Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New NFPA CLEs for March!


Administrative law is that branch of law that defines and limits relationships between government agencies and people. Administrative law defines agency powers, agency limitations, and remedies available to parties aggrieved by agency action.

Administrative Law can be divided into four major areas that will be covered in this seminar. Unit One will provide an overview of administrative law in general. Unit two will provide and introduction to due process and agency acquisition of information. Unit Three will provide an introduction to adjudication and Unit Four will cover the judicial review of agency action.

This is a fourteen-day seminar intended to provide the litigation paralegal with a basic understanding of e-Discovery and the processes involved in the preservation, collection, and production of electronic data so they can make informed decisions when assigned to a case involving computer forensics or eDocs. Unit One will provide an introduction to e-Discovery and discuss what effects the recent "explosion" of e-Discovery will have on the litigation paralegal's duties and what skills they should acquire. Unit Two will discuss the duty to preserve (evidentiary) electronic data and how the paralegal can assist their supervising attorney and the client with the process of preservation. Unit Three will discuss the collection and production of electronic data, some common pitfalls to avoid during each procedure, and the preparation of deposition and trial exhibits from electronic files. Unit Four will discuss the "Dark Side" of e-Discovery –– spoliation and sanctions –– and the best ways to avoid inadvertently ruining the client's case.

This seminar is designed to provide the paralegal with a working and practical introduction of what to expect while working in an office environment as a paralegal. The goal of this seminar is to give realistic examples of different scenarios that may be encountered in the legal environment while also providing an introduction to things that do not involve legal concepts but are necessary to the legal world such as time sheets.

The paramount goal of the seminar is provide the paralegal with information which will assist them in their positions as paralegals. The seminar is designed to put job functions and the general law firm environment in a realistic perspective.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Paralegals Help Bangladeshi Women

In Bangladesh, paralegals working for the Banchte Shekha Foundation are volunteers trained in Muslim family law. They assist villagers with dowry, marital disputes, legal divorce, and inheritance. They also provide information to villagers about their rights, and they participate in the shalish, the village form of mediation in Bangladesh.

Three hundred and fifty women have been trained so far as paralegals. They work under the direction of one of the earliest Banchte Shekha members, Rokeya Sattar, herself a village woman who was married at thirteen and abandoned at twenty-two with her four children.

The paralegals have proven to be very effective. By July 1991, they had settled 2,119 disputes at the village level and effected 2,382 marriages without dowry. Attorneys who have evaluated the program have been struck by the poise and confidence of the women as they put their cases before the shalish or hold their own in difficult negotiations.

The legal program has been further strengthened by Asia Foundation support that gives the women the money and the clout to say that they will take a case to court and litigate if mediation fails. In the first four years of the program they have won 278 court cases.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Paralegal Outlook for 2008: We're Not Recession-Proof

Economists say we're heading into a recession, and the first question for many of us is, "Will I still be employed?"

The answer is maybe. According to Robert Half Legal, litigation paralegals will still be in demand as firms tackle rising caseloads, or so the optimists say.

But according to a recent post on The Estrin Report, the outlook for securities, real estate, and finance paralegals is grim. Estrin recalls the recent "booms": the Internet boom of 1999-2001 and the all-too-recent real estate boom. Both created an abundance of jobs, but once the bubble burst, paralegals, along with other professionals, were left scrambling for employment.

It is axiomatic that companies tend to spend more on outside services such as law firms when times are good than when the economy is in trouble. Even litigation caseload goes down (while bankruptcy work goes up).

Estrin continues:
As an aside, if your work is good and you and others in your organization are being told there is a problem with your performance—look out. This is often a sure sign that the firm or company is experiencing serious economic problems. Firms typically do not lay people off—they let them go under the guise of performance-related problems.

All around, recessions are bad news, and paralegals are not immune. If you haven't already, start looking at opportunities to cross-train and learn new areas of law. Keep your resume updated. Don't let a "layoff" catch you napping.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Legal Profession Blog: It's Hard To Supervise An Incarcerated Paralegal

Legal Profession Blog: It's Hard To Supervise An Incarcerated Paralegal: "An attorney with a previous record of a public reprimand was suspended for 60 days by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The attorney was appointed to represent a defendant who was eventually sent to prison. While the client was incarcerated, the lawyer hired him as a paralegal."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Justices Consider Legal Aid Proposal

Justices Consider Legal Aid Proposal: "Small businesses that provide legal documents for do-it-yourself court filings would be forced to close under a proposal before the Hawaii Supreme Court.

The Hawaii State Bar Association has asked the court to clarify a law that covers unauthorized practice by nonlawyers.

'This basically shuts me down,' objects Betty Marais, whose business, Legal-Ez, attracts about 20 to 30 customers a month.

Other critics say the proposed new definition would crimp the livelihoods of Realtors, accountants, architects, title insurance companies and sports agents and the activities of public interest groups."

