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Paralegal

  • Linda K. AuBuchon
  • Wendi Bridges
  • Nancy Carson
  • Peggy Forrest
  • Michelle Haughey

aubuchon-linda

Armstrong Teasdale

In 1999, Linda AuBuchon was working as a municipal clerk and mayoral assistant in southeast Missouri when she drew the attention of Jim Mello, then a partner at Armstrong Teasdale. The attorney worked with AuBuchon on several projects and was impressed by her work ethic and skills and encouraged her to join the firm’s public finance area. Today, AuBuchon serves as a paralegal and administrator for more than 75 special taxation districts represented by the firm. For municipalities, private real estate developers, bankers and underwriters, she assists with public-private real estate development projects utilizing tax increment financing, TDDs and CIDs.

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

My prior experience in municipal government. During that time I had the opportunity to work with a number of great attorneys and administrators. They opened my eyes to the possibility of a career in the legal field that I had not previously considered.

What is the best part of your job?

Working with great people. I find it very rewarding to know that I am part of a team that provides a high level of dedication and service to their clients.

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

The best career and general advice I received was to do your best at whatever you try.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

Sit under a shade tree and read.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

People would be surprised to learn that I performed with a dance troupe at French rendezvouses and festivals in Missouri and Illinois for three years.

bridges-wendi

Baldwin & Vernon

Wendi Bridges’ reputation spans beyond her firm of Baldwin & Vernon. She draws praise from attorneys across the Kansas City area, even those her firm has opposed, including “dream paralegal,” “Jedi paralegal” and “as close as one can get to being an attorney without taking the bar exam.” She is renowned for both her expertise in the law and her ability to mentor others who are entering the legal field while maintaining a positive attitude and providing excellent client service. “Her attitude is tirelessly cheerful. I’ve seen her correct the mistakes of lawyers, create the legal theories to win the case, and celebrate the profession,” wrote nominator Sonal Bhatia of Keenan & Bhatia. “If she were a lawyer, she would have won every award the profession offers … recognizing her collegiality, her client service, her trial skills.”

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

I can’t remember back that far, but it was the best decision I ever made as far as a career and especially for deciding to come work at Baldwin & Vernon.

What is the best part of your job?

Working for two awesome attorneys that treat me like an equal and appreciate me way more than I deserve. We are like family here.

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

Do what you will enjoy and be good at it.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

Spend quality time with my husband, children, family and friends.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I am actually very shy until I get to know people.

Anything else you want people to know?

I am probably not deserving of this but I am very appreciative of the honor.

carson-nancyHead Paralegal

Dowd Bennett

Nancy Carson has been credited with being vital to Dowd Bennett’s success, but her work with Ed Dowd goes back to 1991. It was then that she assisted Dowd in his role investigating the federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. Her effort and results caught Dowd’s attention, and they continued to work together. In 2009, she joined Dowd Bennett in St. Louis, where she supervises a staff of seven. She’s known to work from dawn until well after dusk in preparing for a trial. “There is no beginning or ending time for Nancy,” Dowd wrote. “She is 100 percent determined to make her work perfect, which is why she will put in as much time as it takes to get it done.”

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

Not really knowing what I wanted to do when I graduated from high school, I went to work for the government working for the National Labor Relations Board which started my interest in the legal process.

What is the best part of your job?

1) That I get to work with a great group of people who are very good at their jobs and who treat me with respect; and 2) That I get to meet and know their families.

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

When I made the transition from legal secretary to paralegal in 1994, I was given this advice – To not be afraid of change and have faith in myself.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

I enjoy spending time with my family, especially with my two granddaughters.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

That I like to fish and go camping.

Anything else you want people to know?

I have very much enjoyed working in the legal field over the past 40 years and will continue to do so until I retire.

forrest-peggy-2Aaron Sachs & Associates

Peggy Forrest had been working in the escrow title business when she switched to the legal field. In nearly 20 years at Aaron Sachs & Associates in Springfield, she has assisted in bringing dozens of cases to trial. Her work has been instrumental in securing major wins for the firm, including a $1.7 million workers’ compensation judgment for a nursing home employee in 2013.

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

Working in the legal field is something I always wanted to do. After 14 years in the escrow title business, changing careers was challenging yet rewarding. I began at an entry level position, receptionist, intake, legal secretary, and then paralegal. I believe this has given me a greater appreciation for support staff and team work.

What is the best part of your job?

Helping people. It feels right to be kind, understanding, and professional, when the client’s health, home, job, and financial security are at risk. At the end of the day, I appreciate being able to contribute to the greater good.

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

Always do your best work.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

I enjoy reading, gardening, being outdoors, and volunteering for various organizations.

What is something that would surprise people about you?

I don’t want to be first. Being second always leaves room for improvement.

Anything else you want people to know?

Attitude is everything.

haughey-michelleLegal Assistant/Office Administrator

Siro Smith Dickson

Michelle Haughey isn’t just known for being on time, she’s known for being ahead of the game. Since 1985, she’s worked for Siro Smith Dickson, where she’s known for keeping the office running smoothly. “Shelly always anticipates what I need for my cases and is usually one step ahead of me,” wrote nominator Raymond Dake. “If I tell her I need to draft a motion or letter for a case, she is usually telling me she already has it shelled out and saved to the file ready for me to work on.”

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

I knew in my early teens that I wanted to be a secretary, but it wasn’t until I talked to my mother’s cousin who worked in a law office that I became interested in the legal field. Approximately eight years into my career as a legal secretary, Mr. Siro asked me if I could take a stab at drafting discovery responses. I was already skilled in communicating with our clients, and I typed my share of discovery responses and was very familiar with standard objections. That opportunity launched my paralegal career.

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

“When you love your job, you are more likely to give it your all.” I had the great pleasure of working with the late attorney Judy Nally. He taught me not to fear asking questions and encouraged me to always keep learning through CLE opportunities.

What is your favorite thing to do away from work?

I enjoy working on restoring my home built in 1908 in the historic neighborhood of Squier Park. I also love being active in my neighborhood and spending time with my family and close friends. The best time is craft days with my great nieces Bella and Kate.

Anything else you want people to know?

Each morning while walking my dog Lucy, I plan out what I want to accomplish that day at the office. Needless to say, I usually have to set my plans aside because of other priorities. Working with four litigators can be exciting and at times exhausting, but I do love a challenge.

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