Ronda Rousey illustrates three aspiring personal characteristics


If you are needing some inspiration in your job hunt, your career, or life in general, then soak up some inspiration from the best female and number one pound-for-pound female mixed martial arts (“MMA”) fighter in the world – Ronda Rousey.  Yet, aside from pure and outstanding athletic prowess and performance, Ronda owns mental expertise that you can see in her fights.  The mental part, outside the octagon, provides even more inspiration because in witnessing the mental characteristics, one can emulate the same for one’s own success.


Most, if not all, of Rousey’s fights last only seconds and end in a submission.  And, most of them are online.  Insofar as the fighting, she is highly skilled having won an Olympic medal in judo.  She also trains very hard.  Watching her bouts, it becomes apparent that she is a determined fighter.  She overwhelms her opponents in the first few seconds of the opening round.  Resolute, she meets her opponent head on and immediately consumes her foe.  She either spots an opening or lets her opponent make a mistake and she steps in, envelops her, grapples to an arm bar (with strikes and occasional knees along the way) and the fight is over.  Studying her fight films, while typically only seconds in length, the visual cues provide strikingly obvious conclusions regarding her mental mastery.




First, the ground floor in Ronda’s success is prodigious preparation, and that is an understatement.  At first, one of her trainers did not notice her in the gymnasium.  Over time, he noticed that she was the first one there in the morning and the last one to leave every single, sweat-soaked, combative, aching day.  This is inspiration one – the ability to prepare oneself in the highest levels for performance.  Competition is fierce everywhere.  Image yourself seeking new opportunity in your career.  Over preparation breeds confidence and rockets you to dominate the competition.  A deep and powerful commitment to preparation positions the front-runner.




Second, the absolute, unrestrained, and dominant determination Rousey brings to her matches wills her to victory.  Outside the octagon, she is an actress and fun loving, even playful interviewee.  But when it comes to business, watch her as she walks to the octagon and study her face as she readies to overpower her adversary.  The focused, direct, sheer determination is clearly obvious in her.  Not the slightest hint of doubt is anywhere in her vicinity.  If determination propels winning, Rousey has it in spades.  Once prepared, mental determination is power.  The grasp of this power is further impelled by resolute endurance.




And finally the third mental mastery – fortitude.  Fortitude:  “mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously” (, 2015).  The unrelenting and straightforward pursuit of the goal – leading to supremacy.  This trait is strikingly apparent in Ronda’s demeanor.  Perhaps the most important of these three traits, it is easy to recognize how a strong mental and emotional state leads to the ultimate attainment of any goal.


Master these mental qualities.  Spend more time preparing and no time procrastinating.  Focus on determination and lean out wasteful actions.  Practice fortitude and be strong, never giving up on your objective.



©  Neal Huffman 2015 all rights reserved.

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Three critical aspects to forming your paralegal career


If you are considering embarking on a paralegal career, then there are numerous decisions to make which affect your career.  This article lays out but three of the areas which are common to all paralegals and for which your actions can have a significant influence on your career.  These pillars are: education, experience, and development.

Learning about the law and studying paralegalism is part one in your excursion into a paralegal career.  Education is generally available in three ways.  The first is a baccalaureate program in paralegal studies which yields a traditional four year degree.  The second is an associates program, generally a two year commitment, less time commitment than the traditional college degree.  And, the third is an accelerated program consisting of intensive immersion similar to a technical college.  A program of this nature may be completed in less than a year’s time.

Online or distance learning is being offered by some education providers.  The differentiator in paralegal schools is the coveted American Bar Association approval, known as, an ABA-approved program.  In order for a school to be able to provide a curriculum and program of study marketed as ABA-approved, it must meet requirements set by the ABA and continually achieve those specifications and standards to maintain the approval.  The current standards set by the ABA significantly limit online classes as the traditional classroom setting is preferred.  Carefully learn about these programs to determine which is fit for your educational needs.  Successful completion of a program earns the degree or paralegal certificate.

Newly minted, the next stage is experience.  While an externship or internship may help, an interesting phenomenon in a legal career is the catch 22 (paradox) of needing legal experience to snare a legal job, while most often the paralegal graduate has little, if any, legal experience.  This can be agonizing to a fresh job candidate, thus plan to overcome this paradox with strategic thinking.

While planning on school for this career, add the extra-curricular effort in obtaining experience.  One way to achieve some hands on experience is through volunteering.  The legal industry is replete with organizations, community outreach, and pro-bono services.  Volunteer for the clinics or events such as elder law, helping the homeless, and intake and advice clinics where lawyers provide free legal consultation to the public.  Explore temporary, entry level, and part-time jobs that a student can engage in on a limited and very entry basis.  Every bit counts in highlighting experience and keywords in your media and resume with which to then market for full time positions.

Entering the field upon obtaining a full time, career role may give cause to pause some of your efforts on education and experience.  After all, now your efforts are concentrated on practicing paralegal roles in law firms, corporations, and the public sector.  A career in the law, however, is saturated with development opportunities.

