Important Paralegal Traits

Amy Bowser-Rollins used the NALS LinkedIn discussion listserv to bring an article entitled “5 Most Important Paralegal Traits.” The article, written by Tonya Pierce and posted on AgileLaw.com’s blog has an interesting start in which the author appears to deny the implication of the title:

Can we just choose five traits as the most important paralegal traits that you must possess to succeed in a paralegal career? In my opinion, the answer is “no.” The paralegal profession has grown and expanded over the last few decades to encompass so many different positions and roles that it would be impossible to choose just five traits as the most important traits you need to have in order to be a successful paralegal. Furthermore, paralegals now work in numerous related fields that go far beyond a law firm. Therefore, the skills and paralegal traits a person needs to succeed depends more on the type of job, the industry, and the paralegal’s role than the standard definition of a “good paralegal.”

But it goes on to make a good case for five important personality traits for paralegals – good judgment, ingenuity, logic, persistence [which, I hasten to point out, is not the same as stubbornness,] and patience. A case can be made for other traits and I’d like to hear which you think are the most important.

In any case, the article’s final point is a good one.

However, attorneys will be attorneys and they love paralegals with these traits, skills, and characteristics. They’ll consequently look for paralegals who display these types of skills and personality traits. Learning coping skills to tame my problem with patience improved my efficiency and quality of work, which helped me obtain my position as project manager.

The real trick to becoming a great paralegal is to be honest enough with yourself to identify the areas where you need to improve. Take those necessary steps – that is a true sign of a great paralegal.

Tonya Pierce is a paralegal with over 24 years experience in several areas of the legal field (17 years as a bankruptcy paralegal and trustee paralegal).

The entire article is worth reading. You can see it at the link posted above.

Air Force Paralegal of the Year

 

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – An Airman from the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing legal office recently won the title of Air Force Paralegal of the year, proving she is the best legal aide in the Air Force.

Master Sgt. Natasha Hoglund, 455th AEW legal office superintendent, demonstrated excellence throughout the year earning her this prestigious award. Hoglund, deployed from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, has performed exceptionally at home and in the Area of Responsibility.

Congratulations, Master Sargeant Natasha Hoglund!

For the full story click here.

Paralegal Student Wins Back-to-Back LEX Scholarship Contests

The Deer Park Broadcaster reports:

San Jacinto College paralegal student Karen Cardenas’ essay about parental rights of same sex couples recently earned a $500 scholarship awarded by the Lambda Epsilon Chi (LEX) national paralegal honor society.

Cardenas became the first-ever repeat winner in the national scholarship contest, which attracts applicants from nearly 200 universities and colleges throughout the nation. The LEX honor society awards only five of the national scholarships annually.

“This is the first time in the LEX scholarship history that we have had a repeat winner,” commented Mary Flaherty, LEX national coordinator. “Karen deserves a great deal of credit for this impressive accomplishment.”

In 2014, Cardena’s essay about a legal procedure known as “Replevin” earned her a LEX essay scholarship. Replevin is a complex legal action used to have property returned to its rightful owner when it is being held unlawfully by someone other than the owner. The Replevin procedure frequently involves cases in which someone buys stolen property without knowing it is stolen.

You can read the full article here. Congratulations, Karen!

40 Years at NALA

A highlight of the NALA conference was the festive retirement send-off given to Marge Dover, CAE, NALA’s Executive Director since 1975. I was impressed by the honor, respect, and collegiality shown to Marge by all those present – members, officers, and staff. It is clear that she will be greatly missed by all. I only met Marge a couple of times, but her contribution to the growth and stability of NALA well-known. This is from the program for the banquet:

Marge Dover, CAE, has been NALA’s Executive Director since its inception in 1975. She has been a part of the growth of NALA and an observer of the developing paralegal field for almost 40 years. The NALA Board of Directors presented Marge with the 2000 NALA Founders Award to recognize her extraordinary leadership and her devotion to NALA.

Marge’s career focus prior to leading NALA in 1975 was her work with nonprofits including the Association of Petroleum Geologists in Tulsa. Marge also served on the boards of directors for several nonprofit organizations in Tulsa, including the Zoo Friends and the Retired senior Volunteer Program.

Congratulations, Marge, and best wishes for your well-deserved retirement!

NALA Excitement

I’m enjoying the NALA National Conference. Interesting Immigration Law Institute is very informative and will be a big help when I teach an Immigration Law course this fall.

I attended the forum yesterday where the candidates for offices spoke. A strong crew. NALA will do well whoever wins. As I sit back and listen to members speak to each other in between sessions, I am impressed with how pleased and confident they all seem to be in NALA, its mission, and its leadership.

