Advice For Reaching A Leadership Position in Law Enforcement: Interview with Deputy Chief of Police Glenn Hoff

We had the great opportunity to speak with retired Deputy Chief Glenn Hoff from the Rochester Police Department in New York. Glenn is the founder of the law enforcement leadership website, Guardian Leadership, which provides an excellent resource for law enforcement professionals who are interested in career development and effective leadership skills.

1. Can you tell us how you got started in law enforcement and your career path to when you became a Deputy Chief of Police?

Deputy Chief of Police Glenn HoffMy start in law enforcement was almost accidental. It had not been an ambition of mine as I was growing up. After high school I went away to college and took a part-time job with campus security to make some money. I got to know some of the local police officers and security officers who were aspiring cops and they influenced me to take on law enforcement as a profession – which in the end became my avocation.

I began my career with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department as a part-time park Deputy. I graduated at the top of my academy class and was hired for the next full time road patrol class. I stayed with the Sheriff’s office for five years with assignments on the road patrol and CID warrant squad. I eventually transferred to the Rochester Police Department (RPD) because of better retirement benefits, promotional and specialized assignment opportunities. (more…)

Advice For Getting Your First Paralegal Job: An Interview with Lori Boris, President of the Minnesota Paralegal Association

We recently had the great opportunity to interview the president of the Minnesota Paralegal Association, Lori J. Boris, RP®, about what it is like to work as a paralegal and advice for individuals interested in starting a paralegal career. In the following interview President Boris shares excellent insights and advice on being successful in the paralegal field.

Minnesota Paralegal PresidentCan you tell us why you decided to become a paralegal and how you got started in your career?

I decided to become a paralegal in around 1995 when I realized that I had the capability to do a lot more substantive legal work than I was currently doing. I had been working as an LAA (f/k/a legal secretary) for about four years at that point. So I enrolled in an ABA-approved post-baccalaureate paralegal program here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area that enabled me to obtain my paralegal certificate in one year. After graduating, I was very fortunate to get a job within the firm where I worked as a paralegal in the labor and employment law department. That was in 1998, and I’ve been working as a litigation paralegal in various areas of law ever since.

Do law firms in Minnesota typically look for a specific college degree when hiring paralegals? Do you recommend any certifications? (more…)

Best Paralegal Career Advice

Paralegal Career Advice from 17 Leaders in the Paralegal Community

We asked leaders in the paralegal profession to share the best career advice that they have ever received. Here are their responses:

I have been thinking back on all of my years as a paralegal, over 15, and the best piece of advice I have received came early in my career when I was told to “speak up”. Meaning that if the attorney you are working for is incorrect in any aspects, from procedures to laws, speak up. Our duties are not only to assist attorneys, but to keep them on the right track. This is especially true when you are a veteran paralegal and you are working for a green attorney.
-Donna C. Alderman ACP, President of the Mississippi Paralegal Association

I would say by far the best advice I have received is take five minutes in the midst of a hectic day and remember that things are not always as stressful as they seem. Maintaining perspective is important. When we paralegals are in our “work bubble” it can seem as though we will never be able to come up for air.
-LawSchoolDreamer, author of the blog A Paralegal's Journey to Lawyerhood

Don't ever hide a mistake; the sooner you admit it the better; never make excuses, and take responsibility.
-Maryanne Ebner, First Vice President of The Philadelphia Association of Paralegals

The best career advice I could give is to go the extra mile when it comes to your education. Obtain a certification, earn a diploma or degree. There are so many options now and convenient ways to do it. Your education will benefit you throughout your career.
-Nikki L. Campos, owner of TruE-Paralegal and Treasurer of the Central Nebraska Legal Professionals.

Always be organized – even when the unexpected happens. Keeping your composure in difficult and stressful situations is beneficial to you, your attorney, and your client. Let people know that you can be professional in any situation by the way you represent yourself at all times. Don't gossip about attorneys, staff, or other paralegals. It makes you look bad. “What is told in the ear of a man is often heard 100 miles away.” ~Chinese Proverb Keep learning! Things change — keep up with technology! Keep up with software (even if it is just knowing what is out there and being used). And finally, get involved! If you are making a career of being a paralegal – get involved in a local association, a local bar association, or a national organization. By being involved you can help shape the paralegal profession in your community and it creates great networking opportunities.
-Barbara A. Miller, 2nd Vice President of the Smoky Mountain Paralegal Association