Governing paralegal organizations, such as National Association of Legal Assistants and National Federation of Paralegal Associations, provide certification tracks in further education.  Satisfying certain requirements like years of experience and other basics, a practicing paralegal can study for a certification and sit for an exam.  Passing these comprehensive exams will enable the organization to provide a designation such as Core Registered Paralegal and Certified Paralegal among others.  In addition, there are tracks for specialty areas of practice and Advanced Paralegal Certification.  Continuing Legal Education (“CLE”) are typically short one hour, half-day, or day long seminars on specific topics which attorneys are required to fulfill in their continuing practice of law.  Paralegals also take CLE and certifications require a certain amount of CLE credits to maintain the designation.  For the ambitious, a legal certification coupled with another certification, as in project management or e-discovery, can enhance your marketability.  There are many other educational opportunities, for example, obtaining a master degree.  Many paralegals have gone on at some point to law school and became lawyers.

In addition to CLE and certifications, most career relevant jobs have prospects for on the job development.  A management system or human resources program may offer and sometimes require development of employees in the workplace.  Depending on the availability, take advantage of all the opportunity available.  And, do not forget to volunteer.  Volunteering in the workspace for special projects, team leadership, or initiatives provides additional breadth to your career path.

Essential to career development is partnering with a mentor.  We all teach and learn from each other, yet a mentor is skilled or experienced in ways that give you the chance to seek more knowledge.  Attorneys are in the practice of law.  A very great deal of your on the job training comes from interacting with lawyers and legal teams that have more knowledge or the experience to feed to you as you develop.  Seek out instances where mentors can provide added guidance and expertise.  Mentors also provide priceless practice tips on things such as ethics, client relations, negotiation, strategy, and other capacities stemming from wisdom.

Thought of strategically, these three facets – education, experience, and development – provide the essential elements to a long, successful, and satisfying career in the legal field.  The more thought, effort, and repetition put into these actions will provide the bedrock necessary for these achievements.





© 2015 Neal Huffman all rights reserved



knowledge to learn

knowledge to learn

Three facets in the career of a paralegal

Have you ever been engaged in a conversation with someone and they ask, “What do you do”? And when you answer, “I’m a paralegal”, do other questions arise? Queries such as, “Do you have to go to court?” Perhaps, “How do you like being a paralegal?” Or, invariably, (and the interrogatory asked most often), “Why didn’t you become a lawyer?”

When answering, we may tend to resort to a list of typical paralegal skills such as interviewing, drafting documents, and legal research. While reflective of paralegal skills, these tasks fail to describe aspects of a paralegal career and the potential for advancement it holds. Because paralegals often perform, above elementary abilities, at an advanced level (“…customarily…performed by a lawyer…” according to the definition below), then our discussion warrants describing certain aspects of our calling.

“As defined by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, a Paralegal is a person, qualified through education, training or work experience to perform substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily, but not exclusively, performed by a lawyer. This person may be retained or employed by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency or other entity or may be authorized by administrative, statutory or court authority to perform this work. Substantive shall mean work requiring recognition, evaluation, organization, analysis, and communication of relevant facts and legal concepts.” (, NFPA Definition of Paralegal, 2010)

Then in terms of a career, three things about being a paralegal which transcend skill are the professional attributes, specialization possibilities, and life-long learning a paralegal enjoys in their vocation. These elements heighten the feeling of belonging in a meaningful, satisfying career path, as well as, exemplify a rewarding, challenging job that evolves accordingly.

First, a paralegal is a professional. Paralegals operate in an environment profoundly composed of learned professionals where decorum, morals, and ethics are premier. Moreover, professions are characterized by having specific, dedicated organizations, member involvement and governance, and criteria for maintaining current knowledge and practices. Ethics, licensing, and oversight also play major roles in professions. To succeed in a profession, a higher level of performance is essential.

Being professionals, paralegals come to their work with a sense of integrity and work ethic which requires studious efforts in consciousness – for being aware of and staying abreast of current knowledge, information, events, practices and standards of responsibility. As a professional, a paralegal strives to perform at the highest level, overachieving as it were, because the nature of the substantive legal work demands focus and intellectual prowess.

Second, a paralegal has the ability to specialize. Within the legal profession, a paralegal can branch out and explore many different specialty areas. The ABA has well over twenty sections listed on its website, (not all inclusive) suggesting most specialties (, ABA website, 2011). Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association similarly has several groups, sections, and committees broken out by area of law (, RMPA website, 2011).

Consider, moreover, emerging trends and developing law such as social media. Perhaps technology and intellectual property are the perfect intersection for a social media paralegal. Even within a specialty area, further strata may exist. Litigation, for example, might be further subdivided into complex, commercial, civil, and criminal.

Third, a paralegal must continue life-long learning whether for sharpness in his or her specialty area of expertise, learning new areas of law, or for maintaining certification credentials. Paralegals continue with education related to their specialty, ethics, or for the purpose of obtaining an advanced degree, or certification. Continuing Legal Education (“CLE”) credits may account for most paralegals’ education after earning their certification credentials. As in other occupations, paralegals increasingly seek learning as the primary means to stay competent and to advance. Currently, certification is the epitome for a paralegal absent any codified regulatory system under which attorneys practice.

The above are three facets in the career of a paralegal. Any time a question comes up about what being a paralegal is all about, it presents an opportunity to highlight the professional nature of a legal career, complete with advanced and specialized work in an atmosphere of continual learning and knowledge.

Now, the answers to the questions at the beginning:
“Do you have to go to court?”
“Sometimes, when I have to fight the occasional traffic ticket or risk higher insurance premiums.”
“How do you like being a paralegal?”
“I love it!” “The best part is knowing a lot, but being prohibited from giving advice.”
“Why didn’t you become a lawyer?”
“Why didn’t you?”

© 2010 Neal Huffman, CCCM, CRP. All Rights Reserved.