Thursday, May 31, 2007

Paralegal Job Satisfaction Up

Paralegal Employment Opportunities And Job Satisfaction, Paralegal Salaries on LawCrossing shows that, overall, paralegals are happy in their jobs. Using data taken from an NFPA survey, nearly half of those surveyed said their job satisfaction was high or very high. Only 10% rated their job satisfaction as low, and a mere 3% rated it very low.

Annual salaries ranged from $24,000 to upwards of $61,000, with the median being $33,000. Location does matter, though: a survey from Payscale, Inc. placed the median salary for paralegals in Los Angeles at $48,000.

Of course, as with everything, there is a caveat, what the schools don't tell you when you're perusing their glossy brochures:

Of course, a paralegal career isn't for everyone. The grind and stress of litigation, not to mention the long hours involved, cause some to change career paths. ...

In truth, some firms can be likened to sweatshops replete with screaming lawyers and trial preparation that often involves working late into the night and spending hours on tedious photocopying and coding, sometimes in dingy surroundings. Some people are just not suited to working in certain areas of the paralegal field, especially litigation.


However, if you handle stress well, opportunities abound, and not just in law firms and government organizations. Museums, universities, nonprofits, detective agencies, newspapers, and TV stations all utilize paralegals

Last Day of Regular Registration for the NFPA Tech Institute!

Today is the last day to register at the regular rate for the NFPA Tech Institute.

Act now to take advantage of the Regular Registration Rates of:
$275 for NFPA members;
$300 for non-NFPA members; and
$175 for students (with the requirement that the school’s program director signoff on the registration form to confirm student status).

View the brochure here.

Remember, NFPA has been approved for nine (9) hours of continuing legal education credit by NFPA and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board, which includes two (2) hours of ethics credit. We urge you to invite the attorneys with whom you work, as they can receive CLE credit as well!!

Register now to avoid the last-minute stress and hassle!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Keeping Paralegal Jobs in the U.S.

These days, companies are looking for as many ways as possible to save money. One of the ways they cut costs is overseas outsourcing of routine work. For example, computer companies outsource their call centers to India. Law firms have noticed and are considering outsourcing paralegal work. Sending routine documents to centers for drafting and completion seems like a perfectly reasonable way to save money, instead of paying a full-time paralegal.

However, outsourcing is not without its downsides. For starters, these centers may be breaches of attorney-client privilege. The centers may not have the same standards regarding confidentiality as the law firm, either. Document preparation may not be completed properly, especially with a language barrier and without knowledge of the laws in the jurisdiction. Legal documents can be wildly complex, and a paralegal in an overseas preparation center may not be able to catch the nuances of the English language or know the specific rules of the jurisdiction in which the document is being used.

With these two serious problems, clients will not get the best representation they deserve. True, they may have a lower bill, but they may also have their documents prepared incorrectly or face a confidentiality breach.

Outsourcing seems to create more problems than it solves. It may be a cost-effective way to handle customer service calls, but when it comes to legal documents, nothing can beat the expertise and knowledge of a paralegal trained in the relevant jurisdiction.

Read the NFPA's Position Statement on Outsourcing Paralegal Duties to Foreign Countries

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

CSC and Serengeti Announce XML Integration Between CSC's Service of Process and Serengeti's Matter Management Systems

Corporation Service Company (CSC) and Serengeti have announced the successful integration of CSC's service of process ("SOP") with Serengeti's matter management system, enabling information and documents from CSC to be delivered electronically into Serengeti's online system. This integration enables corporate legal departments to reap the benefits of immediate delivery of litigation documents and greater efficiency in meeting response deadlines.

This system integration enables corporate law departments to benefit from the following key components:
- Anytime access to SOP downloads from CSC to Serengeti of imaged documents/transmittal data;
- Accelerated assessment for each download utilizing an integrated summary cover sheet that identifies key information regarding the SOP data and litigation documents;
- Hourly alerts from Serengeti to the corporate client when new information is ready for processing;
- Automatic SOP routing to existing Serengeti matters that have the same case number;
- Efficient creation of new matters in Serengeti as necessary, populated with the SOP information from CSC; and
- Online tracking of response deadlines in Serengeti, including personal dashboard and e-mail alerts to responsible individuals.

