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Marcia Meekins: Legislative Assistant, Rhumb Line, LLC, Richmond, VA

[By Judith Earley] Although Marcia Meekins entered college with her career goals focused on music education, these days, the law is music to her ears.

Currently, she works for government-affairs consulting firm Rhumb Line, LLC, in Richmond, VA, and functions primarily as the legislative assistant to the principals of the company and secondarily as a paralegal for a sole-proprietor criminal attorney. The environment is fast-paced, and it is important to be flexible, resourceful, and efficient, said Meekins. My day-to-day activities include legislative tracking and monitoring of regulatory developments that would be of interest to our clients. I conduct research and attend legislative hearings. I also schedule meetings, coordinate travel itineraries, and assist the principals with managing multiple projects. My paralegal duties require me to do research and communicate with lawyers, clerks, clients, and judges. I request and review records, organize client files, and conduct preliminary interviews. Along with her love of music, Meekins has always had an interest in law and legal research; she said that she enjoys conversing with friends about high-profile legal cases and the diligent research that paralegals conduct for attorneys. I was very interested in the research aspect of these cases because I knew the addition or omission of minute details could change the course of someones life, she said. My decision to become a paralegal was made solely to test the waters to see if I, literally, had the stamina for the research. She passed the test with flying colors. Meekins said that the aspect of her job that she enjoys the most is watching the legislative

process up close and personally. I listen as legislators discuss current bills and how each side of the aisle presents his or her position. I like the challenges of researching issues to support the position, said Meekins. On the flip side, the most difficult challenges she found were familiarizing herself with the legislative process and the Virginia General Assembly membership and understanding how clients interests may conflict with personal views. The emotional highlights of Meekins career are many. She returned to school while raising three children and taking care of a house with a supportive husband behind her. She graduated with honors, which involved being nominated to the American Whos Who Deans List, induction into the Golden Key National Honor Society, and graduating magna cum laude from the University of Richmond in 2005. The pice de rsistance was having her employer tell her that she had an impressive resume, in spite of the fact that she did not have the confidence to send it out for many months.

According to Meekins, some of the most important issues facing the legal community today are the equal application of the judicial process, educating the community about their legal rights, and increasing the number of minorities working in the legal field.

Over the course of her career as a paralegal, Meekins has noticed the cyclical nature of the legal field. A practice area that may be hot today may not be as hot tomorrow. The country has faced many challenges since 9/, and the legal system continues to make adjustments with each issue, said Meekins. Meekins joined the Richmond Paralegal Association (RPA) as a student member while attending the University of Richmond in order to become familiar with the legal community. I view the association as a very large support system to network, garner advice and

Q. What do you do for fun? A. I love to brainstorm ideas with my best friend and create clothes. Q. What CD was most recently in your CD player? A. Prince, Musicology. Q. What is the last magazine you read? A. Martha Stewart-Outdoor Entertaining. Q. What is your favorite TV show? A. House. Q. Who is your role model? A. My mother, Rosetta A. Baugh.

information about different practice niches, said Meekins. As a member of RPA, our monthly meetings allow guest speakers to discuss many types of legal fields, as well as provide us with recent updates and changes in legislation. The organization provides continuing education while forming CLA study groups, which allows for further certification. When asked how her education and life/work experience prepared her to be a paralegal, Meekins responded, My education taught me how to research. My determination, diligence, and dedication pushed me to go beyond what
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was required. In my research class, I assisted fellow students with their research projects, which helped perfect my research skills. My life/work experience prepared me to never omit small details and to know the importance of maintaining a sense of organization. Being a mother and former designer of childrens wear, I learned to adapt to changes on a daily basis. Meekins said that if she had her career to do over again, she would start sooner and attend law school. Who has significantly influenced her life and career? My mother! Meekins said. She is and always has been a very hardworking woman. She believes in fair and equal treatment of all people and demonstrated that when she participated in the March on Washington with Martin Luther King in 963. Her zest for life is unmatched. Her energy and support of others will make the best of us very weary. As for other influences in her life, Meekins said she prefers not to dwell on incidents she has experienced-positive or negative-that have to

do with race or ethnicity. I believe we all must embrace the diverse cultures of our country. Minority professionals-not just paralegals-from all fields generally experience the same types of issues that transcend race. Meekins advice for students who are preparing to become paralegals is to experience total immersion. Research the school and the course of study you wish to pursue. Subscribe to professional magazines and join a paralegal association. Read, read, read. Stay informed; be aware of local, national, and world events. Perfect your writing and proofreading skills. Set up an internship in your area to gain practical experience. Find a mentor. Meekins and her husband have been married for almost 24 years. They have three children, ages 22, 9, and , and three dogs. I love all kinds of music, with a fondness for classical. I began college some years ago in music education, majoring in clarinet with a minor in piano. I started sewing at an early age. This hobby led

me into business for myself while my children were still young enough for me to use them as models. In addition to sewing, I love to cook, garden, crochet, and create handmade cards and invitations. I enjoy planning theme parties. I love to decorate. I am creative in every aspect of my life. I enjoy reading (presently reading Words

That Work by Frank Luntz). I appreciate each day given to me and the colors, feel, sound, and smell of nature. I love to laugh and truly dislike wasting a good joke on someone without a sense of humor.
On The neT Rhumb Line Richmond Paralegal Association University of Richmond