Probate paralegal serves as secretary for chapter


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Karen Rubin-Fortier, a paralegal at The Law Offices of David L. Carrier in Grand Rapids, was in pre-law studies at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids before switching her major and earning her undergrad degree in psychology.

After a few years working at Wesco and at Biolife Plasma, she returned to school to earn an associate degree in paralegal studies from Baker College.

"We mostly only had two professors and they are both completely different, but really amazing professors," she says. "They both encouraged us all and helped us achieve what we went to Baker to achieve."

Rubin-Fortier enjoyed her internship at the prosecutor's office in Muskegon, where her work included researching case law and state law, listening to jail calls and visits to find information helpful to a case, and attending trials to learn the process of hearings.

"Everyone in the office is so personable and helpful," she says. "My supervisor gave me such a great recommendation and I think that's the reason I found a job so quickly."

In her current position, Rubin-Fortier is a probate and trust administration paralegal.

"This is a complicated way of saying my fellow paralegal, Stephanie, and I assist families in following through with their loved one's final wishes," she explains.

"I believe this is where I was always meant to be and I'm doing what I was always meant to do," she adds. "I'm really thankful to have found where I belong in life. I owe it to my family and friends who never gave up on me and always encouraged me to go back to school and get a second degree. I also owe a lot to my friend Kayla Ernst who went through Baker with me. We were both obtaining second degrees and if it hadn't been for her, I don't think I could have survived the last two years."

The psychology degree still proves useful in her line of work.

"People love talking to me about their lives especially when I first meet them," she says. "It helps me in my current position because I'm great at reassuring people."

A native of Fruitport near Muskegon, and a resident of Norton Shores, Rubin-Fortier enjoys working in Grand Rapids.

"It's a long drive, but I'm closer to friends who live in Grand Rapids and can meet up with them sometimes after work," she says.

A member of NALS, an organization for legal professionals, Rubin-Fortier currently serves as secretary on the Board of NALS of West Michigan.

"The greatest thing about NALS is the people," she says. "They are all so encouraging and friendly. I've made some amazing new friends and they are always there to lend a helping hand. I would recommend NALS membership because you make lifelong friends and you can make connections you wouldn't make anywhere else.

"I enjoy being on the board because I love helping to bring about good change, but still don't want to be the one in charge of the change."

Rubin-Fortier has enjoyed mentoring and tutoring since junior high.

"I love helping people understand things they didn't understand before I explained it to them," she says. "I've often heard people say they love seeing the moment when something clicks for someone. That is actually true."

A few years ago she mentored a boy at her local elementary school through the program Kids Hope USA.

"We read books together, played games, and just talked," she explains. "This boy had a difficult home life and moved around often, so I tried to give him some stability, until his family moved again."

In her leisure time, Rubin-Fortier enjoys spending time with her family, and having bonfires at her house with friends and family, including her parents, brother Kevin, sister-in-law Brittany, and nephew Zayden "who is the best part of my life," she says.

"I also love to travel, but don't get to often, so I read books about people who travel."

Published: Wed, Sep 02, 2015