Archive for the ‘Awards and Honors’ Category

Addie Ratcliff, University of Indianapolis wins Mind Tap Scholarship

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

From Cengage Learning:

One student has won a $2500 Scholarship in the MindTap Slice of Your Life Contest!
Out of more than 300 original video entries submitted by students across the country, we narrowed it down to six finalists, opened up the polls, and a winner has been chosen!
Addie Ratcliff, University of Indianapolis, has won first place and a $2500 scholarship for her video!
Will Donovan, North Greenville University, has won second place and a $500 scholarship for his video!
Moriah Kirkpatrick, Lincoln Christian University, has been named the Viewers’ Choice Award winner, and will be awarded a $250 American Express gift card.
View all of the winning videos at
The students’ work on these videos was so inspiring, as was their encouragement for one another throughout the voting process. We felt that every one of the finalists deserved recognition for their efforts, and so the four other finalists, David Blanchard, Brad Nelson, Tommy Carroll, and Sean Kai Rafferty, will each be awarded a $250 American Express gift card.
We hope you’ll visit our YouTube page to view even more of the excellent videos we received.
Congratulations to all of our winners!

NY State Paralegal Day?

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Several states now have special days recognizing the contributions of paralegals to the legal system and the public. I do not have a complete list (if your state has one please let me know,) but have posted about Pennsylvania’s and Washington’s Paralegal Week, and Paralegal Day proclamations in Ohio and Mississippi. New York state has had paralegal days in the past, but apparently it’s a year-to-year sort of thing. If you are from New York you can now assist the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations in establishing a 2013 paralegal recognition day, according to this announcement in the NYCPA’s Paralegal Buzz newsletter:

Do you want to showcase the support of your law firm, business or employer in a significant way to the New York State Legal Community? Then consider supporting the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations by joining us to obtain a proclamation for Paralegal Day for paralegals in New York State.

For more details on how to be listed as a supporter please visit and click on “News and Events” to see how your firm or business can be featured on the proclamation that will be signed by Governor Cuomo.

If you have any questions please contact Cynthia Bynum @ 347-974-2874 or via email

I do hope you will join Cynthia, NYCPA, and ESAPA in this effort. While proclamations such as these may seem trite to some, they are one step in building “self-esteem” for the profession and greater awareness among the public of the essential role paralegals play in our legal system.

Washington State Licensing Board Moving Forward – with Paralegal Help

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

We’ve previously noted the new Washington Admission to Practice Rule 28 which creates a new legal service provider category named Limited License Legal Technician. The NFPA LinkenIn Group discussion board recently posted the following announcement:

Brenda Cothary, President of the Washington State Paralegal Association, has been appointed by the Washington State Supreme Court to serve on the Limited License Legal Technician Board.

Washington recently passed a law where certain paralegals can provide services directly to the public. Brenda will be on the inaugural board which will establish the requirements and procedures for paralegals who wish to work in this capacity. Brenda is very excited to be appointed and NFPA is proud of the work that WSPA members put into this project.

I join in congratulating Brenda and extend that congratulations to all the WSPA members who worked on moving the profession forward. Not every paralegal will or can be appointed to boards of this nature, but each can contribute to their own professional growth and the growth of the profession by actively participating in professional associations, civic affairs, and pro bono projects.

The “C” Mantra

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

The NFPA National Paralegal Reporter for December/January, among several articles worthy of reading announces the winners of the Thomson Reuters Scholarship Winners (Melissa Jurik and Anne Caitlin Griffin) and the Chancellor University Scholarship Winner (Shelly L. Bender.) Their winning essays are included.

Melissa’s “Our Mantra – Learn As Much As You Can” was particularly interesting to me as it relates to my recent post on professional self-assessment in which I made the point, “The professional paralegal strives to move beyond just “doing the job” – average or satisfactory work. So as we do our year end assessments, we should each ask ourselves, ‘Am I doing “A” work?'” While I was speaking of already practicing paralegals, Melissa applies the principle to paralegal students and newly minted graduates. She points out, “In that diverse group of students, there are a myriad of personalities and work ethics. Some have the mantra of ‘C’s get degrees’ and are doing just enough to get by, while a larger group of us are on a mission to learn as much as we can to make sure we are prepared to enter into the workforce.” She then argues in favor of completion of a voluntary exam such as The Paralegal CORE Competency Exam as a way of showing employers that the “individual has met the standards that are objectively established and verified by a third party.”

Those of you who read my previous post are aware that I agree with Melissa on the need for students to be doing “A” work if they expect an “A” grade. That can best be accomplished by adopting Melissa’s mantra: Endeavor to learn as much as you can rather than work for a passing grade. That same attitude applies to getting and keeping a job. It certainly applies to any paralegal who sees themselves making a career as a professional paralegal.

