Thursday, October 30, 2008

Paralegal Inducted Into Who's Who

Tracy L. Reinholt, Senior Corporate Paralegal for Simon Property Group, Inc., has been recognized by Cambridge Who's Who for showing dedication, leadership and excellence in all aspects of legal services.

Ms. Reinholt has 20 years of professional experience. Considered an expert in corporate and securities law, she is tasked with tax structuring, managing corporate and organizational projects for retail properties, preparing organizational documents and maintenance of all corporate legal entities. She was honored by the Indiana Paralegal Association with the Paralegal of the Year Award in 2002 and with the President's Award in 1999 and 2000. In 1994, she completed her paralegal training at Indiana University. Ms. Reinholt attributes her success to her drive and desire to succeed in the work she enjoys.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

InterLegis Announces Native File Redaction Capability for Web-based Review

Dallas-based InterLegis, Inc. has introduced a native file redacting capability. Discovery360™, InterLegis’ e-discovery culling and review application, now allows users to redact files in their native format to save time and simplify the document review process.

The ability to perform native file review has been available for some time, but one disadvantage often cited with this method has been the inability to redact native files. Some of today’s most sophisticated review tools do offer workarounds for redacting native files, but these typically involve the added cumbersome step of pausing in the middle of a review to convert the native file to a tiff image, which can then be redacted. This interrupts the steady flow of the review process and still leaves open the risk of inadvertently producing the native, unredacted file.

However, Discovery360 users can now redact native files on the fly, without converting the file to a tiff image in the middle of the review process.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

AG Recognizes Department Paralegals

A plethora of paralegals were honored by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey at the 56th Annual Attorney General Awards Ceremony.

The prosecution team that obtained a conviction in United States v. Seale, including Connie Lee, Paralegal Specialist, received the Attorney General's Award for Exceptional Service.

The Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service is the Department's second highest award for employee performance. The recipients of this award exemplify the highest commitment to the Department's mission. Stephen J. Foster, Paralegal Specialist, from the Environment and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice, was a recipient, as was Samantha E. Ward, Paralegal Specialist, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York. Paralegal Specialist Theresa L. Kneser from the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, Sareta Magee Taylor, Paralegal Specialist from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California were also recipients.

The Attorney General's Award for Excellence in Legal Support recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of legal support to attorneys by paralegal specialists and other legal assistants. The recipients were, from the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees, Tina L. Oppelt, Paralegal Specialist, Office of the U.S. Trustee, Newark, N.J.; from the USMS, John A. Patterson, Torts Claims Administrator, Office of General Counsel; from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon, Karen L. Klever, Forfeiture Paralegal Specialist and Gerri L. Badden, Victim Witness Specialist; from FBI Portland, Ore. Division, Cindy M. Dugan Forfeiture Paralegal Specialist; from the Research and Publications Section, Office of the Solicitor General, Candy P. Lubin, Technical Editor; Paralegal Specialists Susan D. Ross, James K. Davis and Michele M. Klatka.

The Attorney General's Award for Outstanding Service in Freedom of Information Act Administration recognizes exceptional dedication and effort to the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This year's paralegal recipients, from the Office of Legal Counsel, were Paralegal Specialists Tsedey C. Berhanu, Bernsteine B. Garrett, and Richard A. Hughes.



(Source: MarketWatch

Friday, October 24, 2008

Juror Profiles: Licensed Paralegal?

The Anchorage Daily News ran profiles of the jurors in the Senator Ted Stevens case, and I found Juror #4's profile to be particularly interesting:

JUROR #4 FEMALE: A licensed paralegal, works for a mortgage company on bankruptcy issues. Initially thought a defendant should testify, but said she understood why that's not a requirement after the judge instructed her in the 5th Amendment guarantee.


Licensed paralegals still do not exist in the United States.


(Source: Anchorage Daily News)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Paralegal Follows Heart to Nursing

Vicky Tilman is following her heart — and the promise of a higher paycheck — into the nursing field.

Her previous work as a paralegal in Moncks Corner was pleasant and steady, but 40-year-old Tilman knew her boss was nearing retirement, and she ultimately wanted more job security than what her small business employer could provide.

"It's hard to find a job as a paralegal," she said. "I'm not saying they're not important, but there's a lot of them. It's very easy to be replaced, and there's always someone willing to take less money."

Tilman is months away from completing nursing school at Trident Technical College.


If Tilman misses being a paralegal, her nursing degree can also propel her into the lucrative field of legal nurse consulting, which would allow her to use her medical and legal knowledge.

