Sue Mulligan isn’t afraid of a challenge. In fact, she embraces them.
Sue first joined Keches Law Group on February 5, 1995 as our very first paralegal, but her appetite to take on new responsibilities and learn new skills has allowed her to carve out a unique career path. She wasn’t only our very first paralegal; she also served as the firm’s first information technology specialist, a department administrator, and now operations manager. If Keches needs something, Sue is always ready to give it a shot.
“I’ll do it,” Sue says enthusiastically. “I like working at Keches. It’s a good fit. There’s been a lot of variety and the challenges have been stimulating.”
But Sue’s career journey started before she joined the firm, and it certainly wasn’t always easy. Read on to hear directly from Sue about her experience charting her own course and how its led to a career she’s loved.
STARTING OUT IN THE WORLD
“I graduated from Keene State University with a degree in environmental science,” Sue says.
When she left school, Sue stayed on a friend’s couch in Boston while working at Shreve, Crump & Low, a jewelry store in the Chestnut Hill Mall. On her first day, she immediately felt out of place.
“When I walked in, all the men were wearing suits, all the women were dressed up,” Sue says. “And I’m an outdoorsy girl. I thought, ‘I don’t belong here.”
She felt more at home when her future husband Jim, who worked in the repair shop at the back of the building, walked in, wearing plain clothes and looking at ease.
Sue stayed on at Shreve, Crump & Low for 18 months as a cashier and then salesperson. She and Jim married and while they lived in an apartment in Walpole their daughter Jessica, now 38, was born. While she was pregnant with her son Matthew, now 35, they moved into a two-bedroom condo in Norton. The family moved into a different house in Norton 25 years ago and have been there ever since.
>> LEARN MORE ABOUT SUE MULLIGAN AND THE MOMS OF KECHES LAW
Shreve, Crump & Low was a job, but it wasn’t the career Sue wanted, and she started looking for work closer to her environmental science degree. She found one in the science field as a lab technician at Shuster Labs in Quincy.
TESTING A CAREER AT SHUSTER LABS
The lab tested and developed all sorts of different products – everything from mops to peanut butter. For the 14 years Sue worked there, she would help evaluate the items for safety as well as things like color and consistency.
For example, she says she would compare a store brand English muffin to a national brand. She would test it for everything from texture, size and even just the look of the “nooks and crannies”.
“It was fascinating, there was always something new to learn,” she says.
During Sue’s tenure at Shuster, she rose to the role of Account Manager. But never felt comfortable at the lab. She says it was difficult to progress at the lab and she needed to fight for pay raises and promotions.
“I felt like a square peg in a round hole,” she says. “I battled my way up, but it was frustrating.”
She decided to make a big move. Sue went back to school and attended a paralegal certificate program at Universidade Northeastern. The school had a job placement program, and she patiently waited for a good opportunity that wasn’t in Boston. Eventually Keches Law Group, which was in Taunton at the time, popped up.
“It was just a good fit,” she says of Keches. “I was the first paralegal they ever hired.”
FINDING A HOME AT KECHES
For the next 10 years, Sue was a paralegal at Keches Law, working for six or seven lawyers at a time.
She says the work came naturally to her, using her analytical and organizational skills. During her time as a paralegal, Sue says she wrote several briefs for attorneys and even wrote a closing argument once.
Although she was happy with the level of responsibility she was receiving as a paralegal, different opportunities at the firm pulled Sue in new directions.
Keches needed someone to step up and volunteer to learn how to manage technical support for the firm. Always willing to try new things, Sue agreed to take on the role. She said she enjoyed figuring out how everything worked and asked questions to help teach herself.
“I’m a highly organized, structured, analytical person,” she says. “I guess I’d say I’m a self-starter. I like to work both independently and as part of a team.”
While doing paralegal work and tech support, she learned the Tort Department needed someone to manage the support staff and she accepted the opportunity.
“I spent the next two years learning about tort law,” she says. “I asked a million questions about tort law procedures.”
At the same time, Sue was given the role of case management department administrator.
Ultimately, Sue is ready to fill whatever role Keches needs.
With the firm’s growth over the last few years, Sue has recently taken on a more all-encompassing role as the firm’s Operations Manager.
“I do whatever is needed,” she says.
THOUGHTS ON KECHES
Through all the jobs and years, Sue says she has had a great experience working at Keches. In particular, she says when her husband passed away 19 years ago, the firm took a lot of stress and concern off her shoulders.
“They told me to take as much time as I needed, they said I had a job waiting for me when I was ready to come back and my paycheck kept coming,” she says. “It was a huge relief to me.”
As far as where Keches is headed, she thinks Sean Flaherty is doing a great job and Keches is headed in a good direction.
“Sean is very much about the people,” she says. “He has expectations for us but is kind-hearted and thoughtful.”
WHEN THE WORKDAY ENDS
Employees at Keches Law Group in Bridgewater might see Sue if they ever choose to spend their lunch break working out, as she spends most of hers in the company gym.
But that isn’t the only way she’s active; she spends her weekends getting out and about, walking, hiking, and biking. In the winter, she enjoys cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
“I often meet my son at Gilbert Forest in Foxboro to hike,” she says. “The Blue Hills is another great place to go.”
But aside from all her outdoor adventures (which also include kayaking and camping), Sue enjoys reading, puzzles and knitting.
You may have noticed a pattern here: Sue Mulligan likes to try new things. She likes to learn and figure things out for herself. Whether it is in her coterie of hobbies, or smorgasbord of careers at Keches Law Group, she is up for it all.
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