Monday, December 31, 2007

A Sweet End to 2007

Law Crossing posts profiles of notable paralegals, and starting today, my profile is the current Legal Staff profile on their page.

Christine Parizo: Author of A Paralegal's Blog

It's a great way to end 2007.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holidays!

I'm taking the rest of the year off, so everyone, thank you for reading! Have a very happy holiday season and best wishes for the New Year!

My 2007 has been amazing: starting this blog, starting a new job in litigation, attending my first NFPA convention as a delegate, and being chosen as one of's Paralegal Superstars. I'm looking forward to what 2008 brings.

Best to everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

CHECKLIST: Prevent ID Theft

Here's an interesting specialty that could be emerging for paralegals: preventing ID theft. Bryan Ansley, identity theft and fraud expert and the CEO of Security Identity Systems, offered some tips to businesses wanting to protect their employees' identities. One of the tips was:

Have the name of a certified specialist -- preferably a paralegal -- on hand in case you or your employees have a problem or suspect an identity has been compromised.

With the right research and organizational skills, a paralegal could easily assist in stopping identity theft.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

American Chronicle: Paralegal Business Opportunities

For those toying with becoming freelance or independent paralegals, Richard Geller's American Chronicle piece, Paralegal Business Opportunities: Why Work for a Firm if You Don't Have To?, lays out some compelling arguments for starting a home-based paralegal business. Setting your own hours, the possibility of a higher pay rate, and being your own boss are all benefits, Geller says.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Paralegal Works as Integral Part of Legal Team

In this piece from the South Bend Tribune, paralegal Cindy Benedict, a paralegal for 17 years, answers questions about her paralegal career.

Benedict, a paralegal at the South Bend firm of Barnes & Thornberg, became interested in the profession when she met one of her sister's college roommates in the late 1970s who became a paralegal and then a law office manager. Benedict holds a bachelor's degree in legal studies and a paralegal certificate. She is a corporate paralegal, specializing in retirement plan law.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pacific Area Legal Teams Train to Deploy

POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, Hawaii (AFPN) -- Two dozen experts in military law deployed to this island to spend a week sharpening their skills in preparation for upcoming deployments.

During the five-day exercise, each team of two -- one lawyer and one paralegal -- will sit through about 15 hours of classroom lesson-and-discussion sessions and run through 30 role-playing scenarios. Legal officials from Headquarters PACAF will observe and critique the students' responses to the scenarios. The goal is to get the students ready for upcoming deployments.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

ParalegalGateway's Weblog: Announces 2008 Paralegal Superstars

ParalegalGateway's Weblog: Announces 2008 Paralegal Superstars, and yours truly is one of them!

The 2008 Paralegal Superstar Calendar is scheduled to go on sale late next week and will be available for stocking stuffers or for holiday gifts for you or your favorite Paralegal.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Paralegal Runs Legal Clinic

REDLANDS, Calif. -- Paralegal Carmen Barney runs the Redlands YMCA's Legal Aid Clinic. As the clinic's Director, she provides legal assistance at a fraction of the cost of an attorney for hire to whoever requires her services.

Barney, a twenty-year paralegal, took over the legal aid clinic in 1999. All of the legal advice dispensed at the clinic is from volunteer attorneys.

The clinic is funded through the YMCA and the United Way. Donations also find their way to the clinic, where Barney and her two assistants work tirelessly, serving the 200 to 300 clients who come into use the clinic's services.

Barney said that most of her clients come seeking legal advice dealing with family law: divorces, child custody cases, guardianships and the like.

The clinic allows clients to relate their legal problems to Barney and her assistants, who make efforts to keep them calm in a time that can be stressful.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

DeRemigio Named Chair of Paralegal Committee

From South Jersey News Online:

Lynne DeRemigio has been appointed chair of the paralegal committee for 2007-08 by N.J. State Bar Association President Lynn Fontaine Newsome. A graduate of the American Institute for Paralegal Studies, DeRemigio earned her bachelors degree in law/justice at Rowan University. A litigation paralegal for more 20 years, she is currently employed as a paralegal with the Gloucester County Office of County Counsel.

She is a two-term past president of the South Jersey Paralegal Association and remains active as a board advisor. She is a current member of the Gloucester County College Paralegal Program Advisory Board and a member of the N.J. State Bar Association. DeRemigio is the editor of the New Jersey State Bar Association publication The Essential Role of the Paralegal.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New Program Would Seek to Raise Higher Standards for Paralegals

From today's Naples Daily News, which sums up the Florida Registered Paralegal Program nicely:

"The Florida Supreme Court on Nov. 15 unanimously approved creation of the Florida Registered Paralegal Program, which provides for voluntary registration of paralegals who meet minimum educational, certification, or work experience criteria, and who agree to abide by an established code of ethics. The program’s goal is to better serve the public by creating standards for a profession that has been largely self-regulated.

The program begins March 1 and sets up a two-tier system for registering paralegals. It also creates a disciplinary system and a code of ethics and responsibility. The rules don’t regulate paralegals, who still will be overseen by the lawyers who employ them and direct their legal work.

The first tier describes a paralegal as someone qualified through education, training or work experience and who, under the supervision of a lawyer, performs delegated, substantive work the lawyer is responsible for. “Tier two paralegals” must meet experience, education and continuing education criteria to become registered and could then describe themselves as “Florida Registered Paralegals.”

The plan also has a grandfathering provision that allows paralegals who can show substantial experience, but who don’t meet education or certification requirements, to become registered paralegals. That provision will only be available during the program’s first three years.


Florida Alliance of Paralegal Associations Inc. President Tana J. Stringfellow said her group has diligently pursued regulation for many years.

“It is through the efforts of many dedicated paralegals that this program has become a reality,” Stringfellow said.

First Circuit Judge Ross Goodman, who chaired the special committee that also comprised paralegal professionals and members of the public, praised the ruling and credited paralegal organizations that have worked for so long for a paralegal regulatory plan.

“This was an honest effort brought about by people who did not all agree on everything, but they agreed to try to work around their disagreements,” Goodman said. “I think what we came up with was a really good start.”

Although the plan is not mandatory now, Goodman said, it may be some day — depending on whether it’s embraced by paralegals."

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Key to Paralegal Profitability

From :: The Paralegal Opportunity for Law Firms: "The key to the paralegal profitability is the same as that for legal associates—utilization. It requires partners with delegation and supervision skills. It requires effective firm-wide scheduling of billable resources."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Judge Orders Production of Paralegal's Notes

MARSHALL, Texas -- U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis ordered defendant Time Warner to produce a flowchart created by its paralegals in order to identify further parties to the litigation.

In an effort to identify proper parties and address liability issues, Judge Davis granted the plaintiffs' request for production of defendants' partnership agreements and a flowchart developed by Time Warner's paralegal on Nov. 20. Defendants argued the documents are irrelevant as the proper parties are named. Although granting the plaintiffs' request, the judge denied the plaintiffs' request for sanctions against the defendants.

I'm not sure what this means for paralegal work product, although it seems ominous. Would the plaintiffs be granted access to an attorney's notes? Probably not.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Paralegal Honored for Pro Bono Work

From Dateline Pittsburgh:: "Eckert Seamans Cherin and Mellott is the recipient of the 2006 Law Firm Pro Bono Award from the Allegheny County Bar Association. The award is in recognition of the firm's administration of the Custody Conciliation Project, which it developed in connection with the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership. The ACBA also will honor the work of Eckert Seamans paralegal Rachel Klink, whose service to the Custody Conciliation Project has earned her the 2006 Paralegal Service Award."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bree Cottrell Joins The DiLeone Law Group, P.C.

How awesome is it when a firm sends out a press release about their new paralegal? The Raleigh, N.C. firm of The DiLeone Law Group, P.C. did just that to announce that Bree Cottrell has joined the firm as a paralegal. Cottrell is a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she received a bachelor of science in business administration with a concentration in human resource management and entrepreneurship. She is a member of the Human Resources Association and the Society of Human Resource Management.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sophomore Earns Scholarship from Greater Lexington Paralegal Association

J. Michelle Hoffman, a sophomore paralegal science major, has received the Greater Lexington Paralegal Association Scholarship.

Hoffman, from Lake Charles, La., is president of EKU's Student Paralegal Association and has a 3.74 GPA. She will be presented the scholarship at the GLPA’s December luncheon.

“The ($250) scholarship will help me pay for books,” Hoffman said. “The most valuable part of the award will be a student membership in the GLPA because that will give me the opportunity to meet and network with paralegals in Lexington, as well as learning opportunities.”

Hoffman plans to work as a paralegal in the Lexington area upon graduation.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Holiday Survival Tips

The holiday season has officially started, and in addition to working, we all probably have family commitments, holiday parties, and assorted festivities where our attendance is required. Starting tomorrow, it's going to feel like crunch time for most of us, especially those of us with billable hour requirements trying to meet the year's quota. No matter what your situation, here are some tips to get through the holiday season and start off 2008 on the right foot:

1. Take care of yourself. This may seem obvious, but it's all too easy to get caught up in the festivities and forget about our own health. Drink plenty of water, try to make healthy food choices (shrimp cocktail is much better than anything fried or mini'd, for example), and try to get plenty of rest. If you have a regular exercise routine, stick to it. And remember there is no shame in taking a few minutes for yourself, even if it's just a ten-minute walk in the middle of the day.

2. Stay focused. It's tempting to look out the window and daydream or do some online holiday shopping. Now is the time to focus, to work on meeting your goals and finishing your assignments. That way, you'll be in a position to put on your coat and leave the office at the end of the day without worrying.

3. Take care of someone else. Got an elderly neighbor? A friend who could use some cheering up? A food bank that needs servers? Nothing feels better than to help someone else. Shovel your neighbor's walk; take your friend out for coffee (I highly recommend Starbucks Peppermint Mochas - you can't be unhappy after drinking one of those!); spend a couple of hours serving food to those less fortunate.

