Monday, December 29, 2008

Paralegal Raises the Bar in Fairbanks DA’s Office

In high school, Marja Hallsten dreamed of being an entertainment director on a cruise ship. She even went to travel school in 1984, but the 1980s intervened.

Instead, she worked as an apartment manager, a legal secretary and later as a paralegal for the District Attorney’s Office, where she works today. In October, Attorney General Talis Colberg named Hallsten the Department of Law’s Paralegal of the Year.

Hallsten, a trim, leggy blonde with the energy of an aerobics instructor, has a blunt manner, a bawdy sense of humor and a truck driver’s colorful use of language. But mostly she is unflappable, which is why she is good at her job.

She began working in the District Attorney's office in 2000 after attending night courses to be a paralegal.

Teresa Foster was the District Attorney at the time. She nominated Hallsten for the Paralegal of the Year award. She was impressed by Hallsten’s work on a tough rape case involving a mentally disabled victim.

Hallsten somehow managed to get her 4-pound, mixed-breed dog, Indy, into the courthouse, and the victim was comforted by the animal, Foster said.

Jay Hodges, a retired prosecutor and judge, said Hallsten was the best paralegal in the District Attorney’s Office during his final stint there.


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