(Source: Charleston Post Courier)

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Note on Lawcrossing.com

At no point did I speak to anyone from Lawcrossing.com or Lawcrossing or its affiliates or subsidiaries regarding paralegal regulation or paralegal salaries. The author of those articles, Stony Olsen, took the "quotes" from this blog without ever contacting me and without my authorization. While it may appear from the articles that he contacted me, he did not, and I was not interviewed or communicated with in any way prior to these articles being published.

I have only spoken with Lawcrossing for the purposes of the paralegal profile published on their website in January 2008.

As a former journalist, I am disgusted by this breach of ethics.

How to Lower Those Outside Fees

The fifth suggestion in Law.com's recent article for in-house legal departments looking to cut costs is perhaps the best: paralegal support. Find a good paralegal, and make the investment:

Consider innovative paralegal or support strategies.

A great paralegal, whether that person is in-house or outside, can save significant amounts of fees. On the other hand, an unskilled or sloppy paralegal can make disastrous mistakes that can increase litigation costs several fold (particularly in the document retention area). Fight for the budget and invest in a top-notch in-house paralegal or legal support professional. Make sure that person has strong interpersonal skills, develops solid relationships with key managers and understands the business. Ask your outside counsel to be alert to training and development opportunities for your paralegal. (And, by the way, be aware of authority suggesting that it may be risky to classify paralegals as exempt rather than hourly workers.)

If you have a good paralegal and can spare the support, think about seconding him or her to work directly for the law firm during a busy period on your case. In one hard fought wage-and-hour certification battle involving dozens of declarations, I asked my client to assign its excellent paralegal to us for a two-week period. The paralegal assisted in reviewing witness declarations, obtaining signatures and working towards the filing. The assignment was a nice change of pace for her and also resulted in fee savings. And because she was working closely with company managers and employees, she developed relationships that were helpful when the assignment ended.


(Source: Law.com)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Jordan Scrhader Ramis Hires New Paralegal

Jordan Schrader Ramis PC hired Holly P. Iburg as a paralegal in the firm’s dirt law practice group.

Iburg will support the firm’s real estate and land use practices and has 10 years of legal experience. Formerly an attorney in Oregon and California, she has 12 years of development and construction experience, including serving as vice president of operations for a land development company.


(Source: Daily Journal of Commerce)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bose McKinney & Evans Hires Paralegal Amy Case

Indianapolis law firm of Bose McKinney & Evans LLP has hired Amy Case as a paralegal in the Litigation Group.

Case assists with the preparation of federal, state and county cases for trial and settlement. Among her duties are client intake and preparation, preparing pleadings, calendaring events, and scheduling and attending depositions, mediations, and bench and jury trials. She also manages and updates litigation files, assists with correspondence to clients, opposing counsel, courts and third parties and prepares discovery to be forwarded to opposing counsel. Case has experience assisting in a variety of litigation areas including employment, real estate, intellectual property, creditors' rights and insurance disputes.

Originally from Mooresville, Indiana, Case also served as a bankruptcy litigation paralegal for another law firm, as well as a corporate paralegal for Union Acceptance Corporation.

Graduating with her Bachelor of Science from Ball State University, Case also received her associate's degree in paralegal studies degree from Ivy Tech State College. Currently residing in Indianapolis, Case is a member of the Indiana Paralegal Association, is active in her church and enjoys cooking and riding bikes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Highlights of NFPA's 2008 Policy Meeting

The 2008 Policy Meeting of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations opened on Saturday, October 11 and lasted through Sunday, October 12. During that time, delegates voted on agenda items and paid tribute to the profession. On Saturday morning, NFPA honored Phyllis Dunton, Illinois Paralegal Association, and Koann Lawrence, Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association, in Memoriam.

Starting with the basics, 46 associations were present for voting, and 86 people passed PACE this past year. On May 1-3, 2009, the regulation and leadership conference will be held in Washington state. The Paralegal Association of Wisconsin will be rejoining NFPA, and since last year, Korean-American Paralegal Association in Los Angeles and South Florida Paralegal Association have joined. NFPA is also offering a new membership benefit: health insurance.

As for the agenda topics:

Practicing Paralegal Resolution
NFPA delegates voted to remove the word "practicing" from NFPA's Bylaws, which on one hand will open up the membership to paralegals with nontraditional careers, such as paralegal educators. On the other hand, it will open up membership to paralegals who possibly have competing interests. At this juncture, it will be important for the individual associations to define "paralegal" for their membership to include paralegals with nontraditional careers but also exclude "paralegals" who will have competing interests. Delegates and members will need to be vigilant to avoid appointing or electing a person with an obvious conflict of interest relating to their nontraditional role.