4. Count your blessings. As cheesy as it sounds, it's good to remind yourself what is good in your life amidst what is definitely a stressful season. Make a list of five things that bring you joy, and post it somewhere you will see it every day.

5. Keep it all in perspective. The holidays will be over soon enough, and so will the stresses and expectations. Take the time to enjoy them and bask in the good of the season. January comes soon enough, with its own set of expectations, and these expectations aren't dressed in twinkling lights.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

American Health Lawyers Association Offers Paralegal Membership

The American Health Lawyers Association's (AHLA) Board of Directors recently approved the establishment of an electronic membership category for paralegals. If you are employed full-time as a paralegal, you are eligible to apply for and receive this electronic membership – for just $75 – when you are sponsored by an AHLA member or attorney.

Special Offer

In addition, a paralegal can join AHLA for a year for just $75 or—for a limited time—he/she can also register for the Fundamentals of Health Law program at the same time. When the paralegal does both, he/she receives a bonus! For just $450, the paralegal will receive a year's membership and be registered for the Fundamentals of Health Law program, which is being held on December 2-4, 2007 in Chicago, IL.

The Fundamentals of Health Law Program

The program provides a solid foundation in health law for the paralegal. Paralegals attending the program will benefit from the education received on an array of health law topics, including key legal issues on tax and finance, antitrust, patient care and liability, corporate compliance, false claims, labor and employment, medical staff organization and credentialing, Medicare, Medicaid, physician issues, and managed care. The program’s expert faculty will not only share their expertise on health law but will provide their insight into the challenges ahead in health law. From the opening reception, to a luncheon and presentation on using the Association's resources, the program includes plenty of time for the new paralegal member to network too.

The Benefits of Membership in the American Health Lawyers Association

As an AHLA member, a paralegal is able to retrieve resources and information on a content rich website to aid in writing and research efforts; browse through publications, and other legal resources in the AHLA Bookstore; and build relationships with other paralegals, as well as academicians, health lawyers, in-house counsel, government attorneys, and healthcare executives.

Paralegal members also receive the following:

  • Health and Life Sciences Law Daily, a customized digest service written by Bulletin News, an affiliate of U.S. News and World Report. It provides summaries of the most important health and legal news culled from all of the major media outlets in the country – delivered to your email inbox each day;
  • Health Lawyers Weekly, a comprehensive, online news and analysis service providing in-depth reporting on the latest developments affecting health law. In addition, access is provided to the Health Law Digest, a powerful research tool that provides synopses of current state and federal court decisions in health law (you will be able to browse each issue by topic and subtopic or print out the full issue to read at your leisure); and the
  • Health Lawyers News offering monthly features, substantive analysis, and regular columns written by legal and industry experts.

Paralegals may subscribe to one or more of the Association’s listservs (online email discussion forums) devoted to a variety of health law topics. Members subscribe online and have the option of either receiving individual emails whenever there is a posting on the listserv or receiving a digest version of the discussions for the day. Members are able to access archives of all the listserv discussions in the Members-only section of the website.

Paralegal members are also given an opportunity to gain electronic access to all of AHLA’s fifteen Practice Groups for a nominal fee. This 'PG16' option provides Paralegals with the opportunity to network with other paralegals and health lawyers from across the country; receive email alerts and briefings; receive special discounts when registering for PG-sponsored teleconferences or when purchasing PG publications; and to access the websites for all of the Practice Groups.


Call AHLA’s Member Service Center at (202) 833-0766 to join and register for the program – or use the encrypted forms located online at the Association's website at

Friday, November 23, 2007

Legal Technology - Keeping Up With EDD Blogs and Tools

From, Legal Technology - Keeping Up With EDD Blogs and Tools features an impressive list of e-discovery blogs, along with descriptions.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Everybody, have a very happy, safe Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Indiana Noteworthy

Indiana Noteworthy: "The National Federation of Paralegal Associations presented Debi Neale of Tabbert Hahn Earnest & Weddle and the Indiana Paralegal Association with the 2007 PACE Ambassador Award."

The PACE Ambassador Award was initiated to recognize an NFPA member association that has made superior efforts in developing its local PACE Ambassador program to promote the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE) to its members and its legal community.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Legal Electronic Document Institute

The Legal Electronic Document Institute ( advertises itself as “a Washington non-profit corporation established to promote the development of education and standards in the field of legal electronic documents, including practice management of electronic documents, electronic trial practice with litigation support systems, e-filing, e-signatures, and e-discovery.” Their Resources page has a decent selection of articles and links.

Monday, November 19, 2007

E-Evidence Information Center

The E-Evidence Information Center ( has information on digital forensics, which does sound much more exciting than e-discovery. There is an entire section on cell phone forensics, including links to other Web sites, software to manipulate cell phones (use with caution!), and articles.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Electronic Discovery Resources

If you haven’t had to deal with e-discovery already, you soon will. As more evidence is found on hard drives, in e-mails, and on disks, keeping up with the rules can be daunting. I'll be posting various resources as I find them.

Electronic Discovery Resources ( aggregates articles from a variety of sources. The site features original content, including a monthly “Ask the Expert” section. They also will e-mail a weekly newsletter to you at your request.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Free E-Discovery Book Covers Basics

If you're looking for more information on e-discovery, RenewData is offering a free book entitled Electronic Discovery for Dummies. According to their Web site, the book covers:

  • Basic principles and terminology of e-discovery;
  • What should happen in a meet and confer session;
  • What you should preserve and when you should start;
  • How you obtain the data;
  • The fastest and easiest ways to review data;
  • How to produce the data to the other side; and
  • Additional e-discovery resources.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Florida Registered Paralegal Program Approved

On November 15, the Florida Supreme Court approved the creation of the Florida Registered Paralegal Program, set to begin on March 1, 2008. This is a voluntary registration of paralegals who meet certain minimum educational, certification or work experience criteria and agree to abide by an established code of ethics.

Read the full opinion here.

Update: This is not to be confused with the PACE Registered Paralegal Program, administered through the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Court ID Cards

If paralegals were regulated, they could be issued ID cards, similar to Bar Identification Cards given to attorneys. Paralegals could then flash those cards when they go to the courthouse and avoid standing in line for security screening, which wastes precious time.

Just a thought...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Paralegal Fees Case

The United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari to Richlin v. Chertoff. This case will consider whether paralegal services can be recovered at the market rate when determining the payment of attorneys' fees. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that the Equal Access to Justice Act permits only the reimbursement of paralegal services as the cost of the expense to the attorneys rather than as fees at the market rate. A decision in this case would resolve a split among the circuit courts of appeal.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Palo Alto Settles Paralegal's Overtime Claim

The problems with classifying paralegals as non-exempt has begun. The city of Palo Alto has agreed to pay $335,000 to settle one of its paralegal's overtime claims.

Casey O'Neill, a claims investigator and paralegal, will receive $51,107 in unpaid overtime, $51,107 in liquidated damages, $163,320 in attorneys' fees, $26,567 in costs and $42,900 in severance pay, according to a settlement finalized Oct. 18 in the Northern California branch of the U.S. District Court.

O'Neill, who began work as a claims investigator and paralegal in 1993 and sued the city in August 2005, also tendered her resignation, effective June 1, 2008.

In a complaint filed in July, O'Neill's attorneys argued that the city improperly classified her as an employee exempt from being paid overtime because her work did not include "executive, administrative or professional duties."

O'Neill also said she worked at least 55 hours per week, while only being paid for 40 hours, between July 1993 and May 2005. Until then, she received "glowing performance appraisals," according to the complaint, but staff began criticizing her work after she complained.

When O'Neill complained that the city was violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and said she could not finish her tasks, she was suspended for three days without pay in June 2005, according to the complaint.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sicklerville Woman Leads Paralegals

Parker McCay paralegal Dawn Moskalow was recently re-elected as president of the South Jersey Paralegal Association.

The Sicklerville resident will serve her second term as association president in the 2007-08 term.

As president, Moskalow will preside at all board and general membership meetings, appoint committee chairmen, and supervise the work of the board and special committees.

Moskalow is a paralegal in Parker McCay's personal injury department.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Uganda Paralegal Diary

George Oringa, 27, is a paralegal at Pabbo camp, in Uganda. Here he describes what being a paralegal in a war-torn area is like, and what life is like at the Pabbo camp. Oringa makes refugees aware of their rights.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Paralegal Honored as Part of Task Force

Paralegal Lisa Nelson of the U.S. Attorney's Office, along with other "Collarbomb Task Force" members, was honored Friday by the Law Enforcement Agency Directors of Western Pennsylvania. The other members of the task force are FBI Special Agent Gerald C. Clark, Jr.; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Jason P. Wick; Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. David M. Gluth; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshall J. Piccinini.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Law Society Closer to Licensing Paralegals

TORONTO -- Ontario will be the first jurisdiction in North America to license paralegals. Almost 2,200 experienced paralegals and graduates of post-secondary paralegal courses have applied to the Law Society of Upper Canada to write the licensing examination in Ontario.

The Law Society's regulatory authority was expanded last year to include paralegals. Since then, the Law Society has created a set of rules of professional conduct for paralegals and developed a licensing program that includes the same kind of regulatory standards used for lawyers.

The first paralegal licences will be issued by May 1, 2008 to grandparent applicants who pass the licensing examination. In the meantime, approved applicants can continue to practice in permitted areas until they are licensed, providing they carry professional liability insurance and comply with the Paralegal Rules of Conduct and Law Society bylaws.

