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.

California Law Advocates

Lay Advocates will be in California’s future if Barbara Liss is correct. She makes a good argument for them in an email to Chere Estrin, part of which is posted by Chere on The Estrin Report. Since I’ve provided a link to the full post, I won’t re-post it here. As a teaser, I’ll just post her conclusion:

Once a journeyman, however, a full-fledged paralegal may often be as able as a lawyer in many aspects to provide considerably beneficial direct services to the public and has great potential to significantly diminish the existing gap in access to justice in California. I look forward myself to being soon able to contribute my own services in that way when I am able to test and obtain a limited license as a California Lay Advocate.

Current Trends in Paralegal Education

Yesterday I posted about the AAfPE Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, just one of several current trends in paralegal education. If you are interested in those trends, check out my article in the most recent issue of Paralegal Today.

AAfPE Task Force on the Future of Legal Education

The American Association for Paralegal Education has established a Task Force on the Future of Legal Education. The Task Force is charged to “study the provision of legal education to non-lawyers in the U.S., including the training of Limited License Legal Technicians and other models, and to make recommendations on how AAfPE and the legal profession can best address these issues.” We are fortunate that Janet Olejar has agreed to chair the task force. Janet is on the Washington State Committee developing and implementing its LLLT program. The task force has members from all five of AAfPE’s regions.

One responsibility of this task force will to research and monitor efforts to utilize well-trained non-lawyers to help address the access to justice problem in the United States, whether those efforts are taking place within state bar associations, the ABA, state legislatures, state court systems (the source of both the Washington State LLLT program and New York’s Navigator program.)

This is an important step forward for AAfPE and the future of legal education. If you are aware of efforts in your state that might be of interest to the Task Force, please let me know.

California AB 852 Update

Barbara Liss continues to keep the LinkedIn Paralegal Group informed on developments in California where, as you likely have heard, the Bar Association’s efforts to police the unauthorized practice of law faltered when the legislation was vetoed by Governor Brown only to rise from the ashes in what one political commentator characterized as a “somewhat sneaky action”. Barbara says,

The State Bar just issued/published a summary stating that there is no opposition to AB 852 (a copy of the summary is in my LinkedIn activity — for some reason, I’m not able to attach it here; it’s also available directly at the State Bar’s website: http://board.calbar.ca.gov/docs/agendaItem/Public/agendaitem1000011937.pdf). AB 852 renews the State Bar’s attempt to gain civil penalties for pursuing all non-lawyers for the unauthorized practice of law, not merely rogue immigration consultants or foreclosure scam artists, as addressed in the summary. Once again, the language of AB 852 is broader than the bar’s stated intent.

I understand that the State Bar is frustrated because UPL, although already a criminal offense, is not something it can control directly. It is up to the appropriate prosecutors to make decisions about prosecuting UPL. Many times those prosecutors have crimes they consider more heinous on their minds. I do believe there is merit in protecting the public from UPL, but I remained puzzled and troubled by a proposal that allows an essentially private organization to enforce UPL prohibitions be recovering civil fines. The summary is not clear on the subject, but it appears the fines, which are in addition to the costs of prosecution,  would actually stay with the Bar, not go into the public coffers or to the consumers the Bar purports to be protecting. This seems to make a situation that seems to involve a conflict of interest even more so.

New York Navigators

No, the New York Navigators are not another sports team. A colleague on the AAfPE Board of Directors provided us with a copy of New York Chief Judge’s State of the Judiciary Address. Here’s where the navigators come in:

Our efforts to find ways for non-lawyers to be of assistance begin in the courthouse. As of this month, specially trained and supervised non-lawyers will begin providing ancillary, pro bono assistance to unrepresented litigants in Housing Court cases in Brooklyn and consumer debt cases in the Bronx and Brooklyn. These are courts and case types in which virtually all defendants are unrepresented and are facing serious personal consequences as a result of litigation. It is shocking that in this day and age, over 95 percent of defendants in these critical cases are currently unrepresented. The new court-sponsored projects will offer an array of assistance to eligible pro se litigants ranging from general information provided at help desks and written material to one-on- one assistance, depending on the needs and interests of the litigants. This kind of one-on-one assistance will include providing informational resources to litigants and helping them access and complete court do-it-yourself forms and assemble documents, as well as assisting in settlement negotiations outside the courtroom.

Most significantly, for the first time, the trained non-lawyers, called Navigators, will be permitted to accompany unrepresented litigants into the courtroom in specific locations in Brooklyn Housing Court and Bronx Civil Court. They will not be permitted to address the court on their own, but if the judge directs factual questions to them, they will be able to respond. They will also provide moral support and information to litigants, help them keep paperwork in order, assist them in accessing interpreters and other services, and, before they even enter the courtroom, explain what to expect and what the roles are of each person in the courtroom.

Clear guidelines govern what a non-lawyer can and cannot do to ensure that they do not cross the line into the practice of law. They will receive training and develop expertise in defined subject areas. When these non-lawyers confront situations where the help of a lawyer is crucial, they will have access to legal service providers for help and referrals. (Emphasis added.)

This are not practitioners of the same nature as Washington State’s LLLTs, but they are another way for well-trained non-lawyers to help resolve the access to justice problem. They do sound a bit like a paralegal don’t they?

‘Justice Index’ Scores States on Access to Justice

The title of this post is lifted from that of Robert Ambrogi’s on his blog, “LawSites: Tracking New and Intriguing Web Sites for the Legal Profession.” It refers to The Justice Index, a new website that provides “a state-by-state scorecard of resources and initiatives designed to ensure that everyone has equal access to the legal system.” It’s interesting stuff. While every state seems to acknowledge the access to justice problem, many  do comparatively little to address it. Over the next few weeks I hope to do a series of posts about the role paralegals can play, do play, or will be playing is resolving the access to justice problem.