Has It Been A Year Already?

Today marks the one year anniversary of me starting my freelance paralegal services business, Olvera & Associates.

Saying that it has been a struggle would be an understatement. My income has been “surely” but not steady, I’ve been living constantly out of my comfort zone. However, I wouldn’t give any of it up.

Being self-employed has afforded me things that money can’t buy. It has given me the ability to see my daughter’s smile everyday that I pick her up from school. I have been able to attend professional development events that I previously could not have attended. It has allowed me to volunteer at the court legal clinic. It has allowed me to make more meaningful relationships with my colleagues and those whom I love. It has given me great satisfaction to know that every dollar I earn, was because of the value my work provided to others.

But most of all, self-employment has allowed me to grow. It has been a winding path of self discovery. Opening my own business brought my fears and weaknesses front and center. I had nowhere to hide them.

By facing my fears and having the right guidance (e-books, mentors, family, etc.), I have not given up and I’ve pushed through. I came to a point where I knew that I couldn’t give up because I didn’t want to go back to working as an employee. Also, my kids were watching my every step. They were looking to see how I handled challenges, I didn’t want to teach them to give up the first instance something became “too hard”. Now I know that whatever I’m afraid of, is exactly what I need to confront directly and overcome.

I know that I’m far from where I want to be, but I have definitely come a long way from where I was. I’ve been a year in business. I must be doing something right!

This post originally appeared on my blog at: http://elizabetholvera.com/has-it-been-a-year-already/

How I became a paralegal

I have been a paralegal since 2003. I love what I do, it’s rewarding on so many levels and I don’t see myself doing anything else. However, I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a paralegal.

It all began in 2002, when I attended a legal employment training program called L.E.A.P. (Legal Employment Action Program). This vocational training program taught others and I some of the skills that we needed to work in the legal field, but mostly the trainings were about soft skills. As part of the training program, we were given the opportunity to interview at three separate law firms in order to be placed in a three month internship. After a stressful interviewing process at three different firms, I finally obtained a position as a file clerk for a busy trial team handling construction defect cases. The law firm told me that there was not any possibility to be hired permanently, so I planned to learn everything that I could in the short time that I was there.

As a file clerk, I was responsible for distributing the mail, faxes, and pleadings that came to the attorneys. I received training from a legal secretary and a paralegal manager. Because I really loved the people, the environment, and the work that I was doing, I decided to go to night school and become a paralegal. It was great because I was learning how to be a paralegal at night, and practicing the skills by day.

As a file clerk, I read every piece of paper that came through my desk. Because I proved myself and showed them that I was eager to learn and highly motivated, after the internship was over, I was offered a full-time position as a file clerk. I was thrilled.

In December 2003, I obtained my Paralegal Certificate. I asked to be promoted from a file clerk to a paralegal within my firm, and in early 2004, they promoted me to paralegal and gave me a small increase in pay. I’ve been doing paralegal work ever since and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I love my profession and it has afforded me with many opportunities that I may not have had any other way.

P.S. Although this was a successful training program and placed many people in the legal field, unfortunately, the training program no longer exists, due to lack of funding.