More information and ongoing updates can be found on the paralegal pages of the Law Society website at

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Midlo Hip Hop Artist Goes Back To Roots

Corey Fauconier moved to Richmond, Virginia in 2002 to find independence in both a spiritual and lyrical sense. Through his work as a paralegal for a not-for-profit legal entity in lower Manhattan, he gradually made inroads into the world of music. When a friend named Carl Jackman ran into problems with party promotions, he turned to Fauconier for contract help. The job eventually drew Fauconier into the world of promotion, and from there, he gravitated to other roles.

In late 1999, he started working with Jackman’s group 99 % Entertainment. Though content with the dual role of paralegal by day and independent musical artist in his spare time, world events led Fauconier to consider a lifestyle change.

After his move to Virginia in 2002, he founded Shakara Entertainment in August of 2005 to showcase independent artists.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bates-Stamping Documents the Easy Way

The thought of Bates-stamping a five foot-high stack of documents by hand (and yes, if you stacked all the boxes of documents in some cases vertically, I'm sure they would easily reach five feet) sounds hideously unproductive. Reading this article on Planet PDF - Bates-Stamping documents the easy way - offers some interesting food for thought. By using a scanner and Acrobat 8.0, I could scan those documents, OCR them, then electronically Bates-stamp them, thus bringing the tedium factor to a manageable few hours. As a bonus, the documents could then be burned to CD-ROMs and forwarded to opposing counsel that way. Instead of shipping five bankers' boxes, five CD-ROMS would go out by Federal Express.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

CPA to Paralegal to Teach Parent-Care Course

Rebecca Pace, a CPA who is transitioning from a career in financial planning to paralegal work with senior citizens, is one of the nine presenters for "Straight Talk about Caring for Your Aging Parents." This is a two-part class being offered by Communiversity, the University of Cincinnati's continuing education program.

The morning session will deal with legal issues (such as obtaining power of attorney to make financial and health decisions); managing parents' assets; and housing solutions, such as the transition to retirement communities and nursing homes. The afternoon session focuses on financial matters - insurance issues and government benefits such as Medicare and Medicaid.

The panel includes attorneys, a representative from the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio, and other experts in elder care.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Big Island Gets $443K Grant for Drug-Court Team

The Big Island of Hawaii received a $443,405 federal grant to establish a Third Circuit Drug Court team to supervise and track high-risk defendants with drug problems. The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services grant provides funding to hire two additional probation officers and one paralegal each for the prosecutor's and public defender's office.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Law Firms Hiring More Paralegals

In this article from the East Bay Business Times, author Greg Hayman notes a fantastic trend: law firms are hiring more paralegals to cut costs and train new associates.

Attorneys and paralegals say the trend results not just from paralegals gaining trust and respect from firm leaders, but also from the reduced costs that can be passed on to clients.

Compare this to McDermott, Will & Emery's new class of lower-paid associates to handle lower-end tasks at lower billing rates. A partner in the L.A. trial group says it will help bring the best quality service at the lowest price to their clients. These associates will participate in document review. However, a well-trained paralegal can do the same thing, at an even lower cost to clients.

By utilizing paralegals, as they are in Alabama, not only are law firms keeping costs in control, they are also retaining full control of documents, as opposed to outsourcing the document review process. It's a win-win trend in Alabama, and with any luck, firms around the country will follow their lead.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Pinpoint Labs Releases Safecopy 2.0

Pinpoint Labs, a litigation support and forensics software development company, has announced the availability of Safecopy 2.0, a utility which enables users to copy files without altering file time stamps and any other metadata inherent in the files.

New features include:

-Multiple Directory Selection: Provides an easy-to-use interface allowing for easy directory (custodian data sources) selection within Windows Explorer. It also supports drag-and-drop from Windows Explorer.

-File Hashing: When copying files, SafeCopy 2.0 retains the crucial metadata. To ensure copies made with SafeCopy 2.0 are identical to the originals, the user can calculate the MD5 hash values of the source files and destination files.

-Chain of Custody Log File: Provides a chain of custody log file which proves the copies made are forensically sound. This log file contains important information such as the date and time the copies were made and the MD5 hash values calculated in the source and destination files.

-Error Reporting and Resuming: SafeCopy 2.0 immediately notifies users of incomplete file copies and can resume a job that has been cancelled or aborted.

For more information, visit

Friday, November 2, 2007

Paralegal Becomes 'Mompreneur'

Maria Thompson left her job as a paralegal to be with her third child. With a little research, some self-training, and a few hundred dollars, she became a "virtual assistant," offering Web design and desktop publishing services for $25 to $75 an hour.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


November is National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), and because I've been neglecting my blog, I've signed up for it.

For the next thirty days, I'm going to post something to this blog every day. Yes, that includes Saturday and Sunday. Yes, even over Thanksgiving. And no, I really don't have that much free time on my hands, but I love a challenge, which is why I became a paralegal in the first place!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

LawTunes Releases "The Lawtunes: Live At Blackacre"

Indie music label LawTunes ( has released its latest humorous, lawyer-created, law-related album, "The Lawtunes: Live At Blackacre." The CD contains ten original rock-and-roll tunes taking on the law, lawyers, and legal practice, including, "(She's An) Electronic Discovery," "Lawyers' Blood Is Typo," "Della Street," "LawMan," "Orderin' In," "Cadillac Cab," "Little Bluebook," "Livin' Life In Six Minutes," "Everywhere There Is A Client," and "Santa's G.C."

(And for those wondering, "Blackacre" is that legendary parcel of land referenced in so many legal treatises.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys Forms Paralegal Division

The North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys has formed a Paralegal Division. Paralegals devoting a substantial amount of their professional time to the handling of litigation, primarily for the defense, government and/or business are invited to join. To be eligible, a paralegal must work under the supervision of a lawyer member of the NCADA and must be certified by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Paralegal Certification.

For more information about the N.C. Association of Defense Attorneys, please contact the Association office at 1-800-233-2858, ext. 312, or visit them at

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rules Unclear on Supervising Indian Lawyers

As outsourcing moves to the forefront for U.S. lawyers, ethical pitfalls also become more common. Indian legal training is different than in the U.S., and client confidentiality is narrower. Yet the rules on supervising Indian lawyers are painfully unclear, according to this article.

NSCC to Hold Paralegal Employment Panel

North Shore Community College's Paralegal Department and Alumni Office will hold the annual Paralegal Employment Panel and Networking Opportunity, a free lecture, "How Do I Get There From Here?," Nov. 14, 7-8:30 p.m., at the Danvers campus Health Professions Building Lecture Hall, 1 Ferncroft Road, off Route 1 south. Learn about the latest opportunities in the legal field by listening to the career paths and educational experiences of the panel of guests. This forum provides information from professionals in various legal fields. Free. Preregistration required. Contact the Alumni Office 978-762-4000, ext. 5481 or 5482, or

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Proposed Opinion OKs Outsourcing Work to Foreign Lands

Continuing the disturbing trend of outsourcing work to foreign countries, the Florida Bar Association is in the process of issuing an offcial opinion giving the thumbs-up to outsourcing legal work outside the U.S.

Most disturbing is that the sanctioned outsourced services are paralegal services. There is no mention of how outsourcing paralegal services can harm the client; just how, if the services are outsourced, they should be limited to paralegal services.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

NFPA Convention 2007

I have just returned from the 2007 annual convention of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations as a delegate from the Western Massachusetts Paralegal Association, and it has been a wonderful experience. The best part of going to the convention, hands-down, is getting to meet a wide variety of paralegals working in a plethora of practice areas. The paralegals here are all enthusiastic and committed to advancing the profession, and that alone, that camaradarie, is worth the trip.

When the Navy Legalmen presented supporting associations with certificates, I couldn't help but have tears in my eyes, and I was not the only one. Melissa Adams, the president of the Navy Legalmen Association, said, "I felt very weak and did not know what was going to happen next. You gave us strength and courage more than you know." Adams had recently returned from Iraq.

The Registered Paralegals were invited to stand at the beginning of the policy meeting. At least one third of the room stood, and I was so proud of us for taking that extra step to become RPs. (RPs take note: you should be getting your RP cards from your association's delegates soon, and there's a little something extra for RPs that's coming out of the convention as well... stay tuned!)

On a slightly dorky and personal note, I couldn't help but feel very sentimental and a bit weepy during the slideshow featuring photos from conventions dating back to 1995, especially when my picture (accepting the West Group scholarship) flashed on the screen! I happily reflected how far I have come since then in my career, and at that moment, I was prouder than ever to be a paralegal, honored to be the Western Massachusetts Paralegal Association's Primary Representative, and thrilled to be a part of an association that is truly working to make a difference in the profession. I even got to chat with Jan Marko from West, who had presented me with my scholarship in 2003, and thank her yet again for the scholarship that helped me to achieve my goals.

Thank you to the Tampa Bay Paralegal Association for hosting, the NFPA Board for all its hard work, and all the attendees that made this such a great experience!

Friday, October 19, 2007

County Paralegal Position Must Be Retained

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has recommended that retain the county paralegal position, which is crucial for keeping violent sexual predators off the streets.

It typically takes about 40 employee hours to open a new file on a sex offender, due to the lengthy process of organizing several banker's boxes of unsorted files. Without the paralegal position, prosecutors handling sex predator cases would be bogged down by paperwork, rather than performing their legal work.

Unfortunately, the county executive is considering cutting this position. The County Board is set to adopt the new budget on November 5.

Military Association Names Vass Paralegal to Post

The Association of Military Recruiters and Counselors (AMRAC) has recently named Carl T. Garner of Vass, a retired Army master sergeant, as commander for its Atlantic States region. After his retirement from the Army in 1993, Vass worked as a paralegal for Womack Army Hospital at Fort Bragg.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Paralegal Named Director for Theater of Deaf

Paralegal Aaron Kubey has been named the new executive director-president for the National Theater of the Deaf. He currently serves as the theater's artistic director and is a paralegal in the New York area. Kubey takes over the position Nov. 5 at the 40-year-old organization, now based in West Hartford, Conn.

