Paralegal grad works in legal department at The Toro Company
Located in Bloomington, Minnesota, The Toro Company corporate headquarters is home to a legal department with 12 attorneys, seven paralegals, two administrative assistants and two law clerks. The department oversees an abundance of significant issues, including intellectual property, international businesses, domestic subsidiaries, litigation, governance and compliance, regulatory matters, employment matters (the company has more than 6,000 employees worldwide), liability, real estate and contracts.
Debra Schommer, 62, a graduate of the Paralegal program at Inver Hills Community College, serves as the senior executive assistant to the vice president, secretary and general counsel—the attorney who heads The Toro Company legal department. Debra’s role centers on the company’s board of directors, which meets six times a year. She handles logistics and planning related to the meetings. She works on pre-reads and presentations for board members and makes sure the meetings run smoothly.
“Last year the board met in Sarasota, Florida,” Debra said. “This year the meeting will be held in Riverside, California.”
More about Debra…
A 1973 graduate of John Marshall High School in Rochester, Debra went on to earn her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Christian Education with a minor in Secretarial from Crown College, a private Christian college in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota. She was working as a secretary at a Twin Cities law firm when she decided to go back to college.
“The idea of becoming a paralegal had been brewing for some time,” she said. “The reason I took the job at a law firm was to learn more about the legal profession. I found the work intriguing and I enjoyed how I could use my organizational skills.”
Debra chose Inver Hills because the campus is close to her home in Eagan, Minnesota. The Paralegal program offered evening courses, which meant she could work part-time and take care of her family while going to school.
Three words that describe you as a person:
HARDWORKING. LOYAL. KIND.
Debra resides in Eagan with Jerry Schommer, her husband for nearly four decades. Jerry was a pastor for 33 years before taking on a denominational role as director of church planting partnerships. He has traveled to India and Nepal to help people start churches in their communities—often in their own homes.
Debra and Jerry have three children. Jason, 33, is married with three children, two boys and a girl. He works for Target as an HR professional. Jessica, 30, is married with one child, a boy, and she’s expecting another with her due date in January 2018. She works as a guidance counselor for an alternative high school in Roseville, Minnesota. Jennifer, 28, is also married. She works as a software developer for a Minneapolis company.
In her free time, Debra loves to travel with her husband. When she’s home, she likes to read, walk, bike, do crafts with her grandchildren, and have coffee with friends.
More about The Toro Company…
The Toro Company (NYSE: TTC) is a leading worldwide provider of innovative solutions for the outdoor environment including turf, snow and ground engaging equipment, and irrigation and outdoor lighting solutions. With sales of $2.4 billion in fiscal 2016, Toro’s global presence extends to more than 90 countries. Through constant innovation and caring relationships built on trust and integrity, Toro and its family of brands have built a legacy of excellence by helping customers care for golf courses, landscapes, sports fields, public green spaces, commercial and residential properties and agricultural fields. For more information, visit The Toro Company.
— Courtesy of The Toro Company website
Debra Schommer Q & A
What is the most daunting aspect of the legal profession?
I can think of two. One, the vast amount of information on cases, laws and regulations. I know we’ve got legal research services like Westlaw, but that much information can be daunting. Two, product liability. We are always seeking to mitigate, not litigate.
What is the most rewarding aspect of the legal profession?
Coming to a good conclusion. It’s nice to be proven right, but more importantly we work to solve a situation and resolve a conflict.
What advice would you give paralegal students?
Join the Minnesota Paralegal Association. The MPA is for working paralegals, but they encourage students to join. You can learn so much about the field and network with other paralegals. I wish I would have joined when I was a student. (To learn more about joining the MPA, visit Membership.)
Person who has influenced your life the most:
Jesus Christ through his examples, teachings and instructions.
Greatest challenge so far:
At the age of 47, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was also in the middle of my paralegal internship. The doctors threw the book at me—surgery, chemo and even a clinical trial for a year. My treatment lasted 18 months and it was a scary time. I made it through, but what’s amazing is how much support I received from my family, friends and church. Everyone needs that, but doesn’t always get it. I’m so thankful.
Greatest achievement so far:
I’ve been happily married for 38 years and I’ve raised three kids to be good citizens.
More about the Paralegal program…
Approved by the American Bar Association since 1978, the Paralegal program at Inver Hills offers a highly challenging curriculum designed for new, career-changing and diverse students. The program is well respected in the legal community and provides in-depth training in law and legal procedures with a practical internship experience in a legal environment. You can earn an associate of science (A.S.) degree or your Post-Graduate Paralegal certificate. Note: Paralegals and graduates of the Inver Hills Paralegal program do not practice law or give legal advice unless permitted by law.
If you are interested in work as a paralegal or in legal studies, litigation, contracts, business organizations, real estate, probate or would like to go on to law school, this program is made to order for you.
To learn more, visit About the Program.
Debra Schommer | 21 Answers
- Favorite season: Fall
- Favorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Coral reef off the island of Cozumel in the Caribbean Sea
- Favorite sport or physical activity: Hiking
- Your national bird if you could have one: Bald eagle
- Place you would most like to visit: Thailand
- Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving
- Your national mammal if you could have one: Golden retriever
- Favorite actor or actress: Steve Martin
- Favorite band or performing artist: Carrie Underwood
- Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Those who leave everything in God’s hand will eventually see God’s hand in everything.”
- Coolest thing in the world: The Seven Wonders of the World
- Scariest thing in the world: Terrorism
- Favorite all-time TV show: Home Improvement
- Favorite all-time movie: Elf
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: All my dreams have come true.
- Most precious material possession: Family jewelry
- First thing you would buy if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: Tickets for my whole family to take a once-in-a-lifetime vacation together
- Dream occupation: Professional organizer
- Person you would most like to meet: Mother Teresa
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: Snorkeling and scuba diving
- Humankind’s greatest challenge: Forgiveness
For more information about the Paralegal program at Inver Hills, contact:
Paralegal Program Director and Faculty