Sarah H. Kaufman is the 2014 recipient of the Distinguished Paralegal Award.
She received the award Thursday night at the Grandover Resort & Conference Center in Greensboro in conjunction with the annual meeting of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Paralegal Division, which presents the award annually. Kaufman serves full time as a paralegal with Ellis & Winters in Cary and has also been an adjunct instructor in the paralegal program at Meredith College since the late 1980s.
The award was presented by last year’s recipient, Kaye Summers. Kaufman was nominated by yet another former recipient of the award, Teri Bowling. “In her over 25 years in formal paralegal education,” Bowling said, “Sarah has taught, mentored and molded hundreds of eager paralegal students and has had, and continues to have, a direct impact on their careers and their lives.“ Consider that for a moment. The opportunity to change someone's life is a daunting prospect, but over the years, that is exactly what Sarah has done, and what she continues to do, semester after semester, year after year.”
Teaching at Meredith is but one of Kaufman’s numerous contributions to the profession. “Sarah has distinguished herself as a sought-after speaker for CLE and CPE programs,” Bowling added. “Over the years, Sarah has presented numerous CPE sessions in NCBA Paralegal Division programs, including Paralegal Division Annual Meetings, NCBA Annual Meetings and NCCP Examination Review Courses.”
Kaufman has also served 14 years on the board of the Parkwood Volunteer Fire Department in Durham, where her husband, Rob, is a firefighter.
“How Sarah does it all, I will never know,” Bowling concluded.“
"What I do know is that Sarah has changed the paralegal profession in North Carolina and has changed the lives of her students, friends, and co-workers. The passion she brings to the professional, and the longevity with which she has brought it, is an inspiration to those of us whose lives she has touched.”
Kaufman was shocked when she heard her name called. “I was truly very humbled,” Kaufman said.“It was an honor to have my attorney nominate me, but to also be nominated by one of my peers, that was special.” Kaufman began her career as a paralegal in 1985 with Moore & Van Allen. In 2003 she joined Ellis & Winters, where she has works primarily for Jon Sasser, as well as Steven Feldman, Matt Sawchak, Jamie Weiss and Jeremy Falcone.
“It is always different,” Kaufman responded when asked what she liked most about her work. “I do litigation, and every case is different, even when the cases are similar, because of the personalities involved." "Every time I go in thinking this is how a case is going to go, and it goes in a completely different direction. I learn something new every time.”
Kaufman does not hesitate when asked what led her into become a paralegal. “Perry Mason,” she said. “I wanted to be Della Street. She was always the one who ran in at the last minute and saved the day. Actually I thought I would end up being a high school band director."
“I remember telling people in high school that I was going to major in music, which I did not do, and go to law school. It sounded great when I was 16. Law has always fascinated me.” In addition to Bowling, Kaufman expressed her gratitude to Camille Stell of Lawyers Mutual. “Camille has been my paralegal mentor since I was in paralegal school in 1985. She has been my sounding board and has helped me along the way. And I have had a great group of attorneys to work with over the past 29 years, here and at Moore & Van Allen.”
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