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 7 - Missing Comma in a Series)

Whenever you list things, use a comma. You'll find a difference of opinion as to whether the next-to-last noun (the noun before the "and") requires a comma. ("Apples, oranges, pears, and bananas...") I suggest using the comma because sometimes your list will include pairs of things: "books and tapes, CDs and DVDs, and magazines." If you are in the habit of using a comma before the "and," you'll avoid confusion in sentences like this one.

Friday, May 25, 2007

New "Legal Newsroom" Blog Gives Timely Briefs on Personal Injury Law

READING, Pa. -- Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C. has added a breaking legal news feature to their Web site, www.lieverhymanandpotter.com. The Legal News Room will offer summaries and opinions on recent court rulings and other activities involving personal injury and medical malpractice law.

The Web site also includes answers to "The 12 Key Legal Questions" regarding automotive, truck and motorcycle accident cases.

Zelnorm Recall Site Launched

The law firm of Hissey Kientz, LLP has announced the launch of its new website, Zelnorm-Recall.com. This new site will provide patients with information about the potential health risks of Zelnorm, as well as medical and legal information concerning the recent recall of Zelnorm in the United States.

Zelnorm was designed to treat the symptoms of constipation associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Initially, the drug was rejected by the Food and Drug Administration due to a link between Zelnorm and abdominal problems, and its limited effectiveness at treating IBS. Zelnorm was eventually approved in July 2002, despite studies indicating an increased risk of ovarian cysts among Zelnorm patients.

After a routine safety review of Zelnorm in February 2007, the FDA was informed of clinical trial data concerning the drug which indicated that Zelnorm users were at an increased risk of cardiovascular side effects compared to patients treated with a placebo. Because of this risk, Zelnorm patients were about eight times more likely to suffer heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular side effects.

Based on this information, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Zelnorm, withdrew the drug in the United States at the FDA's request. As a result, Zelnorm will no longer be sold or marketed in the United States. The FDA says that Novartis is planning to issue a full Zelnorm recall, although no date has been announced.

Fort Worth Paralegal Leslie Stokes Named Legal Professional of the Year

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Leslie G. Stokes, Certified PP, PLS, TSC-CL, at the Law Offices of Steven C. Laird, P.C., in Fort Worth, has been named Legal Professional of the Year for 2007-2008 by the Texas Association of Legal Professionals.

Stokes, a native of Fort Worth, was presented with the award at the Texas ALP's recent annual meeting in Arlington. She has worked as a paralegal at the Laird firm for the past six years. Stokes works on complex medical malpractice and personal injury cases.

Stokes has served as an officer of the Fort Worth Association of Legal Professionals, including two terms as its president. The Fort Worth Legal Secretaries Association honored her as its "New Member of the Year 1993-1994" and "Legal Secretary of the Year 1995-1996." In addition, she was recognized as one of eight Tarrant County "Women in Law" in 2002.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

IPA Blawg: Want To Be More Professionally Respected In Your Workplace?

IPA Blawg: Want To Be More Professionally Respected In Your Workplace? Consider Becoming a Credentialed Paralegal Through a National Exam

[O]ne of the best ways we, as paralegals, can hope to be more professionally respected in the workplace is to become a credentialed paralegal through a national exam. Another Board member, who is currently making plans to begin studying for PACE, also told me recently that she has noticed increased respect from her employer simply by virtue of showing an interest in sitting for the examination. She also saw a noticeable difference in her employer’s professional respect for her through her involvement on the IPA Board. Two other PACE Registered Paralegals recently pondered whether employers even understand what an “RP” or “CP” means to the legal profession. There seems to be little question as to the meaning, for example, when someone writes “RN” after his or her name. All of these points are very well taken.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Paralegal Named as Director of Leadership Programs

KINGSPORT, Tenn. -- Former paralegal Vickie Snodgrass has been named by the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce as its new director of leadership programs. Snodgrass previously served in the mortgage division with Bank of Tennessee and as a long-term care ombudsman and paralegal for Legal Aid of East Tennessee of Johnson City.

