Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Florida Registered Paralegal Program Is 3,000 Strong

On the anniversary of the Florida Registered Paralegal program, it had over 3,000 who had registered with the state bar.

In order to qualify for the FRP applicants must meet one of the following requirements: work experience or education, certification or grandfathering. The work experience or education requirement includes a variety of educational degree and years of work experience requirements. (details are available at flabar.org). The certification requirement can be fullfilled through successful completion of testing through either the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Assistants (NFPA).

Paralegals are optimistic regarding the future success of the program.

(Source: Jacksonville Financial News & Daily Record)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Layoffs May Be Result of Herd Mentality

Snowballing layoffs may be evidence more of a herd mentality than a careful evaluation of costs and benefits, according to a business school professor.

The article goes on to note that, regardless of the firm's circumstances, the similar approach to cost-cutting may have nothing to do with the realities of each firm's situation.

(Source: ABA Journal)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Massacres Continue: More Casualties in the Legal Field

In what seems to be a trend lately, firms are waiting until Thursday and Friday to make their layoffs. Today's casualties:

Katten Muchin Rosenman will lay off 23 attorneys and 46 staff members.

Jenner & Block has laid off 34 staff members in its Chicago headquarters and Washington, D.C. offices.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Smith Hired as Paralegal at Assets International

Southfield, Michigan-based Assets International LLC has hired Demetrius Smith as a Paralegal/Legal Assistant.

A graduate of Eastern Michigan University’s paralegal program with prior probate experience, Smith’s primary concentration will be to assist attorneys Michael J. Zwick and Katherine Razdolsky with all parts of the legal system, particularly probate court.

(Source: dBusinessNews)

In a Recession, Keep Paralegals

It seems like such a good idea: in hard times, keep the lawyers and cut the paralegals. But clients think otherwise.

Thanks to the economy, many clients are demanding lower hourly rates -- and taking their business elsewhere when the rates don't budge. One alternative is to chuck the billable hour. Another?

One foreseeable cost-saving trend is pushing some duties down the ladder from a senior-level associate to a less experienced one. Or, from the less experienced to a paralegal. The firms avoid an actual rate reduction but wind up charging less at the end.

Think about that for a moment. A good paralegal probably knows more than a first-year associate and costs the firm half as much to keep.

(Source: Law.com)

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Some Good News

So far today, zero law firm layoffs have been reported. Let's all keep our fingers crossed. I just heard from one of my friends that everyone at her firm had to take paycuts.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Assets International Hires Huby as Paralegal

More good news on the employment front: Southfield, Michigan-based Assets International LLC has hired La Tonya Huby as a Paralegal/Legal Assistant. Huby has 16 years of experience as an executive level administrator, and she also served six years in the United States Air Force.

(Source: dBusinessNews)

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Morris, Haynes and Hornsby Hires Paralegal

A silver lining in the stormcloud of the economy: the Birmingham, Alabama office of Morris, Haynes, and Hornsby has hired Candace Nichols as a paralegal. Congratulations, Candace.

(Source: The Birmingham News)

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More Layoffs, Not News Anymore

Today's casualties:
  • Paul Hastings, Janofsky & Walker: 44 associates, 87 staff members

  • Chadbourne & Parke: 25 lawyers

  • Venable: 16 lawyers, 48 staff members

It's almost not worth blogging about anymore because the layoffs have become so commonplace.

Paralegal Job Death-Watch

I almost feel like I should rename this blog the death-watch blog, since so many legal jobs are being eliminated. Yesterday alone, starting off yet another bleak week, 731 attorneys and staff were cut across three firms: K&L Gates (36 associates, 79 staff), White & Case (200 lawyers, 200 staff), and Morgan Lewis & Bockius (55 lawyers, 161 staff.)

(Source: ABA Journal - Law News Now)

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Brutal, Bloody Week; 1,500 Casualties

Last week was the bloodiest yet in the legal industry. Here's the rundown:

Orrick (international, layoffs affect U.S., Asia, and Europe offices): 100 associates, 200 staffers

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld (Dallas): 47 associates, 57 paralegals and staff (in addition to 65 staff layoffs in January)

King & Spaulding (Atlanta): 37 associates and counsel, 85 staff

Clifford Chance (London): 115 staff

O'Melveny & Myers (international, layoffs mainly affect U.S. offices): 90 attorneys, 110 staff members

Shearman & Sterling (U.S.): 60 secretaries and administrative staffers

Dewey & LeBeouf (international): 100 staffers

Wiggin & Dana (Connecticut): 14 attorneys

Stinson Morrison Heckler (Kansas City, Missouri): 30 staff members

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman: 50 associates, 10 paralegals, 90 support staffers

Arent Fox (Washington, D.C.): 13 associates, 15 staff members

Bingham McCutchen: 16 corporate associates and counsel, 23 staff members

The legal industry lost a total of 4,200 jobs in February, according to ABA Journal Law News Now, and nationwide, 21,000 legal jobs have been lost in the last 12 months.

However, last week alone resulted in almost 1,500 jobs being eliminated -- that we know about! The good news is, if you've been laid off, you're not alone. The bad news is, competition for paralegal jobs just got a whole lot stiffer.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

March Mayhem: Law Firm Layoffs Top 1,200 Since Friday

If there was ever a question that law was recession-proof, it has been answered by a resounding no. Wednesday resulted in over 500 layoffs, and since last Friday, the total has reached 1,200 attorney and staff.