Kubey is a 1994 graduate of the Model Secondary School for the Deaf at Gallaudet University in Washington. He worked with NTD's Los Angeles Little Theatre of the Deaf from 1995 to 1997.

He also worked with Deaf West in Los Angeles and the Centerlight Theatre in Chicago before joining the New York Deaf Theatre.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Paralegal Gets 2 Years for Stealing $111,512

BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- A Ware County paralegal was sentenced to two years for stealing $111,512.

Gina A. Wooten, 50, of Waycross, also was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony Alaimo to repay the money she stole through a sophisticated fraud scheme while working for bankruptcy lawyer Edward Smith from July 2004 through Aug. 4, 2006.

Wooten, described as a "financial predator," stole and apparently destroyed the law firm's financial ledgers in an attempt to hide the fraud.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Paralegal Joins Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston Sales Team

Former real estate paralegal and SoftPro trainer Karen Lyle has joined the real estate sales team at Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Walston Crabtree. She earned her bachelor’s of arts in communication with public relations concentration from N.C. State University and her paralegal certification at Meredith College.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Fashion Crime Ruled in Order

Canadian paralegal Harry Kyopto has a unique sense of style, and he was vindicated when Justice of the Peace Gabriel Sunit John was sent a letter of advice saying he shouldn't have adjourned court proceedings because of the paralegal's multi-coloured open-neck shirt and textured burnt-orange jacket.

However, Kyopto feels that this is not enough and is suing John in small claims court for $1, insisting that he was also assaulted by an officer as he was removed from court for his colorful attire.

Maybe next time Kyopto goes to court, he'll stick to a basic black blazer.

Paralegal Celebrates 25 Years of Service

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Paralegal Rebecca Ask is celebrating 25 years of service as a paralegal this month. Ask, a paralegal at Davis & Davis, arrived at the firm with an undergraduate degree in paralegal studies.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Canadian Paralegal Sentenced for UPL

TORONTO -- The Ontario Superior Court has sentenced North Bay paralegal Maureen Boldt to four months house arrest for the unauthorized practice of law. She was also ordered to pay $35,000 in costs. Over the past 13 years, Boldt has broken the law by engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. Her sentence will commence October 15, 2007.

According to Law Society Treasurer Gavin MacKenzie, this is the first time that anyone has been sentenced to house arrest for UPL.

In 2000, Boldt was ordered to stop providing legal services. When she defied the court order, she was convicted in 2006 of contempt of court. Boldt appealed that conviction and lost the appeal earlier this year.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Cole Awarded CBA Pro Bono Paralegal of the Year Award

DENVER -- Susan Cole, a paralegal at Arnold & Porter, received the Pro Bono Paralegal of the Year Award from the Colorado Bar Association.

Cole manages and arranges several different legal events to help those who are less fortunate, including Project Homeless Connect and Legal Nights at Mi Casa and El Centro San Juan Diego. These programs alone continue to help more than 2500 underprivileged residents of the Metro area who otherwise may not have access to legal services.

An engraved plaque commemorating her accomplishments and a $1,000 donation to Mi Casa Resource Center for Women was presented to Cole after being nominated by Constance Talmage, executive director of the Colorado Lawyers Committee.

Brian Allensworth of Shughart Thomson & Kilroy, Cheryl Ferne of Dorsey & Whitney and Jenny Kang of The Harris Law Firm also were nominated for the award.

This award was started by the Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association and has been hosted by the CBA Paralegal Committee for the last three years. The award luncheon was started to recognize paralegals who provide pro bono services to the Colorado legal community.
(Source: Cherry Creek News)

Monday, October 1, 2007

American Bar Association Grants CSM Approval for Paralegal Studies Program

LA PLATA, Md. -- The American Bar Association has granted the College of Southern Maryland approval for their paralegal studies program. CSM is the fifth college in Maryland to receive ABA approval.

For more information on CSM's paralegal program, visit

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Plain English Table

Using another "legalese" phrase? Stop, print out this table, and keep it posted by your monitor.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Paralegal Sworn in to Military on 9/11

On September 11, 2007, Tamara Brackins was sworn in as a paralegal in the U.S. Army National Guard.

Brackins first joined the military on September 11, 2002. After the attacks on the United States, she watched recruitment advertisements for the Marines and knew she wanted to be a part of the Armed Forces.

Not everyone has encouraged her in her dreams, often telling her she could be sent to Iraq.
But she said she isn’t scared.

"If I was scared I would have never joined," Brackins explained.

Her mom, however, has always been supportive and was especially pleased to hear her daughter would be a paralegal.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Paralegals Prepare Wills for Area Heroes

The Pro Bono committee of the Cincinnati Paralegal Association wanted to give back to the firefighters, policemen, and EMTs for the sacrifices they make every day. CPA created Wills for Heroes, where volunteer lawyers and paralegals prepare wills, living wills, and health care proxies for first responders and their spouses free of charge.

The next Wills for Heroes event will be for the Butler County Sheriff's Department on Oct. 27 during Make a Difference Day.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Queens College Launches Paralegal Program at Lehman

FLUSHING, N.Y. -- Residents of The Bronx can now receive a good paralegal education without the commute. The Queens College/CEP Paralegal Program has received approval from the American Bar Association to provide a paralegal program at the Lehman College campus. Lehman's program closed last June.

The first four Queens/CEP Paralegal courses at Lehman, held in pairs of back-to-back sessions on Saturdays and Sundays, will begin the weekend of October 13, 2007, and continue through early to mid-December, depending on the class. The schedule includes Introduction to the Law and Ethics, Legal Writing for Paralegals, Legal Research, and Litigation I. These classes are essential for paralegal certification, which involves completion of five required courses and seven electives.

For more information, visit the Queens College Web site at

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Roundup: Paralegals in the News

The Executive News and Noteworthy sections of newspapers used to be confined to lawyers and business executives. Recently, paralegal promotions are being hailed as newsworthy, too.

In Charlestown, S.C., Christine Santelli has joined Barnwell Whaley Patterson and Helms as director of intellectual property administration. She has more than 22 years of experience as a paralegal, most recently as senior paralegal for Innophos Inc. and Novartis Pharmaceuticals/Sandoz Inc. She attended Montgomery Community College in Pennsylvania and holds a paralegal certificate from Taylor Business Institute in Manasquan, N.J. (Source: Charleston Post Courier)

The Indiana Paralegal Association named Pamela S. Retherford of Bingham McHale as its New Member Paralegal of the Year. (Source: Indianapolis Star)

Joan Kraft, who served for more than 20 years as a Cavaleras County, California paralegal, finished her last day on Monday. On Tuesday, Kraft was recognized for her two decades of work by the Board of Supervisors. She was presented with a plaque and the board adopted a resolution in honor of her service. (Source: Calaveras Enterprise)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Kitchens New LLC Announces New Hires

In addition to announcing a new attorney, Kitchens New LLC in Atlanta announced the hiring of paralegal Sharon C. Semmens in a recent press release. Semmens brings 25 years of paralegal experience in estates and trusts, corporate, premises liability, labor and employment issues to the table.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Paralegal Could Replace Lawyer on Three-Lawyer Team

In Cook County, Illinois, Alderman Howard Brookins officially has tossed his hat in the ring to replace outgoing State Attorney Richard Devine. As part of his platform, Brookins suggested replacing one lawyer on the three-lawyer courtroom teams with a paralegal. This would free up resources to investigate politicians and police officers, he said.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

IPA Blawg: Get Ready For a Whole New Vista on E-Discovery

Because the amendments to the FRCP and e-discovery aren't challenging enough, Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system has entered the fray to keep paralegals on their toes. In IPA Blawg: Get Ready For a Whole New Vista on E-Discovery, Courtney David Mills demystifies the impact of Bitlocker, shadow copies, and file formats on EDD.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 20: Its/It's Error)

For my last grammar series entry, I present you with my pet peeve: the its/it's error. "Its" is a possessive pronoun. "It's" is a contraction for "it is."

Don't confuse it's with its. It's is a contraction for it is. Its is the possessive. If you're having problems, replace the form of its you're using with it is. If it doesn't fit, use the other form of it's.
It's a smart cat that tolerates its humans.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 19 - Dangling, Misplaced Modifier)

The results of a dangling or misplaced modifier can be disastrous.

Modifiers are any adjectives, adverbs, phrases, or clauses that a writer uses to elaborate on something. Modifiers, when used wisely, enhance your writing. But if they are not well-considered -- or if they are put in the wrong places in your sentences -- the results can be less than eloquent. Consider, for example, this sentence:
The professor wrote a paper on sexual harassment in his office.

Is the sexual harassment going on in the professor's office? Or is his office the place where the professor is writing? I hope he was writing the paper in his office, not on the sexual harassment in his office. If that is the case, then the original sentence contains a misplaced modifier and should be re-written accordingly:
In his office, the professor wrote a paper on sexual harassment.

Always put your modifiers next to the nouns they modify.

Dangling modifiers are a different kind of problem. They intend to modify something that isn't in the sentence. Consider this:
As a young girl, my father baked bread and gardened.

The writer means to say, "When I was a young girl, my father baked bread and gardened." The modifying phrase "as a young girl" refers to some noun not in the sentence. It is, therefore, a dangling modifier.

Other dangling modifiers are more difficult to spot, however. Consider this sentence:
Walking through the woods, my heart ached.

Is it your heart that is walking through the woods? It is more accurate (and more grammatical) to say, "Walking through the woods, I felt an ache in my heart." Here you avoid the dangling modifier.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

LSSU Program Approved by ABA

The Lake Superior State University bachelor's degree program for business administration - legal management received American Bar Association approval, and is only one of two programs of its kind in Michigan.