New Definition of Paralegals
The resolution to amend NFPA’s definition of paralegal to include "and does not violate applicable unauthorized practice of law statutes, administrative laws, court rules, or case law" was defeated by a margin of 8 votes.

Military Paralegal Membership
NFPA created a Military Sustaining Member-at-Large category to allow military members to join NFPA without joining a local association. Due to the nature of the military, this would allow military paralegals deployed overseas to be members of NFPA.

Vice President, Director of Marketing
In a majority vote, the delegates amended the NFPA By-Laws to add a Vice President, Director of Marketing to the Board. Since marketing is what attracts and keeps members, it was widely supported by 40 associations (and opposed by six). Marketing, which translates to branding, will help NFPA continue to forge its identity as the leader of the paralegal profession.

Award Winners
The award winners were announced over lunch on Saturday.
Paralegal of the Year – Cynthia Quinn
First Place West Group Scholarship – Kathleen Nolan
Second Place West Group Scholarship Winner – Laverne Scott
William R. Robie Award – Beth King, RP
PACE Ambassador Award РK. Paezlè Harris and the Georgia Association of Paralegals
PACE Scholarship – Georgette Neal
Local Outstanding Leader Award – Renee Mazio, Philadelphia Association of Paralegals

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2009 New NFPA Officers

Left to right: Cheryl Corning, Region V Director; Sandy Heintz, Region IV Director; Mary McKay, RP, Region III Director; Helen Federline, RP, Region II Director; Theresa Prater, RP, Region I Director; Georgette Lovelace, RP, President; Tracey Young, RP, VPPI; Ann Price, RP, VP-PACE; Stephen Imondi, RP, Secretary-Director of Operations; Anita Haworth, RP, Past President-Board Advisor
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Saturday, October 11, 2008

2008 NFPA Convention: CLEs and Personality Types

Thursday at the 2008 Annual Convention of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, the attendees had the opportunity to enhance their knowledge through CLE seminars and National Federation of Paralegal Associations training. In the morning Coordinator and Future Board Member Training, Anita Haworth, RP, NFPA President, and Linda McGirr, Vice President and Director of Membership, guided attendees through the basics of being on the Board or being a Coordinator. Because the group was small, attendees had the opportunity to ask questions on the specific coordinator positions that they were considering.

On the CLE menu, a plethora of options were given to attendees. I attended Dr. Paula Gabier’s “Meeting Juror Expectations in the 21st Century,” a fantastic session dissecting the different generations that are eligible to serve on juries. Dr. Gabier and John Christopher, her co-presenter, noted that, when used properly, technology is not “slick” but a necessity to illustrate points at trial. In Brian Duffy’s “Profitability and Paralegal Utilization,” Duffy noted that, with the proper use of paralegals, law firms can reduce their costs by one-third while still providing high-quality legal services to clients. Michael West’s “Investigative Issues and Techniques” detailed what to look for when hiring an investigator to assist with cases. For example, there is a big difference between a retired police officer and a trained investigator, he said.

Thursday’s keynote speaker was Dr. Taibi Kahler, originator of the Process Therapy Model ™ and The Process Communication Model ®. He detailed the six different personality types and how to work with each. Some personalities, when under duress, self-flagellate, while others become self-righteous. Each personality type has its own needs, and knowing those needs is key to successfullly navigating the workplace.

On the policy meeting floor

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Justice Clinton-Imber at the NFPA Convention

Honorable Annabelle Clinton-Imber, Arkansas Supreme Court Justice, addresses NFPA members as the Friday luncheon speaker. Justice Clinton-Imber began her legal career as a paralegal in Houston and is a graduate of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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At the NFPA Booth

Stephen Imondi, RP and Wayne Akin man NFPA's booth at the 2008 Annual Convention.


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Thursday, October 9, 2008

NFPA Presidential Candidates

Susan Ippoliti and Georgette Lovelace, R.P., candidates for NFPA president, socialize at the Thursday night vendor reception.


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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

ArPA Wednesday Welcome Reception

ArPA's Wednesday night welcome reception was well-attended by paralegals, NFPA board members, and even local attorneys. Wine and cheese were served in a low-key setting, and door prizes were awarded. Paula Adams of ArPA was officially presented with her RP pin during the reception.
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Monday, October 6, 2008

Keeping NFPA's Focus on Advancing the Paralegal Profession

As delegates gear up to travel to Rogers this week for the 2008 NFPA Annual Convention, there are three more agenda topics that can make or break the advancement of the paralegal profession.

