Lansing paralegal/legal assistant enjoys working in municipal law

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Jessica Garber's interest in the legal field was piqued early on, thanks to a favorite TV show, "Law and Order."

So after graduating from Beaver Local High School in Lisbon, Ohio, she jumped at the chance when an entry-level job opened up at a local law firm. After getting some legal experience under her belt, Garber headed to Kent State University to earn an associate's degree in accounting, a field that had interested her since her first accounting class in high school. Four years later, she earned a second associate's degree, in business administration, online through South University.

"I wanted a well-rounded combination of experience and education to better market myself professionally, and doing so helped propel me into bigger, better roles," she says.

After working as a legal assistant in Canfield, Ohio, Garber moved to the Lansing area, and joined Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes in Okemos, a firm that handles municipal law, corporate/business law, labor/employment law, and public utilities/energy law.

The firm represents more than 40 county drain commissioners and water resources commissioners across Michigan, and produces a quarterly newsletter for Drain Commissioners. The firm's municipal attorneys are frequent lecturers and speakers at municipal and drain law seminars and conferences.

"I support a team of attorneys who make up the firm's Drain Law group, who handles matters involving Drain Code Procedures, Boards of Determination, private drainage disputes and more," Garber notes.

In 2011, Garber joined NALS, an organization for legal professionals, where she was excited to learn about the certifications offered; and went on to earn her Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) certification two years later.

"I wanted to earn the certification because it demonstrates my thirst for professional improvement and holds me to a standard of continuing legal education," she says. "Not only has NALS provided me with fantastic opportunities for continuing my legal education, it has also allowed me to give back to the community through its community service events specifically, preparing and serving hot meals to those in need, and taking telephone pledges for Sparrow Hospital's Children's Miracle Network Telethon."

Garber currently serves as treasurer for the NALS of Lansing board.

"It's very enjoyable for me because it blends both the legal and accounting worlds while allowing me to learn more about the organization from an inside perspective," she says. "I'd recommend anyone working in the legal field to explore all that NALS has to offer the education, certification, and its social and community service opportunities are a superb means to professional growth and development."

Garber and her boyfriend, Todd, make their home in Lansing with their dog, Vada, and two cats, Chelsea and Loomis.

"I grew up in a very small town in Northeast Ohio where there are no traffic lights, no sidewalks and no Starbucks," Garber says.

"Moving to Lansing was a big change but certainly a welcome one. I'm never less than amazed at everything the Lansing area has to offer."

In her leisure time, Garber enjoys reading, photography, exercising, coloring for grown-ups, and watching football and is a big fan of the Cleveland Browns.

"Many people assume that being from Ohio, I'm also a big Ohio State Buckeyes fan, and a bitter rival," she says "But the truth is, I'm a Michigan State fan and never have liked the Buckeyes sorry, Ohio."

Published: Thu, Sep 10, 2015

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