Paralegal Warrior Challenge

If you are looking for a reason to be thankful today, perhaps you can be thankful this is not a part of the standard law office role for paralegals:

USARPAC paralegal Soldiers committed to ‘warrior trials’

The top paralegal Soldiers throughout the Pacific region participated in the seventh annual USARPAC Paralegal Warrior Challenge, Sept. 15-19.

The Paralegal Warrior Challenge tested Soldiers’ mental and physical resilience as well as their military occupation specialty knowledge. The challenge was held at multiple locations across Schofield Barracks, Fort Shafter, and Aliamanu Military Reservation, Yongsan, Korea.

“The challenge is designed to test our paralegals that have shined throughout USARPAC and try to identify the best warrior paralegal in the command,” said Sgt. Maj. Craig Williams, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, Command Paralegal for I Corps. “The Soldiers are learning a lot about themselves and some are finding that mental toughness that they didn’t know they possessed.”

The five-day warrior challenge began like most challenges and that’s with an Army Physical Fitness Test. After the APFT, the Soldiers had to conquer a swim challenge. The following day consisted of an M16 range where noncommissioned officers had to qualify on the M16 and M9. The Soldiers also had to complete a 4.2 miles foot march in 45 minutes. The USARPAC paralegals had multiple written exams to take and a board. To prove their Soldier abilities, they had to perform several warrior tasks and drills.

At the end of the five-day competition, all participants received certificates of achievements and coins of excellence. The overall competition winners received Army Commendation Medals and plaques.

For the Soldier that scored the highest on the APFT that Soldier would receive the Iron Soldier Award. This year Sgt. Chris DeFrancisco, assigned to 8th Army in South Korea, earned the Iron Soldier award for scoring 334 points on the extended scale.

DeFrancisco also won the overall competition and became USARPAC’s 2014 Paralegal Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. Spc. Glen Swanson, assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, was named USARPAC’s Paralegal Soldier of the Year.

Virginia Paralegals’ Week

Last week I finally  added the Virginia Alliance of Paralegal Associations to my blogroll in response to a June request from Karen Axell, RP, President of VAPA. While looking at the site I noticed this: Governor Terence R. McAuliffe proclaims October 12-18, 2014, as Paralegals’ Week. The Governor’s proclamation includes several reasons for the week including recognition that “the research and administrative duties performed by paralegals are essential to the ability of attorneys to provide their clients with quality legal services.

OLP eDiscovery and LitSupport Certification Exams‏

I am on the Advisory Council for the Organization of Legal Professionals, although they get along quite well without much advice from me as evidenced by this from a LinkedIn article by Damian A. Durant, J.D., Rise of standards & certifications key to e-discovery partner selection – Part 1:

We are finally seeing the emergence of industry standards and professional certifications as the e-discovery industry continues to mature. The recent California Bar advisory opinion on e-discovery competency drew much attention and is the most recent example of the trend.

“A corporation or law firm selecting an e-Discovery or Discovery Management partner should determine if the partner has enough qualified, certified personnel and implements industry standards into their practice.”

….

Any would-be client should require independently certified individuals across the staff of the prospective partner and in the service delivery teams assigned to their work.

  • The Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP) also offers a widely respected certification called CeDP (Certified E-Discovery Professional) and the CLSS (Certified Legal Support Specialist) certificate. OLP also now offers an E-Discovery Project Management certificate. The Association of Litigation Support Professionals (ALSP) in lieu of developing its own certification, recommends the OLP certification to its members.
  • The Association of Certified E-discovery Specialists (ACEDS) offers perhaps the most widely known e-discovery competency certification known as CEDS (Certified E-Discovery Specialist). Public sources suggest over three hundred people have the CEDS qualification.

Both OLP and ALSP in their mission statements emphasize standards and certifications, but ACEDS only secondarily. Of course establishing standards and certifications is challenging for even much larger professional organizations.

OLP and ACEDS reportedly utilized teams of experts to develop bar-like multiple choice exams that try to cover the complete Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), from information identification through document production. As such, ACEDS and OLP are the leading providers of e-discovery certifications, but expect other non-profit organizations to enter the certification arena soon.