Defining "Practicing Paralegal." This agenda topic would delete "practicing" altogether from NFPA's Bylaws, leaving "paralegal" open to a wide variety of interpretations - most notably, someone working as a vendor who once was a paralegal. If this Pandora's box is opened, a vendor could sit on a local paralegal association's board -- or the NFPA Board. If that happens, instead of working toward paralegals' best interests, the vendor would work to advance its own interests, which are not always in line with those of paralegals. Instead, NFPA should actually define "practicing paralegal" and make it inclusive: those who work in non-traditional roles; those who do substantial pro bono work; those who are former paralegals and current paralegal educators. If I had a vote, it would be no on this topic.

Inclusion of Military Paralegals as Individual Sustaining Members. A hearty yes goes out to this topic, although it does need a friendly amendment suggesting appropriate dues, since the original topic leaves it as "local association dues," and those widely vary. Perhaps a $30 discount from Individual Sustaining Member dues would be appropriate for military paralegals who wish to join as Individual Sustaining Members. Due to the nature of the military, joining a local association is difficult, and this option would encourage military paralegals to join NFPA.

Create an Access to Legal Services Coordinator. No. NFPA has a pro bono coordinator, it seems like this is a second coordinator that would do essentially the same thing. Further, NFPA needs to focus on regulation and exams and promoting the profession. While access to legal services is important, it varies in each locality and is best left to local associations, not to mention local bar associations. As paralegals, there is only so much we can do to ensure that access to justice is equal. At some point, lawyers are needed because paralegals, quite simply, can't practice law.

Note: I will be blogging at the 2008 NFPA Convention this week. Stay tuned for updates!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Grandfathering Provisions Are Sunset for a Reason

In 2000, the grandfathering provision of the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE), allowing paralegals with experience but not formal education to take the exam, sunset. The earliest Registered Paralegals (RPs) listed on the National Federation of Paralegal Association's website are from 1996, meaning that the grandfathering provision extended for at least four years.

Now, an agenda topic at the annual convention wants to resurrect the grandfathering period, for all the wrong reasons - namely, so that paralegals who have not met the educational requirements to take PACE can take the exam anyway. This is a grave mistake.

The grandfathering period was already extended once, from 1999 to 2000. As professionals, paralegals - and NFPA in particular - should be promoting education. I re-read the agenda topic, and I'm somewhat disturbed by the reference to education as a "financial burden." Getting the degree is an investment in a paralegal's future, not a burden of any sort.

It is a mistake to resurrect the grandfathering period because education is a key component of any profession, and we as paralegals should strive for those standards in order to be recognized as such.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hennepin County Gets Grant to Hire Paralegal

Minnesota's Hennepin County is getting a $500,000 federal grant to solve cold cases. The Department of Justice grant will be used to hire a cold case team that includes a paralegal, as well as a full-time detective, a forensic scientist, a prosecutor, and the use of the county sheriff's crime lab, which is one of three DNA testing labs in the state.

The staff will test DNA samples from homicide and rape cases dating as far back as 1991. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said that, while the DNA evidence from these cases is well-preserved, the county has been lacking the means to analyze the DNA. This grant, and the help of a paralegal on the team, will help clear the cold case backlog.

(Source: StarTribune.com)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mandatory, Not Voluntary, Is Necessary for the Profession

One of the National Federation of Paralegal Association's (NFPA) member organizations submitted an agenda topic to allow NFPA to support all types of regulation, not just mandatory licensure. As it stands now, NFPA can only promote regulation if it meets the minimum standards it has set: formal education requirements, an exam, a character requirement, and a grandparenting provision. But some associations want NFPA to support all forms of regulation, even if they do not meet those minimum standards.

This is a mistake. With the sour tang of the Wisconsin Supreme Court denial still on our tongues, this should be a motivator to push even harder for mandatory regulation. This is not the time to compromise, especially since, even more recently, the Indiana Supreme Court denied voluntary regulation. This is Indiana, which is full of Registered Paralegals and home to NFPA's own president.

Instead, waving the Richlin v. Chertoff decision in the air, we need to demand recognition as professionals through licensure. The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that our work warrants reimbursement, which would not be the case if paralegal work was not valuable and substantive.

There cannot be an acceptance of voluntary regulation as a "stepping stone" to mandatory licensure. That is accepting defeat, accepting the patronizing pats on the head that mean that we as paralegals will never fully be recognized for our contributions to law offices, corporations, and other entities. Voluntary certification creates a market for uneducated, unskilled paralegals who of course will be paid less than paralegals who received the voluntary certification.

There is not a single state in the entire United States that thinks paralegals are essential enough and professional enough to require regulation. Not a single state - it's a travesty, considering that paralegals are the lifeblood of any law office and perform essential, cost-effective functions in corporations, government positions, and other non-traditional roles.

NFPA needs to continue to push for mandatory regulation as the leader of the profession, which is why this agenda item should not pass.