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Why Join NALS?

Posted By Paula Steffey, PP, CLP-SC Civil Litigation, Thursday, November 10, 2016

Join NALSI recently hosted a rummage sale fundraiser for NALS of Greater Kalamazoo chapter.  After explaining to the customers what NALS is all about, I think I could give the speech in my sleep.  I have also been asked by members and nonmembers—why are you doing this?  It is so much work.  Well, not really.  That was one of the cheapest and easiest fundraisers to organize.  Besides, even if it was difficult, I would still do it because of everything NALS has done for me (especially my local chapter).   I am proud to say that I am a member of one of the best chapters in Michigan—NALS of Greater Kalamazoo. 


Every month we have a meeting where we can network with other legal professionals, obtain continuing legal education, and grow as individuals, both personally and professionally.  Of course, we also get to enjoy an amazing dinner and a different venue each month.  But there is more to this organization than just a dinner meeting and socializing.  


I wanted to join NALS for many years, but I could not afford the membership dues.  In 2014 I was working for a new employer who offered to pay the dues for me.  I did not take that benefit for granted.  I was determined to get involved in any way possible—from helping on various committees, attending legal education offered by our chapter and other chapters in Michigan, studying for my certification, and anything else that was available. 


In the past two years I have been mentored by many members at the local and state levels and have spoken with the staff at the national level on many occasions as I work to attain my goals within the organization.  Every level of this organization offers something valuable to its members.  


My local chapter, NALS of Greater Kalamazoo, has an excellent group of members who work hard for our organization. Because of everyone’s hard work, they have been able to provide benefits to their members that far surpass what I could have imagined when I first joined.  Currently, our chapter pays the examination fee to take the ALP, PLS/CLP, and PP exams, and it even pays for one retake.  Without the support, generosity, and hard work of the members throughout the year, I would not have been able to take the PLS/CLP exam (and the retake I needed to pass).  My chapter made it possible for me to sit for the PP exam at the end of September, which I passed! 


So what does that certification mean to an employer?  It means more than most employers will put into words.  My current employer loves the fact that his assistant wants a career and not just a job.  Since he and another attorney in our office helped me study, he sees what I am learning.  He is much more willing to share his knowledge and actually teach me.  Based on the change in my workload and the type of work I am now doing compared to when I first started, I believe he has found my certification to be very beneficial.  Even my former employers have assisted me with my studies and cheered for me.  One former employer has said numerous times how much change he has seen in me since I joined NALS. 


Okay, I have my certification, but then what?  In order to keep your certification, you need to complete 15 hours of continuing legal education every year in order to recertify when the certification expires. (To recertify every five years, the PLS/CLP and PP certifications require 75 CLE hours and 50 CLE hours are required for the ALP certification.) For any member who wants to go above and beyond, NALS now offers a Specialty Certificate so you can enhance your knowledge and skills in 21 different areas of law.  All you need is to obtain 50 CLE credit hours in one of those areas of law.  If you are going to work toward the Specialty Certificate, you might also work toward a CLE Award, which requires a minimum of 60 CLE credit hours within a three-year period.  This may sound like a lot of continuing legal education, but, trust me, it is well worth every hour.  Seeing the smile on my employer’s face when I showed him my CLE Award and Specialty Certificate was priceless. 


Maybe you want to get involved at the state or national level.  There are plenty of opportunities to do just that.  NALS of Michigan has a membership meeting every quarter and has an annual meeting and education conference.  NALS also has a national conference annually.  As a member of NALS of Greater Kalamazoo, I am able to take advantage of one more benefit—attendance at these events.  My local chapter not only makes certification possible, but they have made it possible to attend events at the state and national levels.  Thanks to our chapter, I was very excited to have attended my first national conference in October.


I could tell you so much about this organization, but this is just an article and not a book.  Every member has different goals and every member will take away something different from their experience.  That is part of what makes this organization a “must” for all legal professionals.  Come as a guest or bring a guest.  Tell your employer what this membership would mean to you and how you could give back to your employer.  Make an investment in your career and in your future.  It does make a difference!

Paula Steffey, PP, CLP-SC, has been a member since 2014.  She is currently the co-chair for the Programs and Reservations committees and the chairperson for the Attorney Directory project on the Ways and Means committee with NALS of Greater Kalamazoo in Michigan.  Paula is also very active at the state level and is currently serving as the Executive Secretary for NALS of Michigan and, for more excitement, is the chairperson for the Finance Committee.  In June she took over as the chairperson for the Marketing Committee.  After attending the national conference in October, she submitted her application for a secondary membership with NALS of Phoenix and hopes to be as active as possible from a distance.  She also joined the Editorial Board.  Outside of NALS she is a full-time legal assistant to attorney Garold A. Goidosik with Goidosik Morse Disability Law Group and has two other part-time jobs.  One of those part-time jobs is her own crafting company where she sells her hand-crocheted items.  Besides work and NALS, she is married with two children of her own, a stepdaughter, and two very spoiled golden retrievers who are retired show dogs. 


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