The best advice I received was probably to be assertive in making sure expectations of your attorneys are clear. As a new paralegal, I was intimidated at the thought of asking follow up questions after an assignment had been made and I'd gone back to my office and begun my work only to realize I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. Going right back to the attorney to clarify the instructions and expectations is the only thing to do to accomplish the task in a timely and efficient manner. The attorney will appreciate you for doing that rather than wasting time trying to figure out what he or she meant on your own and guessing wrong requiring work to be re-done.
-Tammie Pope, Board Member of the Palmetto Paralegal Association

The very best advice I received early on in my career was triple fold: 1) Own your files. From the very beginning get to know all the details of the case and build from there. 2) Dig in, dig deep and stay organized; and 3 (and what I think is the most important) keep the lines of communication open with your attorney.
-Vickie Baker, Board Member of the Palmetto Paralegal Association

I was told to find an area of the law that I enjoyed and stick with it. Do not try and be a jack of all trades and master of none. Find something, do it, get great at it.
-Shawn Hartman, Chair of Probates/Estate at the Massachusetts Paralegal Association

Learn everything you can and try different things.
-Mario Kiefer, President of the San Francisco Paralegal Association (more…)

Advice For Becoming A Gang Investigator: Interview with Gary Killam, President of the FGIA

We had the great privilege of talking with Gary Killam, President of the Florida Gang Investigators Association and experienced gang investigator from the state of Florida. President Killam shares his advice on how to improve your chances of becoming a gang investigator and great insights into what it is like to work in gang investigation.

Can you tell us how you got started in law enforcement and how you moved into a position as a gang investigator?

I have always wanted to be a police officer for as long as I can remember. I went to the academy and became an officer in 1980 and in 1986 I applied to criminal investigations as a general detective. While I was there working some of the cases we noticed there was a lot of gang activity. At the time in Broward County there was no talk of street gangs because we really didn't have them. So I started collecting data, tracking the gangs, documenting the gangs, and based on the activity we were seeing and some of the people I was interviewing, I realized that we were starting to have a gang problem that was growing in our city. So I approached my boss and presented the documentation and said “I think we have a problem brewing. What are your thoughts on it?”. My boss said “You're right, it looks like we have some issues brewing and I want you look into further”. So my responsibilities went from a general detective to a gang investigator at that time. As we continued to look into the problem, we realized the problem was bigger than we ever thought. The gangs had come into our area and were there to stay and the problem had evolved. Around 1990-91 we created what we called the multi-agency gang task force to bring all the agencies together so we could cross jurisdictional boundaries and work together to solve problems and that was an effective program that we started. Then the county partnered with Miami-Dade County, and that worked pretty well for us. So that's how I got started working in gangs. (more…)

Gang Investigation Career Information: Interview with Ron Hampton, President of the ECGIA

Ron Hampton, President of the East Coast Gang Investigator's Association, and experienced detective in gang investigation took some time out of his busy schedule to share some great insights into a career as a gang investigator.

How did you get started in gang investigation and what was your career path to your current position?

I began my career as a New Jersey State Trooper in 1994 as a general duty road Trooper assigned to what we call a 'Station' or 'Barracks.' I was basically a uniformed Trooper whose responsibilities included what would be consistent with any regular police officer assigned to a patrol function. The New Jersey State Police is also comprised of a number of specialized sections, bureaus and units which handle responsibilities related to criminal investigations, emergency management functions, SWAT, etc. In 2002, I submitted a request to transfer to our Street Gang Unit (as it was known at that time) as a detective. I was accepted into the assignment and began my 'new' career. My initial training consisted of general gang awareness and recognition courses, advanced gang courses, etc. I also was detailed to attend and observe instructors in my unit who taught general gang recognition courses to the general public in order to prepare myself for the same task. My unit also conducted operational criminal investigations focused solely on criminal street gangs and their members as well as the collection of intelligence on gangs.

How much experience do police officers generally need in order to work in gang investigations?

As you can tell from my own path, I had no prior experience in gangs before being selected to the unit. I did serve previous to my gang unit assignment in a narcotics unit where I worked under cover and also conducted surface investigations of individuals/organizations involved in the sale of illicit drugs. This experience was invaluable when it came to conducting operational 'gang' investigations. Learning about street gangs and their culture, lingo, etc. was the challenging part. I have seen members of our organization transfer in from our uniformed ranks and do very well with no prior experience. What separates the good from the bad in terms of gang investigations is dedication to learning and understanding the gangs and their culture. Any half decent detective can conduct an investigation on anything/anyone. But to truly understand gangs, you have to look past the easy arrest for possession of drugs or weapons and look at their culture, leadership and structure. (more…)

Advice For Aspiring Gang Investigators: Interview with Chuck Schoville, President of the AZGIA

We recently interviewed Chuck Schoville, President of the Arizona Gang Investigators Association and 26 year veteran police officer of the City of Tempe where he supervised the Tempe Police Department Gang Unit for about 15 years. He described typical requirements for becoming a gang investigator and advice for being successful in this field.

chuck schoville1. What is typically required for police officers who want to become a gang investigator?