Clear and Concise

A good deal of our paralegal studies program at the University of Mississippi focuses on developing the ability to write clearly and concisely. (I am fortunate enough to have been given an internal grant from the Center for Rhetoric and Writing to improve  our ability to improve students’ writing ability.) It helps to explain why clear and concise writing is important before attempting to teach it. My explanation usually includes references to page, line, and word limitations in rules of procedure, but while the students read those limits, it seems students and many practicing legal professionals often do not believe the limits are enforced. That’s why I am passing on this story from abajournal.com:

Judge scolds BP for squeezing extra lines into brief

Posted Sep 18, 2014 09:50 am CDT

By Debra Cassens Weiss

BP is on notice that a federal judge will be closely scrutinizing its briefs for excess words in litigation over the Gulf oil spill.

In an order (PDF) on Monday, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said BP evidently abused a 35-page limit by slightly squeezing the spacing between the lines. The limit was already 10 pages longer than usual, and it called for a double-spaced brief.

As a result of the manipulation, Barbier said, BP exceeded the already enlarged page limit by about six pages. Slate and NPR have stories.

“The court should not have to waste its time policing such simple rules—particularly in a case as massive and complex as this,” Barbier wrote. “Counsel are expected to follow the court’s orders both in letter and in spirit. The court should not have to resort to imposing character limits, etc., to ensure compliance. Counsel’s tactic would not be appropriate for a college term paper. It certainly is not appropriate here.

“Any future briefs using similar tactics will be struck.”

BP is represented by several law firms, and Barbier did not identify the firm at fault. He does, however, reference the Pacer number on the offending brief, which was submitted under the electronic signature of Kirkland & Ellis lawyer J. Andrew Langan. A Kirkland & Ellis spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Langan said he would refer the ABA Journal’s request for comment to the appropriate person.

One comment states:

Instead of word processing tricks, I suggest go ‘old school.’ Consult an early version of Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” and learn to write using fewer words.

I agree. I suspect Celia Elwell, The Researching Paralegal, also agrees, since she frequently posts articles such as this: Classic Writing Tips from C. S. Lewis

 

I looked up your LinkedIn profile and Facebook page

The title of this post is stolen from the first line of reason number two for not hiring an interviewee for a job published by The Estrin Report. Much of what she has to say also applies to persons who already have a job as a paralegal, but can’t understand why they are not advancing, not more respected, etc., so I’ve copied below the entire reason number two. The rest of the article, “10 Reasons Why I Won’t Hire You” which is well worth reading in its entirety.

2. I looked up your LinkedIn profile and Facebook page before I invited you to interview.

You may think employers are checking Facebook to see if you’re that 20-year-old posting pictures of you and your buddies wildly drunk at a party. Or, they say they avoid Facebook because it is a “social” situation and not relevant. Not quite. They peek anyway. How you behave in some social settings can spill over into your social skills in the office. How about where you got into a public argument on your FB page with Sally over some petty little thing? Remember how it escalated into the War of Words? It was all about your criticism of typos in her posts.

Was that your attempt at leadership? Hmmm. It probably wasn’t the wisest thing to publicly tear someone down, and I wasn’t particularly fond of the fact you encouraged your FB friends to jump in and defend you. Not my idea of a leader. Here’s an indication of what situations may show up on the job. Red alert! No thanks.

Oh, and by the way, LinkedIn showed different dates and firms than what’s on your resume. It didn’t seem to be updated, either. No thanks, once again.

F

Paralegal lauded for former nursing home owner prosecution

Yes, the other members of the legal team – federal prosecutors and an investigator – were lauded also, but the fact that the paralegal was included as an active member of the legal team rather than just an appendage to it is significant:

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Glenn D. Baker, William G. Traynor and Dahil D. Goss; Investigator Donna J. Davis and Paralegal Specialist Barbara A. McIntosh received a Director’s Award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team for their investigation and prosecution of Houser for healthcare and tax fraud.

The full story is here.

Cause of Action Handbook now available .