(Source: ABA Journal - Law News Now)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bloody Wednesday: More Layoffs Hit Law Firms

Less than a month ago, 800 law firm jobs were cut in a single day now known as Bloody Thursday. It's a bloody Wednesday today, as more firms are making cuts:

Orrick (3/3/09)100200
Dewey & LeBoeuf100
Shearman & Sterling60
O'Melveny & Myers90110

*These numbers reflect U.S. personnel only.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Paralegal Profile: Laura Szychowski

Education, experience, and dedication come together for Laura Szychowski, a paralegal with 18 years of experience in Buffalo, N.Y. Beginning as a products liability paralegal in the late 1980s, Szychowski not only has almost two decades of experience, but also holds three degrees. In her off hours, Szychowski can be found promoting the paralegal profession through her local association, crafting, or spending time with her family, something she treasures.

Her interest in law began during her high school years. She took a business law class, which she loved. In college, Szychowski participated in every aspect of mock jury trials, which served to fan the flames of her legal career interests. "[I was] playing the roles of the attorneys, witnesses and jury, and it was fun," she said.

Szychowski originally wanted to teach political science, but the siren song of a legal career pulled her into what would be a fulfilling career as a paralegal. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies and Political Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1988. Career services at SUNY Buffalo encouraged graduates to become a part of the paralegal profession, and through a headhunter, Szychowski found her first paralegal job. Two years later, she earned a paralegal certificate from Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y. Not one to shy away from challenges, that same year, Szychowski also received her graduate degree in Political Science from SUNY Stony Brook.

Currently, Szychowski is employed by Phillips Lytle LLP, a large statewide firm founded in 1834, with offices in Buffalo, Rochester, Chautauqua (Jamestown and Fredonia), Garden City, Albany, and New York City. The firm consists of over 170 attorneys and 40 paralegals, along with other support staff, totaling 450 people among its offices.

Working out of the Buffalo office, just across the bridge from Canada, Szychowski aims to keep her goals "simple." In her career, she wants to achieve three things: to be a respected paralegal that produces quality work product, to mentor young paralegals, and to help promote the paralegal profession.

Throughout her career, Szychowski has achieved her first goal, evidenced in the progression she has seen in her career with her assignments. "As junior paralegal, most case work was organizational, and fact gathering. As a senior paralegal, case work is substantive – such as drafting pleadings, reviewing case facts, digests of deposition testimony, assisting with preparations of motions, and participation at trials," she said.

Being a senior paralegal has also helped her achieve her second goal. She enjoys mentoring young paralegals and teaching them all of the skills that she has learned over the years. In fact, some of these young paralegals inspire her a great deal. "I am open to learning new things, and appreciate the experience of seasoned trial attorneys, other paralegal colleagues, and new paralegals that have enthusiasm and bright ideas," she said.

Szychowski works on her third goal through her position as Bar Liaison for the Western New York Paralegal Association (WNYPA). In this position, Szychowski develops and maintains communications with the New York State Bar Association and local bar associations, in order to create a mutually beneficial relationship.

Gaining experience means having the opportunity to create notable accomplishments, and Szychowski's experience, along with her dedication, has allowed her to literally win cases. In one matter, she spent six months compiling and rearranging raw data into a database format in order to calculate damages on a commercial case. Her hard work and commitment were well-rewarded, according to Szychowski. "The re-arrangement baffled the opposing counsel, and won [us] the case," she said.

In another matter, Szychowski faced her most challenging assignment: setting up an off-site office in a hotel conference room for an out-of-area trial. "I felt like a hotel concierge," she said. The challenge did not faze Szychowski, however. She was able to ensure that the room had computers, printers, desks, chairs, phones, food, and land lines -- everything necessary to create a home base for the legal team. In addition, she kept track of 40 boxes of exhibits and ushered witnesses in for trial preparation.

Over her career, Szychowski expected more regulation and/or licensure for the paralegal profession. With regulation comes recognition and respect, but most jurisdictions have been slow to adopt formal procedures for regulating paralegals, and the interest in such programs seems minimal. The slow progress has frustrated Szychowski, and she is "disappointed that the recognition and interest for regulation of the paralegal profession has been slow to develop."

But, knowing what she knows now, would she become a paralegal all over again? "Definitely," said Szychowski. "I love being a paralegal and enjoy my profession and job." She is proud of her profession, and she delights in her work.

Szychowski, 42, unwinds from her rewarding but demanding job by listening to jazz music, reading, watching a family movie, or playing family games. She has been married for three years, and she loves playing with her young son, Ryan. Spending time with her family and friends is important to Szychowski and is one of her favorite things to do outside of work.

She is also an avid crafter, especially when it comes to scrap booking. Szychowski is also an accomplished cook, eager to try new tricks in the kitchen. "I love to collect cookbooks and try new recipes," she said.

Monday, March 2, 2009

DTI Adds IPRO eReview to Suite of Review Services

Document Technologies, Inc. (DTI has added IPRO’s eReview tool to the company’s suite of litigation technology. eReview provides first level review of electronically stored information (ESI) for effective review and culling prior to importing the refined document collection into a litigation database.

DTI delivers processes, tools, and capacity for all aspects of electronic discovery, from forensic data acquisition to advanced file processing and data conversion to hosting. The addition of eReview further strengthens DTI’s toolkit of litigation technology. By culling and refining a dataset during the processing phase, eReview helps users reduce the time and cost of the working dataset export. When complete, eReview provides a refined dataset, which maximizes the potential for quick and accurate e-discovery results.

For more information: www.dtiglobal.com