Archive for February, 2011

Pew PR: Paralegal Promoted

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Many things have to come together for the paralegal profession to gain a solid identity. One area of which we are seeing more recently is law firms publicly recognizing the role and value of paralegals in their firms. The Pew Law Center in Phoenix, Arizona, clearly sees the value of a newly promoted paralegal, but also sees the PR value to the firm as well as the value of educating the public as to what a paralegal’s role is on the legal team. This lead-in from a recent PR release from The Pew Law Center illustrates the point:

http://www.prleap.com/ MESA, ARIZONA, February 21, 2011 — The Pew Law Center, PLLC has named Jane Cauthen lead paralegal for the firm’s Phoenix office. Cauthen, who has been with the Pew Law Center as a staff paralegal since 2009, works with the firm’s attorneys in assisting clients who are filing for bankruptcy in Arizona, including chapter 7 and chapter 11 bankruptcies, chapter 13 protection, foreclosures, car repossession, credit issues, tax problems and all issues involving Arizona bankruptcy law.

Cauthen is a native of Pima, Arizona and moved to Phoenix in 2003.

Lawrence “D” Pew Esq., managing bankruptcy attorney at the Pew Law Center, says Cauthen is a valuable member of the Phoenix office team.

“Her energy and dedication to her work earned Ms. Cauthen this promotion,” Pew said. “We are fortunate to have her as a member of our team.”

Cauthen’s responsibilities include research, drafting documents and legal reports, and assisting Pew’s bankruptcy and debt relief attorneys in trial preparation.

The legal profession in general, the paralegal portion of that profession,  the law firms publicly recognizing the value of paralegals in their firm and the public will all benefit from doing so. I look forward to more.

A Supersized Story?

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

A number of blogs have noted the claim of Amazon Eve to be the largest model. The claim is of particular interest to paralegal bloggers because Amazon Eve claims to be a paralegal. Guiness Book of Records is investigating the model claim. My concern is the paralegal claim. I have no way to verify or disaffirm either claim and would normally take her at her word but for the large number of persons who seem to co-opt the title without justification andthis curious statement in the AOL report:

“I studied theater as an undergrad before going to law school to become a paralegal,” she told AOL News.

Further investigation reveals that Amazon Eve grew up in central California, thus all but eliminating the possibility she is talking about an educational system in another country. So if AOL News got it right, it is likely the claim is wrong – in the U.S. one does not go to law school to become a paralegal (although some people who go to law school end up as paralegals through fortune or choice.) Admittedly there could be several explanation for this curious statement, but it remains curious and does make one wonder about the claim.

NFPA Scholarships

Monday, February 21st, 2011

I received the following through the National Federation of Paralegal Association’s LinkedIn group. I’m assuming NFPA will not mind me passing it alone in toto:

  • Group: National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc.
  • Subject: NFPA Scholarships – Topic to Be Announced March 1, 2011

NFPA will again offer two scholarships through the generosity of Thomson Reuters, to paralegal students. These scholarships are for $3000 & $2000, are open to students studying in paralegal programs across the country, and the winners are determined by a panel of judges who sit on the NFPA Advisory Board. None of the judges on this panel are educators; rather they are chosen from the lawyers, paralegals, and non-legal professionals who sit on this Board.

The winners are also provided a stipend to attend the NFPA Annual Convention, which is being held in Bloomington, MN October 13 – 16 this year. There the winners will be introduced by an executive of Thomson Reuters, have an opportunity to see NFPA in action and to interact with NFPA members from across the country.

There is a formal application process for the scholarships and an essay which must accompany the application. The topic will be announced next week, and I will provide additional information on how to apply at that time. In the meantime, if there are any questions on the scholarships, please let me know.

Theresa A. Prater, RP
NFPA Vice President and Director of Profession Developmen

Paralegal Association Rewards Law Firm as Employer of the Year.

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Many paralegals complain about their employers, most with good reason (see. e.g., Paralegal Hell). So I’ve tried to include frequent posts here about law firms that recognize their paralegals and treat them with respect, (see, e.g. Paralegalese, especially when she was still in Alabama.) Overall, I believe that the paralegal/attorney relationship is a good one and that most of the time paralegals and attorneys work well as a legal team and as employer/employee, learning to “dance” well together.

All of that is a rather long lead-in to a rather short item in The Tennessean:

The Middle Tennessee Paralegal Association awarded the law firm of Gullett Sanford Robinson & Martin with its 2010 Employer of the Year Award.

It’s short, but of some significance, both because the law firm presumably has done something to earn the award and because the MTPA recognized the importance of the paralegal/attorney – employer/employee relationship enough to honor law firms who also recognize its importance. Congratulations to all.

Paralegal Mentor’s 13 Questions

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Vicki Voison, The Paralegal Mentor, regularly provides profiles of paralegal professionals who have had an impact on the paralegal profession. I’m mentioning this for two reasons. First, I wanted the opportunity to write “provides profiles of paralegal professionals” just for the alliteration. Second, her most recent newsletter contains this, which I am passing along to those who might not yet have seen it:

One last thing…I need your help. If you’d like to participate in the professional profile and answer my Thirteen Questions, or nominate someone else who’s made an impact on the paralegal profession, please contact me at vicki@paralegalmentor.com. Ditto for news. If you’ve received an award or have other paralegal news, contact me so I can include that in Paralegal Strategies. Thanks!

