Paralegal student gets career kick-start

As paralegal to a criminal defense attorney, Sunny Elmore finds each day brings its own set of welcome challenges.

sunny-elmore.jpg  Student Profile: Sunny Elmore, Certificate in Paralegal

“It’s my job to try to remain flexible and more importantly, to be extremely positive in whatever I need to do,” she said. “I bounce between discovery requests, calendaring, handling expenses, assisting in witness statements, drafting motions…everything.”

After graduating from UC San Diego in 2005 with a history degree, she sought to enter the legal field, though not as a lawyer. Five years later, she had earned a UC San Diego Extension Certificate in Paralegal, which “kick-started” her criminal law career.

“Besides what I learned, the biggest take-away was networking with the instructors and fellow students,” she said. “Through all the people I met there, that’s what got me to where I am now.”

Her first role was an internship in the offices of San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, which began a series of upward career moves. After a year, Elmore was hired as a case assistant by the prestigious firm of Higgs Fletcher & Mack.

Seven months later, she became a paralegal for Gary S. Barthel, largely dealing with complex issues in military law. Two years after that, in 2013, Barthel launched his own Vista-based firm, with Elmore as his first and only employee.

“I’m right where I want to be,” she said. “At this stage of my career, I feel very confident and proficient about my paralegal skills.”

After the rigors of running a busy law firm, Elmore enjoys relaxing with her 7-year-old daughter, Harmony. “I’ll ask her how her day went and then she’ll ask me,” she said. “As much as possible, I want her to know what I do and the importance of knowing the law.”

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