May Volunteer Spotlight

NALA Volunteer Spotlight
Deana Waters, ACP
May 2021

Deana M. Waters, M.Ed., ACP, understands the importance of education. Not only has she earned a plethora of degrees and professional accomplishments – including a B.A. in English and History from the University of Montana, an AAS in Legal Assisting from Missoula College (Missoula, Montana), both the CP and ACP credentials, and a Master of Education in Online Innovation and Design from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in 2020 – she turned her passion for knowledge into a career.

Deana is now the program coordinator and assistant professor of paralegal studies at the UAF Community and Technical College in Fairbanks, Alaska. Earning her master’s degree was a tremendous personal accomplishment.

“I was new to the world of academia and felt underqualified when working with other faculty holding doctorates with decades of research and publications,” Deana said. “Even though my work in the community college did not require an advanced degree, when I earned my masters, I felt like a ‘real’ professor who had the credentials to teach and advocate for vocational and workforce development students.”

Before becoming an educator, Deana spent 15 years as a paralegal, where she genuinely enjoyed working with her clients.

“It was rewarding to understand the client’s position and be able to tell them, ‘I’ve been there before, I know what you are going through, and you will be OK,’” she said. “I thoroughly enjoyed the investigation aspect as well. Nothing is better than finding the smoking gun post on the opposing party’s social media that results in a quick settlement for your client.”

Deana now shares her vast paralegal experience with her students. She gave the following advice to upcoming paralegals.

“Keep learning,” she said. “The law is a dynamic and ever-changing field. New law is created every day. New procedures develop. Technology evolves. Client problems change. Staying up-to-date in these areas demonstrates you are invested in this profession. Devote yourself to growing the paralegal profession.  Compared to lawyers, who have been around for millennia, our profession is in its infancy. We have grown from glorified secretaries to distinguished professionals in the last 50 years. What the next 50 years holds depends on you. Your actions guide our future. Be the best paralegal you can be.”

Deana has faithfully served NALA since 2010 in many capacities, including on the Continuing Education Council (including as Conference Committee chair), and as the elected Region 8 director in 2013. Her career change led her to help write CP test pool questions with other paralegals and educators, as well as serve on the Advanced Paralegal Certification board until it was decommissioned. Throughout this time, she reviewed ACP courses in Discovery, Trial Practice, and eDiscovery. She currently serves on the Continuing Education Council as an educator member, and on an ad hoc school relations committee to promote the CP Exam in education programs.

When she is not busy serving others, she enjoys spending time with her husband of 22 years, her two grown daughters, a very spoiled Chihuahua mix dog named Penny, and a laid back, semi-successful mouser cat named Baron Tarken von Livingstone Hunter.

She takes full advantage of streaming services, particularly with regards to foreign law and crime dramas, as well as historical dramas and BBC adaptations of classical literature. She also reads fiction voraciously.

“Any fantasy, science fiction, or mystery will do,” she added, “and it’s even better if it’s a free Kindle book.”

Despite her love of technological advances in media, Deana truly enjoys the simple pleasures of life.

“I grew up on a farm, and the joke in my family is that our favorite hobby is being frugal,” she said. “When my girls were little, I used to sew matching dresses for them. I won grand prize for sewing two years in a row at our local fair. I enjoy cooking, baking, and riding horses. When I can, I love to play cribbage and pinochle.”

She left her fellow NALA members with a challenge… “Who’s up for a card night at conference?”