Combining business and legal courses, the program prepares students to work in a variety of areas, such as human resources, employer benefits, safety, worker's compensation, contracts, and insurance, as well as the classic law firm environment.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cambridge Who's Who Names Connie J. Pence Professional of the Year in Paralegal Services

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- Connie J. Pence, a paralegal at Rainey Martin, LLP has been named Cambridge Who's Who Professional of the Year in paralegal services.

Pence is a member of the Central Oklahoma Association of Legal Assistants and currently serves as COALA's public relations chairwoman. She is an appointed board member of the Oklahoma County Bar Association Law Day Committeeand is also a member of the Oklahoma Paralegal Association and The National Association of Legal Assistants. Pence received a Westlaw Paralegal Program Certificate of Achievement. She regularly attends legal education seminars and has completed coursework in specialized mediation services. She is an annual test monitor volunteer for Putnam City schools and was named Legal Assistant of the Year by COALA for being "exceptionally conscious" and for working "tirelessly as a team player" to meet clients' needs.

Pence, a paralegal for 25 years, is experienced in many areas of law including corporate, commercial, civil litigation, asset protection, real estate development, estate planning, probate litigation, elder law, bankruptcy, employment law, personal injury, title opinions and background investigations.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Paralegal Is a Hidden Heroine

One of the "Hidden Heroines" to be presented with an award on November 8 at the Fort Wayne Country Club is paralegal Sherry Myers. She has been involved with Girl Scouts as an area director and troop leader and also volunteers with the Women's Bureau's Transitions program. Myers is a paraletal with Benton Pantello Morris James Logan and is also a paralegal studies instructor at Ivy Tech.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 18 - Run-on, Fused Sentence)

Run-on sentences are sentences that run on forever, they are sentences that ought to have been two or even three sentences but the writer didn't stop to sort them out, leaving the reader feeling exhausted by the sentence's end which is too long in coming. (Like that one!)

Break the sentences up! This would be grammatically fine if we broke this up:
Run-on: I’m going home, I’m done for today, I need a bubble bath.

Right way: I’m going home. I’m done for today, and I need a bubble bath.

Fused sentences occur when two independent clauses are put together without a comma, semi-colon, or conjunction. For example: "The pretrial conference resulted in a settlement but the defendant was unhappy with the terms." This one is easy. Just put a comma between "settlement" and "but":

The pretrial conference resulted in a settlement, but the defendant was unhappy with the terms.

The end result is a happy, relaxed sentence.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Paralegal Possibly Fired for Political Affiliation

Does a paralegal's political affiliation affect her ability to do her job? Most of us would give a resounding "no" vote, but in Naugatuck, Connecticut, the campaign coordinator for a Democratic candidate for mayor and paralegal for the borough attorney claims she was fired due to her political leanings. Anne Ciacciarella filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New Haven on Wednesday claiming that borough attorney Donald Zehnder Jr. fired her from her paralegal job because Mayor Mike Bronko and two state representatives gave Zehnder an ultimatum: he could either fire Ciacciarella or lose his position as town counsel.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

TNCC Adds Paralegal Program

Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia has added an associate's degree program in paralegal studies for the fall semester, which begins Saturday.

For more information, visit TNCC's Web site at

Monday, August 13, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 17: Sentence Fragment)

All sentences have subjects and predicates. The predicate is the action, and the subject is the item doing the action.
On Sundays, Jane plowed through the want ads. Hoping that the next best job was buried in small print.

What’s wrong here? There is no subject in the second sentence. It should read:
On Sundays, Jane plowed through the want ads, hoping that the next best job was buried in small print.

My boss does amusing things. For example, smoking cigars and losing them somewhere in the office.

If you can’t attach a fragment to a sentence, make it a new sentence. Thus the second example becomes “My boss does amusing things. For example, he smokes cigars and loses them somewhere in the office.”

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Book Recommendation: My Job Went to India

Offshore outsourcing is something that we, as paralegals, need to be prepared to counter. It is happening, as more Indian lawyers are trained in U.S. law to do work for less than the cost of an in-house paralegal. However, we do not have to accept this as an eventuality.

In My Job Went to India: 52 Ways to Save Your Job (Pragmatic Programmers) by Chad Fowler, ways to keep your job while outsourcing happens all around you are detailed. The book is written for computer programmers, but I found it to be very useful for paralegals as well, with some creative reading between the lines. There are some sections that can be skimmed, but for the most part, this book is brimming with useful advice for professionals who want to build their careers and keep their jobs in the U.S. For those that have already seen work in their firms outsources, Fowler offers advice to distinguish yourself from others by working with and providing leadership for the offshore team.

In fact, in order to avoid the fate that has befallen programmers, I strongly recommend every single paralegal pick up a copy of this book and read it from cover to cover. It's a fairly quick read, and Fowler peppers his advice with examples from his own experience as a programmer AND as a jazz musician.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Paralegal Takes the Plunge

In the U.K., paralegal Hayley Wood raised more than £500 for charity by strapping on her parachute. Wood raised the money for Action Against Medical Accidents, and her employer, Irwin Mitchell, had been working closely with the organizers of the jump. It was an ideal opportunity to raise money for the charity that offers help to victims of medical accidents. The 26-year-old Wood joined a group of 15 who trained with the London Parachute Club before taking the plunge with an instructor.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 16: Pronoun Agreement Error)

Pronouns should also agree. When they don't, it’s not as ugly as subjects and verbs, but it really doesn’t look good and can be confusing. Many people have problems with pronoun agreement. They will write a sentence like "Everyone is entitled to their opinion." The problem is, "everyone" is a singular pronoun. Instead, "his" or "her" should be used.

Friday, August 3, 2007

ABA Reapproves Paralegal Program

CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- The American Bar Association has reapproved Gloucester County College's paralegal program.

The program, which will turn 10 years old next year, teaches students to help lawyers prepare for trials, closing arguments, and hearings. They investigate case facts, identify laws, analyze and organize information, and write reports to assist attorneys, including drafting contract and real estate documents, processing claims, and other client needs.

Complete program guides can be obtained by calling (856) 415-2150 or by visiting under the Business and Technology Division.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

PACO Elects First African-American as President of Organization

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Catherine Hawes was sworn in on Friday, July 20, 2007 by Judge James Green of the Franklin County Municipal Court as the first African-American President of the Paralegal Association of Central Ohio (PACO) in the 34-year history of the organization.

Catherine was voted in along with nine other board members at the last general membership meeting of PACO on June 18, 2007, and officially took office as of the swearing in ceremony. She is a member of the law firm of Lane, Alton & Horst and has been a litigation paralegal for 18 years. Catherine obtained her paralegal certificate from the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she graduated with honors. After graduation, she interned with the Honorable Judge Carmen Kelsey, 289th U.S. District Court in San Antonio, Texas. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Paralegal Studies from Hampton University, where she graduated Cum Laude.

As a member of the Paralegal Association of Central Ohio, she served three years on the board as PACO’s Primary Representative to the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. She most recently chaired the 2007 Annual Paralegal Day Event for central Ohio in which NBC 4 News Anchor Colleen Marshall emceed the event, and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner was the keynote speaker.

As Judge Green addressed the incoming board, he issued a charge to each of the new board members to not take the position as a resume builder but to accept their newly elected post only if they were up for the challenges. He then swore in the newly elected president and handed off the gavel, stating that it was symbolic of her new leadership position.

Catherine Hawes being sworn in by Judge James Green

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

From Teacher to Paralegal to Principal: Sacred Heart Hires New Principal

HOLLISTER, Calif. -- Sacred Heart Parish School in Hollister has hired Alaskan transplant Jennifer Smith as its new principal. Prior to her hiring, Smith was a law student and paralegal, and before that, a teacher. From her law school and paralegal experience, Smith hopes to have learned how to be a better advocate for children.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Paralegal Boosts County Fine Collections

WATERLOO, Iowa -- Despite misgivings over creating the position, the addition of a third paralegal to the Black Hawk County Attorney's Office has more than paid for itself. Originally, the request for the third paralegal was rejected in March 2006, but in August 2006, a supervisor changed his vote to allow for the hiring. The County Attorney's Office, with the third paralegal, collected $840,000 in fiscal year 2007, keeping $294,000, and earned a bonus from the state for the increased collections of $42,000. With just two paralegals working, the office collected $691,000 in fiscal year 2006, keeping $242,600.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 15: Subject-Verb Agreement)

It’s terrible to watch the subjects and verbs fight. They should always get along and work toward the common purpose of completing a sentence.

But this gets tricky when you are using collective nouns or pronouns and you think of them as plural nouns:
"The committee wants [not want] a resolution to the problem."

Mistakes like this also occur when your verb is far from your subject. For example:
"The media, which has the power to influence people, sometimes forgets its responsibility to the public."

Note that media is an "it," not a "they." The verbs are chosen accordingly.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Upcoming Paralegal Scholarship Deadlines

Don't forget, deadlines for the Andrea Lupanze, RP PACE Scholarship, Sponsored by Prentice-Hall, and the NFPA/Thomson West Scholarship are Wednesday, August 1!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Paralegal Joins Ruffino Real Estate

Anne Marie Bartlett is the newest member of the sales team at Weichert, Realtors - Ruffino Real Estate. She will specialize in residential sales.

Bartlett is a New York State certified paralegal who specialized in real estate prior to joining Ruffino.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

How to Improve Search Results: Advanced Google

The Internet can feel like a vast cyber-wasteland when you're looking for something specific and receive a bunch of generic, unhelpful search results. This article on discusses some advanced search techniques and how to determine the reliability of a Web site. (Don't let the title fool you; paralegals can definitely benefit from these tips!)

