Stephanie Salinas: Finding her niche as a paralegal

Published on: November 29, 2023
Headshot of Stephanie Salinas
Stephanie Salinas is the senior paralegal for the dangerous drugs and products practice at Ward Black Law in Greensboro.

As a young woman growing up in Stokesdale, North Carolina, Stephanie Salinas enjoyed helping people in need and serving as a voice for the underprivileged community. 

“I knew I wanted to work with people, either as a social worker or a police officer,” she said. “A paralegal fits between those two career choices, and I get to serve our community across the state and throughout the country.” 

Salinas is the senior paralegal for the dangerous drugs and products practice, including the Camp Lejeune toxic water litigation, at Ward Black Law in Greensboro.

Q. Tell a little bit about yourself.
A. I was born in Texas and moved to North Carolina in the late ’80s with my family. I attended Guilford Technical Community College and received my associate degree in paralegal technology in 2009 and my Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice with a community and justice studies minor from Guilford College in 2014.

I started my legal career as an intern for a law firm in Greensboro, handling traffic and criminal cases during summer 2008. I went full time after I graduated from Guilford Tech in 2009. I continued to work full time as a paralegal, and with the experience and skills I had gained over time, I was able to handle cases in a variety of areas over the years, including personal injury, Social Security disability, estates administration, immigration and workers’ compensation.

Q. What are your top career challenges and what are your greatest rewards?
A. As paralegals, we are the go-to, solve-it-with-grace people in the office. It’s challenging when we decline cases, as our hearts are set on serving everyone. Giving bad news to a potential client comes with a heaviness. But we do it with grace and compassion knowing that we did our part by listening and providing resources to someone who otherwise would not have been heard.

My greatest reward is listening to my clients’ stories, shared through laughter and tears. This is what makes a paralegal’s job much more meaningful. Being a paralegal is about connecting with a person and creating trust so that you can help the attorney build a case around the story that honors the client as a person. 

Q. What advice would you give a friend who may be interested in becoming a paralegal?
A. Being a paralegal is a rewarding career. It is fast-paced and at times stressful dealing with deadlines, but if you enjoy serving others and working on a team, then this is the career for you. It’s useful to find a mentor in the legal field who can answer questions about becoming a paralegal. Also, taking an internship before starting your paralegal career can give you enough experience to determine if becoming a paralegal is right for you.

Q. What is your favorite activity to de-stress?
A. I enjoy writing poetry, reading, going on nature walks, and listening to music.

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