Barbara Galerno Spearman earned her paralegal certificate in 1995 and has been employed as a senior paralegal in civil litigation in the Greenville office of Collins & Lacy since 2008. She has twice been named Paralegal of the Year by the South Carolina Upstate Paralegal Association and currently serves as its president. A native of Florida, Spearman moved to South Carolina in 1977.
CPN: How long have you been a paralegal?
BGS: I have had the privilege of working with attorneys in a capacity typically understood to be a paralegal since the 1980s; however, I earned my certificate in paralegal studies in 1995.
CPN: What drew you into the career?
BGS: I believed the field would be interesting and challenging and provide the opportunity to offer meaningful assistance to people facing legal issues.
CPN: What paralegal organizations—national, state or local—are you member of and what positions do you hold in them?
BGS: I have been a member for many years, serving in several capacities, of the NALA-affiliated South Carolina Upstate Paralegal Association in Greenville and have recently been given the honor of serving as its president for 2012.
CPN: When you talk with other paralegals, what are the main concerns or issues they face on a daily basis?
BGS: Of great concern is staying up-to-date with current and changing rules of court and the challenge of avoiding what may be considered as unauthorized practice of law when speaking with prospective and current clients.
CPN: If you could name one thing that would most benefit the paralegal profession, what would it be?
BGS: Statewide certification or registration through the various bar associations, which would provide unmistakable recognition of our professionalism and contribution to our employers’ practice of law.
CPN: If you could snap your fingers and create the perfect CLE, what would it be and why?
BGS: Tough question. CLEs usually are general in nature so they can attract the largest attendance. That being said, I believe many lack not only substantive information, but also “practical” information and ideas for the day-to-day procedures paralegals need to do the job well. A CLE that offers practical, “how-to” wisdom for real-world issues (approach to complex case files, summarizing depositions/medical records, reading medical records, organizing hard copy and computer case files for ease of access, new trends and advice for utilizing computer programs and applications, etc.) would be helpful to everyone, from the novice to the seasoned professional.
CPN: Should registration or certification through the S.C. Bar be approved?
BGS: Most assuredly, yes!
CPN: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
BGS: When very young, I thought I would be a history teacher.
CPN: Knowing what you know now, if you weren’t a paralegal, what else would you want to do?
BGS: I love what I do; however, if this field had not opened up for me, I would have chosen something very different, perhaps working in meteorology or teaching history.
CPN: What do you wish you knew when you were getting started in the profession that you know now?
BGS: How very important it is to earn a national certification
CPN: What is the best thing about your job?
BGS: Besides being associated with some of the best paralegals in the profession and the extraordinary attorneys at Collins & Lacy in Greenville, I am privileged many times to have a great sense of accomplishment when, after much effort, a difficult case comes to a successful conclusion.
CPN: And what part of your job could you do without?
BGS: Although essential, the challenge of billing time is something I would be happy not to have to consider during my day.
CPN: What one thing, either personally or professionally, are you most proud of?
BGS: I am extremely proud of my children. They have become responsible, Christian adults who care deeply about the welfare of others.
CPN: Where would we find you on the weekends?
BGS: Spending as much time as possible with my wonderful husband, children, grandchildren and friends.