Another Paralegal Honored by Military

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

As long as we are on the topic of the military honoring paralegals, (why don’t more private firms do this?):

Raising the bar

Master Sgt. Elena Lund, 94th Airlift Wing legal office superintendent, recently received the Air Force Reserve Command Outstanding Air Reserve Component Paralegal of the Year Award for 2011, also known as the David Westbrook Award. Lund was also presented a commander’s coin for her accomplishments.

The full story is not long, but it does emphasize the expectations for paralegals:

“It is pertinent that paralegals do what is asked of them,” said Lund. “It’s not necessarily expected that you go above and beyond, but it is certainly appreciated. You have to define your level of dedication to the corps by surpassing the standard.”

Although I do discuss with my students the reality that paralegals are expected to go above and beyond. Simply doing what is asked of you is seldom an option for any legal professional.

Congratulations, Lena!

Honoring honorees

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

When a paralegal is honored by his or her employers, by professional association, or by a public group, I like to recognize that recognition by posting about it here. Thus the “Awards and Honors” category. The problem is keeping up with all the news, especially during the busy parts of a semester. This semester I’ve required the students in our Advanced Seminar class to maintain a blog (their choice as to whether it’s a public blog or one available to the class only) and I have one of those students to thank for bringing this one to may attention and that of her classmates:

Raye Thornton, a paralegal with the Tulsa District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Office of Counsel, is presented the prestigious USACE Chief Counsel Keystone Award by District Commander Col. Michael Teague. The award recognizes professionalism and valued service of an individual member or of a team comprised of members of the USACE Legal Services System who made a significant contribution to the Corps Legal Services System and its mission.

Raye Thornton, a paralegal with the Tulsa District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Office of Counsel, is presented the prestigious USACE Chief Counsel Keystone Award by District Commander Col. Michael Teague. The award recognizes professionalism and valued service of an individual member or of a team comprised of members of the USACE Legal Services System who made a significant contribution to the Corps Legal Services System and its mission. (Photo by Sara Goodeyon)

Tulsa District attorney, paralegal honored with prestigious awards

Posted 10/16/2012

By Sara Goodeyon
Tulsa District

TULSA, Okla. – Two members of the Tulsa District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Office of Counsel staff are winners of USACE Chief Counsel Honorary Awards for 2012.

The prestigious Keystone Award and E. Manning Seltzer Award were presented to Raye Thornton and Stephanie R. Darr in a ceremony at Tulsa District Headquarters Oct. 5 by District Commander Col. Michael Teague.

“I was surprised and kind of speechless when I heard about the award,” said Thornton, winner of the Keystone award. “I was very honored and humbled, and just completely surprised.”


Thornton is the sole paralegal in the Office of Counsel and also serves as the Freedom of Information Act officer. The Keystone Award, established in 1997, recognizes professionalism and valued service of an individual member or of a team comprised of members of the USACE Legal Services System who made a significant contribution to the Corps Legal Services System and its mission.

In a letter notifying Thornton of her selection as the award winner, Chief Counsel Earl Stockdale said, “the name of the Keystone Award refers to the arch which is the supporting element of the structure, without which the arch would fail. The term is reflective of the indispensible [sic]roles non-attorneys perform in the successful accomplishment of the Corps’ legal services mission.”

“Raye just does a great job in the FOIA program,” said Klein. “We’ve had a lot of big complex cases this year that she has dealt with really well, along with managing the office during a time of a lot of change.”

The story is about awards given to an attorney in the office as well as the paralegal, but I’ve edited to focus on the paralegal for obvious reasons. But there is also this:

 “Both Stephanie and Raye are just really, really top notch people who are always contributing and they deserve it immensely,” said Klein. “Usually a district will do well to have one chief counsel award; getting two in the same year is a good reflection of the caliber of people in our office.”
It may also reflect on the ability of attorneys and paralegals to work as a team and the excellence that results when they do!

Fifty Years of Service

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

For most of you it’s likely difficult to imagine doing anything for fifty years. (I’m frequently amazed that I’ve practiced law for over 35!) It’s especially hard to envision a paralegal working as a paralegal for fifty years when the ABA did not recognize the profession until 1968. However, the ABA is frequently at least a few years behind the real world. I’m presently working on a course syllabus for a course that studies the paralegal profession through film, including 1949’s “Adams Rib” and, of course, Della Street from “Perry Mason.” But those are fiction, and now we have real life proof that there were people performing the functions of paralegals before the ABA recognized the profession as NewOK reveals in its story, “Paralegal marks 50 years with Oklahoma City law firm.”

