June Volunteer Spotlight

NALA Volunteer Spotlight
Debby J. Sawyer, ACP
June 2021

Debby J. Sawyer, ACP, is no stranger to service. She has served on the NALA Board of Directors, as well as chaired and served on various NALA committees, over the past 14 years. She currently dedicates her time to NALA as one of the two At Large Directors.

After earning a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership & Management, as well as a Paralegal Certificate, Debby went on to win several awards, including a NALA Affiliates Award and the Founders Award from the Tidewater Paralegal Association. She is also the current president of the Tennessee Paralegal Association.

“I started out working as a legal secretary with no experience,” she said. “From there, I completed my education while working full time, moved up to being a paralegal, which then put me on the path to working for the Federal Court – specifically working for District Judge Aleta A. Trauger, which has been the highlight of my career.”

Everything fell into place for Debby. Now, she shares her own wisdom and advice with future paralegals.

“Being a paralegal should be a career and not just a job,” Debby said. “A job is work you perform to earn money to support your basic needs. A career is a long-term professional journey you may determine based on your passions. It is the path you embark upon to fulfill your professional goals and ambitions. It’s easy for us to stray from our career paths because our positions require so much from us and require us to wear many hats. Sometimes we can get burned out. But stay the course and never lose the passion for your career. Never stop learning, and always aim to enhance your skills and knowledge.”

She also stressed the importance of continued professional development.

“Professional development will be a key component to your career success,” Debby added. “It will expand your knowledge base, boost confidence and credibility, increase hireability, increase earning potential, keep you current on industry trends, and can open the door for future career changes.”

Outside of her accomplishments in the legal field, Debby is dedicated to her family, friends, and home state.

“I come from a very small town in rural west Tennessee,” she said. “Literally all of my family still lives there except for me. I became the city girl and have lived in various states over the past 30 years, but I am now back in my home state of Tennessee. I live downtown in the very vibrant city of Nashville. The city is so alive with people, music, and incredible restaurants. There is always something going on and something to do, and on any given day, you never know who or what you are going to see. My friends love to visit, and we have great adventures. It is also home to my Tennessee Titans!”

In her free time – besides catering to her very spoiled cat Romeo – she loves to read, especially books by Nora Roberts and Sandra Brown, and is a self-proclaimed shoe shopaholic. If she has the opportunity, she loves to take her shoes on the road.

“I love to travel and learn about different cultures. I would travel to a new place every week if I could. I especially love to travel with my friends, as we always have so much fun.”

When asked if she could meet anyone – past or present – she responded, “I would love to have met Jacqueline Kennedy. She has always been my role model. She captivated me with her intelligence, beauty, and elegance. She had a deep sense of devotion to her family and country, dedicated herself to raising her children, and to making the world a better place through art, literature, and a respect for history and public service. She was a true American icon. Her style was impossibly chic, her beauty immortal, and her poise and grace during all of the tragedies she endured will never be forgotten.”