HUNTINGTON – Huddleston Bolen Paralegal Jill I. Francisco recently was recognized by the Legal Assistants/Paralegals of Southern West Virginia as the 2012 Paralegal of the Year at its eighth annual Seminar and Meeting for her outstanding commitment and contributions to the paralegal profession.

Francisco has been a paralegal in Huddleston Bolen's Litigation Department for 15 years and is very active in local and national associations within her profession.

"I've always been interested in the role the paralegal plays," Francisco said. "In high school, I took a general law elective and it got me interested in the profession."

Francisco said being awarded Paralegal of the Year was a huge honor.

"I had no idea," Francisco said. "I was sitting in the annual meeting and heard them reading the description of the award, but I never expected it and didn't realize it until a friend leaned over and said, 'Jill, that's you.'"

Francisco said she was flattered to receive the award.

"It means so much to me," she said. "This award is selected based on votes from your peers, so that means someone must've nominated me."

Luke Lafferre, a Huddleston Bolen partner who works closely with Francisco, said he was glad Francisco was receiving recognition for her hard work.

"Jill is a self-starter and a very hard worker," Lafferre said. "I've worked with her for as long as she's been at the firm and she has always been one to find out what needs to be done and then she does it."

Lafferre said before attorneys had their own legal assistants, there was a pool of legal assistants that worked with whichever attorney needed help.

"Jill was always in high demand," Lafferre said. "I was fortunate that I 'won' her out of the pool when we able to have our own legal assistants."

Francisco is highly involved with many organizations within her profession, but said she would not change any of it.

"If you have a job you love, it is only natural to want to participate in organizations that are part of that job," Francisco said. "I love being involved with these organizations because they keep me updated when there is something new or if there is new information to share."

Francisco was instrumental in LAPSWV's inception in 2004 and served as its charter president from 2004 until 2006. She also has served as the Chair of Nominations & Elections in 2009 and 2011, the Membership Committee from 2008 until 2010 and the Education Committee from 2008 until 2010.

Francisco has also served NALA in many capacities, including as a member of the Professional Development Committee, Affiliated Associations secretary, Affiliated Associations director and is currently serving as treasurer on its Board of Directors.

"I've always wanted to be involved," Francisco said. "It's a great way to help your profession and show your support."

Francisco also currently serves on the Advisory Board for Mountwest Community & Technical College, which she has done since 2005 and she is a member of the Marshall University Alumni Board of Directors.

Francisco, who is originally from Pennsylvania, received her Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Marshall University in 1994, where her concentration was in Legal Studies. In 2005 she completed the NALA Certified Legal Assistant examination and obtained the Advanced Certified Paralegal designation in 2006.

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