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Profile: Susan Ippoliti, Litigation Paralegal, Harter, Secrest & Emery LLP, and National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) Vice President and Director of Membership [by Regan Morris] Network, network, network! LawCrossing talks with NFPA Vice President and Director of Membership Susan Ippoliti about the art of networking in the legal profession and the importance of ﬁnding a mentor. Susan Ippoliti says she gets bored easily. So
including construction, asbestos, personal
“I have two pieces of advice: the first is find
she gets involved--a lot.
injury, and medical malpractice, teaches
yourself a mentor, a mentor who is a senior
courses on leadership through the NFPA.
paralegal. Someone who can help you and
The litigation paralegal with Harter, Secrest
While she credits the organization with
guide you,” she said. She met her mentor
& Emery is the Vice President and Director
developing her leadership skills, she was a
through PAR, and then the woman mentioned
of Membership of the National Federation of
an opening at the law firm.
just eight years, Ms. Ippoliti has been on the
“I’ve always been this way. I’ve always been
“I think it’s a little intimidating at first, but
board of both local and national legal asso-
very active,” she said. “I sort of take the
then all of a sudden you realize you’re in a
ciations and advises people who want to get
bull by the horns and I run. I get bored very
really good place full of really good people
ahead: ‘join the club.’
quickly, so I like a constant challenge. I enjoy
that can offer you so much in terms of advice
and knowledge, and you really have to latch
Paralegal Associations. As a paralegal for
on to that,” she said of asking for a mentor.
Not just any club, but The National Federation of Paralegal Associations or a local
Ms. Ippoliti became a paralegal the old
“She actually said to me in passing one day
association. Part of Ms. Ippoliti’s current
fashioned way--through on-the-job training.
that there was an opening. She just dropped
NFPA role is to recruit new members to
While studying at St. John Fisher College in
a little carrot, you know, and dangled it and
the association, which she says is a perfect
Rochester, Ms. Ippoliti had a local internship
said ‘you know, you really ought to check this
haven to learn new skills and meet peers and
with the District Attorney’s office.
out.’ And so I did, and that’s how I made it here.”
possible mentors. “It was great,” she said. “I just wasn’t reThe day Ms. Ippoliti joined the Paralegal
ally sure that I wanted to be a lawyer, but I
Association of Rochester, or PAR, in 1999,
wanted to be in the profession.”
she became a member of the group’s board.
Before taking on a national role in an organization, Ms. Ippoliti notes it is important to consult your employer and make sure you
And now at just 29, Ms. Ippoliti holds a senior
When she graduated from college with a
leadership position on the NFPA.
bachelor’s degree in political science, Ms.
can count on their support.
Ippoliti answered an ad in the newspaper for
“It’s really been a whirlwind. I do travel more
“Networking is really a big part of this pro-
an entry-level clerical position in a law firm.
than I anticipated,” she said. “Before you do
fession. The day I became a member of the
It wasn’t her dream job, but she knew it was
something like this, you really do have to sit
Paralegal Association of Rochester, I became
the right profession. She started applying to
down and literally have a conversation with
a member of the board of directors. So it re-
law schools, but realized she didn’t want to
your employer and make sure they’re behind
ally happened overnight,” she said.
become an attorney. She was learning on the
you and will support you. In my position, you
job how to become a litigation paralegal, a
have to travel a bit more, because I have to
fast-paced area in which she excels.
go out and recruit people, and I get asked to
Through PAR, Ms. Ippoliti said she found out
visit various associations quite often.”
about her current job with Harter, Secrest & Emery, found a mentor, and learned crucial
Ms. Ippoliti has now been with Harter, Se-
crest for five years. She got that job through
Ms. Ippoliti’s other crucial piece of advice is
her mentor--something she feels every
to ask questions. Or as she puts it: “You re-
young professional should have.
ally have to know what you don’t know.”
Ms. Ippoliti, who has experience with plaintiff and defense litigation in various areas,
continued on back
“It’s something that I say a lot to people and they look at me and go ‘huh?’ But it’s really important to understand that it’s okay to not have all the knowledge early on. And even later on, there are some paralegals who are 25-year paralegals who are asking questions,” she said. “You have to remember that you’re acting on behalf of the client. You don’t want to find out when it’s all completed that it’s done incorrectly. You really have to know what you don’t know.”
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Published on Oct 3, 2012
Susan Ippoliti works as litigation paralegal at Harter, Secrest and Emery LLP, and National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) Vice...