For example:
Google's advanced search feature, available by clicking Advanced Search next to the search box on Google's home page, allows fine-tuning of these results for more precision if the basic search returns too many irrelevant results.

Google can also search for specific terms in a Web site through its advanced search feature, as well as return more than the standard ten results per page.

Google also has several specialized databases (such as Google U.S. Government, allows the user to search through news articles on Google News, and has added a patent search.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Shingleton named Paralegal of the Year

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Lorena A. Shingleton, ACP, has been named Paralegal of the Year by the Legal Assistants/Paralegals of Southern West Virginia (LAPSWV). Shingleton is a paralegal in the Charleston office of Steptoe & Johnson.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Common Scold: PARALEGALS A-Z

Over at The Common Scold, Monica Bay summarizes the key points from Debra Hindin-King's panel at the NFPA Tech Institute, FAQs for Vendors, under PARALEGALS A-Z. Bay was the keynote speaker at the Institute, which took place in Pittsburgh this past Thursday and Friday.

Hindin-King offers some excellent tips for paralegals venturing into e-discovery, and this entry is worth a read for those curious about working with e-discovery vendors.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 14: Wrong Tense or Verb Form)

Most people understand how to build tenses. But I have seen the wrong use of tense, for example, "In the evenings, I like to lay on the couch and watch TV." "Lay" in this instance is the past tense of the verb, "to lie." The sentence should read: "In the evenings, I like to lie on the couch and watch TV."

(Please note that "to lay" is a separate verb meaning "to place in a certain position.")

Here are some other irregular verbs that can be confusing. This by no means covers them all, but it’s a start.

The base form of the verb is the verb in present tense. The past tense does not need any kind of helping verb, such as “She arose from slumber.” The past participle requires a helping verb, such as “the vampire has arisen from the dead.”

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Friday, July 20, 2007

A Virtual Legal Coffee Break

The Carson Law Firm, Family Law Attorneys in St. Louis, Missouri, have announced the Virtual Coffee Break, now available at The Virtual Coffee Break is a new Web site to read and learn about a variety of legal topics, not necessarily family law, long enough to enjoy a coffee break.

The Carson Law Firm covers a different legal topic at the Virtual Coffee Break section of the website -- just enough information to read on a coffee break. Virtual Coffee Breaks currently posted are the June Virtual Coffee Break that discusses Med-Pay insurance and the benefits of having it, and the July Virtual Coffee Break is about what to do if a lienholder refuses to file a Deed of Release after a debt secured by real estate has been paid and a proper demand has been made. In August, the Virtual Coffee Break will address the problem of junk faxes.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Sedona Conference® Publishes 'The Sedona Principles, Second Edition' Addressing Electronic Discovery

The Sedona Conference, a nonpartisan law and policy think tank, has announced publication of "The Sedona Principles, Second Edition, Best Practices Recommendations and Principles for Addressing Electronic Document Production."

In the second edition, the language of the principles themselves was updated only to the extent necessary to accommodate the language of the 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. However, the comments under each of the 14 principles were significantly updated to reflect the new rules, recent court decisions, and advances in electronic discovery technology.

"The Sedona Principles, Second Edition" is available free of charge for individuals to download from The Sedona Conference Web site.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 Develops Mesothelioma Portal has created a blog full of news, research and legal developments about mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare and severe type of lung cancer that is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, a once-popular building material that doctors now know is a carcinogen. Visitors to's mesothelioma lawyer portal can browse continually-updated news feeds, original articles, encyclopedia entries, a glossary of mesothelioma-related terms and an Asbestos & Mesothelioma blog, where users can read and comment on the latest news related to these topics.

Mesothelioma related to asbestos exposure is an ongoing problem, particularly for disaster relief workers who may have been exposed during Hurricane Katrina and September 11th cleanup efforts.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rockford Paralegal Honored by AAJ

ROCKFORD, Mich. -- The American Association for Justice named Rockford, Michigan paralegal Natalie Andrus their 2007 Paralegal of the Year. Andrus has worked with attorney Elliot Grysen of Spring Lake's Grysen and Associates for approximately nine years. She was selected based on her professional work, her capacity as an adjunct professor at Davenport University and her commitment to outside service work.

Andrus earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in legal studies from Eastern Michigan University. She formed Paralegal Specialists LLC, allowing her to independently offer her services to firms, including Grysen's and has been an adjunct professor in Davenport's paralegal studies department since 1994.

Paralegal Pay on the Rise

Paralegal compensation is rising, according to a recent article in New York Lawyer (requires sign-in).

IP paralegals top the list, with an average pay of $69,675. Family law paralegals brought up the rear, at 46% less than their IP counterparts. The national average is $59,973, up 9 percent from last year, while paralegal managers make $109,303. Typically, paralegals in law firms earn more than in-house paralegals.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 13: Tense Shift)

Be careful to stay in a consistent tense. Too often writers move from past to present tense without good reason – and good reasons are few and far between.
Bad: He finished writing the memo, and then he is calling his wife.

The example shifts from past tense to the present progressive. It is confusing. It is also a very extreme example, but I have seen it.
Good: He finished writing the memo and called his wife.

The second example is simpler. It looks better, it uses the same verb tenses, and it is cleaner.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

One Week Extension to Nominate a Paralegal for the 2007 Rookie of the Year Award

Legal Assistant Today is giving a one-week extension to nominate a paralegal or legal assistant for the 2007 Rookie of the Year award. The new deadline is Friday July 20, 2007 at midnight. The fifth annual Rookie of the Year contest is open to any paralegal who has one to three years of paralegal experience under the supervision of an attorney.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Estate Planning Blogs

My focus is estate planning and elder law, and I've found two excellent blogs on the subject.

Estate Planning Bits is written by the attorneys at Bacon & Wilson, P.C., a 110-year-old firm in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. Geared toward the consumer, the blog also features interesting articles on the whys and hows of Estate Planning, including directives, reverse mortgages, and Medicaid planning.

Estate Planning Practice Blog is authored by the attorneys at Tredway, Lumsdaine & Doyle, LLP, with offices across Southern California. This blog covers trusts, California probate, charitable giving, and more.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Trial Solutions Releases Version 9.0 of ImageDepot

Trial Solutions has released its on-demand version 9.0 of ImageDepot™, its easy-to-use and highly secure Internet-based software. On-demand software, also referred to as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), allows the user immediate access to the software with subscription and requires no purchase. ImageDepot™ serves litigation teams with document repository projects who need support from worldwide locations via the Internet.

ImageDepot™ version 9.0 includes the following features:

- Image and native file support
- User-based security profiles
- Document review work-flow management
- Document redaction and annotation feature
- User-defined field selection and ordering
- Email integration
- Real-time audit log and activity reports.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Palm Beach County Paralegal Helps With Civil Matters

The Palm Beach County Elder Justice Center is helping residents with civil matters such as eviction notices and small claims, mainly with the help of a paralegal.

The center's paralegal, Paula Wier has been on the job since February, and has helped about 100 people with legal matters. The Elder Justice Center was only equipped to handle criminal matters until Wier was hired. Plans are under way to have a more consistent presence at the South County Courthouse in Delray Beach, where Wier or another staffer will go on an as-needed basis or if requested by a judge.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

CVTC Legal Assistance Program Has First Graduation

Coosa Valley Technical College’s (CVTC) Economic Development Division recently held graduation for participants of the Legal Assistant program. This is the first class to graduate from the Legal Assistant program at CVTC, which is located in Rome, Georgia.

The Legal Assistant program is a seven month course offered as a continuing education course through CVTC’s Economic Development Division. Taught by local paralegals and attorneys, the program gives graduates the knowledge of various aspects of the law including litigation, family law, estate planning, real estate, criminal and civil litigation, business organizations, workers compensation and the daily responsibilities of a legal assistant/paralegal. As a part of the program, participants learned about preparing resumes, job interview skills, and the paralegal job market.

Amy Phillips, Paralegal and Office Administrator for McRae, Stegall, Peek, Harman, Smith & Manning, LLP, coordinates the Legal Assistant program at CVTC. Phillips has been a paralegal for 25 years and has written legal assistant course curriculums and coordinated paralegal programs at various colleges for many years.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 12: Unnecessary Shift in Person)

Shifting pronouns can confuse your reader. Stick to a single pronoun when writing a memo or e-mail. There is no need to shift from "I" to "we" or from "one" to "you" in the same paragraph, memo, or e-mail.

For example, you might write, "One would think that the new building was an architectural wonder. You must agree that it's beautiful." That is actually confusing. It is better to write, "You would think that the new building was an architectural wonder. You must agree that it's beautiful." Consistency is beautiful.

Friday, July 6, 2007

AWC Launches Paralegal Program

Arizona Western College is launching a new studies program for paralegals this fall. Students will be able to receive an associate degree or certificate in paralegal studies.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Ohio State Bar Certifies Paralegals

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- On Tuesday, the Ohio State Bar Association certified 82 paralegals. The new certification program designates paralegals who have met the requirements as "OSBA Certified Paralegals."

In order to be an OSBA Certified Paralegal, an applicant must meet the definition of a paralegal and be eligible to sit for the written examination after meeting specified education/experience, continuing legal education, and reference requirements.

The certification period for an OSBA Certified Paralegal is four years. Biennial reporting is required to maintain certification. At the end of the certification period, a paralegal may be recertified if the continuing legal education and reference requirements continue to be met.

Former Paralegal's Art Camp Gives Creative Outlet to Kids

Children from six to 14 have the opportunity to learn art at Jan's Art Studio. Jan Zakrzewski is a former paralegal who needed to explore her own creative impulses. As a self-trained artist, she made a living outside the legal profession by opening her own studio. Zakrzewski began the week-long art class last summer because she realized there were enough parents searching for a way to give their children a creative outlet and to broaden their horizons.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

InterLegis Releases DataMapper

InterLegis, Inc., a provider of web-based digital document management services, announced the release of DataMapper, a secure, browser-based, data preview module within Discovery360. The new DataMapper application allows legal teams to directly control the electronic data discovery (EDD) culling process in order to ensure only relevant documents are processed.

