Phyllis Tidwell: Paralegal for Vinson & Elkins, LLP, in Houston, TX

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LEGAL STAFF PROFILE                                                                               1. 800.973.1177

                             Phyllis Tidwell: Paralegal for Vinson & Elkins, LLP, in
                             Houston, TX
                             [By Charisse Dengler]
                             As a paralegal for Vinson & Elkins, LLP, Phyllis Tidwell is mainly responsible for managing complex litigation cases.
                             In addition, she serves on the firm’s pro bono advisory board, where she works with an attorney on cases from the area
                             Volunteer Lawyer Association, and she also coordinates and manages the firm’s Innocence Project work.

Tidwell, who has been a paralegal for 23             “I’ve worked with some of the best attorneys      was a very private person, and few people
years now, said she fell into the paralegal          in the business, and I have the best support      knew at that particular time,” she said. “He
profession by accident. Her first job after          staff,” she said. “I’ve worked on great           told me that I had to learn to balance my life-
college was with an international marine-            teams and some interesting cases. Equally         that I had to get the work done but that my
product company that she was put into                important to me, I’ve been able to work on        son should always be my first priority. I took
contact with by an employment agency.                some pro bono and community projects and          that advice to heart and applied it to the rest
During her time with the company, a                  been given an opportunity to give back to the     of my life. I worked whatever hours I needed
Middle Eastern oil platform exploded, and            community. My job has also given me the           to get the job done, but I can honestly say
a paralegal was sent out to get information          flexibility that I needed as a single parent.”    that I never missed my son’s extracurricular
about the types of products Tidwell’s                                                                  activities. I learned to manage my time both
company produced. Tidwell was assigned               Tidwell’s son, Philip, is 2 and is currently     professionally and personally. Sometimes
to assist the paralegal, and she was very            attending Texas Southern University. He is a      that meant sacrificing the huge raises and
interested in the type of work the paralegal         huge part of her life.                            bonuses because I didn’t have the highest
was doing.                                                                                             hours, but time spent with my son and
                                                     “He and I are very close, and I’ve had to         ensuring that he had stability in his life was
When her company began laying people off             learn to let go and let him grow,” she said.      more important to me.”
after the explosion, Tidwell went back to her        “Sometimes I think that he hasn’t heard me,
previous employment agency, which sent               and then he surprises me and responds to          Tidwell has bachelor’s and master’s degrees
her to Vinson & Elkins to interview for a            a situation [in a way] that shows me that he      in sociology, and she feels that her education
paralegal position. She recalled her interest        was listening after all.”                         helped prepare her for dealing with all types
in the type of work the paralegal she met had                                                          of people in all types of situations. It also
done, and after some encouragement from              Throughout the course of her career, Tidwell      helps her to control her stress levels and to
her cousin who had worked as a summer                has always put her son first, before her          maintain a professional and positive attitude
intern with Vinson & Elkins, she interviewed         professional responsibilities and goals, and      that reflects well on her firm.
for and accepted the position.                       she is extremely thankful for the attorney
                                                     who hired her and the compassion he has           “I’ve come to an understanding that my work
“Initially, I didn’t like the work because I         shown her and her son. During her first trial     reflects not only me but [also] the attorney
started out page checking, and I kept telling        at the firm, she was not only learning how        in charge and, ultimately, the firm,” she
myself that this wasn’t what I went to college       to prepare for court, but she was also going      said. “My pastor teaches, ‘Find out who’s
for,” she said. “In hindsight, I’m glad that is      through a divorce. The attorney was nothing       in charge, find out what they want you to
where I began my career because I gained             but understanding about her needs to bring        do, and then do it.’ I’ve applied that simple
insightful knowledge about the litigation            her son to the office or leave to go get him      principle to my life, especially at work.
process and, specifically, the discovery             from daycare, and she has never forgotten         Another principle is that I can’t control
process from the beginning through the end.”         the kindness he showed her.                       people or their reactions and responses to
                                                                                                       situations. The only thing that I can control
Some of Tidwell’s favorite parts of her              “After the trial and my evaluation, the           is myself and my reaction/response to people
job are the people, the flexibility, and the         attorney told me that he had no idea what I       and situations. My goal is always to give my
diversity of the assignments she gets to             was going through regarding my divorce and        best and provide the best work product that
work on.                                             subsequent problems after the divorce. I          will reflect well on the firm.”

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LEGAL STAFF PROFILE                                                                     1. 800.973.1177

Tidwell currently lives in Houston, TX. In     Neighborhood Centers, Inc.                     On the net
her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading
autobiographies and historical books, and      When asked if she had any advice for           State Bar of Texas
volunteering. In addition, she is a member     paralegal students, Tidwell said, “Ask
of Mt. Corinth Missionary Baptist Church,      questions, ask questions, ask questions.
a member of the Paralegal Division of the      [Have] patien ce with people. Control          TransAfrica Forum

State Bar of Texas, a committee member         your response and reaction to others and

of the Texas Friends of TransAfrica Forum,     situations. And lastly, we can’t all be Erin
                                                                                              Vinson & Elkins, LLP
and Ripley House Advisory Board Chair for      Brockovich.”


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Description: Phyllis Tidwell Is A Paralegal For Vinson & Elkins Where She Is Responsible For Managing Complex Cases. For The Firms Pro Bono Advisory Board Phyllis Tidwell Worked On Cases From The Area Volunteer Lawyer Association And Managed The Firms Innocence Project Work.
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