Most Police Departments require officers to have at least three years experience as a patrol officer before seeking to be assigned to a specialized unit, including a gang unit which specializes in gang investigations. The early years of a police officer’s career is a very important time that police officers use to develop the necessary skills to succeed over a lengthy career.

2. What types of characteristics or skills do you think gang investigators should possess in order to be successful in this line of work?

Gang investigators need to be able to use sound reasoning and analytical skills to investigate gang related crimes. Investigating a gang crime has additional hurdles that a non gang related crime may not have, to include witnesses and victims that are reluctant to cooperate due to fear of the gangs. (more…)

Insights Into a Gang Investigator Career: Interview with Tim Hock, President of the OGIA

We recently interviewed Tim Hock, President of the Oklahoma Gang Investigators Association, about what it is like to work in a gang investigation unit, the challenges of reducing gang activity, and the skills needed to be a successful gang investigator.

How did you get started in gang investigation?

I got my start in early 1994 when the Oklahoma City Police Department decided they were tired of being reactive to the gang problem and became proactive by creating an aggressive gang unit to seek out these individuals and arrest them or at least ID them for future needs, thusly, creating a gang database that is still used today.

Can you describe your career path to your current position?

My career path was nothing special. I went to college on a football scholarship and became interested in law enforcement when I was home for the summers working at Sears catching shoplifters. I was hired I worked as a patrolman on graveyard shift for approximately 4.5 years and then went to a yearlong rotation in our narcotics unit buying drugs and executing search warrants. (more…)

Advice on How to Become a Successful Paralegal in Connecticut with Lynda Cmara

We had the great opportunity to interview Lynda Cmara, a paralegal at the law firm Johnson, Dowe, Brown & Barbarotta in Windsor, Connecticut and President of the New Haven County Association of Paralegals. Lynda shared career advice for new paralegals and the most important thing that she learned in college.

connecticut paralegal interviewWhy did you decide to become a paralegal?

I was working in real estate department of a major New England bank when I started looking into becoming a paralegal. It was during a time when banks were either failing or merging and I wanted a career path that would provide more stable employment opportunities. I was also considering relocation to Oregon and I thought being a paralegal would be a great choice. The skills possessed by a paralegal could be easily transferred no matter what part of the country I worked in.

Are there any specific education requirements for becoming a paralegal in the State of Connecticut?

Although Connecticut has no specific educational requirements at this time, most employers look for the following criteria: (more…)

Jason R. Collins Discusses the Role of the FBI Intelligence Analysts Association and Provides Intelligence Analyst Career Insights

Jason R. Collins is the National Spokesperson for the FBI Intelligence Analysts Association (FBI IAA) a private, non-profit professional association and is not part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or acting on the FBI's behalf.

The association seeks to represent and advance the professional interests of FBI Intelligence Analysts within the FBI and externally to appropriate stakeholders in the executive branch and the Congress.

Collins is a 9 year employee with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is currently the Senior FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst detailed to the National Counterterrorism Center and has served in a number of analytic positions, including Presidential Daily Briefer to both the Director of the FBI and Director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Can you let readers know the history and role of the FBI analyst?

The FBI has had analysts for a good part of its existence in many forms. These forms have constantly evolved to meet the changing demands of the FBI and the intelligence community. From the beginning of their existence, analysts have worked among and with FBI Special Agents to prevent crimes of all sorts including working against foreign intelligence activity and terrorism. (more…)

Advice on Becoming a Paralegal in Mississippi: Interview with Rachel Nesbit

We recently had the great privilege of discussing the paralegal profession with Rachel Nesbit, a paralegal at Heilman Law Group in Jackson, Mississippi and Vice President of the Mississippi Paralegal Association. In the following interview, Rachel shares valuable insights on what it is like to be a paralegal at a law firm and great career advice for new paralegals.

Mississippi Paralegal Interview1. Can you summarize for our audience what the main requirements are for becoming a paralegal in the state of Mississippi?

The requirements for becoming a paralegal in Mississippi can vary greatly depending on the type of work you will be doing. Larger firms and government positions may require formal educational training, while smaller firms may not be as stringent and would consider in-house training. The most common ways to become a paralegal are:

– BS Degree in Paralegal Studies from a 4-year college or university;
– AAS Degree in Paralegal Technology from a 2-year community college;
– Paralegal Certificate from a 4-year college or university for those who have a BS or BA Degree in another subject. The Certificate program is typically 30-hours of Paralegal classes; or
– In-house training. (more…)

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