Prior to that, she held the position of staff paralegal at the Legal Services of Upper East Tennessee Inc. Kingsport.

Former Paralegal Opens Own Law Firm

EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. -- Mary K. Eaton, a paralegal for over 20 years, along with Kara S. Rescia, has opened up her own law firm, Eaton & Rescia, Attorneys at Law. Eaton attended Elms College in Chicopee, and almost 30 years later, graduated from Western New England College School of Law in 2001.

"My husband really pushed me to go back to school and, after working as a paralegal for more than 20 years, I figured I would try it," she said.


Eaton focuses on estate planning and real estate, while Rescia is a bankruptcy and small business lawyer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Some Former Students Say Sanford-Brown Degree Worthless

Beware of the for-profit college industry, those folks offering a quick degree for a lot more than the cost of a community college education. Some former students say their Sanford-Brown degrees are worthless. Sanford-Brown's parent company, Career Education Corporation, is located in Hoffman Estates, Ill. They operate 77 campuses in the United States, France, Canada, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Goodbye to One of Our Own: Soldier Killed in Iraq Identified

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- One of the three paratroopers killed in Iraq on Thursday has been identified. Spc. Coty Phelps was killed by an IED, along with two other soldiers. Phelps was a paralegal and a member of the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division based out of Fort Richardson. He was born in Lake Havasu City, Arizona in 1986 and joined the Army in 2004.

Thank you, Spc. Phelps, for your service to the United States.

BofA Sued for Violating Fair Labor Standards

In addition to a suit alleging bias, Bank of America is being sued for violating fair labor standards for not paying overtime to paralegals. From the Charlotte Observer:

Bank of America Corp. was sued by a former paralegal over claims the bank failed to pay overtime to employees who worked through meal breaks and outside of normal business hours.

The bank's failure to compensate employees for all hours worked violates federal fair labor standards and Delaware laws, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday by William Wersinger in Wilmington, Del., federal court.

"The bank has not fully investigated the allegations in the complaint," bank spokeswoman Shirley Norton said. "The bank has well-established policies and procedures on associate pay that are designed to ensure associates are paid in accordance with federal and state laws."

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 6 - Comma Splice)

A comma splice occurs when two independent clauses are joined only with a comma. For example:
My cat chased the mouse, the mouse got away.

The proper form would be:
My cat chased the mouse, and the mouse got away.

These are two clauses that could stand alone and therefore need a comma to separate them.

A comma splice also occurs when a comma is used to divide a subject from its verb. For example:
I was tired, and took a nap.

(The subject “I" is separated from one of its verbs, “took." There should be no comma in this sentence.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Limited Edition Oval Stickers!

For a limited time, I'm selling Limited Edition Oval Stickers. Perfect for your car, a notebook, or to decorate your workspace, these stickers also make great gifts. Get them before they're gone!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Paralegal Seeks Nomination for Clerk of Circuit Court

Christiansburg, Va. -- Paralegal Erica Williams is seeking the nomination for Clerk of Circuit Court in Montgomery County, Virginia.

Running in the November General Election, Williams wants to bring a customer service-based, user-friendly atmosphere to the clerk's office. She has worked in the Commonwealth attorney's office and currently serves as a deputy clerk with the general district court. Williams has 18 years of experience working with the courts. She holds an AAS paralegal degree form Virginia Western Community College and comes highly recommended by her former employer.

Williamson Intellectual Property Law Announces Staff Additions

Williamson Intellectual Property Law, LLC has announced two new additions to their staff -- and neither are attorneys.

Paralegal Andrea (Drea) Parlier and Technical Writer Daniel Daugherty have joined the team at Williamson Intellectual Property Law.

