VIEWS: 9 PAGES: 2 CATEGORY: Employment POSTED ON: 10/4/2012
De Dishman is a paralegal of Schroeder Law Offices in Portland and NFPA Secretary and Director of Operations in Western water fight.
PROFILE 1. 800. 973.1177 Profile: De Dishman, paralegal, Schroeder Law Offices, Portland, OR, and NFPA Secretary and Director of Op- erations in Western water fight [by Regan Morris] While world attention focuses on various battles for oil, people have been ﬁghting over water for decades, and ﬁghts for water rights are likely to increase as demand for the precious commodity increases. LawCrossing speaks to De Dishman, a paralegal who works on water rights and acts as Secretary and Director of Operations for the National Federation of Paralegal Associa- tions. De Dishman is an accidental paralegal. The and water in particular. Ms. Dishman, who rights, you also have to learn about water Secretary and Director of Operations for the has been a paralegal for 18 years, also spe- storage, well construction…it’s just a whole National Federation of Paralegal Associa- cializes in commercial litigation, real estate, new area, and there’s a lot going on with tions had worked as a title officer for an creditor’s rights, and construction law. water. When you’re a rancher or Indian tribe, insurance company for 10 years when one of there’s never enough water.” her clients asked if she would work for him “I usually change jobs every four or five years as a paralegal. The client was a debt-collec- to learn a new area of law,” she said. “I pick Most of her clients are ranchers, and she is tion and foreclosure attorney. Ms. Dishman out the area of law that I want to learn and now working on water-rights cases in Oregon accepted the job and discovered a career she kind of have an idea of what law firm I want and Nevada. loved. to work with and which attorneys.” “We primarily represent ranchers, and we Her work as a title officer was relevant to She says working for four attorneys at Schro- also represent irrigation districts or water- the paralegal profession. She was an expert eder is much less stressful than working control districts and help them to form a in researching property-the chain of title, in a large firm. She joined Schroeder from district,” she said. “You know people have whether all loans on the property had been Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, which has been fighting over water for a hundred years. paid off. After researching a property, she about 150 attorneys, and prior to that she And in some areas, say Nevada, you have would write reports for the company’s at- worked for Stoel Rives, which is one of the different seasons of irrigation, and so people torneys advising if an individual needed to be biggest firms in the Northwestern United want to make sure that they get their water served and if there were liens and encum- States. when they’re supposed to.” brances attached to the property. The skills were useful to her paralegal career, and the “I actually enjoy both, but I’m really enjoying Ms. Dishman, a car buff who owns and has rest she learned on the job. this because it’s a little less stress filled not restored three 1967 Camaros, advises new working for 30 people in one day,” she said. paralegals looking for work to get a foot into Unlike many paralegals today, Ms. Dishman, a firm any way they can--even if it means 48, learned all her paralegal skills on the job. Ms. Dishman has been active in the Or- starting as an assistant. egon Paralegal Association throughout her “When I started out in this field, there really career, serving on the organization’s board “Usually if they’re hired without the parale- wasn’t the opportunity for paralegal educa- of directors and as a delegate to the NFPA gal certificate, they start out and they’re a tion that there is now,” she said. “I have conventions. She is also a board member receptionist or a project assistant for four or friends that came up the same way that are of the Portland, OR, chapter of Women in five years and then move up the ladder,” she about the same age, and we kind of feel like Construction. said. “It doesn’t hurt getting their foot in the we’ve pioneered the profession so that there door by not being a paralegal and to look at are paralegal programs and those opportuni- She said water law is something she con- different ways to get their foot in the door, ties now.” sidered for a long time and felt it would be a like being a project assistant at a large firm. good fit with her construction background. You learn an awful lot, and they’re usually Schroeder Law Offices is a small firm that willing to move you into a paralegal position specializes in water rights. Ms. Dishman “It was something new I wanted to learn,” after you’ve been there a couple years.” joined the firm in 2003 because she was in- she said. “In some ways it ties in with the terested in learning about environmental law construction because, aside from water And people with paralegal certificates but no PAGE 1 continued on back PROFILE 1.800. 973. 1177 on-the-job experience may want to take a secretarial job, she said. “It’s been my experience that larger law firms don’t necessarily hire paralegals straight out of school,” she said. “They usu- ally want somebody with a little experience under their belt. So that way if you can get your foot in the door and get that experi- ence, it’s usually the best way to do it.” And if you want to learn a new area of law, take some classes through NFPA and look for new jobs in that area. Ms. Dishman researched attorneys for whom she’d like to work months in advance of submitting her resume to particular firms. She would meet attorneys at professional seminars and networking events through the NFPA and the Oregon Paralegal Association. “And then I would determine from the pre- senters which attorney I would most likely want to go to work for,” she said. “And then when an opportunity would present itself, I would submit my resume. But it wouldn’t be like I’d decide today that I am going to do this tomorrow. I did my research over the course of a year to a year and a half.” Although she loves rebuilding her Camaros with her husband, Ms. Dishman said she never considered a career restoring cars. “I have one that I’ve had since I was 16, and I have two others that we’ve purchased over the years,” she said. “It’s really hard, and if you keep it as a hobby it’s fun, but if you do it as a career, it’s not so fun anymore. We just keep them and enjoy them.” PAGE 2
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