Wednesday, February 27, 2008

NFPA's Joint Regulation and Leadership Conference Is Coming!

The NFPA Regulation Conference is scheduled for April 25, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana and is open to all, although non-NFPA members will need to pay a $75 registration fee. The Regulation Conference will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and include discussions on Types of Regulation and Status of Regulation Efforts, Working with Bar Associations, Understanding the Legislative Process, Lobbyists-Do You Need Them, Selling Regulation-What to Say to the Naysayers, and the Conference will end with a Regulation Writing Workshop.

The National Leadership Conference is schedule for April 26, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., and April 27, 8:30 a.m.-12:00. Open to NFPA members only, recognized leaders will share their tips, experience, and insights. Attendees will gain valuable skills in a hands-on, challenging, and rewarding learning experience.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Roundup: New PACE Exam, New PACE Study Manual, and New Paralegal Magazine!

New PACE Exam and Study Manual

The new PACE exam is scheduled to go live on May 12, 2008! To prepare you for the exam, the new and improved PACE Study Manual (5th ed.) will be available for purchase starting MARCH 1, 2008. The new study manual includes many new mini-chapters including bankruptcy, corporate law, intellectual property, family law, and other areas tested in the new exam. We have also updated the existing chapters, and completely re-written the technology chapter. There are new study questions as well.

The new Study Manual is available through the NFPA website, just as before.

If you purchased the 4th edition Study Manual, be assured that it will still assist you in preparing for the new exam. It is not as comprehensive as the 5th edition, and the major difference is the re-written technology section and the addition of the mini-chapters.

New Paralegal Magazine to Premiere
Estrin LegalEd and have announced their new magazine for paralegals, KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals. Designed for paralegals in today's highly competitive market, the publication offers tools, tactics and strategies for a successful worklife and lifestyle balance. I've already subscribed and am looking forward to the premiere issue in June!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Free Online Access to U.S. Court Decisions

Free Online Access to U.S. Court Decisions

This week, Carl Malamud invites you to enhance your federal case law library by downloading millions of pages of decisions stretching back more than 250 years, all free of charge.

His latest online "public works" project is a Web site,, which will open up all Supreme Court opinions dating back to the 1700s and all U.S. appeals courts decisions dating back to 1950. The activist's efforts for the nonprofit group present a potential challenge to paid legal research services Thomson and LexisNexis.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Howrey Creates Indian Office for Client Work

In yet another blow to United States paralegals, Howrey is setting up an office in India to "take advantage of the growing class of well-trained -- and comparatively low-paid -- young Indian professionals." Clients will have a choice: have their work done in-house for the regular rate, or have their work done in India for a reduced rate.

Howrey intends to train these workers at their facility in Falls Church, Va., but afterwards, the workers will be shipped to India. Howrey says that it's not outsourcing. Of course it's not outsourcing -- it's creating an outsourcing center just for them.

This makes me wonder first, if Howrey is using their existing paralegals to their advantage, and second, how the legal profession has come to be so impersonal. What happens when the client wants to speak to the professional working on their matter, but the professional is asleep in India?

Outsourcing is going to become a serious problem for paralegals if this trend continues. Regulation may stem the tide, but it seems like attorneys may need to be educated on just how useful their own paralegals are.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Step in the Right Direction

In Scotland, paralegals are being given the chance to prove their professionalism and ability. The Scottish Qualifications Authority and the Scottish Paralegal Association have recently launched new qualifications for paralegals. The 10,000 people working in paralegal roles within Scotland's legal system now have an opportunity to work towards one of a number of awards, such as a Higher National Certificate (HNC), a Higher National Diploma (HND), or smaller, specialized Professional Development Awards (PDAs).

In the future, paralegals will be able to register with the Law Society of Scotland, giving them a new professional status.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Friday Five: What Should Attorneys Look for When Hiring Paralegals?

Over at, an online CLE provider, a list of traits that attorneys should look for when hiring their next paralegal has been posted in their blog under Friday Five: Top Five Things Attorneys Should Look for When Hiring Help. Here's what attorneys should be looking for, and what us paralegals should have:

1. Communication Skills. The ability to communicate in person, on the phone, and through e-mail is as important as any other skill. To limit wasted time and effort on your part, you need to be able to rely on your assistants to communicate with clients and other personnel as if it was you the whole time. The more they can do and say on their own, the less time you will have to spend clearing up mistakes or dealing with insignificant tasks.

