Pascalle Goddard

Pascalle Goddard and I met while she was attending George Washington University’s Paralegal Studies Program (GW). While at GW, she was Vice-President of the Paralegal Studies Association, and she became a proud member of the National Capital Area Paralegal Association (NCAPA). She is currently employed as a Paralegal at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Pascalle is an active member of NCAPA, co-chairing the inaugural Mentorship Committee, serving on the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Committee, and participating in various capacities on several other committees within NCAPA. She is also a member of the National Federation of Paralegals, Inc. (NFPA) and the Virginia Alliance of Paralegal Associations (VAPA).

She is also a volunteer member of the DC Chapter of The Red Pump Project. Pascalle has been volunteering with the organization since 2012. The Red Pump Project host events around the DC area that offer educational topics to help raise HIV/AIDS awareness, among women and girls.

PRTW: In the United States, there are many avenues for becoming a paralegal. Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a paralegal?
PG: My journey began right after I graduated high school, in 1995.  I was a “court runner” for a small firm in New York. I transitioned to being the legal secretary, and eventually a paralegal. I’ve been a paralegal ever since.

PRTW: Why did you choose the paralegal profession?
PG:
I was in the law program at James Madison High School, in Brooklyn, NY, and set a goal to become an attorney ... now, simply a dream deferred.


PRTW: Tell us about someone has influenced your decision to become a paralegal.
PG:
Aside from being a student in the law program and having that set my path in the legal field, my mother inspired me to “perfect” my role as a paralegal, as she did at the very same firm in New York. She instilled the work ethics I apply today.

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. What is your specialty, and why did you choose this specialty?
PG:
Civil law. I won’t say that I chose it; I think it’s just where I am for now, as I always believe there is always room for growth and opportunities to experience something new.

PRTW: What other specialties have you worked in?
PG:
I’ve worked in various fields…securities law, general litigation, trial litigation for a pharmaceutical defense firm, and as a paralegal in the insurance coverage field, none of which have left me questioning my role as a paralegal. They have all added to my knowledge and definitely reshaped and enhanced my career.


PRTW: Why did you change specialities?
PG: My career path changed due to shifts in the economy causing company downsizings, and simply for gaining experience in another field.

PRTW: What advice would you give someone interested in choosing the paralegal profession?
PG: My advice would be to be dedicated, be open to learning at all times, and network amongst other paralegals in different fields.


PRTW: What do you think will change in the paralegal profession in the United States the next five years?
PG: I think that technology and the use of technology would change immensely, as it already is…it’s already being used at trials for demonstrative purposes, cell phone videos/pictures are changing the face of evidence, and technology is already shaping the way documents are preserved. In five years, it will flourish into booming industry.

PRTW: What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
PG: I would tell my 18-year-old self to never back down from an opportunity because of complacency. When offered an opportunity at a new role, take charge and never doubt my ability to deliver.

PRTW: What might someone be surprised to know about you?
PG: At age nine in Trinidad, I performed a cultural dance, along with other classmates, for Queen Elizabeth, II.

PRTW: In the United States, paralegals can be employed in different sectors, such as private or public sectors. What sector are you currently employed in?
PG:
I am currently employed in the private sector.

PRTW: Do you believe paralegals employed in each of these sectors possess different skill sets? If so, what are they?
PG:
I absolutely do believe that paralegals develop different skill sets –both private and public – as there are some roles as a paralegal differ from firm to firm, or agency to agency. However, they’re all skills that are transferrable to any job description.

PRTW: What do you find most challenging about being a paralegal?
PG:
Being able to have a proper work-life balance. Some cases demand more of your time than others, and if you’re a “traveling paralegal” – as I call trial paralegals, you most times have very long hours that tend to take away from your personal time with family/friends.


