Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Paralegal Student Wins Back-to-Back LEX Scholarship Contests

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

The Deer Park Broadcaster reports:

San Jacinto College paralegal student Karen Cardenas’ essay about parental rights of same sex couples recently earned a $500 scholarship awarded by the Lambda Epsilon Chi (LEX) national paralegal honor society.

Cardenas became the first-ever repeat winner in the national scholarship contest, which attracts applicants from nearly 200 universities and colleges throughout the nation. The LEX honor society awards only five of the national scholarships annually.

“This is the first time in the LEX scholarship history that we have had a repeat winner,” commented Mary Flaherty, LEX national coordinator. “Karen deserves a great deal of credit for this impressive accomplishment.”

In 2014, Cardena’s essay about a legal procedure known as “Replevin” earned her a LEX essay scholarship. Replevin is a complex legal action used to have property returned to its rightful owner when it is being held unlawfully by someone other than the owner. The Replevin procedure frequently involves cases in which someone buys stolen property without knowing it is stolen.

You can read the full article here. Congratulations, Karen!

The Researching Paralegal: “This Is So Wrong on So Many Levels”

Monday, April 6th, 2015

I’ve often posted here about attorneys’ obligation to supervise paralegals, arguing that they owe that duty to the paralegals as well as the public. So, I’ve been intending to write about the story of a paralegal and lawyers involved in the case of Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, but have not found the time and energy to do so. Fortunately, my procrastination has paid often as Celia E. Elwell, The Researching Paralegal,” has not only posted a link to Tom Feher’s good post about the story, but has added commentary that raises both the supervision issue and the need for ethical education of paralegals. She also gave her post a title that I could use here, making my job even easier. So here’s the basics of the the story from Feher’s post on Lexology.com, “Florida lawyers face disciplinary charges after representing ‘Bubba the Love Sponge Clem’”:

Reports at the time suggested that, on the evening after the media-focused defamation trial started, the defense firm’s paralegal spotted plaintiff’s counsel at a local bar near his home. She contacted lawyers at her firm, returned to the bar with a friend, and sat down next to opposing counsel. Over the next two hours, the paralegal is reported to have lied about where she worked, flirted with opposing counsel and ordered drinks, including buying defense counsel a vodka cocktail and shots of Southern Comfort. She also stayed in touch with the three lawyers from her firm, sending them more than 90 texts and emails over the course of the evening. Later, opposing counsel’s lawyer stated that it was clear that the paralegal was in an undercover role and was making sure “all the parties knew exactly what was transpiring virtually every minute.”

Shortly after she first reported what was going on at the bar, a call was made by one of the lawyers to an acquaintance in the police department and an officer was posted outside the bar to wait for the plaintiff’s lawyer’s departure. When he eventually left, the paralegal convinced him to drive her car several blocks from a parking garage to a new parking space. As he did, he was arrested for DUI. The next morning, defense counsel touted the arrest to the media. Bar charges (a disciplinary complaint, not the tab for cocktails) accused the three lawyers of being involved in what appeared to be using the paralegal to set up opposing counsel.

The attorneys’ ethical violations didn’t end there as you can discover with a full reading of Feher’s post via the link provided above. But out focus is on the paralegal. That’s where I’ll let Elwell take over with an excerpt from her commentary “This Is So Wrong On So Many Levels:”

There has been a long, ongoing discussion in our profession about whether paralegals should have a certain level of paralegal education or whether it is sufficient to have experience alone. This article makes a good argument that, one way or another, in-depth education in legal ethics is critical for paralegals and all support staff. This subject deserves, and needs, special attention.

NFPA Scholarships

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Received this notice through the AAfPE listserv:

Each year NFPA together with Thomson Reuters offers two scholarships for paralegal education. The deadline is July 1, 2015 so please share this information with your students so they can apply and possibly win one of the scholarships!  The first place award is $3000 and second place award is $2000.  The scholarships will be awarded at NFPA’s Annual Convention in Honolulu, Hawaii!

To access the scholarship applications, please follow directions below:

To download the 2015 National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. / Thomson Reuters Scholarship Application, go to www.paralegals.org. Scholarship and award winners will be announced at NFPA’s Annual Convention in October.

Important! Incomplete applications and nominations or those postmarked after July 1 will be ineligible for consideration. Please note when multiple copies of a document are specified, they are required.

Scholarship for Paralegal Students

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

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.

The Realities of a Career in Law

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

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.

AAfPE Task Force on the Future of Legal Education

Monday, May 12th, 2014

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.

2014 NFPA/Thomson Reuters Scholarship

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Pat Lyons, President-Elect of the American Association for Paralegal Education passed this along on the AAfPE listserv:

NFPA has posted the application for the 2014 NFPA/Thomson Reuters Scholarship.  The deadline to submit the application and required documents is July 1, 2014.
I know many of our programs have had a student win one of the two scholarships over the years and this is another opportunity to have your students apply and win a scholarship to help with their paralegal education!

The scholarships will be awarded at the 2014 NFPA Annual Convention to be held in Dallas, TX.

