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PROFILE

Profile: Michele Boerder, Paralegal, Hughes Luce, LLP [by Regan Morris] A paralegal for 25 years, Michele Boerder was recently named one of the top paralegals in the country by legal author Carole Bruno. Law Crossing speaks to Ms. Boerder about her career and how she discovered the nascent paralegal profession.

lawyers,” she said. “This includes marshal-

As a high school student in Texas, Michele

paralegal with expertise in large-case and

Boerder wasn’t sure what she wanted to do

specialty litigation. She handles general busi-

ling the facts, maintaining the evidence, and

when she graduated. She was curious about

ness cases, civil tax controversy work and

bringing information to their attention that

the law and asked her church pastor for

tax litigation, white-collar criminal defense,

can assist them on a case.”

advice.

and domestic-relations matters, among other areas.

“I was interested in the law, but did not think I

Considering Boerder has moved with her attorneys through various firms over the last 19

wanted to be a lawyer,” she said. “While I was

She supports about 10 attorneys and credits

years, it’s clearly been a productive relation-

in high school, my church pastor referred me

much of her success to her many colleagues

ship.

to an attorney; and I went to talk with him.

and mentors. Law is a team practice, she

This lawyer had coincidentally, or by fate, just

stresses, and you have to both give and take.

received a bar magazine about this new thing called a paralegal.”

When working on a case, Boerder said it’s important to get the full story and to be pro-

“I give a lot of credit for my success to the

active while investigating a case. She urges

team I work with: lawyers who have mentored

young paralegals to be proactive within their

That was in Dallas in 1976. Boerder points

me, other attorneys and paralegals from

firms and within local and national profes-

out that the National Association of Legal As-

whom I continually learn, and the near-20-

sional associations.

sistants, or NALA, began operations in 1975;

year working relationships I have enjoyed,”

and the National Federation of Paralegal

she said.

Associations, or NFPA, started in 1974. So the

“I have always wanted to know the whole story,” she said, “not just be fed piece parts

“Additionally, I believe I have also given to the

to perform a selected task. I think I have

team my loyalty; professionalism; and contin-

demonstrated to my lawyers how necessary

Boerder was intrigued. She liked what the at-

ually looking for ways to assist my attorneys,

and productive this can be for them.”

torney told her about paralegals and the legal

not just in the specific work assignments, but

profession in general.

in providing them with information they may

In 1984, Boerder was asked to join a com-

not have even asked for.”

mittee on the local paralegal association in

career really was just “beginning.”

Dallas. She was later asked to fill a board

“I was very interested, so I began to investigate paralegal educational programs,” she

She sees her job as helping attorneys become

said. “El Centro College in Dallas had started

more effective, to often anticipate what a

an associate degree program only a couple of

case needs without being told. Ultimately, the

“I guess I fell on fertile ground, because this

years earlier. So I enrolled in 1977.”

client and the firm win in the end, she said.

involvement helped me blossom, learn tactics

Meanwhile, that same attorney who told her

With Hughes Luce since 1998, Boerder

about the profession hired her to work in his

started out in a small firm, but has worked at

firm. By the time she graduated from the

various larger firms throughout her career,

Over a period of seven years, she has served

program in 1979, she already had two years

including Davis, Loegering & Daniel, Jenkens

as president of the local association and then

of law firm experience under her belt.

& Gilchrist, and Johnson & Gibbs.

as president of the state association, now

She later returned to school and earned her

She said the paralegal/attorney relationship

Bachelor’s degree at the University of North

is “much like a nurse to a doctor.”

position.

that served well both in the organization and for on-the-job application,” she said.

known as the Paralegal Division, State Bar of

Texas. At Hughes Luce, Boerder is a senior litigation PAGE 1

Texas. “I learned skills and strategies in the parale-

“But my tools are information—gathering,

gal-organization environments that I continue

packaging, presenting of information for my

to use,” she said.


Profile: Michele Boerder, Paralegal, Hughes Luce, LLP