2012 grad works as litigation paralegal at Yost & Baill
Originally from Apple Valley, Minnesota, Berit Mann, 27, is a 2007 homeschool graduate. Her mom, who runs a large tutoring organization, served as her educator-in-chief. That approach worked wonders for Berit. She attended Normandale Community College for two years as a Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) student. She was involved in theatre at Normandale, including productions of Into the Woods and Crimes of the Heart.
“Normandale is also where I met my husband, Michael,” said Berit, adding that he works as a supervisor overseeing a number of Twin Cities group homes for people with disabilities.
She continued her education at Inver Hills Community College by enrolling in the Paralegal program. She graduated from Inver in 2012 with her A.S. in Paralegal and went on to earn a B.A. in Business Administration at Concordia University, St. Paul.
She interned as a paralegal at Tubman, which provides crisis and support services to women, children and families struggling with relationship violence, substance abuse and mental health throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul. She continues to volunteer regularly at Tubman.
“One of the causes I feel very strongly about is domestic violence,” Berit said. “I draft family law documents at legal clinics for pro se clients. I am always looking for new volunteer opportunities to help with this very important work. I love being involved in family law, which is my passion. I enjoy meeting a diverse group of people and families. The people I work with there are genuinely kind and helpful and go the extra mile whenever they can to help a client.”
- Develop graduates who are prepared to assume the general and ethical responsibilities of paralegals.
- Offer quality, practical coursework (traditionally or partly online) that includes a paralegal internship.
Berit works as a full-time litigation paralegal at the Minneapolis office of Yost & Baill, a Midwest-based law firm focused on the practice of subrogation. She rides the light-rail transit (LRT) to the firm and enjoys working downtown.
“I LOVE the people I work with at Yost & Baill,” she said. “My bosses are amazing. I would recommend looking for a good attorney to work for [Berit works for two at Yost & Baill]. Not only does it make work more fun, but you learn a lot.”
Berit’s main duties as a litigation paralegal include:
- Drafting documents
- Contacting clients with questions or follow-up
- Preparing for trial, specifically exhibits and exhibit books
- Filing/serving documents nationwide
- Attending court/arbitration/mediation as needed
“I spend a lot of time calculating damages,” she said. “So if you think being a paralegal will help you avoid math—like I did—this is not true. Math is a part of the job.”
“Being a paralegal is about case management. You create timelines and meet deadlines. As a paralegal, you are usually working on more than one case at a time—and that means keeping track of a lot of information.” — Berit Mann
Berit is currently earning her M.A in Family Social Sciences at Concordia. “I’ll be graduating in spring 2018 with my next goal to apply to the Family Social Sciences Ph.D. program at the University of Minnesota that summer for fall 2018.”
She would ultimately like to mediate for family law cases and work for the courts doing custody and parenting time evaluations. “I would like the opportunity to research divorce,” she said, “not as much the ‘why’ people get divorced, but the ‘how.’ In family law, I have seen a variety of divorces, and I would like to understand what it takes to amiably divorce and effectively co-parent.”
More about Berit…
What is the most important responsibility of a paralegal?
Setting tickles/reminders. Ultimately, you are in charge of keeping the case on track, which means reminding attorneys of deadlines, and never letting a deadline creep up on you unprepared. You should have any documents drafted well in advance of the deadline so your attorney has time to review and make changes before submitting to the court or opposing counsel. Many of the teachers at Inver really stressed this during the program, which was helpful.
What would you tell a student who is considering enrolling in the Paralegal program at Inver?
I would go for it if you’re cheerful and hardworking! Law can be a draining profession, as you constantly deal with people in crisis, whether from a divorce or a large fire in their home. You deal with emotional people, and have to be able to handle their questions and problems with cheerfulness and competence.
I’ve met with people who just lost their kids, their houses, and their jobs because of their legal problems. I’ve had to call someone the day after they lost their home and pet to a fire. It is hard to have those conversations, but I look at is as an opportunity to help. It is also important to stay professional; your job isn’t to be their therapist, but it is to listen and evaluate what your firm can do to improve their situation.
What do you consider your most important civic responsibility?