Drea arrives with several years of experience as a paralegal in intellectual property matters. She has experience in marketing, in managing trademark filings, and in assisting in litigation discovery requests and filing. In addition to her paralegal certificate from Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, Drea has an Associates of Arts degree from Georgia Military College in Warner Robins, Georgia.

Daniel will soon be taking the United States Patent & Trademark Office exam to become a Patent Agent. Daniel received his Juris Doctor and his Masters of Intellectual Property from Franklin Pierce Law Center, Concord, New Hampshire, and has studied intellectual property in China and Ireland, and has worked as a Summer Associate in Germany. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with honors from the University of Alabama-Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Paralegal Acfalle Earns Promotion in Missouri National Guard

Paralegal Joey S. N. Acfalle recently was promoted to the rank of staff sergeant as a member of the Missouri Army National Guard. Acfalle is currently the brigade paralegal for the 110th Combat Support Brigade out of Kansas City.

Of his award, Acfalle said, "I am not just a legal man, but a soldier. My accomplishment is by no means all mine; it is due to the leadership I received from day one in the Guard. Through trial and error, challenges and rewards, slippery slopes and facts, every leader, trainer, and soldier provided me the skills, knowledge, and abilities which brought me to my position and rank today."

Monday, May 14, 2007

From Paralegal to Director of Recruiting

Former paralegal Victoria A. Martignetti has joined Somerville, N.J. law firm Norris McLaughlin & Marcus P.A. as director of recruiting. Martignetti served as a litigation paralegal and as a recruitment coordinator previously. She holds a bachelor's degree from Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

At Norris McLaughlin, Martignetti will oversee all recruiting functions, including the hiring of professional staff (attorneys and paralegals); administration of the summer associate program; creation and implementation of integration, retention and development programs; coordination of performance evaluations; as well as recruiting-related budgeting and marketing.

More College Alums Graduating to Trade School

More college alums are graduating to trade school, according to the Star-Tribune. Hailed as the new "graduate school," trade schools teach these college graduates skills necessary for an assortment of careers, including paralegal careers.

The legal world values education, [DeAnne] Brooks [director of support staff placement at Esquire Group in Minneapolis] said, and sees a college degree as a sign of accomplishment and maturity.

But it's the paralegal training that gives people such as [Stephanie] Johnson the essential skills law firms look for. "We get a lot of people fresh out of school, and they have no idea what they want to do with their English degree," Brooks said. "They see one of our ads and they call us up and say, 'I'd love to do that work.'

"Then we say, 'OK, if you don't have any legal experience, we recommend you check into one of the paralegal schools."



See also: Bachelor's Degree Holders Decide to Hit the Books Again.

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 5 - Unnecessary commas with restrictive clauses)

The flip side of leaving out commas with unrestrictive clauses is putting in commas with restrictive clauses. This is troublesome, too. When you have a clause that restricts something in the sentence to a certain meaning, you don’t need a comma.

The document boxes were full of papers dating from before the project began.


For example, in this sentence, “dating from before the project began” is a restrictive clause. It restricts the papers to just papers that were dated before the project began. Therefore, it doesn’t need a comma. That comma is superfluous.

If you’re not sure whether or not the clause is restrictive, remove it from the sentence. If the meaning of the sentence changes significantly, then you’ve removed a restrictive clause. In the example, the clause defines the type of papers. If the clause was “which were yellowed with age,” that would be non-restrictive, because it doesn’t significantly change the meaning of the sentence.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Preparing to Survive a Dead-End Job

Written for associates, Law.com's Preparing to Survive a Dead-End Job can easily apply to paralegals. Just replace "associate" with "paralegal," and you'll find yourself nodding in agreement. These tips are great for managing your career, even if you're very pleased with your current position. The article suggests building personal and business relationships, obtaining skills early, buiding your resume by teaching courses or giving seminars, participating in pro bono efforts, and writing articles. If we're serious about our careers, we should already be doing these things!