I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting three current leaders of the Mississippi Paralegal Association. They’ve added some excitement and vitality to that organization and I look forward to working with them and helping them connect to our students and recent graduates. They were scheduled to make a presentation this afternoon, but it was disrupted by another type of excitement – a bomb scare that led to the evacuation of the conference center for a couple of hours. Nothing like standing out in the hot Tulsa sun to make you appreciate air conditioning and a cool beer at the local pub!

NALA 2015

Heading to Tulsa for the NALA 2015 National Conference. Looks like there’ll be several paralegals from Mississippi and from Maine there! I’m looking forward to mingling with some of the best paralegal professionals in the country and getting up to date on the paralegal profession.

16 Awarded Ohio State Bar Association’s Paralegal Credential

According to a Hudson Hub-Times (I have no idea where Hudson is other than in Ohio) article, sixteen people were recently award the Ohio State Bar Association’s Paralegal Credential. I, of course, offer them my congratulations, but the bigger story is that the OSBA recognizes the role of paralegals in this way. So, aside from the individual acheivment of these 16 individual, here’s the real take-away from the article:

“The OSBA includes paralegals as members of the Association in recognition of their valuable service to lawyers and to the public,” said OSBA President John Holschuh. “We applaud those OSBA Certified Paralegals who are bringing objective, uniform standards of competence and professionalism to their work.”

An applicant for paralegal certification must first meet specified education/experience, continuing legal education and reference requirements, and then must pass a written exam.

I realize there can be some problems with having a bar association in charge of paralegal credentials including a possible conflict between the bar’s interest in protecting its own monopoly and the interest of providing the public with both the protection and legal services it needs. However, all state bar associations should be including paralegals as members of the association and recognizing their valuable service to lawyers and to the public.

Let’s eat Grandma.

Teachers use the classic example of the difference between “Let’s eat, Grandma” and “Let’s eat Grandma” to illustrate the importance of a comma to the meaning of a sentence. (Just yesterday I saw it posted on a professor’s bulletin board at the University of Maine School of Law.) However, Celia C. Elwell, The Researching Paralegal recently called a real-life example to our attention by posting a link to a Washington Post article
Ohio appeals court ruling is a victory for punctuation, sanity” together with some of her own commentary. It turns out that there is a difference between a “motor vehicle camper” and “motor vehicle, camper.” Of course, we all know that, but apparently the people who wrote the ordinance did not, thus providing us with another entry in the Consequences of Sloppiness category. So, I join Celia in celebrating Judge Robert A. Hendrickson, of the Twelfth District Court of Appeals in Ohio and this victory for punctuation.

Be Part of the Solution – Volunteer

Marianna Fradman, frequently as source for materials that end up here, posted a link to “Pro Bono Report 2015: Treading Water” on the New York City Paralegal Association‘s Linkedin discussion board. The report itself is interesting as are other articles on the “Justice Gap” on The American Lawyer‘s website. I was drawn to the post by Marianna’s lead-in comment, a reminder that all legal professionals be part of the solution to the justice gap problem:

Special Report: The Justice Gap
Big Law is flourishing, yet legal aid is in crisis. Is it something we, paralegals can do? The answer is yes. We can volunteer. It gives a satisfaction, much needed experience and yes, it looks good on a resume too.

Volunteering for pro bono projects benefits you, the paralegal profession, and the public. There’s more on the topic, including some typical volunteer projects in the Volunteering category on this blog. Contact your local paralegal association for opportunities in your area.  Maybe you lead by example your attorneys into doing more to assist in resolving the justice gap!

 

Bloomberg BNA on LLLTs

Bloomberg  BNA has a decent article on the “Washington State Experiment with Legal Technicians.” It’s an interesting read because it covers the newly licensed technicians, the 2003 study that provided the foundation for the program, the conflicting positions on whether the program is the or even a “right answer” to the problem, and the bit of vagueness about what group of people its intended to help and how it will accomplish its goals. I like the way it ends with the personal prospective of one of the recently licensed LLLTs:

For the LLLT graduates, the experiment is personal. Wright said she put $4,500 on her credit card to pay for books and classes. Her goal is to eventually join her daughter’s law firm. “I’m treating it a little bit like retirement,” she said.

“I’ve been in the legal field since 1998. This is basically a dream come true,” said Michelle Cummings, a paralegal in Auburn. “Not only will I be able to offer a whole new kind of service to the public, I can actually become a partner of a practice or even own my own practice someday.”

“There will be cases that must and should be handled by an attorney. However, for those who just need a little bit of help and only have a little bit of money, this is where an LLLT can make a difference,” she said.