Actually it’s been available for a couple of months, but I’m just getting around to posting about it now.  You can “look inside” at Carolina Academic Press. It’s also available at Amazon.com.

 

The Empowered Paralegal Cause of Action Handbook book jacket

This handbook is designed to be a great resource for any course in civil litigation, as well as an excellent desk reference for paralegals. Part I guides the reader through the concept of a cause of action and the role the cause of action elements play in the entire litigation process. Part II provides an easy reference to common causes of action, doctrines, and defenses, with explanations of concepts such as “scope of duty” and “foreseeability,” and a sample case synopsis for each topic.

The Empowered Paralegal Cause of Action Handbook provides a thorough examination of the nature of causes of action and their role in the legal process and concisely illustrates their effective utilization to achieve a successful outcome. This book explains key concepts without getting mired in “legalese” and provides a clear roadmap for navigating a case from start to finish, with particular emphasis on effective planning, legal research, investigation, and a well-prepared trial notebook. The comprehensive overview of common causes of action, defenses, and legal doctrines is especially helpful and provides a readily accessible reference tool, which I predict practitioners will turn to time and again. I highly recommend this book to novice and experienced paralegals alike, as it will empower them to be more effective members of the legal team and contribute to its success.
—Elona M. Jouben, MPS, Paralegal and Mentor, Washington, DC

I only wish this had been available when I had to take my Civil Litigation course. The content is well-written, easy to understand, and I love the charts that help portray certain processes in visual form.
—Denise Anderson, Paralegal, Minneapolis, MN

I was blown away by the level of content and the simplistic way in which you present it. It explains the various parts of litigation (which is rather complex in nature) and then walked the reader through sample cases to get them to really understand, analyze, and think it through – an excellent job covering a complex topic and making it manageable for the reader.
—Jamie Collins, Founder of The Paralegal Society,
Savvy Litigation Paralegal, Legal Columnist & Inspired Writer

Lawyer Applies for Paralegal Position

I am drawn out of summer vacation haze by a post on Above the Law by Alex Rich entitled, “Lawyer Applies For Paralegal Position. What Happens Next Will Surprise You.” Basically Alex is complaining because a lawyer was not considered to have the minimum requirements for a paralegal position. While Alex may be surprised I, regular readers of this blog, and practicing paralegals are not. The fact is that lawyers and paralegals are trained differently for markedly different roles. Alex’s surprised is based on the common misunderstanding of attorneys of what paralegals do and how they do it. I’ve addressed this extensively in some early posts, so I won’t go over it all again here, but here’s a link for those who have interest in hearing more.  It is unfortunate that a quality blog like Above the Law perpetuates this misunderstanding.

NALS Introduces a New Board of Directors

Also from Vicki Voisin, The Paralegal Mentorwe hear that NALS has a new board of directors:

The 2014-2015 NALS Board consists of Tina Boone, PLS, Mimi Mangrum, Carl Morrison, PP-SC, AACP Audrey Saxton, PP, PLS, and President, Karen McElroy, PP, PLS.This board marks a significant governance restructure, and the consolidation intends to mark great growth and collaboration on a national platform.

Vicki provides a short bio of each board member and links to youtube videos of the Board in action here.

NALA Receives Accreditation of the Certified Paralegal Program

Vicki Voisin, The Paralegal Mentor, posts:

The NCCA has accredited the NALA Certified Paralegal certification program for a five-year period, expiring April 30, 2019.

Founded in 1975, NALA is a professional association providing continuing education and professional certification to paralegals. Currently, over 8,900 paralegals may use the Certified Paralegal (CP) designation. The CP credential has been awarded to over 17,822 paralegals in its span of almost 40 years. The Certified Paralegal (CP) program is the first certification program accredited by NCCA which serves the legal community.

NALA has received accreditation of the Certified Paralegal program from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)

NALA received NCCA accreditation of the Certified Paralegal program by submitting an application demonstrating the program’s compliance with standards outlined in NCCA’s Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs.  NCCA is the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). Since 1987, the NCCA has been accrediting certifying programs based on the highest quality standards in professional certification to ensure the programs adhere to modern standards of practice in the certification industry.

Follow the link for more on this.