North York Paralegals Suing Attorney General, Law Society

North York Paralegals Suing Attorney General, Law Society:

"Three paralegals, including two from North York, have filed a lawsuit against Ontario's attorney general and the Law Society of Upper Canada for the way paralegals in the province are regulated.

The lawsuit, filed by Judi Simms, president of the Paralegal Society of Ontario along with North York residents Rivka La Belle and Gerald Grupp, claim that paralegals are not being regulated in the public interest and that the attorney general and the Law Society of Upper Canada have violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Paralegals welcome regulation, but not by the Law Society of Upper Canada, Simms said."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wisconsin Lawyer Suspended for Fraudulent Bills

MADISON, Wis. -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended a lawyer for 60 days for submitting false bills to the state. The court says Stephen Compton of Delavan committed professional misconduct when he billed the Office of the State Public Defender for 120 hours of work that was done by a paralegal.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Westminster Paralegal Charged with Posing as Attorney

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A 47-year old Westminster paralegal has been charged with falsely representing himself as an attorney to clients. The paralegal, John Gerard Hedderman, took on civil cases relating to divorces, child custody, and bankruptcy.

He is being charged with two felony counts of grand theft, three counts of unauthorized practice of law, one count of second-degree commercial burglary and 10 felony counts of false impersonation. Hedderman faces up to 12 years and three months in prison if convicted. He is out of jail after posting $70,000 bail.

Prosecutors say Hedderman was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1988, but resigned in 2001 after facing a series of disciplinary actions. He worked as a paralegal between June 1, 2004 and Aug. 25, 2005, during which time, he represented himself as an attorney to clients whom he met through personal referrals, officials say.

Hedderman is also accused of forging clients' signatures, an employer's and another attorney's signature and filing those forged documents in court.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Buh-But She Was Just a Paralegal!

The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times : Holland Accused of Tortious Interference

Paralegal Patricia Dillman, the director of Holland & Knight’s litigation support group, decided to look for a fresh start. She settled on not only a different firm, Hughes Hubbard & Reed, but also a new city. Dillman accepted a $200,000 annual salary to move from Washington to Hughes Hubbard’s New York office.

Yet shortly before she started her new job, Hughes Hubbard informed Dillman that she could not work there because of a potential conflict of interest -- a matter on which she worked less than fifteen hours, and most of that, trying to find e-discovery vendors. Dillman is suing Holland & Knight for tortious interference for $300,000. Meanwhile, her erstwhile attorney, Lynne Bernabei, expressing the views of probably many, said:

I’ve never seen anything like this. The bar has an ethical concern with lawyers being stopped from moving from one firm to another firm. But Dillman was a paralegal.

Or, as she probably wanted to say, just a paralegal. A paralegal with a $200,000 salary, but still just a paralegal. Patricia, honey, find yourself a lawyer that recognizes the value of paralegals to a law firm.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Paralegals File Frivolous Lawsuits? Never!

In response to the angry Yankee fan/paralegal suing the Yankees, PlanetFeedback's ShopperCast has this to say: "Mr. Matthew Mitchell, your lawsuit is clogging up the wheels of justice ~ as a former paralegal, you must know that many are outraged at what it sees as frivolous lawsuits. Psst ~ this is one of them. And, when you were working as a paralegal, did you every heard the term 'presumption of innocence'? They certainly taught us that at paralegal and law school. Maybe you were absent that day."

Amen. It's people like Mitchell who make landlords reluctant to lease apartments to paralegals, for fear of frivolous lawsuits. And I don't say that just because he's a Yankee fan, either.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Palm Coast to Hire Paralegal to Offset Rates

PALM COAST, Fla.-- In the midst of choosing Orlando-based law firm Brown, Garganese, Weiss & D'Agresta as their first choice for legal council, the Palm Coast City Council also decided to hire a paralegal at roughly $45,000 a year to take the edge off the firm's hourly rates. Brown proposed to the Council a $150 per hour fee for attorney services and $75 per hour for paralegal services. The new paralegal hire will conduct research and draft ordinances and resolutions, according to the Assistant City Manager.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

HWA Paralegal Turea Simpson Receives Bankruptcy Assistant Certification

HOUSTON--Hughes Watters Askanase, L.L.P. (HWA) announced that bankruptcy paralegal Turea Simpson passed the exam to become a Certified Bankruptcy Assistant in October 2007.

Founded in 1989, the Association of Bankruptcy Judicial Assistants (ABJA) gives the annual certification exam at their yearly conference as part of their certified bankruptcy program, allowing legal secretaries and assistants to stay updated on new developments in the industry. Approximately 50 paralegals sat for and passed the exam in October 2007. For more information on ABJA and its certified bankruptcy program, please visit

“I didn’t realize that I knew as much about bankruptcy as I did until I started preparing for the exam,” said Simpson. “This certification puts a stamp of accomplishment on my career. I feel really proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish.”

