Archive for the ‘Volunteering’ Category

Be Part of the Solution – Volunteer

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

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!


Pamela the Paralegal: Paralegals Assisting Legal Professionals Affected by Disaster

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Pamela the Paralegals reports on her friend and mentor’s, Lyza Sandgren (CanopyLegal, LLC), “program to provide volunteer, experienced support to any legal professional caught in the aftermath of a natural or man-made disaster to meet their deadlines and/or filing commitments when offices and computer equipment are not usable.”  Here’s the short version cribbed entirely from Pamela’s blog (the first link in this blog post takes you to the full report):

Paralegal Relief’s members are primarily independent paralegal businesses willing to provide short-term, courtesy paralegal, docketing, filing and client support to attorneys, law firms of any size, and corporate legal departments, but we welcome any experienced paralegal, attorney or legal assistant who is able to volunteer their time.  Our members have the technology, resources, experience and capacity to provide courtesy, short-term assistance wherever needed.

Please join Paralegal Relief  if you are an independent paralegal, paralegal service, attorney, or legal services provider willing to donate your time to assist other legal professionals in their time of need.  We hope we are never needed, but preparedness is everything in managing a disaster, so if a need does arise, Paralegal Relief will be ready to assist.

NYCPA and City Bar Justice Center: Pro-Bono Volunteer Opportunity

Monday, February 25th, 2013

I’ve post here frequently about the value of volunteering and pro bono work to individual paralegals, the paralegal profession, and the communities the paralegals serve. Today I’ve just enough time to pass this opportunity from NYCPA on:

Dear Volunteers:
You are invited to participate in a Superstorm Sandy Helping Legal Handbooks Project as per the details below:                
  • Volunteers to apply stickers to multiple Superstorm Sandy Helping Legal Handbooks.
  • Before these legal handbooks can be mailed to the victims of the hurricane, an error in the handbooks must be corrected.
  • These legal handbooks are in great need in the areas hard-hit by the storm.
  • We will coordinate one mailing project date and time according to the majority of the available volunteers.
Potential Volunteer Dates: February 27, 2013, February 28, 2013, or March 01, 2013
Times: 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM or 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
RSVP: This event is open to New York City Paralegal Association members and non-members. Please send an E-mail to the Pro-Bono Chairperson at probono@nyc-pa.orgwith two potential volunteer dates and times, your contact information (Full name, address, and cell phone number).The Pro-Bono Chairperson will confirm the date and time of the mailing project and provide you with the address and time of the project. Please do not go down to the mailing project without receiving a registration time and date. If you have questions you can leave a message at 516-851-4007.

Advance Directives for Seniors project

Monday, March 5th, 2012

This story is notable for several reason including the obvious value of the project. One of significance is the fact that the article refers to “attorney – paralegal teams.”

Advance Directives for Seniors project visits Jacksonville townhouse
by Kathy Para, The JBA Pro Bono Committee Chairwoman

A team of volunteers including seven attorneys, four paralegals, and five law students gathered Feb. 25 to assist local seniors in creating advance directive documents.

The project was a collaborative effort of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Florida Coastal School of Law, The Jacksonville Bar Association and the Northeast Florida Paralegal Association.

The pro bono attorneys included Robert Morgan, Krista Parry, Bruce Duggar, Robyn Moore, Debbie Lee-Clark, Hollyn Foster and Pat Vail.

Paralegals Margaret Costa, Regina Colbert, Donna Hoffman and Courtney Brown, as well as law students Gabriella Vero, Hayley James, Melissa Cohenson, Camille Higham and Amanda Gray serving as scribes, witnesses, notaries and interviewers.

The attorney-paralegal and attorney-law student teams created and executed the advance directive documents including Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate Designations, Living Wills, and Designations of Pre-need Guardian for 24 local senior citizens.

For more on how this project operates (just in case your association is looking for a project) click here for the full story in the Jacksonville Financial News and Daily Record.

More on advanced directives and other end-of-life planning in the next post.

NFPA Provides Webinar on Pro Bono Work: Register Now!

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

As frequently discussed here (see “Volunteering” category) pro bono work, of course, benefits the persons receiving the services and the public, but provides just as much if not more benefits to the paralegal performing the services in the form of experience, networking, fulfilling ethical requirements, and just plain feeling good about doing good as well as benefiting the paralegal profession. So I please to re-post this announcement posted by Theresa Prater on NFPA’s LinkedIn discussion board:

Announcement from National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. – PRO BONO WEBINAR – MARCH 29 — REGISTRATION OPEN

Here is the link to the registration form for the first NFPA Pro Bono Webinar to be held on March 29:

Our speaker is Michael Adler of Philadelphia, whose topic is “Meaningful Giving: The Benefits of Helping Others While Networking Through Pro Bono Work.” This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about networking opportunities while giving back. There is no CLE credit for this webinar.

This is a free event for NFPA members; there is a small charge for non-members. We hope to make pro bono webinars available throughout the coming year.

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.