It is never too early to build one's credentials in preparation for promotion or job change. [Paralegals] should begin preparing themselves to seek new positions early on -- even if they don't want to change jobs right away. They will find that the best things they can do to prepare for new positions are the very same things that will help them make their present positions more secure.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bar Association Reapproves College’s Legal Assistant Majors

The American Bar Association has reapproved Pennsylvania College of Technology’s legal assistant majors. Only 14 programs in Pennsylvania are ABA-approved. Penn College offers a bachelor’s degree in legal assistant/paralegal studies, an associate degree in legal assistant/paralegal and a certificate in nurse/health care paralegal studies. All paralegal courses in Penn College’s program are taught by licensed attorneys. Students complete a required internship in a law firm, government agency or law-related office.

Florida Paralegal Arguments - Watch the Video!

Oral argument in the Florida Supreme Court regarding the paralegal regulation proposal was conducted on April 16, 2007. You can view the video through Windows Media Player or Real Player or read the transcripts at the following link:

http://www.wfsu.org/gavel2gavel/archives/07-04.html

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Pa. Ruling: Paralegals Can Represent Employers at Unemployment Compensation Hearings

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has ruled that non-attorneys can represent employers at unemployment compensation hearings (full text of the opinion). Decided on April 17, 2007, this case paves the way for paralegals to represent clients at administrative hearings and at smaller judicial proceedings. The opinion stated:

Simply stated, the character of the activities performed by representatives at unemployment hearings coupled with the informal nature of these proceedings, the minimal amounts at issue, and the long history of participation by non-lawyer representatives suggest that the public does not need the protection that serves as the basis for classifying certain activities to constitute the practice of law and that indeed, finding non-lawyer representatives to be engaging in the practice of law by acting in unemployment compensation proceedings would impose an unnecessary burden on the public.

Kellie Pickler's Career Trial & Error

Being a paralegal isn't for everyone. Kellie Pickler, of American Idol fame, once enrolled in a paralegal program, but quickly realized it was not for her. She didn't elaborate on why. Her biggest fear was not having a satisfying career. Fortunately for her, American Idol launched her performing career.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Who Handles the Intersection of Law and Technology?

Only four percent of paralegals are responsible for managing the "intersection of law and technology," according to Fios, Inc.'s latest webcast poll. Taken during the April 24th webcast entitled "Technology Counsel - Corporations Harnessing the New Federal Rules of Civil Procedure," Fios asked attendees, "Who at their company or firm is responsible for managing the intersection of law and technology?"

With an audience of nearly 100 equally divided from corporations and law firms, the poll revealed the following:

•General Counsel - 12%
•IT - 16%
•Staff attorney - 24%
•Paralegal - 4%
•Litigation Support, Practice Support - 30%
•Partner - 14%
•Associates - 0%

The poll also revealed that in the law firm, the litigation support or practice support professionals are primarily responsible (52%). Inside the corporation, it's more likely to be a staff attorney (35%) or somebody from the IT department (22%).

Upcoming webcasts that will feature the new Fios Webcast Poll include:

•eDiscovery and Retention: Living with the Rule 26(f) Conference and Rule16(b) Order
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern (Webcast Length: 1 hour)
Faculty: Marie Lona | Winston Strawn, LLP

•Advanced Litigation Issues in E-Discovery
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern (Webcast Length: 1 hour)
Faculty: Sharon L Caffrey, Esq.; Partner | Duane Morris LLP

•FRCP - Discovery Obligations
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern (Webcast Length: 1 hour)
Faculty: Thomas Y. Allman, Senior Counsel | Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP and Mary Mack, Technology Counsel and Director | Fios, Inc.

•Funding e-Discovery Through a Pigouvian Assessment
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern (Webcast Length: 1 hour)
Faculty: Jay Brudz, Senior Counsel | General Electric (GE) and Mary Mack, Technology Counsel and Director | Fios, Inc.