DataMapper provides legal teams time and cost savings by allowing them to reduce the document collection by testing "what-if" scenarios before committing to electronic discovery processing. DataMapper also performs the removal of duplicate documents prior to processing, further reducing costs.

Now within one product, legal teams can set their EDD strategy early, culling down large volumes of documents online using keywords, custodian, date ranges, concept folders and other metadata to discover potentially relevant and responsive documents. After the pre-processed data is culled, the integrated Discovery360 EDD processing module completes the processing of the electronic data, seamlessly delivering the native files within the Discovery360 review and repository module.

For more information, visit InterLegis at

Monday, July 2, 2007

New York City Paralegal Association Launches

Finally, there is a powerful medium for progress and professional advancement for all paralegals working within the Five Boroughs, White Plains and Westchester!

The New York City Paralegal Association (formerly Manhattan Paralegal Association) has been revived and was newly incorporated on May 25, 2007. They have created a powerful medium through which new and experienced paralegals, as well as paralegal students, can connect and network with colleagues. The Association will be offering its members regular conferences, seminars, and study groups to aid and supplement members' legal education and provide information on topics affecting the paralegal profession in general and New York City paralegals in particular.

The New York City Paralegal Association (NYCPA) has provided a list serve through, which its members are encouraged to use to discuss topics of interest, ask questions, network, and spread the word about job openings. They also have a newsletter, "The Paralegal Times," that will be published quarterly and will be available on their Web site, as well as in print form.

Membership in the New York City Paralegal Association also provides benefits beyond those associated with our local professional organization. Membership in the NYCPA also includes representation on the state level as a member of the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations (ESAPA) and nationally as a member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).

Membership is open to all paralegals and paralegal students at full, associate and student levels. Applications can be obtained by contacting or or by writing to the following address:

New York City Paralegal Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 4484
Grand Central Station
New York, New York 10163-4484

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 11: Possessive Apostrophe Error)

Sometimes apostrophes are incorrectly left out; other times, they are incorrectly put in (her's, their's, etc.)
Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's.
It doesn't matter what the final consonant is. Therefore:
James's friend
the cat's pajamas

The exceptions are the possessives of ancient proper names ending in -es and -is, the possessive Jesus', and such forms as for goodness' sake. Keep in mind that something like Isis' temple would be replaced with the temple of Isis.
Possessive pronouns do not have an apostrophe. However, indefinite pronouns use apostrophes to indicate possession:
one's rights
someone else's problem

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Iraq War Veteran Receives Paralegal Studies Award

An Iraq war veteran has received Oakland Community College's Fred M. Mester Excellence in Paralegal Studies Award. Mandeline Dreasky was a member of the 1775th Military Police Company out of Pontiac. She served in Kuwait and Iraq providing convoy escorts. In 2004, she enrolled in a paralegal program, but her studies were interrupted when her husband Sgt. Duane Dreasky suffered serious burn injuries in Iraq. He subsequently spent eight months in hospitals and rehab in Germany and Texas before he died in July 2006. Mandeline later returned to school, where she set an example for others in earning all A's.

Star Search: From Paralegal to Talent Agent

In Albuquerque, former paralegal Belinda Holbrook, along with her partner Marlyn Newby, operate one of about a dozen talent agencies in New Mexico. Holbrook, a former paralegal, also modeled on the side. When she was looking for an agent, a friend recommended her to Newby. After a few years, Holbrook gave up the modeling and paralegal work, and she decided to become an agent, joining Newby's firm in 2001.

Lawyer Overcharged, Bar Says

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Florida Bar says paralegals at lawyer Dennis Hernandez's law firm provided legal advice to clients and charged excessive fees for the work. One paralegal, Harry M. Walsh Jr., portrayed himself as a lawyer. Accompanied by inexperienced attorneys, he conducted meetings, gave legal advice and billed his services at the senior associate attorney rate of $300 per hour. Additionally, Walsh was listed on the firm's Web site as one of the attorneys. It turns out that Walsh, once a lawyer in Maryland, was suspended from practicing there in 2004 and was disbarred the following year.

Walsh is another reason why disbarred attorneys should not be working as paralegals.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Salary Stories: Average Salary of a Paralegal

Salary Stories: Average Salary of a Paralegal

An inside look at being a paralegal, this blog interviewed Michael Forster, a paralegal in Washington, D.C., who gives a candid look at his duties, factors that affect salary, and more.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Commissioners OK Hiring New Paralegal

Realizing the value of paralegals, the Tippecanoe County, Indiana commissioners approved the plan to hire a new paralegal, among other new positions. However, before the positions can be filled, the County Council must appropriate money for them. Budget hearings are slated for August.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Major Drug-Trafficking Ring Shut Down

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A major drug-trafficking ring was shut down, with help from four paralegals and a legal intern.

In announcing the two federal narcotics trafficking conspiracy indictments in the case, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor cited the efforts of Paralegal Specialists Kim Hall and Sandra Holland, Legal Assistant Carolyn Carter-McKinley and Patricia Hall, and Erica Radcliff, legal intern.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 10: Wrong/Missing Preposition)

Prepositions show the relation of a noun or pronoun to another word in the sentence. Occassionally, prepositions can be confusing.

Consider, for example which is better: "different from," or "different than?" Though both are used widely, "different from" is considered grammatically correct.

The same debate surrounds the words "toward" and "towards." Though both are used, "toward" is preferred in writing. When I was learning grammar back in Catholic school, the stern nuns would mark “towards” as “not a word.” Needless to say, I don’t use it anymore. When in doubt, check a handbook.

Former Paralegal Pleads Guilty

In Hartford, former paralegal Cheryl Zeman admitted to a single count of felony forgery. Under a plea agreement, 14 counts of felony forgery charges were dismissed.

Zeman was facing a total of 15 counts related to allegations that she made phony court orders by forging signatures and counterfeiting the official Superior Court seal in order to benefit a divorce case client.

At the time of the alleged crime, she was a paralegal at the law firm of Griswold, LaSalle, Cobb, Dowd & Gin, which currently represents the city of Hanford and the city council.

It remains unclear whether Zeman would avoid jail time for her crime as a result of the plea bargain.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

HughesWattersAskanase Adds Personnel

HOUSTON - HughesWattersAskanase L.L.P., a Houston-based law firm, recently added a new paralegal.

Jan Whaley joined HWA as a real estate paralegal for partner Gary S. Gunn. She received her paralegal certificate from the University of Houston and has multiple continuing education credits issued through Banker Systems, Inc., and Prosperity Bank. Whaley has 10 years of experience in real estate and was previously employed with Southern National Bank of Texas (now Prosperity Bank) as a real estate closer for both residential and commercial real estate transactions.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

County Zeroes in on Identity Theft

OLYMPIA, Wash. - In response to rising identity theft occurences, Thurston County commissioners have agreed to hire a full-time paralegal to allow Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Wheeler to turn his attention full time to prosecuting identity theft cases. Wheeler and the paralegal will join county sheriff’s detective Sgt. Jim Dunn and Detective Roland Weiss, who are assigned to the task force.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Employees of Crumley & Associates Receive North Carolina State Bar Paralegal Certification

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Crumley & Associates announced that three employees have received the North Carolina State Bar Paralegal Certificate.

The employees receiving the certifications were:
  • Courtney Abbott, senior PI case manager;
  • Lisa Macon, senior litigation case manager based in the firm's High Point office; and
  • Shelby Kernoodle, lead PI case manager based in the firm's Winston-Salem office.

In order to receive the certification, each applicant met strict criteria required by the North Carolina Sate Bar's paralegal certification program including at least 5000 hours of experience working as a paralegal, continuing education and a three hour ethics course.

Maybe Being a Paralegal Isn't for Him

CINCINNATI - A paralegal student faces jail in a threat to top the Virginia Tech shooting. Karsten Taylor was concerned that a "D" in his American studies class could hurt his ability to get a better-paying job, so he responded to the stress by threatening a school shooting. Taylor was studying to be a paralegal.

Perhaps being a paralegal isn't the best career choice for him, if this is how he's handling stress.

Attorneys’ Rates For Paralegal Work Inappropriate

Robinson v. Chand, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32347 (May 2)

The Eastern District of California reduced a requested attorney’s fees award because various tasks performed by the attorney could have been delegated to a paralegal: “paralegal work should be billed at an appropriate rate, regardless of the status of the person actually undertaking the work.” Here, the tasks that should have been billed at paralegal rates included preparing cover sheets, converting computer files, mailing and arranging for service of documents, scheduling matters, organizing case files, researching non-legal matters and preparing boilerplate documents.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 9: Wrong/Missing Inflected Ends)

"Inflected ends" refers to a category of grammatical errors that you might know individually by other names -- subject-verb agreement, who/whom confusion, and so on. The term "inflected endings" refers to something you already understand: adding a letter or syllable to the end of a word changes its grammatical function in the sentence. For example, adding "ed" to a verb shifts that verb from present to past tense. Adding an "s" to a noun makes that noun plural. A common mistake involving wrong or missing inflected ends is in the usage of who/whom. "Who" is a pronoun with a subjective case; "whom" is a pronoun with an objective case. We say "Who is the speaker of the day?" because "who" in this case refers to the subject of the sentence. But we say, "To whom am I speaking?" because, here, the pronoun is an object of the preposition "to."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Paralegal Billing from The Paralegal

The Paralegal is a new blawg by Ana Pierro of New Jersey. In Paralegal Billing, Ana describes the how, who, and why of keeping your time. Part of it is keeping accurate time; don't cut your time when you report it! It is the partner's responsibility to cut time, and seeing how long it takes on a task may prompt the partner to assign another paralegal to help, if it is a very time-consuming project. Also, be very descriptive with your time. It aids in billing and justifies the time you spent on the project.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 8: Wrong Word)

This pretty much speaks for itself.

