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Profile: De Dishman, paralegal, Schroeder Law Offices, Portland, OR, and NFPA Secretary and Director of Operations in Western water fight

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Profile: De Dishman, paralegal, Schroeder Law Offices, Portland, OR, and NFPA Secretary and Director of Operations in Western water fight Powered By Docstoc
					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.”




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Description: De Dishman is a paralegal of Schroeder Law Offices in Portland and NFPA Secretary and Director of Operations in Western water fight.
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