Fios' webcasts are one hour in length and are offered at no charge. Pre-registration is required. More information on the webcasts, topics being discussed, newly added sessions, and how to register is available on Fios' website at: http://www.fiosinc.com/events/webcasts.html. Fios' Webcast Poll results can be found at www.technologycounsel.org.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 4 - No comma in nonrestrictive relative clauses)

A restrictive clause is essential to the sentence. A non-restrictive clause is not. Restrictive clauses restrict the meaning of the word that’s being modified, and these do not need commas. The word “that” is used often to identify a restrictive clause. For example, in “I found a case that was on point,” “that” and the words after restrict “case” to “a case on point.”

A nonrestrictive clause does not restrict any words in the sentence but merely adds to it. The sentence itself is more general. These require commas and are identified by the use of the word “which.” In other words, nonrestrictive clauses enhance the sentence but are not essential to the meaning of the sentence.
In the example below, adding “which was hard to find” clarifies what kind of case was being sought, but it is not essential to the sentence. It could just as easily be placed in another sentence.

The associate needed a case dealing with loss of consortium, which was hard to find.

Friday, May 4, 2007

A More Productive Commute by iPod

Commuting is the bane of my current existence. While my commute is nowhere near the hour I used to spend on the commuter rail when I lived in the Boston area, and while it is certainly shorter than any Los Angeles-based commute I've ever had, it still is, in my mind, an hour of the day where I cannot be productive. My commute is too short for audio books, yet too long to just listen to the radio.

Ever since I got my Apple 4 GB iPod Nano, however, the commute has become a productive hour where I can learn about different areas of law from Legal Lad, hear columns on ways to Win at Work, and even learn to speak Italian. I've subscribed to several podcasts through Apple's iTunes software, which is necessary for transferring files to my iPod. iTunes automatically synchronizes new podcasts to my iPod, so each time I plug my iPod into my computer, my iPod is updated with new listening material. And with my TuneCast Auto Adapter, I can plug my iPod in and broadcast podcasts and music through my car's FM radio.

Podcasts can be enjoyed on almost any MP3 player, however. If you're looking for something to listen to during your commute, you can check out Podcast.net, a comprehensive directory of podcasts downloadable to MP3 players. Happy Commuting!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Last Day for Early Registration for NFPA Tech Institute

Today is the last day you can register at the early registration price for the NFPA Tech Institute! Visit www.paralegals.org for information, or click here to go to the Registration page!

Commentary: A Conspicuous Hole in Ethics Training

Paralegal Cindy Lopez's Commentary: A Conspicuous Hole in Ethics Training discusses the one group that does not get subjected to rigorous ethics courses: paralegals. Most of the time, ethics are not an issue with paralegals until a problem arises. Some of the most common ethical violations are:
  • Paralegals and support staff failing to properly identify themselves in telephone and written communications, leaving the impression they were attorneys;
  • Paralegals and support staff giving advice in response to questions from clients;
  • Paralegals and staff engaging in conversations with clients in the reception area in front of other clients; and
  • Staff lecturing, berating clients or being otherwise disrespectful to clients or court personnel.


Side note: ALWAYS be nice to court personnel. These are the people that can get your paperwork approved, or find a way to move it to the bottom of the pile. Plus, they work at the court. That can't be fun.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Opinions Vary on Voluntary Exams

The case for regulation is heating up, but when it comes to voluntary certification, results are lukewarm. Legal Assistant Today's survey published in the May/June 2007 issue reports the opinions of readers on the merits of passing a voluntary certification exam. There is no agreement on whether or not certification offers career benefits. Only 26.8 of respondents have passed a certification exam, but of those that passed, 79 percent believe it has helped their careers.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Canadian Paralegals Now Required to Have License to Do Auto Insurance, Immigration Cases

The controversial Canadian legislation that will regulate paralegals goes into effect today. Paralegals working in auto insurance and immigration will need a special license, and the Law Society of Upper Canada has stated the areas where paralegals can work. Provincial Offences court and in any legislation created by the province are still fair game for paralegals. Opponents of the regulation argue that access to legal services will be limited, and that paralegals will lose their jobs.