’s clients are so thankful for the volunteer notary services. On occasion, I will travel to meet one of their clients in a mutually convenient location but most of the notary services are performed at SDVLP’s HIV/AIDS Clinic, which is held weekly in Hillcrest.

    How has the legal industry changed since you started?

    Well, this is an easy one. How has it not changed? Legal technology has come a long way since 2002. Adobe Acrobat alone, with its Bates stamping, optical character recognition, and document organization and bookmarking capabilities among other things, has completely revolutionized the way document reviews and exhibits are managed and organized. It has increased productivity exponentially and actually saves both law firms and legal departments and their respective clients an extraordinary amount of money.

    That is just one example. However, you have companies like Thomson Reuters, Lexis, and others changing the game and continually developing new software and cloud-based technologies that rival anything that has come before them. WestlawNext and LexisAdvance for example are so intuitive that legal research has become nearly as easy as using a search engine.

    Not to mention you have document management, practice management, and other softwares that try to bundle all necessary operations of law firms and legal departments into a series of integrated, intuitive technologies that continue to push the envelope on what is possible.

    What was the hardest thing to learn when you first became a paralegal?

    This is a tough one. The legal field is so expansive that it is difficult to pin down just one thing. I will say that billing took a bit of time to get used to because, at least in insurance defense matters, you have to be very careful about the way you bill your time because you can use one wrong word in a billing entry and it can be rejected even though the task that you performed is billable under the American Bar Association guidelines but may not be under an insurance carrier’s guidelines. What makes that even more tricky is that every insurance carrier has different guidelines for what is considered a billable or non-billable task.

    Describe a typical day for you. What do you do at work?

    There is no such thing as a typical day. Each day is different. Today, for example, I prepared exhibits in both hard copy and PDF format (including bookmarks) and wrote a trial brief for a small claims trial I am attending next Wednesday. I also followed up on various emails for pending assignments, participated in a conference call, skimmed documents I received in response to public record requests from two different public agencies for two different cases, and followed up on some settled cases in an effort to obtain closing documents among other things.

    What advice do you have to people who are looking to find a paralegal job?

    Anyone looking to become a paralegal should really enjoy the work. I recommend working as a receptionist or file clerk for someone just out of high school or college. This will give that person a feel for the environment and the personalities that work in the legal arena, which are numerous. I would definitely recommend the paralegal field to someone who likes investigating, puzzling pieces together to build the full picture, and enjoys working in a fast-paced environment that is always changing. Because the law always changes.

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

    Since I have been enrolled at SNHU, I have not had much time to participate in outside activities but I do enjoy live music, collecting music memorabilia, writing (especially poetry and lyrics), traveling, etc. I would say I enjoy the simple things in life, such as spending time with family and friends, but I am always up for an adventure, especially if it involves music, culture, and travel.

    What advice do you have for paralegals who would like to work in-house for a company?

    Don’t be afraid to work from the ground up. In fact, be willing to do it. Ask questions. Don’t just do the work. Understand why you are doing the work. This will prepare you for anything that comes your way. Also, do not twiddle your thumbs. If you have downtime at work, offer to assist others. Seek out new assignments or unfamiliar work. This will build your skillset and make you invaluable.

    Some general advice too: Never be satisfied. Always push yourself to be better than you were yesterday. Be grateful. You have a finite amount of time on this planet and you should do everything in your power to make this life your best life.

    What skills do you believe it takes to thrive as a paralegal?

    Do what you enjoy and enjoy what you do. Being a paralegal is not for everyone. Some key skills for being an efficient paralegal are the ability to organize, manage time, take constructive criticism and apply it, and be willing to go the extra mile. Be a lifelong learner and enjoy learning. Paralegals need to be able to acquire and recall a wealth of knowledge and skills and apply them in a limited amount of time to innumerable tasks. Being able to work independently and collaboratively are both mandatory.

    In some cases, a thick skin is necessary. Learn not to take things personally. Unfortunately, the human condition causes people to treat others unkindly at times but it mostly has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the other person. For example, you may be on the receiving end of someone else’s bad day even though you just called to ask for the status of an opposing party’s discovery responses. We are all human but we all can strive to be a little bit better today than we were yesterday. A kind word goes a long way and each day is a new day.

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful answers, Christina! To readers, if you are a working paralegal and are interested in participating in SDPA's Q&A series, please contact me (Ellen Zacarias) at

  • 27 Feb 2019 9:17 PM | Anonymous

    By Ellen Zacarias; Photos by Kristine Custodio and Joe Maniwan

    The San Diego High School Mock Trial Competition was a success thanks to all the volunteers and passionate young litigators! This year, Westview High School's mock trial team won the competition, which means they will now participate in the stateside competition. 

    SDPA President Julie Schwartz, Vice President of Memberships Joe Maniwan, and Director Kristine Custodio volunteered at the San Diego Mock Trial Competition by serving as courtroom monitors. The San Diego High School Mock Trial Competition allows young people to experience litigation and courts firsthand. 

    This competition is held every February, so we encourage you to visit for more information. 


  • 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 | Sheila GRELA (Administrator)

    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. 

Mailing Address:

501 W. Broadway, Suite A-220
San Diego, CA 92101

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software