PRTW: How do continue to do your best work in light of these challenges?
PG:
As a single mom, I’ve had to set a balance between spending 14 hours at work, and being at football game, or a teacher’s meeting at my son’s school, and simply finding down time to spend with friends. However, I have always managed to set a priority on certain matters, and seek coverage for the ones that I can’t attend (both career and personal). It can be overwhelming, but it can be managed.

PRTW: Name a highlight in your career.
PG:
Graduating, in 2013, from The George Washington University Paralegal Program, with my Master’s degree in Paralegal Studies is the highlight of my career. Many would say that you don’t need a degree to be a paralegal, but I believe that when you’re passionate about your work, you will go to the highest to validate your contribution to the field. The GW Paralegal Program offered me that opportunity.

PRTW: What is the best book you have ever read and why
PG:
As an avid reader this is a tough question to answer. But I will say that Maya Angelou’s “The Heart of a Woman” will be my favorite book. Her autobiography of being a single mother with a burning determination to succeed in all that she desired to do. It showed me that life would always have obstacles and disappointments, but giving up is never an option.


PRTW: Have you ever been published? If so, where can we find it?
PG:
I’ve self-published two poetry books in 2008 - Collections of a See Through Soul) and 2009 – Bardvillian Symphonies (both are no longer in print). I have drafts of two novels that I hope to put out one day. I’ve written for an e-magazine, out of Trinidad, called “Outlish” (no longer in print).


PRTW: What was your educational path?
PG: High school, undergrad, graduate school…hopefully law school.

PRTW: How do you deal with stressful situations?
PG: Being a career paralegal can be stressful, however I always make sure to make time for myself to not focus on work, be it reading, playing solitaire, or simply relaxing at home watching TV.

PRTW: Do you possess any certifications?
PG: I have my Master’s degree, but I am currently studying for the PACE® Exam.

PRTW: What do you find most rewarding about being a paralegal?
PG:
The most rewarding part of being a paralegal is knowing that you’re assisting an attorney with a matter that can one day set a precedent in the law of a great land.

PRTW: Do you have a professional mentor?
PG:
I don’t have a specific mentor, but if I were to choose one without them knowing, it would be my past professor at GW, Ms. Tara Eberhart. Her passion and commitment to the paralegal profession is inspiring and a wonderful blueprint to follow.

PRTW: Why do you feel mentors are important to your success as a legal professional?
PG:
Mentors are important as they help guide you to be the best you can be. You hold each other accountable for growth and remaining professional at all times.


PRTW: If you could change one thing about the paralegal profession what would it be, and why?
PG:
I would definitely change the stigma that you do not need a degree to be a paralegal. I’ve heard and read that statement many times and believe that it is harmful. I believe that when someone decides to make a career out of their passion, obtaining a degree is definitely defining. Holding a degree in paralegal studies not only defines your career path, but also shows employers in the legal field that you are serious about your career, and that you aim to provide them with the best knowledge possible, which is a major benefit to them.


PRTW: If you weren't a paralegal, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?
PG:
If I weren’t a paralegal, I’d probably be a school guidance counselor…as I have my degree Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and I love children. If I had the opportunity to help guide them on a positive path into their future, I’d be proud.

PRTW: What is a “typical day” like in your shoes?
PG:
Without being overly specific, a typical work day will consist of reviewing emails, prioritizing and completing tasks based on deadlines, communicating with attorneys and other team members to complete assigned tasks. When the work day ends I morph into my main role as a mom to my son.

PRTW: Does the Washington, DC metro area or your employer require continuing legal education for paralegals?
PG:
It’s not a mandatory requirement. However, my employer encourages and supports attending CLE’s to enhance career growth.

PRTW: Who inspires you?
PG:
My grandparents and my son are my inspirations. When you have a purpose to succeed, it makes the journey worthwhile, and they provide me with the purpose to keep on achieving my goals.

PRTW: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
PG:
“Listen more, talk less. When you listen, you hear all the things that will offer you the opportunity to give the best response”… my grandfather.


Pascalle can be reached via email at pascalle.goddard@gmail.com.