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 Law.com 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.”

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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 www.thecarsonlawfirm.com. 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

LegalView.com Develops Mesothelioma Portal

LegalView.com 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 LegalView.com'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 www.imagedepot.com.

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 www.interlegis.com.

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 yahoogroups.com, 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 letitiamsmith@excite.com or ogierke@yahoo.com 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.