Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Second Edition Suggestions

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

I’m working on the second edition of the first The Empowered Paralegal book. Your suggestions will be appreciated. You can make them by commenting here, sending me a message on the TEP Facebook page, or email theempoweredparalegal@live.com.

In addition to updating the first editions, present plans include:
> A new chapter, “The History of the Paralegal Profession.”
> A new chapter, “Managing ADR.”
> A new chapter, “Managing Social Media.”
> A new chapter or extended section of the “Managing Your Clients” on working with elder clients.
> A new chapter on paralegal ethics.

The Day Jamie Quit

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

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.

Thomas H. Freeland, IV

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

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

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

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!

It’s a matter of history.

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

I am engaged in a historical research project tracing the development of paralegal practice and the paralegal profession during the 1950s through the 1990s. (I’m working on a Masters in History. This project will start as a potential journal article, expand into my thesis, and possibly a book.) I am interested in state, local, and national paralegal association newsletters from that period and other documents – news stories, minutes of minutes, letters, etc. – that might provide information on what it was like to be a paralegal or legal assistant (even if you did not have that title) during that time. Early issues of magazines such as “Fact & Findings,” and the like would also be helpful. Contact me here or via email if you have documents or other information that might be helpful and you are willing to share. Ultimately, I’d like to interview some of the paralegals who practiced during that time period, so please let me know if you would be willing to be interviewed regarding your background, how you entered the legal profession, your first jobs, etc.

Cause of Action Handbook now available .

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

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

Current Trends in Paralegal Education

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

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.

Knowing your judge

Friday, January 31st, 2014

In The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional I discuss extensively the need to know your judge, jury, and courtroom as part of preparation for any aspect of litigation. The Researching Paralegal has picked up on an important additional to the “knowing your judge” litany and provides a link to an article that explains why we should even know what kind of technological device the judge uses: “Writing a Brief for the iPad Judge,” by Daniel Sockwell, Columbia Business Law Review. Here are a few other comments of a more basic sort from The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional:

Your legal team should be prepared in a way that leaves as little as possible to chance. The team should know not only the case, but also the judge, the jury, the courtroom, the witnesses and the parties.

The Judge. Is the judge conservative or liberal on issues affecting the admissibility of evidence? What are the judge’s expectations regarding pre-trial briefs, draft jury instructions, making a record, managing time, managing witnesses and the other details of trial management? If you or your attorney have not appeared before the judge before, take the time to watch the judge in action a week or so before your trial. If this can’t be done, use your network to find out as much as possible about the judge before your attorney enters the courtroom.

The Jury. Different jurisdictions have different rules and procedures regarding the information provided about jurors. The legal team must know those rules and procedures and use them. In addition, the team will have many opportunities to observe the jurors both before and after the selection of your jury. Since you and the attorney both have other responsibilities, you should share this one. Often you can be the attorney’s eyes and ears, watching the body language of the potential jurors while she is conducting voir dire of a particular juror. How are they reacting to the questions? How do they look at your client? How do they react to the other attorney? How interested do they appear? The more that is known about the jury, the more the presentation can be keyed to that jury.

The Witnesses and the Parties. Frequently trial preparations focus on what the witnesses or parties are going to say. The well-prepared legal team will also consider everything they can about the witnesses themselves. Include a short biography of the witness or party and notes about impressions obtained by the attorney, you or investigators during interviews or depositions, in the witness section of the trial notebook. Again, much additional information can be obtained during the trial through observation. This is another opportunity for you to be the attorney’s second set of eyes and ears.

The Courtroom. Check out the courtroom in advance. Where can the flip chart stands be placed to maximize visibility by witnesses, the judge and the jury at the same time? Where can you plug in the projector? How much room and light are available? Will you need an additional table? How can you leave the counsel table to contact the next witness with the least distraction? Where will the witnesses sit while waiting their turn to testify?
Your goal is a professional presentation. The power of the PowerPoint presentation on damages during closing argument is greatly diminished if you and the attorney find there is no way to position the equipment so that it can be plugged in, even if the court allows time so an extension cord can be found.

Celia Cites Citation Blog

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Celia C. Elwell blogs as The Researching Paralegal ~ Articles and Research for Legal Professionals, one of the most useful blogs for and by legal professionals these days. She frequently provides links to other helpful blogs and sites. Here, for example, is today’s:

Citing Legally Blog, by Peter W. Martin and Jane M.G. Foster, Professor of Law, Emeritus Cornell

If you have any interest in the fine points of legal citation and legal writing, this is the blog for you. Citation masters and Professors Emeritus Peter Martin and Jane Foster have created a forum to discuss and elaborate on citations as they are used by counsel and the court.

This is a “must bookmark” for anyone interested in legal writing, cite-checking, or how to cite properly. Please click on “About – Scope and Purpose” to read more about the authors’ intent for this blog. -CCE

I agree that the Citing Legally Blog is a must for those interested in legal writing, but my point is that Celia’s blog is a “must bookmark” for all of us. If it’s not in your RSS feed, it should be.

Holiday Gifts for Paralegals

Friday, December 20th, 2013

I’ve seen a few good lists of gifts for paralegals on LinkedIn discussion boards. A Google search using “paralegal holiday gifts” brings up some good choices. But the point of this post is to remind you that there is no better gift than a good book. Yes, I do have some specific titles in mind.

But all attorneys should keep in mind that gifts, especially copies of any of The Empowered Paralegal series of books, are, of course, wonderful, but cannot possibly substitute for a bonus that recognizes their contributions to the firm’s bottom line.

By the way, em>The Empowered Paralegal series of books will soon have a new addition: The Empowered Paralegal Cause of Action Handbook.”