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Legal Secretary

  • Sharon D. Barlow
  • Julie M. Dobson
  • Amy K. Heidemann
  • Tamara D. Kampmann
  • Marsha A. Plank

Littler Mendelson

Sharon Barlow was expecting a career in accounting. She worked in insurance for a few years before applying to a law firm through a friend. Since 1975, she has worked as a legal secretary in law firms in the Kansas City area. Barlow worked for Jeffrey D. Hanslick for 12 years before moving with him to Littler Mendelson in October 2016. “Sharon is an awesome secretary, but she’s a better friend,” Hanslick wrote in her nomination. “She takes care of me when I don’t know I need taken care of.”

What led you to choose a career in the legal field?

It actually chose me. I had just finished college and had assumed my career would be in accounting. A friend of mine had a close friend who was an attorney looking for a legal secretary. I applied on a whim and got the job. After that, I loved being involved in the law.

What is the best part of your job?

The people are the best part of my job: the attorneys, co-workers and clients. Also, at this point in my career, I enjoy mentoring new legal secretaries coming into the field.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

There are actually two pieces of advice I received over the years. The first is to wear an umbrella and let it bounce off of you. In other words, don’t take it personally. The second is there is no mistake that cannot be fixed.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

I love gardening, reading, and watching the Kansas City Royals.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

Although I have lived in the Kansas City area all of my life, I am a country girl at heart.

Anything else you want people to know?

The legal field has been the most memorable and rewarding career choice of my life.

dobson-julieLegal Assistant

Dysart Taylor Cotter McMonigle & Montemore

As a legal assistant at Dysart Taylor, Julie Dobson is a problem-solver. Her duties include training new employees on the firm’s phone and computer systems, working to solve any problems herself before contacting information technology. She also plans the firm’s happy hours and birthday parties and fields all overflow phone calls. She started her legal career in 1988 with a position in the copy room at Lewis Rice & Fingersh while studying in a legal secretary program at Penn Valley Community College. From there, she worked at Gage & Tucker before landing at Dysart Taylor in 1993. “Julie does whatever it takes to get the job done, and always does it with a smile on her face,” nominator Amanda Ketchum wrote. “She is an absolute pleasure to work with, and is a friend as well as an assistant.”

What led you to choose a career in the legal field?

I have wanted to work in an office since my first typing class and computer class in high school. My high school counselor led me to choose a career in the legal field.

What is the best part of your job?

Even though my duties have evolved through the years, I still enjoy transcribing and formatting documents.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Treat everyone with respect, and to treat others as you would want them to treat you.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

Watching TV game shows with my family.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I enjoy watching the TV show “Snapped.” My favorite music genre is disco. I also started dancing with a local Filipino folk dance troupe when I was four.

Anything else you want people to know?

I was born and raised in the Kansas City area. I am married, I have one daughter, and one grandson.

heidemann-amyLegal Assistant

Rosenblum Goldenhersh

Amy Heidemann’s work at Rosenblum Goldenhersh is considered central to the St. Louis firm’s success. “She does an incredible job of managing my and three other attorneys’ crazy schedules, organizing and maintaining our case files, and handling our administrative matters, while also performing increasingly complex paralegal tasks,” nominator Theresa Phelps wrote. “She handles all investigative matters for the entire firm as well.”

What led you to choose a career in the legal field?

Honestly, when I was little, something drew me to the law. It could have been career day, it could have been watching too many “Matlock” episodes with my Grandma, or it could have been history class. I’m not really sure what exactly it was but I made up my mind by the fourth grade that I wanted to go into the legal field and hoped that, in some way, I could help other people.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

I would definitely have to say spending time with my son. Whether that’s watching him perform in the barbershop quartet group that he belongs to called Now That We’re Men, taking him out to play Pokémon Go, going on trips as a family, or any other way that I can con my teenage son into hanging out with his mom. (The struggle is real.)

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I play co-ed, competitive sports, both soccer and softball. In softball my nickname is Wheels and my position is catcher. I also enjoy weight lifting.

Anything else you want people to know?

I had my son at a very young age, just out of high school, but I still completed college while working full-time and being a new mom. I graduated and got a degree in the field that I desired and did whatever I could to get a job in that field. Never give up on your goals. No matter what life has dealt you, life is what you make it. All things are possible.

kampmann-tamaraLegal Administrative Assistant

Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal

One theme is dominant through Tamara Kampmann’s work: compassion. As a legal administrative assistant at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, she is often clients’ first point of contact with the firm, and often goes above her regular duties to improve the client experience. “Tammy recently stayed later to sit with a client who needed the additional support from our office,” wrote nominating attorney Amy Hoch Hogenson. “She regularly sacrifices her time for the greater good of the firm and clients. She is understanding about their need and puts it first.”

What led you to choose a career in the legal field?

I found the legal field to be interesting. Each day brought something different, especially in family law. I liked helping people who were struggling.

What is the best part of your job?

Helping clients get through a difficult time is very rewarding for me. I am typically the first person our clients speak to and many of them are having a lot of conflicting emotions. I have been through divorce myself and I feel that helps me relate to our clients. I work with a fantastic team at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal and that makes my job enjoyable.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

One of my first bosses I worked for told me to always walk into a room with a pen and a pad of paper. Always be prepared, she said. I still do that to this day.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

I absolutely love to cook and try new recipes. My husband loves to eat so we make a good team. My three granddaughters come over and I teach them how make tasty food. I love making memories with them.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

The thing that surprises people about me the most is that I’m a deer hunter. Although I haven’t been able to go hunting in a number of years, it is something I enjoyed doing with my dad, brothers, and sister-in-law.

plank-marshaExecutive Assistant

Missouri State Public Defender

It’s no secret that the Missouri State Public Defender office operates on a small budget. As a result, support staff must be able to do multiple tasks with few resources. Marsha Plank keeps the Jefferson City office running by producing the department newsletter, assisting the training division, interviewing prospective employees, making travel arrangements and resolving complaints from constituents. “I may be the head of this organization, but I know full well that if I am traveling or away from the office for whatever reason, things move along just fine,” wrote Missouri Public Defender Director Michael Barrett. “But on the rare occasion when Marsha is not here, things come to a rather noticeable standstill. And that is a testament to how broad her role is at MSPD.”

What led you to choose a career in the legal field?

I worked for the 13th Judicial Circuit Court for 22 years before coming to the Missouri State Public Defender System. While at the court, I had the opportunity to work with many great people. I enjoyed my job and being a public servant. I had a friend tell me about a position at MSPD, who encouraged me to apply. The court was all I knew, but I applied and here I am. Words truly cannot express how blessed I am to be a part of the MSPD family. I have been given the opportunity to grow, learn and be a part of a team that fights hard each day for indigent people accused of a crime.

What is the best part of your job?

The great team I am surrounded by each day. I love my job. I do not say that light-heartedly. I am fortunate to work with colleagues who are dedicated, passionate, committed to supporting one another, and strive to provide excellent service to those we serve.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

To be successful one must have a strong work ethic, work hard (give 110% at all times), demonstrate integrity, have a sense of responsibility and teamwork, don’t be quick to judge and smile every day. One of my favorite quotes is by Mahatma Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

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