Pro Bono Week

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

This morning I’m just passing along this from Brynne Williamson, PP, PLS’ post on the “Paralegal Jobs and Continuing Education” LinkedIn group board:

Celebrate Pro Bono Week!

Did you know that this week is “Celebrate Pro Bono Week”? The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service launched this national initiative to “be an effective strategic tool for enhancing and expanding local efforts to increase access to justice for all.” And the best part is, you don’t have to be an attorney to participate. There are many ways for legal staff members to give back to their communities, like volunteering with their local bar to assist at neighborhood legal clinics, assisting with local Wills for Heroes events, and helping out with free legal clinics. Contact your local bar association or check the “Celebrate Pro Bono Week” website to learn more: If you’d like to learn more about setting up your own volunteer event, check out the “Leading the Way” section in the June 2011 issue of “the NALS docket”:

Have a great week, everyone!

Brynne Williamson, PP, PLS
NALS Marketing Director

Paralegal Gains Woman of Excellence Award

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

The 17th Annual Women of Excellence Awards, presented by the Lafayette (Louisiana)  Commission on the Needs of Women, include the Founder’s Award to Nancy Goodwin. According to this report:

Mrs. Goodwin is a paralegal with the law firm of Ziegler & Lane.

Prior to becoming a paralegal, Mrs. Goodwin was the Director of the Louisiana Coalition on Jails and Prisons and Coordinator of the Louisiana Committee to Abolish the Death Penalty. She has spent many years as a paralegal working on prison abuse litigation and death penalty defense. She has also been a long time advocate for disabled people who have been denied Social Security benefits.

Her proudest achievement is that she was able to help continue Bill Ziegler’s law firm as Ziegler & Lane after Mr. Ziegler’s death. She says the best advice she ever received was, ‘Don’t let other people govern your reactions.’ Her motto is; It’s what you do with what you’ve got that counts. Others call her a true hero.

This, of course, follows nicely upon my recent post on pro bono work, but I was also taken by Ms. Goodwin’s dedication to Mr. Ziegler and Ziegler & Lane. I suspect this is in a large part due to respect paid to her by them. One theory is that this exchange of respect is more likely to occur in small firms than large, and perhaps this case illustrates that point, although there is some evidence of it occurring in slightly larger firms. In any case, Ms. Goodwin is clearly able to establish a good relationship with her attorneys. I also note that Ms. Goodwin is listed, with her photo along with two attorneys on the firm’s “About” page, as a “Non-attorney representative.”

The Case for Pro Bono Work

Friday, September 30th, 2011

I like to emphasize the benefits of volunteering to the paralegal performing the service, the paralegal profession, and the community. (See the “Volunteering” category. Each aspect of this trilogy could well use a post of its own. I’m going to take a shortcut on the first courtesy of  which has a very good post entitled, “The Case for Pro Bono Work.” While the post is intended for lawyers, each of the points made applies directly to paralegal or can apply with very little modification – modification well within the capacity of a competent paralegal.

The post deals with three primary areas of personal benefit offered by pro bono work:

Professional Development
Improve client relationship abilities
Good, clean fun

I’d add that it satisfies the ethical obligations required by codes governing both attorneys and paralegals, as well as person and religious codes. Check out the lawerist post and the Volunteering category here for more on the benefits of pro bono work.

Paralegals help expand pro bono services for low-income senior citizens

Monday, August 8th, 2011

The Northeast Florida Paralegal Association is part of a consortium of groups banding together to provide legal services to low-income elderly. According to the Jacksonville Daily Record:

Building on the current efforts of dedicated Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA) pro bono attorneys Pat Vail and Joe Meux, attorneys, paralegals and law school representatives met July 12 at the offices of Akerman Senterfitt to discuss plans for expanding services to low-income senior citizens in Northeast Florida.

The expansion in services will be modeled after the Military Reservists Wills and Advance Directives Pro Bono project that has been offered to Navy and Army reservists at local military facilities.

The services will help to organize their affairs and by planning ahead, these seniors will protect their rights and make informed decisions about their health care, property and family in the event of their own incapacity or death.


By helping senior citizens make these choices, the Senior Citizen Wills and Advance Directives Pro Bono project will help provide stability, dignity and comfort to the seniors and their families as they make decisions during end-of-life chapters.

“There has been deep discussion over how to broaden the reach of the advanced directive program by encouraging other lawyers, paralegals and law students to participate as well,” said attorney Pat Vail, who has provided leadership and advocacy for this population.

Vail added that there have been many “willing hands” interested in helping to provide services to seniors, including members of the Elder Law section of The Jacksonville Bar Association, service coordinators at residential centers, Florida Coastal School of Law, the Northeast Florida Paralegal Association and Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.

This is an excellent idea. In general, bar associations and paralegal associations should work together to maximize access to justice in the United States.  There are no losers and many winners when this happens. The lawyers accomplish far more than they would without the assistance of paralegals. The paralegals gain experience, network, project a good image with both the bar and the public, and satisfy  ethical obligations. And the benefits to the community are obvious.

Kudos to all involved.