IndyBar: Talking Points with the Top Paralegal

IndyBar recently recognized Cheryl Keene as the 2016 Paralegal of the Year. The award is given to an outstanding paralegal in the Indianapolis community, and Keene exemplifies the passion, dedication, and service worthy of this recognition.

Keene will be recognized along with the outstanding work of the many dedicated paralegals in our legal community at the 2016 Paralegal Appreciation Luncheon on June 2 at the Conrad Indianapolis. Register to attend the luncheon at

Take the time to get to know a little more about Keene by reading our interview below, and learn how she has the drive to serve as both a successful paralegal and a registered nurse.

What is the best part about your job?

I have been very lucky throughout my career to work with attorneys who are very knowledgeable, but who also value my opinion. In addition to working with great attorneys, I get to be part of a team that advocates for people who have been seriously affected by medical malpractice. 

How do you manage being both a nurse and a paralegal?

Having a nursing background is very beneficial when working in the area of medical malpractice, with both the medical knowledge and the attention to detail that are necessary components of nursing. It gives me deeper insight into the medical aspects of the cases.

What are some of the things you’ve experienced that have impacted your career the most?

Moving from doing defense work for many years to doing plaintiff’s work was a big change. The case load and number of trials soared, but having worked in both areas of law has provided me with a better overall vision and understanding of differing points of view. Hopefully, that translates into better assisting the attorneys.

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice starting out, what would it be?

Take some computer classes along with the paralegal classes. Luckily, my firm sent me to classes and spreadsheets are now my friends in keeping track of the status of hundreds of clients.

How has your commitment to community service played into your career?

The IndyBar Paralegal Committee has made it easy – I get to combine a favorite hobby with helping kids by crocheting stuffed animals for the Teddy Bear Challenge and hopefully make a difficult time a little easier for local children.

In your opinion, what makes a paralegal great at what they do?

Adaptability. In whatever area of law a paralegal may work, there are always challenges in getting a project done in a timely and efficient manner. Being able to adapt to the situation and change as needed is an important part of making a paralegal greatat what they do.

What are some of the most important traits for a paralegal to have to be successful and why?

Some of the most important traits are efficiency, organization, attention to detail and multitasking. When dealing with hundreds of cases at a time, it is important to be organized, to know the status of the cases and to be able to give the attorneys any status information they may need. •

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