National Association of Freelance Paralegals

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

The KNOW News for February referenced in yesterday’s post also announces, :”The National Association for Freelance Legal Professionals (NAFLP) is about to launch its paralegal division and The Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP) has several online courses to benefit the career and its eDiscovery certification exam is just about to roll out.” Not at all coincidentally I’m sure, today I received an email from NAFLP about the launch stating, “The National Association of Freelance Legal Professionals is an organization providing higher continuing legal education, networking opportunities, publications and more to freelancers in the legal field.” Some of the benefits listed in the email are:

  • Over 100 webinars per year free  – many that are specifically designed for freelancers.
  • Freelancer: a monthly magazine specifically for Freelance Legal Professionals
  • Online, interactive courses to help you build your business
  • Telecoffee:  A lively monthly teleconference with other members about pertinent and important freelance topics
  • Public Member Directory
  • Discounts to seminars, publications, magazines
  • Free membership in the prestigious Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP) plus special discounts for CLE
  • Discounts from NAFLP sponsors
  • National Networking Opportunities
  • Discounts to annual conference
  • Publications, white papers, ezines, monthly newsletters and more.”

Here’s the link to NAFLP. I’ll be adding it to the professional association blogroll.

NYCPA’s Strategic Alliance with UK

Friday, February 18th, 2011

I’ve previously mentioned that one of the New York City Paralegal Association’s most interesting projects is an alliance with the United Kingdom’s Institute of Paralegals to create transatlantic paralegal competency standards. The February edition of KNOW Newshas a story with more details about this project. It notes, “The Standards will reflect the usual paralegal career structure, being set at introductory, intermediate and advanced levels. Modelled upon the IOP’s existing UK competency standards, the draft transatlantic paralegal competency standards will be circulated for comment to all UK and US transatlantic firms.” More important it provides the contact information for those organization that might wish to have input into the standards:

Contact Details

Any firm or other relevant organisation interested in either being on the Joint Standards Working Party or having a watching brief should contact either:

James O’Connell at james@theiop.org or Nikki Doughty at internationalliaison@nyc-pa.org

Read more here or check out the KNOW News for this and several other interesting articles.

Paralegal Student Blog: Attorneys Gone Wild

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

The Sinclair Community College paralegal program in Dayton, Ohio had an interesting project for the Fall 2010 Quarter. As part of the project student Amanda J. created a blog entitled, “Attorneys Gone Wild: Lawyer/Paralegal Misconduct.” The entries appear to end when the quarter ended, so I’ve not added the blog to the blogroll here, but it is interesting to see a paralegal students perspective on legal ethics and the misconduct of lawyers and paralegal. The next-to-last entry spins off a post from this blog regarding a Florida jury verdict in favor of a paralegal who sued her former employer. She comments:

A Florida jury found in favor of a paralegal who entered into a contract with her supervising attorney to receive a portion of the earnings from the attorney’s fees.

If you have been paying attention in Legal Ethics, this is fee-sharing or fee-splitting and is prohibited for non-lawyers. The paralegal goes to court, knowing she has committed unethical behavior, will be fired, and will be known in the community for her unscrupulous behavior, yet still pursues the case which ultimately results in her supervising attorney being disciplined.

I find it strange that two legal professionals can go to court, both having committed unethical behavior and only one is disciplined. Even though the lack of a paralegal ethical code protects me from court discipline, I would like to have the confidence that any non-lawyer with whom I work is under the same rules and guidelines as any lawyer with whom I work.

If Amanda J. is still reading this blog now that her project is done, she’s likely to be interested in the views of practicing paralegals on this, so feel free to comment.

Warning to my students: I like the concept of this type of project as an educational tool, so be prepared!

SBPA “Law in Motion”

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Barbara Liss was kind enough to send me a copy of the Santa Barbara Paralegal Association’s February, 2011 issue of its newsletter, “Law In Motion,” mainly because it contained a re-print of a post I made on this blog. I learned several things from the newsletter:

(1) I ought to proofread my posts better. Unfortunately they are frequently done “one the run” squeezed in between classes or cocktails. Often I re-read them later when linking to them for a new post and wince! For awhile a reader was informally monitoring my posts and emailing me regarding typos and the like, but I have not heard from her in awhile. The lack of admonitions from her is clearly not because the errors have stopped. So if there is anyone out there that wants to take on the task, please feel free to email me pointing out errors and omissions.

(2) My “About” page was woefully out of date. I’ve updated it, but I’m a lawyer, educator,  and author, not a webmaster or marketing person, so any and all suggestions are welcome.

(3) SBPA appears to be a very good professional association. The newletter itself goes well beyond just informing the members of upcoming events. This issue include my comments, an excellent piece by Lynne Devenny, and information from a book by Carole Bruno.  The 2011 calendar shows a robust group with CLE, community service, and social events, including at least one done in conjunction with the Bar.  Here’s a bit of advice for the members from the President that I’m sure must be repeated by every officer of every association, so I’ll include it here:

As always, the success of each of these events depends upon the membership of the SBPA and each member’s willingness to help out. As I have reiterated so many times in the past, the organization is only as strong as its membership. We need your support which translates into “warm bodies” doing much of the work, so please contact any of the board members to express your willingness to assist.

A Practical Task from Practical Paralegalism

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Head on over to Lynne DeVenny’s blog, Practical Paralegalism for her post, “Paralegal Do-Over: What Would You Tell Lindsay to Wear to Court?” While Lindsay is a tough case, this exercise is a good one since it is an example of the tact required quite often by paralegals in preparing clients for court appearances. Good post, Lynne.