Throughout Brenda’s 40-year career as a paralegal and legal assistant, she has been committed to learning and building her knowledge of the legal profession to better serve the attorneys and clients with whom she works. This has included being an active member of NALS (formerly National Association of Legal Secretaries) for 39 years.
Brenda first joined Karnopp Petersen in 1997 when she was hired as a litigation legal assistant. She worked in this position until she was recruited to work as a litigation paralegal for the firm. Brenda spent over six years with Karnopp before leaving to pursue other endeavors in the legal field. In September 2018 we were excited to have Brenda return to Karnopp as our lead litigation paralegal. We are honored to have Brenda’s expertise at the firm, and we are pleased to congratulate her on her installation as President of NALS of Oregon.
Brenda’s dedication to the legal field and the NALS organization has earned her recognition among her peers as NALS of Oregon’s President. We recently asked Brenda some questions about her new position and her career involvement with the organization.
An Interview with Brenda Collette, Litigation Paralegal with Karnopp Petersen LLP and NALS of Oregon’s President
Why did you first join NALS?
I joined in 1982. About a year after graduating high school, I graduated from Merritt Davis Business College with a certification as a legal secretary. While this gave me a basic education including legal terminology, keyboarding, brief hand, full cycle bookkeeping, etc., it did not give me experience. There was so much more to learn, and I decided that it was logical to advance my career through networking with experienced individuals and the education offered by NALS.
NALS was originally called the National Association of Legal Secretaries and is a tri-level association with state and local chapters. The name was changed to the acronym as the legal community evolved and the titles of legal assistant and paralegal became the norm. When you become a member of NALS, you join all three levels of the organization. I am a member of NALS, NALS of Oregon, and NALS of the Mid-Willamette Valley (currently Treasurer), at present. Soon I will transfer my membership to Central Oregon Legal Professionals (the local area chapter).
What does being a member mean to you and how has it helped you in your career and work with KP?
My attitude has always been, “The more I know, the more valuable I become.” NALS has been the underpinning of my career by continually providing me with the skills and confidence to take the next step, and in fact, frequently providing the next step. Shortly after I joined NALS I took the Basic NALS Legal Secretary Course. The course augmented the basics I learned in business school and passing the course only stimulated my desire to learn more. Later, I studied for several months and passed the NALS Professional Legal Secretary certification exam. At that time the certification required a two-day, seven-part test including accounting, ethics, practical skills, etc. Soon after it became available, I studied and passed the NALS Professional Paralegal certification exam. The knowledge I’ve gained through 39 years of continuing education has given me a well-rounded knowledge of how a law office is run from reception to law firm administration. I feel I draw from this knowledge daily, and I owe much of this to NALS. As important as the knowledge I have gained, is the life-long friends I have made with other members and the ongoing recognition of my peers. My “NALS pals” have walked alongside me every step down the path of my career (and sometimes hold me up).
How are you chosen to be president of the chapter? Do members nominate and elect you?
To become president, you are required to be a member of the Executive Committee for two years immediately prior to nomination. You are then nominated and elected by a vote of the membership to the office of President-Elect. After a one-year term, the President-Elect is installed as President. Currently, I am the President-Elect of NALS of Oregon and will be installed at our Annual Meeting on May 22nd as President.
I am honored that my peers put their confidence in me to lead NALS of Oregon for the next year. My presidential theme is “Make the Membership Connection—Mission Possible.”
As president, how long is your term?
It is a one-year term.
As the broader Oregon chapter is the chapter you’ll be presiding over, how does the state chapter interact with regional chapters (i.e. Central Oregon NALS)?
The state association, NALS of Oregon (in existence over 50 years), offers continuing education, membership drives, mentoring, governance, and scholarships to all of its members. Each local chapter has a director who is a member of the NALS of Oregon Board of Directors and carries the vote of their chapter. Another benefit is the NALS of Oregon Scholarship Fund, Inc., which fundraises and awards scholarships to members and students several times a year.
How often do you meet and what are some of your initiatives?
Central Oregon Legal Professionals holds monthly meetings and also holds Lunch & Learn classes once a month. NALS of Oregon holds three meetings a year that include networking opportunities and continuing legal education.
NALS of Oregon will hold its 57th Annual Meeting and Educational Conference (virtually) May 21-22, 2021 during which time, Brenda will be installed as President. Additional information can be found at http://www.nalsor.org/.
NALS’ MISSION STATEMENT
NALS, Inc.® is dedicated to enhancing the competencies and contributions of members in the legal services profession. It accomplishes its mission and supports the public interest through:
-Continuing legal education and resource materials;
-Networking opportunities at the local, state, regional, and national levels;
-Commitment to a Code of Ethics and professional standards;
-and Professional certification programs and designations.
NALS’ CODE OF ETHICS
Members of NALS are bound by the objectives of this association and the standards of conduct required of the legal profession. Every member shall:
-Encourage respect for the law and the administration of justice;
-Observe rules governing privileged communications and confidential information;
-Promote and exemplify high standards of loyalty, cooperation, and courtesy;
-Perform all duties of the profession with integrity and competence; and
-Pursue a high order of professional attainment.