Malapropisms happen when we use a word that is similar to the word we wanted – but the word that we use has a completely different meaning.

Then there are the times that we just, simply, use the wrong word. If you’re not sure of the word’s meaning, either use another word or grab a dictionary.
She diaphragmed the sentence.

In this example, it is impossible to diaphragm something. A diaphragm is a body part used for breathing. The author actually means, “She diagrammed the sentence.”

Friday, June 8, 2007

FileTrail Adds Mapping Technology to File Tracking

FileTrail Inc. has announced the addition of QuickMaps™ mapping to their Records Management products. QuickMaps allows staff to see where file folders are located on a floorplan of their office.

FileTrail developed the QuickMaps interactive mapping technology in response to customers who revealed that knowing who had the file did not always help. For example, in very large firms, not everyone knows where other people sit.

The maps show the physical location of a file, while a one-click-email link generates an email to the person holding the file, allowing a custom message to be entered before sending.

QuickMaps pinpoint the location of a specific file. A popup screen, over the person's desk, provides additional information including name, phone number, email address, and a list of what other files they also have. QuickMaps also works with a list of files - this functions like a graphical picklist, streamlining retrieval and delivery of files.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Paralegal Convicted of Felony Theft

MANITOWOC, Wisc. -- Paralegal Debra Hardtke of Kewaunee was convicted of felony theft Wednesday in Manitowoc County Circuit Court. She faces up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines when sentenced on August 31.

According to the criminal complaint, Hardtke took at least $207,800 from the law firm Whyte, Hirschboeck and Dudek S.C., Manitowoc, where Hardtke was an employee.

NHC Paralegal Program Redesigned

North Harris College, an ABA-approved school, has reformatted some of its paralegal course offerings. Some of its courses will be offered online, and some courses will be compressed into fewer weeks.

While it's an honorable gesture to allow students to take more courses in less time, it seems that shorter courses compromise learning, a la the "paralegal mills" that churn out graduates in 12 weeks. However, NHC will offer these courses for three hours on a Friday night and three hours on a Saturday morning, which seems to be more of a "paralegal boot camp" that would cover the material with the same number of credit hours.

NHC has also added Advanced Legal Research and Writing and Rules of Civil Procedure to its curriculum.

Paralegal studies students are given a personal Westlaw password for each semester. North Harris College also instituted a chapter of LEX (Lambda Epsilon Chi), the national honor society for paralegals. Paralegal students with a 3.5 grade point average are eligible for this honor, which added to a résumé gives a program graduate an edge over other job applicants.

Deadline for NFPA Awards Is July 15

The deadline to apply for the National Federation of Paralegal Associations awards is July 15, 2007. Awards will be announced at the annual convention in Tampa in October.

  • Outstanding Local Leader Award (expenses paid to attend the NFPA annual convention including airfare, two nights hotel, social event and meal per diem) This person demonstrates influential behavior in the paralegal profession; promotes interest and active participation in the activities of his/her local association; motivates others to work toward establishing and carrying out professional goals; and is recognized by the legal community as a committed professional dedicated to the advancement of the legal profession.

  • NFPA Paralegal of the Year Award (expenses paid to attend the NFPA annual convention including airfare, two nights hotel, social event and meal per diem) This award recognizes an individual NFPA member whose on the job achievements have contributed to expansion of the paralegal profession, inlcuding contributions to his or her employer and colleagues and the paralegal profession in general.

  • Individual Pro Bono Award (expenses paid to attend the NFPA annual convention including airfare, two nights hotel, social event and meal per diem and $1,000 sponsorship fee will fund a $1,000 donation to the pro bono project of the winner’s choice) This award is open to all practicing paralegals. The candidate need not be a member of NFPA. The paralegal must have exhibited true dedication to the delivery of quality legal services to a portion of the population that cannot afford to pay for legal services.

  • PACE Ambassador Award (expenses paid to attend the NFPA annual convention including airfare, two nights hotel, social event and meal per diem) This award is presented to an association and its PACE ambassador. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in promoting the PACE program.

  • Robie Award (expenses paid to attend the NFPA annual convention including airfare, two nights hotel, social event and meal per diem) The award recognizes an NFPA member in honor of the Honorable Willima R. Robie and his dedication to the paralegal profession, the expansion of the delivery of legal services and equal access to justice for all Americans.

  • PACE Scholarship - This award will cover the PACE exam fee, PACE Application and Handbook, PACE Study Manual, and enrollment in the AIPS on-line study course.

  • Association Pro Bono Award (A $500 sponsorship fee will fund a $500 donation to support the recipient’s pro bono program) This award recognizes an outstanding pro bono program that reaches a portion of the population that could not otherwise afford legal assistance. Each paralegal involved in the program must comply with all ethical standards as established by the member association and NFPA.

NFPA Award Procedures

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Paralegal Pleads to Taking Almost 700 Grand

Charleston, S.C. -- Paralegal Amy C. Smith pled guilty to wire fraud. She admitted that she took more than $700,000 from her firm's escrow account as part of a get rich quick scheme, which entailed wiring money to an accomplice in Ohio.

Ten Keys to a Successful Job Search


1. Take stock - (Know Yourself)

If you know your strengths and weaknesses and what you want in a career, then you have a much better chance of finding your perfect job. Finding that dream position starts with understanding your personality, values and what drives you. Taking a career and personality assessment is a huge first step towards optimizing your personal career path. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment is the most widely used personality instrument. More than 2 million worldwide assessments are performed each year by job seekers, professionals, and organizations, including 89 of the Fortune 100.

2. Networking - (Know others)

Many jobs are obtained through networking. It is a very important tool for job seekers and is an extremely fast and effective way to find your next job or career. While many employers advertise open positions on internet job boards like Career Search , you should find out about the “hidden job market” as well by talking to as many people as possible and letting them know you are looking for a job.

3. Accomplishment oriented resume - (Know how to write it well)

The purpose of a resume is not to get you a job, but to land an interview. An organized, industry-specific and accomplishment-oriented resume will get employers to take notice. In todays hyper-competitive job market, you simply cannot afford to send out a resume that is less than perfect.

Two Common Yet Easily-Avoidable Resume Mistakes
1. Always use a professional email address on your resume. While may be fine for conversing with friends, it will give employers a negative perception of your level of professionalism and commitment to your job search.

2. If your resume includes an objective statement, it should be geared to both your personal goals as well as the goals of the company. Describing how you can add value to the company will give potential employers the impression that your goal is to provide a long-term commitment.

4. Job proposal - (Know your value)

Get the attention of decision-makers at a company through a Job proposal. It’s a one or two page “mini business plan” that’s intended to get you an interview with the decision-maker of a targeted prospective employer. While a resume tells someone what you have done in the past, a job proposal shows in some detail what you are going to do for the company down the road. Specifically, it lays out how you will help them achieve their vision of success. It generally explains the vision you have for a new product or service, how to enhance an existing program, or why to implement a new process. It may also outline your plan to increase company sales or improve accounts receivable. When you challenge the relevance of traditional job search strategies and begin utilizing tools and techniques that clearly distinguish you from the pack, most anything is possible, including winning a dream job with a great company during a down economy.

5. Industry Knowledge - (Know your market)

During your job search, it is imperative to show initiative and drive while continually looking to improve your industry knowledge. In today’s competitive job market, staying up-to-date on your industry is crucial to your future success. To be a truly outstanding business professional, you must not only understand trends and developments in your own industry, but the trends and developments in an average consumer’s industry.

6. Research - (Know the players)

There is no substitute for hard work and research. Knowing which companies are hiring in your area is only half the battle. Take your search to another level by getting access to key contacts, decision makers, and hiring managers. Check out sites like to gain access to these types of lists.

7. Interviewing - (Know how to communicate)

The biggest mistake in interviewing is not being fully prepared. It is crucial for job-seekers to use every conceivable means possible to prepare for an interview and to allow ample time to fully prepare. Understand that interviewing is a skill; as with all skills, preparation and practice enhance the quality of that skill. Preparation can make the difference between getting an offer and getting rejected.

Practice Answering These Commonly-Asked Interview Questions:
1. Tell me about yourself.
2. Where do you expect to be in five years?
3. Describe a work-related problem you had to face recently. What did you do to deal with it?
4. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?

8. Marketing - (Know how to sell yourself)

An interactive marketing portfolio of yourself pulls together your accomplishments, education, experience and awards in one place. It is a highly-effective job-hunting tool that you develop that gives employers a complete picture of who you are -– your experience, your education, your accomplishments, your skill sets, and what you have the potential to become -– much more than just a cover letter and resume can provide. You can use your career portfolio in job interviews to showcase a point, to illustrate the depth of your skills and experience, or to use as a tool to get a second interview. Don't forget to setup your portfolio at Career Search . The best kinds of portfolios can be built and distributed to employers through the internet.

9. Background Check - (Know your history)

With thousands of resumes to choose from, employers often select from pre-screened candidates first, as these job seekers appear more serious in their job quest and commitment. Pre-screening by the job seeker saves the employer valuable time and money, and places pre-screened candidates ahead of the competition.

10. Learning never ends - (Know more)

The investment of time and money in continuing your education sends a powerful message to prospective employers that you are serious about improving your skills and abilities. Employers are more likely to hire candidates that show the desire and commitment for lifelong learning. Whether it’s a certificate program, associates, bachelors, or masters degree, there is a program to fit your lifestyle, schedule and budget.