By Lottie Wathen, Cohen & Malad LLP
Jodie Bergeron, who works in the Personal Injury/Products Liability Department at Cohen & Malad LLP, has been a paralegal for 16 years. While Jodie’s resume is impressive on its own – it lists experience in family law, consumer rights, employment law, general litigation, bankruptcy, creditors’ rights and personal injury/product liability – her employment history does not truly tell you about who she is. While the fact that she has worked as a paralegal in Northwest Indiana, Chicago, Orlando and Indianapolis may tell you that she is ambitious, adventurous and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, even that does not truly provide insight as to who Jodie Bergeron really is. Let me see if I can help with that.
It is not easy to impress Greg Laker, an attorney with 30 years of experience litigating mass torts and serious personal injury claims (including wrongful death claims for children and adults and catastrophic injury claims involving amputations, burns and brain and spinal cord injuries). Greg, a partner at Cohen & Malad LLP and the chair of its personal injury department, is also Jodie’s supervising attorney. He is a true trial attorney who operates at full-speed at all times. He has worked with many fine paralegals throughout his career. The fact that Greg calls Jodie “the best paralegal I’ve ever worked with” speaks volumes about Jodie’s many talents.
Don’t let the bubbly personality, pleasant conversations, dazzling smile or quick wit fool you. Behind all of those things you will also find strong ambition, an intense work ethic, a passion for making a difference and a fierce sense of protection that, when combined, make Jodie a force to be reckoned with. In my conversation with Greg about Jodie’s duties, he told me that ever since starting at Cohen & Malad, Jodie has regularly exceeded the expectations of her supervisors. While managing approximately 700 active cases, Jodie works extremely hard, juggles numerous roles within her practice group, mentors new employees and does it all with a smile on her face. According to Greg, “quite simply, she makes Cohen & Malad a better place to work.”
Jodie truly loves her job because she is able to help her clients. “They are all good people who have been injured or harmed in some way, and I enjoy doing everything I can to make their lives a little better in any way that I can.” We all know that with every job there is something, no matter how small, that we would rather not have to do. I asked Jodie to tell me one thing that she does not like about her job – just one – and her answer was “nothing.” I suppose it is possible to like every aspect of your job to some degree, so I revised the question and asked her what part she liked the least. Again, Jodie’s answer was “nothing.” She seriously could not (or would not) come up with a single aspect that she does not love. It was Jodie’s college advisor who first suggested that she consider a paralegal career. Jodie had been pursuing a degree in education but realized that she was never going to be a teacher. She took the advisor’s advice and changed her major to legal administration, but it was not until she actually started working as a paralegal in 1998 that she realized this was exactly what she wanted to be doing.
Jodie grew up in Northwest Indiana, where her parents still live. She is the second oldest child of four children and the oldest of the three girls. As one might guess after spending about five minutes with Jodie, she is a former cheerleader. One of her first opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others was as the varsity cheerleading coach at Highland High School in Highland, Indiana, a position she held for four years. While her days of coaching young women may have passed (at least for now), Jodie continues to make a difference in the lives of others. For six years, Jodie was actively involved with the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure, first as a volunteer from 2004 to 2006 and then as a member of the Indianapolis Logistics Committee from 2006 to 2009. Today, the Race for the Cure is still important to Jodie. Each year she works to raise funds to help lead the Cohen & Malad team.
In 2006, Jodie moved to Indianapolis where she met her husband, Rich, whom she married in 2010. Jodie and Rich have one son, Lucas, who is two years old and is truly Jodie’s pride and joy. The Bergerons have close relationships with their families, and it is not unusual for their vacation plans to include a trip to Kansas to visit Jodie’s brother, California to visit one of her sisters (the other lives in Indy), or to the Northeast to visit with Rich’s family.
I asked Jodie to tell me something about herself that she is proud of, both personally and professionally. Personally, it is her family. “My husband is an amazing man and a terrific father. My son is my greatest accomplishment.” Professionally, it is not an accomplishment for her job or the fact that she serves on the executive committee of the IndyBar’s Paralegal Committee, and it is not her award for Paralegal of the Year (although that likely ranks near the top). Ahead of all of those things, Jodie places the relationships that she has made with co-workers and bosses. Jodie believes that she has built some lifelong friendships that she truly cherishes.
I would say that now, you may know Jodie Bergeron a little better, but there is one tidbit that I couldn’t believe. Jodie, who speaks faster than some of the best typists can type and is as energetic as anyone I know, does not drink caffeine! People who know Jodie will understand why this is a surprise. In Jodie’s own words, “I am just naturally this spastic.”
Congratulations to Jodie Bergeron on a job well done and recognition well-deserved.