Jo Balding “stumbled” into the job starting as a legal secretary according to the story, but it’s clear that the job ultimately demanded all the skills of a paralegal, including the ability to relieve stress. Here’s a bit of the story:

Balding said her job takes strong organizational skills and, with a lot of last-minute tasks, the ability to handle stress.

As a way of relieving stress, she said she joins friends she’s made through various quilters guilds in making quilts for wounded soldiers who return to the U.S., quilts for soldiers in Afghanistan and quilts for preemie babies at the various hospitals.

“It feels good to do something for someone else, and it’s calming and relaxing,” Balding said.

Crowe & Dunlevy directors Michael Laird and Brooke Murphy praise Balding’s five decades of service.

“For 50 years, Jo Balding has invested her intelligence, savvy, courage and wit in this firm and in the clients we serve. She has truly been the professionalism benchmark by which so many others who have come after her are judged,” Laird said.

“She understands the importance of strict attention to detail for each client matter on which she assists our attorneys,” Murphy said, “and she has dedicated her career to consistently maintaining high standards.”

So, congratulations to Jo Balding and to her firm!

Paralegal Receives Legion of Merit

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Paralegal, Sergeant Major Terry Pahl (Ret), was recently awarded one of the highest ranking ribbons/honors in the United States Army. We know because his law firm, recognizing the value of marketing the professionalism of its paralegals as well as its attorneys, issued a press release through The release goes on to say:

SGM Pahl is the recipient of the Legion of Merit. This award is the 7th highest honor in the United States Army, above a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Soldier’s Medal.

This honor recognizes his “exceptionally meritorious service in positions of increasing responsibility, culminating a 40-year career as the Command Paralegal Noncommissioned Officer, 214th Legal Operation Detachment, United States Reserve Legal Command.”

He served his country with distinction and excellence and upon retirement is recognized for the performance of duty that represents exemplary service in the finest traditions of the Army.

SGM Pahl retired from the United States Army Reserves on March 1, 2012.

He continues work as a paralegal in the civilian field as Family Law Paralegal for the firm. He has more than 26 years of experience as a paralegal in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers Compensation, Child Support and Family law.

Congratulations to Terry and to the firm fortunate enough to have him as a member of its legal team!


Paralegal Superstar

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

There appears to be no escaping headlines like “Paralegal Who Faked Kidnapping and Law Degree Is Sentenced for Embezzlement.” For awhile I referenced such articles in posts collected in the category entitled, “Paralegal Crimes.” Lately, however, I just ignore them unless there is something in the article that sparks a comment about an issue of particular importance to the paralegal profession. Instead, my focus is on those paralegals who exemplify the best what professional paralegals and the paralegal profession can be personally and professionally. Once the dust clears on some other matters requiring my time and attention, I hope to create a page on this blog for articles about paralegals who win “Paralegal of the Year” awards. In the meantime, congratulations to RoxAnn Mack of Longmont, Colorado. The Longmont Times-Call reports in part:

LONGMONT — She rolls up her sleeves to give back in all sorts of ways — by donating blood six times a year, researching arrest warrants for homeless people in Denver, leading a team in the annual Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Race for the Cure and more.

Yet, it surprised Longmont’s RoxAnn Mack in 2011 when her pro bono paralegal work and community service won recognition from the Colorado Supreme Court, the Colorado Bar Association and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.

In December, she got one more kudo when, a website dedicated to serving and connecting paralegal professionals, named her one of 12 “paralegal superstars” nationwide. She will be featured on the March page of the organization’s calendar.

“I was kind of surprised by all of this because I just didn’t think that I had done enough,” Mack, 51, said.

Take a moment to read the entire article. Of notable significance, it seems to me, is the breadth of the recognition of her achievements – not only fellow paralegals, but the state bar and Supreme Court.

Paralegal Appointed to State Pracitice of Law Board

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

I’ve posted here from time to time about bar associations integrating paralegal professionals into their meetings and membership, and about court recognition of the role and value of paralegal professionals, each such instance being an advancement for the paralegal profession as well as the individual paralegals involved. Today, an additional step – a paralegal appointed to Washington State Bar’s Practice of Law Board. Here’s the announcement from Theresa Prater of NFPA from the NFPA LinkedIn group board:

Congratulations to NFPA Member Sue Beichley, Appointed to the Washington Practice of Law Board!

Sue Beichley, a paralegal at Injury at Sea in Seattle, WA, a member of the Washington State Paralegal Association, was recently appointed to the Washington State Bar’s Practice of Law Board. She attended her first meeting last week in Olympia.

This is a great stride for the paralegal profession — courts and lawyers who value input from our profession.

More information on the Practice of Law Board can be found at