Aude Dupre de Boulois

I met Aude Dupre de Boulois through the National Capital Area Paralegal Association (NCAPA) in Washington, DC several years ago. I was able to meet up with her in the Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium to discuss being a paralegal in Belgium.

Aude is employed as a Paralegal Specialist with International Paper in their Brussels, Belgium location.

PRTW: What is a paralegal called in Belgium?
 A paralegal is called an Assistante Juridique or a Collaborateur Juridique.

PRTW: How does one become a paralegal in Belgium?
ADB: Becoming a paralegal is not as common in Belgium as in the United States. Paralegals in Belgium, and most of Europe for that matter, have a law degree. There are two different legal cultures in Europe and the United States as to how each area utilizes paralegals.

PRTW: Why did you choose the paralegal profession?
ADB: I enjoy everything about the legal profession and the law.

PRTW: What was your educational path?
I attended Georgetown University, and earned a Paralegal Certificate (with the Outstanding Scholar Award).

PRTW: What do you think will change in the paralegal profession in Belgium  in the next five years?
ADB: This is difficult to say, but in Belgium I feel there will be more attorneys working with paralegals. This is only a feeling I currently have based on what I have seen with attorneys in Belgium.

PRTW:What might someone be surprised to know about you?
ADB: I LOVE country music of all kinds - from old school country music to current country music!

PRTW: What do you find most challenging about being a paralegal?
ADB: Keeping track of my time! Working in a global community, keeping track of documents which are needed in each country. Even though in the end the documents we need are the same, the process to the obtain the documents varies. For instance, some countries require Apostille documentation, some do not. My desk is covered in critical post-it notes with details such as these for each country we work in. 

PRTW: What is the best book you have ever read?
There is no one book, but I LOVE crime novels, French historical novels, and books focusing on the forensics of the Middle Ages.

PRTW: Have you ever been published?
Yes, but it has nothing to do with legal work. It’s about the history of international relations between Great Britain and France - 
Revue D’Histoire Diplomatique.

PRTW: How do you deal with stressful situations?
I call my mother or go swimming. Both of these activities clear my head.

PRTW: Do you possess any certifications?
No, but if I was working in the United States, I would have obtained a certified paralegal designation.

PRTW: What skills should a paralegal learn today?
Languages. Working for a global corporation requires knowledge of many languages. I can walk into my office and hear French, English, German, Russian, Spanish, Dutch, and Farsi on a daily basis.

Training. Consistently focusing on training and learning new things. Attend conferences, if you can do so.

PRTW: What do you find most rewarding about being a paralegal?
ADB: Being entrusted with important work is rewarding. For instance, coordinating an audit for a European project was very exciting.

PRTW: Do you have a professional mentor?
Yes & no. My boss is very nice, and I am lucky to work with a great team. There is not one person that would be a mentor to me, but the team as a whole mentors one another.

PRTW: If you could change one thing about the paralegal profession what would it be, and why?
ADB: This is not only in the paralegal profession, but all professions. I wish I had an office where I could close the door! There are times when you need to really focus and need peace and quiet to do so. In an office which is comprised of cubicles or open floor plans, this can be quite difficult.

PRTW: Do you read any legal blogs? If so, what are they
I follow several legal pages on LinkedIn. Of course, I will read YOUR blog! ;)

PRTW: If you weren't a paralegal, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?
A cop! I would LOVE to be a cop!

PRTW: What is a “typical day” like in your shoes?
ADB: It starts with coffee! ☺ Then I basically check emails that arrived during the night, checking my keep an eye these documents list. And, it is a lot of following up on documents and people - you are a link in the chain - small, but important still, and many people rely on you.

PRTW: What advice would you give someone interested in choosing the paralegal profession?
The most important piece of advice I could give someone choosing the paralegal profession would be to be flexible. In a global company {or profession}, we have to deal with people in different countries, cultures, and time zones. From Russia to Mexico - cultural differences are everywhere, and culturally things are done a certain way. People need to be aware of this, and be willing to ask if they are unaware of a certain process. In a global environment, we need to be aware of the cultural diversity.

PRTW: Please name a highlight in your career.
ADB: Without hesitation, being at Georgetown University's paralegal studies program. I cannot stress enough how much of an impact this experience has had on both my professional and personal lives. I made friends while at Georgetown, and maintain these friendships over five years later.

PRTW: In the United States, paralegals have a variety of career options to specialize in, from patent law to elder law to technology law to criminal law. Do you have this option in Belgium?
Yes. Many people choose between in-house positions, positions with corporations, compliance positions, and ethics positions.

TW: What is your specialty?
 My specialty is corporate law.

PRTW: Why did you choose to work in corporate law?
ADB: I was not especially looking for a position within corporate law, but it happened to be perfect for me.

PRTW: Have you ever worked in other specialties? If so, what were they?
Yes. In Paris, I worked with antitrust issues, including a limited amount of arbitration and litigation.

PRTW: Do you believe paralegals employed in each of these sectors possess different skill sets? If so, what are they?
You basically have the same skill set, from being detail-oriented to writing. The jobs themselves are somewhat different based on the type of law. The law that is being applied in each job is the only thing that differs.

PRTW: In the United States there are rules about what a paralegal can and cannot do. For example, paralegals cannot do the following: 1) give legal advice, 2) set legal fees, or 3) appear in court on behalf of a client (in most instances). Are there any tasks paralegals are not allowed to perform based your country’s laws?
ADB: It is the same here for me. I constantly keep these rules in my mind.

PRTW: Does Belgium require continuing legal education for paralegals?
No, but depending on where you are employed, you have to do training (such as financial training, corporate database training, computer training, etc.).

PRTW: What resources does Belgium, Brussels, or your workplace provide to you in order to do your job? 
Training, books on corporate law, and access to local counsels.

Aude can be reached via LinkedIn.