By Maria Long, J. Edgar Law Offices PC
Single and ready to mingle? Wait, wait – it’s not THAT kind of speed-dating!
On January 20, 2015, Paralegal Committee members partnered with Marian University for an educational speed dating event. The event was coordinated by Lesley Neff of Marian University. While the more widely known concept of speed dating is an event hosted to bring together people for romantic purposes, this even takes the basic concept and applies it to a group of paralegal students. These students get to have a series of short conversations with seasoned professional paralegals who share their experience and practical knowledge.
For those of you like me who have never “speed dated,” the process is much like we’ve seen portrayed in popular culture. One party remains seated while the other party rotates from seat to seat having only a short amount of time to converse before they must move to the next seat. At this event, six members of the IndyBar Paralegal Committee partnered with Marian University alumni who are now working as paralegals to welcome 15 current paralegal students who rotated from seat to seat every eight minutes. A buzzer would sound when the time was up to signal that it was time to move to the next paralegal station.
Being one of the paralegal volunteers was a real treat. Unlike the students before me, I worked my way into the paralegal profession. While working toward my bachelor’s degree at IUPUI with a major in communications and a minor in psychology, I started working in the legal field with no paralegal training. I now have my bachelor’s degree and eight years of experience under my belt. Because the law is always changing, even after eight years there is still so much to know and learn. These students have the opportunity to be introduced to the many areas of law before going out and finding their niche. Given that I became a paralegal through experience and not by completing a paralegal program, I was eager not only to share my personal experiences, pitfalls, greatest moments and expectations, but also to interact with the students and answer any questions they had.
The students were just as eager as I was, if not more. They came prepared with questions and some had even researched me beforehand and the company where I work. Their questions ranged from those regarding intense legal practices to where I performed, since singing was mentioned on my company website as one of my hobbies. It was evident these students did their homework. I believe the intimate setting of getting to talk with a professional paralegal one-on-one eliminated a lot of the apprehension that can naturally occur when you have traditional professional guest speakers with a group. I was greatly impressed with their tenacious attitudes.
This speed dating style event continues to be a huge success with the paralegal programs that partner with the IndyBar Paralegal Committee. It provides insight for up-and-coming professionals that is unique, and it provides us with another forum to promote and educate on our profession. These students have the advantage of quality time in front of the professional equivalent of their future selves. Speed dating style events are a fun and easy way for all professions to provide incoming graduates with an opportunity to be educated in their field. In retrospect, I would have been at an enormous advantage having had this opportunity when I began working as a new paralegal.