2. Professionalism. These people that you hire will be interacting with your clients on a daily basis. In a way, they represent you and your practice just as much as you do. You need to make sure that they appear professional and well-mannered at all times in order to give the people they see the right impression. That all starts with how they dress and act on the initial interview, so pay attention.

3. Career Goals and Aspirations. This does not necessarily mean that they are using the job as a stepping stone to bigger and better things, but a good employee should be able to tell you about their goals. If they have a clear vision of what they desire in a job and future positions, you know that they are confident and determined workers. They will be more likely to put in the extra effort to get things done.

4. Proven Analytical Skills. Employees need to be detail oriented and willing to do some in-depth research. Even the smallest mistakes can be costly if you are working on a case, so make sure whoever you hire understands that. This can be hard to identify in the interview process, but experience with some type of research is always a good thing to look for.

5. Experience/Interest in your Practice Area. Experience in the legal profession is definitely preferred for the simple fact that is cuts down costly training. The less you have to coach and train someone, the more you can get done. Even better is if someone has experience in your particular practice area, because they will be familiar with certain types of cases, forms, procedures, etc.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Paralegals on the Move

On the move: Nicole Davis and Donna Sweeney: The New Hartford- and Syracuse-based Estate Planning Law Center is expanding with the addition of two paralegals.

Paralegals Nicole Davis and Donna Sweeney joined the firm.

Sweeney has 13 years of experience as a paralegal focusing on Medicaid planning and qualifications for clients of the firm.

Davis has five years of experience as a paralegal. She ensures that plans clients create with firm attorneys are fully implemented.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Paralegal Career Guide Launched on All Criminal Justice Schools

As the law becomes more complex and our society grows more litigious, the public demand for legal representation continues to expand. This translates into not just a need for more lawyers but more legal support professionals as well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals will be among the top 30 fastest-growing careers in the 10-year period ending in 2014. Responding to this increase in demand for trained paralegals, All Criminal Justice Schools (ACJS) has launched a comprehensive, 16-page career guide for people interested in becoming paralegals. The online guide can be found at

The paralegal career guide contains up-to-date information on paralegal salaries, certification, accreditation and degree information, as well as informative articles and interviews with experienced paralegals. It is designed to give people considering paralegal careers one-stop access to the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about choosing schools, types of degrees and legal specialty areas.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Legal Learning Put Into Practice at Loyalist College

Paralegal students at Loyalist College in Canada are gaining hands-on experience in their field by operating PaIRS, an on-campus legal information service for students, staff and alumni. Their role is to guide clients to the necessary channels or resources to get answers to legal questions involving subjects such as landlord tenant concerns, highway traffic issues, or criminal pardon questions.

Students say it will help them prepare for their future jobs as paralegals. With a P-1 license from the Law Society of Upper Canada, a paralegal can work as a fee-for-service advocate to represent clients in provincial offences traffic court, small claims court or before administrative tribunals such as the Ontario Landlord Tenant Board.

Source: Belleville Intelligencer - Ontario, CA

Monday, February 4, 2008

Paralegals Are First Step in Pro Bono Efforts

Beginning this month, students and graduates of the paralegal program at Casper College in Casper, Wyo. will be the first step for many in obtaining pro bono legal representation. The students and graduates will conduct a half-hour interview with each potential client, then forward the information to a licensed attorney, who will review the information. If the case qualifies, it will be assigned to an attorney who will represent the client pro bono.

This free service is available to Casper College students, employees, and those participating in GED, lifelong learning, and continuing education programs. Services are limited to civil matters, including simple wills, adoptions, name changes, uncontested divorces, small claims, family violence protection orders, landlord-tenant issues, and contract issues.

Source: Casper Star-Tribune Online - Casper

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Paralegal Posing as Lawyer Wins 50 Cases

Remember Brian Valery, the paralegal who posed as a lawyer for two years at a New York law firm? On January 31, he was sentenced to five years of probation.

However, he must have done something right, according to "Valery worked as much as 70 hours a week and won some 50 cases. [emphasis added]

'I guess he got away with it so long because he was so talented, and so hardworking,' said Valery's lawyer, Bob LaRusso."