The Day Jamie Quit

I haven’t been posting much recently (for reasons I will not go into here at the moment,) but when I did post regularly, I regularly posted items from or about Chere Estrin’s Estrin Report or Jamie Collins’ The Paralegal Society. So it seemed reasonable today to sign on and point you to a guest blog post by Jamie Collins on Chere Estrin’s Estrin Report weblog, “I Quit – In stilettos. (It was epic.)” You can find the whole thing at this link, but here’s a taste:

Today I’m here to tell you about one of the most powerful days in my life. It was transforming. Awe-inspiring. A day filled with tremendous personal freedom. It was the day I quit. I’m pretty sure you’re prepared to read some humdrum piece about a colossally awful job, with a dreadful boss, and the day I belted out a song that included the words, “these stilettos were made for walking.” This ain’t it.

The day I quit, my entire life began to change. I began to change. I realize it wouldn’t be fair to make a bold statement like that without telling you about that pivotal day in my life, so here goes: life changed…

The day I decided to have a great attitude and work hard.

The day I quit waiting for validation from other people and realized I needed to provide it for myself, instead.

The day I quit waiting for people and opportunities to find me and sought them out with a will to win….

It’s well worth the read. In fact, whether you have  already quit or still need to do so, it’d be good to print it out and hang it somewhere where it’d serve as a daily reminder.

Scholarship for Paralegal Students

I recently received the following email which I now pass on to you:

My name is Abigael Blumenthal and I am working on behalf of Andrew Moses and Jay Rooth at Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law (https://www.mosesandrooth.com/). This firm recently created a $500 scholarship for incoming and current paralegal students. I am reaching out to you to see if you would be willing to post this scholarship on your website to help us inform the largest amount of students possible about this opportunity. The scholarship information (and application) can be found here: https://www.mosesandrooth.com/2015-paralegal-scholarship/ The deadline for this is May 1, 2015, and the scholarship is intended for the fall 2015 semester.

Thomas H. Freeland, IV

It was less than two years ago that I posted about the legacy of professionalism/mentoring of Thomas H. Freeland, III. Last weekend the most direct part of that legacy left us as his son and my friend, Thomas H. Freeland, IV, aged 59, died. It is difficult to find new friends when you change careers and move to the South from New England where I lived and practiced law until I was almost the age Tom was when he died. Tom lived in Oxford since he was a boy, but he made it easy to be a friend. Tom was passionate about law, so many of our lunches or evening gatherings with Joyce Freeland and Denise Collier (my wife) over cocktails on The Square would start by him asking me to review a brief he was writing or discuss strategy on one of his cases or with me seeking his insight for my research or teaching. It was a joy to be able to discuss law with someone who was intelligent, analytical, passionate, and sane. Yet, the conversations soon turned elsewhere. Tom had a wide-range of interests – politics, food, music, history, family – and encyclopedic knowledge of each of them. When Tom became ill we frequently talked about the possibility of a sooner-rather-than-later death since he knew I had come to face-to-face with it myself not long ago. Even in those conversations, his concern was primarily about others rather than himself.

As a lawyer, Tom was what I hope all my students will become whether as a paralegal or as an attorney: smart, insightful, extremely knowledgeable, and devoted to helping people rather making money. Tom was always working on appeals for indigent death row prisoners, FAPE (fair, appropriate, public education) hearings for autistic children, and wills for people with little to leave their family and nothing to pay him. I was thrilled when he agreed to act as local counsel on my first case in a Mississippi federal court. Our collaboration on that case was the best I’ve experienced.

Tom and his wife (and law partner) took on interns from the law school and our program who had difficulty finding other positions and mentored them until they reached their full potential. When our youngest, now a 1L at UC Berkeley, was still at Tulane, they provided her with a summer experience in law that will remain an inspiration to her throughout her legal career.

As individuals, we will all eventually move on from the loss, although I’ll likely be asking myself, “What would Tom say about this?” for the rest of my life. But the State of Mississippi will never fill the gap left by his death.

