Every Monday, The Times takes a look at someone who keeps local government running smoothly.
Jesica Contreras got started on her career path early.
At 18, Contreras is one of Hall County’s youngest employees, yet she already has two years of experience as a deputy clerk in the Hall County Clerk of Courts office.
Contreras, a recent Johnson High School graduate, was just hired full time at the clerk’s office after two years in a youth apprenticeship program that started when she was in the 11th grade.
This fall, she’ll juggle coursework at Gainesville College with the important duties of closing out state court cases as she aims for an eventual career in the paralegal field.
The teen’s work in the legal system began when a high school adviser suggested she try her apprenticeship at the clerk’s office.
At the time, Contreras had little knowledge of the workings of the Hall County courthouse. Soon, she was put to work filing motions and orders for the clerk’s criminal division. Two years and thousands of documents later, Contreras is helping others by answering questions from the public on an office phone line.
“My interest really grew after I started working here,” she said. “I enjoy learning about state and superior court and how everything works and what’s happening in our county. I’ve always liked the law.”
Contreras is one of nearly 50 full time and part time employees at the clerk’s office who handle all manner of legal paperwork.
She said besides being organized and conscientious, “you have to be willing to learn a lot of new things and just be friendly, because you work with everyone here. We all have to work together to finish a case. So you have to be a people person as well.”
The Dumas, Texas, native moved to Gainesville when she was 5. She enjoys shopping, “like most 18-year-olds,” she said, and spending time with her cousins and other family members.
Contreras said her time working in the clerk’s office has taken her from “not knowing anything” about the legal system “to having a much greater appreciation.”