If you go to the NFPA website www.paralegals.org and click on the link in the middle of the page for the scholarships.
Please share with your students.  What a great Spring Break project!

Estrin Report: The Future of Paralegals

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

The January 28, 2014, post on The Estrin Report is a guest post by Terese Cannon, J.D., entitled, “The Future of Paralegals: Why Waiting for the Future to Arrive is a Career Buster.” It is a very good post that summarizes the current state of flux for the legal profession in general and paralegals in particular, including synopsis of recent publications on the topic. This is of particular interest to me as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for Paralegal Education. At our meeting later this week I plan to propose creation of an AAfPE task force on this topic. Here’s the first couple of paragraphs which set the matter up quite well:

We are entering a era of major, perhaps even revolutionary, shifts in law practice, legal education, and the role of both lawyers and nonlawyers who deliver legal services.  Already in motion but accelerated by the economic meltdown five years ago, these shifts have already resulted in significant downsizing and reorganization in large law firms, decreased demand for legal services affecting large and small firms alike, and high under- and unemployment of lawyers.

Roles for paralegals are changing, requiring a re-envisioning of what paralegals can and should do and a concomitant rethinking of paralegal education.  The idea of nonlawyer practice has reemerged as a compelling subject of discussion within the ABA and the influential State Bar of California, and is ever closer to becoming a reality in the state of Washington. This renewed interest is related to the disruption of models for delivery of legal services and has spurred serious nationwide discussions about how to reform legal education and requirements for entry into the legal profession. This cluster of concerns together with the continuing challenge of providing access to legal services for low- and middle-income Americans has commanded the attention of legal commentators, educators and the bar.

The rest of the post is well worth reading. The remaining posts in the series will, I suspect, also be.

In general, the winds of change for the paralegal profession and the paralegal education profession are blowing hard. If these professions do not catch that wind they will find themselves blown about or left adrift in the horse latitudes. As a member of one of those professions I intend to do what I can to see that it takes the right tact.

 

NALA Webinar

Monday, November 11th, 2013

I just returned from a very active and informative AAfPE conference in Phoenix, Arizona. I’ll have more to say on that later as I’m now faced with the usual pile of work resulting from a week’s absence. For now I’m just relaying information about a free webinar from NALA being put on as part of The Professional Identity Project:

For Students, Recent Graduates,
and those beginning a paralegal job search

Thursday, January 16, 2014
3 PM CENTRAL TIME

Check here for registration information as we near the webinar date.

This free webinar is for paralegal students or newly-graduated paralegals who are ready to begin their interviewing process. Attendees will gain insight into the skills needed for successful job interviews. Discussions on current career trends will assist attendees in determining tools needed to get THE job.

The webinar will include instruction to enhance interviewing skills, and resume writing. The webinar will conclude with examples of the correct make-up and dress to assist in creating the polished appearance needed for a successful job interview.

Subjects include:

Paralegal Career Trends
Resume Do’s and Don’ts
The Interview Process
Survival in the Legal Arena
Does this Briefcase make My Butt Look Big?

For more information and registration click here

ABA Accreditation?

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Even on summer break there does not seem to be time to do all I’d like to do. I have begun again to scroll through LinkedIn discussion boards and find many articles or posts on which I hope to comment. Here’s the first.

The Paralegal Place has an article entitled, “The Importance of an ABA Accredited Paralegal School” that suggests that it is only worthwhile getting an degree or certificate from an ABA Accredited program. This is simply not the case. While I do not have the time for a full statement of why this is so, I did make this comment:

It is important that students investigate the quality of the program they are considering before enrolling and committing to the expenditure of thousands of dollars on a degree or certificate. However, there are many fine programs that are not ABA Accredited. ABA Accreditation itself costs schools thousands of dollars and hours of time that could be expended on student services if not devoted to the ABA. Some programs, while meeting most or even all of the ABA requirements, chose to put those funds into the program rather than into the ABA coffers. Note that there is no documented evidence for the often made claim that “most” law offices and legal departments only hire graduates of accredited programs. While this may true in some areas, it is far from true in many others.

Note also that the ABA Guidelines for Approval are designed by attorneys, not paralegals or paralegal educators. While I’ve been proud to be an attorney for over 35 years, it was not until I became a paralegal educator that I really understood the paralegal education process. The American Association for Paralegal Education’s mission statement is “Recognizing the need to increase and improve access to the legal system, the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE) promotes quality paralegal education, develops educational standards and encourages professional growth, in order to prepare graduates to perform a significant role in the delivery of legal services.” Rather than run automatically to the ABA, prospective students should check the AAfPE website for assistance in Finding a Quality Program.

Our program at Ole Miss is not ABA Accredited as a result of a decision on how best to expend resources in an age when legislatures are cutting budgets, but an even better example is the George Washington University master’s degree program.

It should also be noted that the ABA does not accredit paralegal programs. This is done by regional accreditation boards. The ABA just “approves” paralegal programs. For more on this click here.