Being Mentored

I’ve mentioned Mariana Fradman on this blog several times. She’s a top-notch paralegal with over twenty years experience who continually gives back to the paralegal profession. She’s an officer of the New York City Paralegal Association, but this post arises from her role as Chairperson of the NYCPA’s Mentor Committee. In that capacity she coordinates the Mentoring Program, matches students in paralegal studies, paralegals changing practice areas or paralegals who are new to the community with an experienced practicing NYCPA members who are willing to be a resource and make an affirmative effort to get the newcomer oriented to the legal environment. While I’ve occasionally spoken about the value of mentoring here, I have not focused on the role of the person being mentored. Mariana recently started a discussion regarding the role of the person being mentored on The Paralegal Society’s LinkedIn discussion board by posting an article entitled, “This Is Why You Don’t Have a Mentor” by Ryan Holiday that started on 99u.com. The article is good, but of more interest is the discussion found in its comments section on the extent to which the personal life of the person being mentored should be brought to the relationship.

The article draws a bright line, stating that personal life should be left at home: “Your personal life is irrelevant. Your excuses aren’t going to fly. If you get asked to do something, do it the way it was asked. If that means staying up all night to do it, then ok (but that’s to stay your little secret). No one cares what’s going on with you, or at least, they shouldn’t have to.” There is a lot of truth to this and it is a general approach to your obligations as a paralegal, a student, a mentor or a mentee. However, the line may be a bit too bright as pointed out in several of the comments. The gist of those comments is, “Yes, leave drama at home, and if you have no drama at home, don’t create it in the office. No one likes to be involved with drama. But a mentor relationship is built on sharing life experience. An aspiring person in a new field looks up to someone successful thats (sic) doing exciting things.”

Where do you come done on this? In any case, the article and the comments are worth a read. Join the conversation!

The Realities of a Career in Law

My last post passed on a “gentle rebuke” from a federal judge that included a video by Scott Greenfield. Today the judge had a new post with a link to an article by Greenfield that elaborates on the point. Greenfield states, “”The primary enablers are academics, who have given away their classrooms to their special little snowflakes.” My undergrads seem to have little problem coping with the studying the realities of life that legal professionals must confront as part of their career. Maybe it’s just that their lives have contained more of those realities than those of students at high end law school?”

What do you practicing paralegals think? Does Greenfield have a point, do the students have the better point, or is the answer somewhere in between?

Here’s a link to Greenfield’s article.

A Judge’s Gentle Rebuke

The judge in question is a federal district court judge whose blog is entitled, “Hercules and the Umpire.” His rebuke was directed at Columbia University law students. The point made by the judge and by Scott Greenfield in the video at the end of the judge’s post is also applicable to paralegals. Law and paralegal students should take the time to read the post and watch the video. Practicing paralegals will appreciate the points made in both and likely recall instances where they had to set aside personal trauma and do their job. The judge starts:

Dear Columbia Law Students,

I mean this in the kindest way possible: If you postponed your exams because the Garner and Brown cases “traumatized” your psyche, there is a distinct possibility that you are unfit to practice law. If you are one of those who claimed “trauma,” and you still want to practice law, you must toughen up before you agree to take on a client. The practice of law is not about you.

The reset, including Greenfield’s video is here. You can go directly to the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FW8D8xIiKBw#t=61

More on Supervision and Embezzlement

In the past when reporting on alleged paralegal embezzlement, I’ve harped on the fact that the paralegal’s attorney has a problem due to having provided inadequate supervision of the paralegal, a duty owed to both the public and the paralegal. Today’s ABAJournal.com feed has a post that supports my thoughts on the topic, although it involves an “office manager” rather than a paralegal. The problem was discovered when a client went to another attorney who discovered that her personal injury case had already been settled. Apparently the office manager had negotiated a settlement and run off with the funds (and her office computer containing records of client settlements.) The Kansas Supreme Court suspended the attorney for three months stating, ““The facts are clear and convincing that respondent did not properly supervise his office manager, he failed to keep a master list of clients, and he failed to keep proper accounting records. ”

Governor Proclamations

Reading through the first issues of Legal Assistant Today, I find that in 1983 the governor of New Jersey proclaimed the entire month of May as “Legal Assistant” month. This is significant because it comes only 16 years after the ABA first started recognizing the role of legal assistants and is less than ten years after the formation of NALA and NFPA. Are any of you aware of an earlier proclamation by a governor?

AAfPE Officers 2014-2015

Well, I for one am excited about the new American Association for Paralegal Education’s officers elected earlier today:

President: Patricia Lyons

President-Elect: Robert Mongue

Treasurer: Wm. Bruce Davis

Secretary: Thomas Pokladowski

AAfPE National Conference

I am heading out today for an American Association for Paralegal Education Board of Directors meeting and the annual National Conference. What do you think should be on the top of the agenda for paralegal educators?