Lawyers have a duty to volunteer or do pro bono work throughout the year. I think this extends to paralegals informally. The legal system is hard to navigate, and some people simply can’t afford a lawyer. They need help, and we should be certain the help is available.
Why did you choose Inver Hills?
I had heard from a friend that the Paralegal program was awesome. She got a good job after graduation, so I decided it would be worth investing the time. I also nannied for a family from Sri Lanka. The father talked to me a lot about the political climate in Sri Lanka, and the international legal ramifications. I developed such an interest that he recommended I try a paralegal program or law school.
Why did you choose law as your career field?
I have always liked reading U.S. Supreme Court cases—they were part of my mom’s curriculum—so I decided maybe I would be interested. I visited the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., when I was 9 years old.
What has been your toughest challenge in life?
Paying for school. I understand a lot of people struggle with this. When I was just out of high school, I didn’t qualify for financial aid because my parents made too much money—however they couldn’t help me as they have five kids and other expenses. So I actually had to wait to go to college until I was 23 and could be listed as an “independent student” on the FAFSA.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Finishing my B.A. was a huge accomplishment for me. I had worked long and hard to achieve it. I worked full-time, paid for school as much as possible as I went, and also volunteered and planned a wedding in that time. Yet I happily graduated with a good GPA!
What person has influenced you the most in life?
My husband and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. They are both kind, compassionate and seek empirical evidence to inform their belief systems—very cool.
Three words that describe you as a paralegal professional:
ORGANIZED. CHEERFUL. ARTICULATE.
Berit resides in Bloomington with her husband, Michael, and their tabby cat, Gretchen. She is pregnant with baby number one; she’s due this coming May. Berit considers herself a neat freak and enjoys cleaning and organizing her home. She also enjoys seeing friends, walking in the winter and reading
“My husband is awesome,” Berit said. “He is incredibly supportive of my job and of me seeking further education. It is nice to have a partner who is encouraging and not threatened by my big goals!”
Berit Mann | 21 Answers
- Favorite season: Summer
- Favorite natural feature: I love rain—I get sad when winter comes and I know I won’t see rain for months! I think I may have been a tropical fish in a past life.
- Favorite sport or physical activity: Walking. I’m pregnant, so I can’t do much right now! I love walking around in the skyways downtown during the winter.
- Your national bird if you could have one: Ruby-throated hummingbird
- Place you would most like to visit: London. I was there in September, 2015, but I would love to go back. It was hard to take it all in!
- Favorite holiday: My birthday! That’s a national holiday, right?
- Your national mammal if you could have one: CATS. Cats are amazing, followed closely by rabbits.
- Favorite actor or actress: Patrick Stewart or Natalie Portman
- Favorite band or performing artist: I have to say Taylor Swift. I realize I sound like a teenager, but I like her music and think she’s a great role model.
- Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” Or: “Like items together.” The best tip I have ever heard to stay neat, tidy and organized.
- Coolest thing in the world: The court system and the way it checks and balances lawmakers in Washington. Truly, it is amazing and the system deserves our respect and admiration.
- Scariest thing in the world: Small spaces! I am so claustrophobic.
- Favorite all-time TV show: Star Trek: Voyager. However, if you’re interested in a good show about lawyers, I would recommend Damages with Glen Close. It actually does a great job explaining how the discovery process works!
- Favorite all-time movie: Star Trek Generations
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: I would really like a PhD. I would have a great education and be able to do a lot for the community. On top of that, my address labels would read “Doctor Mann.” That would be pretty cool!
- Most precious material possession: My engagement ring. I’m also really fond of some of the pictures my husband has painted for me. He’s very clever!
- First thing you would buy if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: First, I would go out to eat to celebrate and eat EVERYTHING. After that, I would probably buy a nice house in West Bloomington.
- Dream occupation: I would love to mediate family law cases. I would also enjoy working with the courts and private individuals to complete custody and parenting time evaluations for custody cases and divorces.
- Person you would most like to meet: Henry VIII. He’s a cool character from history, and he sure changed family law in Great Britain!
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: Communication in every form
- Humankind’s greatest challenge: To seek truth and facts through empirical evidence. Accepting one another’s differences (because we’re only going to get more different as time goes on!). To explore space.
For more information about the Paralegal program at Inver Hills, contact:
Paralegal Program Director