Simpson joined HWA a year ago with Janet Northrup, a Chapter 7 Trustee and of counsel attorney with HWA. Prior to joining HWA, she worked with Northrup in her private practice for five years. Simpson is a member of ABJA’s planning committee for the 2008 conference in San Antonio. She received her certification as a legal assistant in 2002 from Houston Community College. Simpson also serves as volunteer coordinator for Women of Faith Ministries.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Pro-Link GLOBAL Visa & Immigration Services Adds Key Senior Consultant

Bradenton, FL -- PRO-LINK GLOBAL Visa and Immigration Services has hired paralegal Kate Boyd as a Senior Global Immigration Consultant based in the Colorado office. Boyd has experience with global immigration on large corporate accounts with various U.S. immigration law firms. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas and a paralegal certificate from the Phoenix Paralegal College.

Boyd will manage corporate accounts with their global work permit and business visa needs.

Monday, January 7, 2008

NFPA Announces New CLE for January

NFPA will offer the following online seminars in January:

Ø PACE Review Course

Ø Tax Law

In a world where there are only two sure things - death and taxes - legal professionals should understand at least one of the two. This two-week seminar provides a comprehensive overview by dividing the topic into several areas. The first area will cover the legal authority - code and judicial - of the tax law. The seminar will also review the concept of income for tax purposes. The third area will deal with deductions, credits, and tax computations for individuals. Lastly, the seminar will survey income tax on corporations and pass-through entities, plus transfer taxes (estates and gifts) and employment taxes. With no pre-requisites, this seminar will be an excellent introduction for paralegals across all sub-specialties to understand the function, structure, and consequence of taxes.

Ø Legal Analysis

This seminar is designed to provide students with an opportunity to hone their skills in legal analysis. We will focus specifically on the IRAC method of organizing a legal issue and exploring each aspect of that method: Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion.

The seminar provides a very focused look at each of the components of the IRAC method of organizing legal analysis. The discussion questions and exercises provide students the opportunity to first discuss each component, and then practice what has been covered in the discussion. One fact pattern will be used throughout the assignments so that students can build on each topic. We will review each of the components of the IRAC process: Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion.

Registration is available on the NFPA website under CLE.

Paralegal Gateway:Superstar Paralegal

Paralegal Gateway:Superstar Paralegal

It's official; I'm the January 2008 Paralegal Superstar.

Paralegal Keeps Things Spicy in the Kitchen

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- When he’s not working as a paralegal for a local bankruptcy attorney, 32-year-old Jim Darrien enjoys cooking an inventive meal.

Darrien experiments with different combinations of spices and sauces, and he has been described as a "veritable mad scientist when it comes to the kitchen."

Included is a recipe for Scallopini of Chicken.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

IT and Legal Skills Make a Potent Combo

The demand for paralegals with IT skills is expected to increase, according to the Boston Business Journal. As more law firms grapple with electronic discovery, paralegals capable of navigating the vast amounts of data are in hot demand.

Often known as litigation technology support staff, these paralegals are being wooed like lawyers at the top of their classes. In order to succeed as litigation technology support staff, candidates must have information technology skills, an understanding of the legal process, and the interpersonal skills to work with both clients and attorneys. These skills are richly rewarded at well over six figures.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

D-M Airman Herrera Named Top Instructor

Tech. Sgt. Aubry Herrera, a paralegal by trade who has taught the five-week Airman Leadership class for four years, was named Airman Leadership Course instructor of the year.

For her first 10 years in the Air Force, Herrera, 33, worked as a paralegal. She saw teaching the leadership course, which is required for all noncommissioned officers, as a way to get to the heart of the legal matters, she said.

The course includes instruction in writing performance evaluations and disciplinary forms, team development, communication and management techniques. In addition to a note in her permanent record, Herrera received an Air Force Recognition Ribbon to wear on her uniform and a picture hanging in the Pentagon, she said.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Paralegal Needed for Public Defense

From The Adirondack Daily Enterprise:

MALONE, N.Y. -- The Franklin County chief Public Defender Thomas Souciaz recommended to the Board of Legislators that the county hire a paralegal.

“There appears to be,” said Soucia, “a number of parole appeals that need to be worked on, and a paralegal would be a great asset.” Soucia added that a paralegal would help him “organize, contact inmates and do the research we need.”

Soucia said the need for research is greater due to the record-keeping habits of previous public defenders.

“There doesn’t seem to be a single document,” said Soucia, “that Mr. Lesyk wrote in 15 years in that office, and that doesn’t make much sense.”

Alexander Lesyk was chief public defender until February 2006, when he resigned to become a prosecutor in St. Lawrence County.

County Manager Jim Feeley said the board would have to vote to abolish the current part-time paralegal position and create a full-time one in its place.

“We’re behind this,” said Legislator Daniel Crippen, D-Burke, “and we’re going to do our best to help you do this thing right.”