We are able to offer an ease and continuity for our clients that I feel is unique to our working situation and our “shared brain.”
A Conversation On Life In The Law With Paralegal Tiffany Morris
As we continue to celebrate “National Paralegal Day (10/23),” in this week’s leadership profile, we’re in the Old Pueblo to talk with paralegal Tiffany Morris in our Tucson office!
You’re the right-hand person to attorney Marian LaLonde and an integral member of our Natural Resources practice group – tell us about your work and life in Tucson.
Marian and I have been working together, in some capacity, since 2007. I became her full time paralegal in 2017 and we work so closely together that the joke is that we share a brain. I moved to Sierra Vista during the pandemic and have been working remotely since then. Because of the physical distance, Marian and I spend a lot of time collaborating over Microsoft Teams, and it feels as if I am still in the office next door to her asking questions and talking through the wall. It’s quite rewarding to have such a close relationship with Marian, not only personally, but professionally and for the sake of our clients. We are able to offer an ease and continuity for our clients that I feel is unique to our working situation and our “shared brain.”
What would you tell your younger self, (especially a woman) currently contemplating a career in the legal profession as a paralegal?
I would say don’t be afraid of hard work, learning new skills and areas of law, or asking for help in your journey. I would also recommend surrounding yourself with allies and people that push you to get out of your comfort zone and grow both personally and professionally. I have been very fortunate to have Marian, and many others, supporting me from day one. I started in law as a receptionist and worked my way up to paralegal over the years. That would not have been possible without working hard, learning every skill and absorbing every single bit of information I possibly could, and having that unwavering support from those around me.
Without naming your clients, are there any intriguing current matters that you’re working on?
A huge portion of our work is on the development of solar facilities where we are handling the real estate aspects of the development. It doesn’t matter how many solar farms or battery storage facilities that we help with, there is always something unique about each project that presents a new challenge or helps evolve the way we approach the next project. It’s nice to see many of the same players from the title companies, clients, lenders, etc. that we work with on these projects, but it’s even better because every deal is different and we aren’t working on cookie cutter transactions.
Who is your hero – or the person who has had the greatest impact on your life and career?
Marian has truly had the biggest impact on my life and my career. Over the last 16 years, she has been a mentor, a friend, and an ally. Every time I get comfortable, or even complacent, she plucks me right out of that and pushes me to the next level. I truly would not be in the position that I am today if it weren’t for her guidance and nudges (or full body pushes!) to shake things up.
Talk about your biggest failure. What did you learn? And how did you pick up the pieces and move forward?
I think that my biggest failure is also my biggest success. I was a silly teenager and lost my college scholarship. Huge mistake, and definitely a failure in my eyes. I ended up changing schools and majors and got serious about my education. Ultimately, I graduated at the top of my class with honors. Had this “failure” not occurred, I never would have ended up taking a job as a receptionist in a law firm. What was supposed to be an easy job while in college, turned into a passion for law and finding myself in a great career that is only getting better as the years pass. My current favorite word is “pivot.” Whenever something is not going as planned – PIVOT! Which to me, just means to adjust my outlook, expectations and plan of attack. It’s not a failure, we’re just pivoting!
What is the best – and worst – piece of career advice that you’ve ever received?
The best piece of career advice I have received came in my early years from a fellow paralegal. It was at a time when I was considering going back to school and getting a paralegal certificate. Her advice was to just continue doing what I was doing and don’t worry about going to school; that I will learn more on the job in the real world than I ever will in school. Turns out that she was right. The worst piece of career advice I ever got was to work in family law. I learned a lot and made some very close friends in my three years as a family law paralegal, but I also came to realize that is not a fun or sustainable career option for me. I stick to real estate and business now.
What are you currently listening to (podcast or music); reading; and watching/streaming? And what’s your go-to take-out food order?
My go-to for music is generally country or rock music – of all eras. As for television, I am a huge true crime junky and cannot get enough 20/20, Dateline and documentaries. I actually recently found a channel that plays Dateline 24/7 and that’s all I have been watching for the past couple weeks. My fiancé makes fun of me for being so consumed with crime stories, but he also enjoys watching them with me. He is a criminal investigator, so we have some really great conversations about the legal and law enforcement sides of what we are watching. Honestly, living in a small town has its advantages and drawbacks. One of the drawbacks is that there aren’t many restaurants in general, but there are very few good restaurants. If we do take-out, it’s just pizza. Thankfully, I like to cook and try to make us a good meal every night. I’m no gourmet chef, but I like to think I’m a pretty good home cook.
You and your family and friends are hosting a lavish dinner party, Name the three people – from any time in human history – who you would invite.
This is a bit of a tough question for me. I know I’m supposed to rattle off some famous and influential people, but I really would just want to have one more night with both of my grandfathers and my older brother, all of whom have passed away. My brother was actually an executive chef, so I could see him preparing our lavish meal, and me helping and learning what I could from him in what little time we had.
Many thanks to Tiffany for her intriguing insights!
For more information about partnering with our Natural Resources practice group, please visit: https://www.fennemorelaw.com/services/practices/natural-resources-energy-and-environmental/
And for information about Paralegal careers here at Fennemore, please visit: https://www.fennemorelaw.com/careers/staff/#openings