Alumni Spotlight: Christina Hough, Litigation Paralegal & Notary Public at Murchison & Cumming, LLP

A Family Legacy

San Diego native, Christina Hough, is second in her family to graduate from USD’s Paralegal Program. Following her mother’s footsteps, Christina completed the evening program with honors in May 2014.

[My mother] was always very proud of the work she did in the field. After working in the field myself, I can say that I greatly enjoy the work and take pride in a job well done.

Christina started her education at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, majoring in General Health Sciences, but after obtaining a position as a research assistant for a pre-litigation notice company, she made the switch to law. Christina became the company’s administrator and worked as a legal secretary for the principal’s law firm, specializing in plaintiffs’ construction defect litigation, defense of subcontractors in contract dispute, and mechanic’s lien claims. Christina then moved on to become a litigation secretary at Fredrickson Mazeika & Grant, LLP. It was while working there that she decided to pursue USD’s certificate program. Upon completion, Christina was promoted to Senior Litigation Paralegal and began billing as a paralegal.

“I worked at that firm for nearly 10 years, three and half as a paralegal. It was an amazing journey and learning experience. I built rapport with several attorneys and legal staff, and fostered many professional relationships that continue to this day.”

Christina now provides general litigation support for all of the California offices of Murchison & Cumming, LLP, a firm specialized in defense of various entities and individuals in construction defect, personal injury, premises liability, and related claims. Additionally, she prepares and tracks tenders for two large insurance clients in approximately 150 defense matters throughout the state.

“There is no such thing as a typical day. I do start and end the day by checking my emails for new assignments and urgent requests. However, I do something different every single day. Today, for example, I am summarizing approximately 500 pages of documents produced as a supplement to a plaintiff’s responses to another defendant’s request for production of documents.”

In her personal life, Christina enjoys collecting music memorabilia and attending live concerts, though the frequency has diminished, as her plate is full with two young children, a husband, and full-time work and school. Christina is currently pursuing a bachelor’s in Public Administration from Southern New Hampshire University and hopes to continue on to law school and one day become a trial lawyer or corporate counsel.

“I have always been interested in the law, law enforcement, and forensics. Initially, I was interested in becoming a pediatrician, forensic pathologist, or attorney.”

Christina’s greatest challenge is keeping all her commitments balanced, but she always keeps the end goal in mind.

I often struggle to keep a work-life balance. However, I remind myself and my family that school is temporary but where it leads me is permanent.

In addition to work, school, and family, Christina volunteers as an on-call Notary Public for the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program and occasionally participates in their HIV/AIDS Clinic. She also provides graphic design services to various non-profit organizations.

While at USD, Christina’s favorite classes were Fundamental Legal Studies, I and II, with Matthew Poelstra and Scott Pirrello.

It was easily apparent that they both took their positions very seriously, enjoyed what they did as attorneys (and as Program instructors), and stressed the importance of ethics, meeting deadlines, and providing the most thorough research and work product necessary to provide the best representation to their respective clients.

Her favorite place on campus was the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice.

“Not only is the building beautiful but the interior decor is lovely and you are bound to learn something new walking through the halls with the beautiful photographs, artwork, and informative placards all around.”

Christina’s greatest takeaway from the program, “It was great to learn that there were other legal professionals in the field that took their responsibilities as seriously as I do. I love my career in the legal field. It is dynamic, there is always something new to learn, and I can interact with all sorts of people. Also, I still maintain contact with several class alumni and it is great seeing them succeed in their respective fields of choice.”

As for her advice to current students, “Be sure you are prepared for the Program, that you sincerely are interested in the field of law, and that you are prepared to take the skills you learn into the workforce. Also, there is no better education than real world experience. The skills you learn in the Program will assist you in adapting to different types of people and situations, and make you a better legal professional overall.”

When it comes to networking, Christina recommends that students entering the profession explore different areas of law to find the best fit for them and “never judge a book by its cover”. When it comes to law, there is always something new to learn.

“Laws are ever-changing. As new legislation is enacted and judges hand down decisions I need to continuously keep abreast of current laws and rulings because something I do today may need to be done a different way tomorrow…There are new areas of practice popping up all the time from the legalization of marijuana to the possibility of the FCC rescinding net neutrality, and everything in between. There are always new areas of law to discover.”

Christina stays current and connected through her professional memberships with USD’s Paralegal Alumni Association, the San Diego Paralegal Association, and the National Notary Association. “All organizations provide networking opportunities and resources to stay abreast of current events affecting the legal community.”

While in the program, Christina become pregnant with her daughter…maybe one day she’ll be generation number three to graduate from USD’s Paralegal Program!

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