Archive for May, 2011

Guidebooks for the Trip to Trial

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Judge Primeaux of the 12th Mississippi Chancery Court did a post yesterday entitled, “WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO HIDE SOMETHING FROM A LAWYER? [HINT: IT’S IN THE RULES].” He notes

Lawyers do not bother to read the rules. One of my pet peeves. Just the other day I had a lawyer in my office who proudly produced proof of certified mail service of process on a state department. No one appeared for the defendant agency. That may be, I pointed out, because MRCP 4(d)(5) requires process “Upon the State of Mississippi or any one of its departments, officers or institutions, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the Attorney General of the State of Mississippi.” Really? Didn’t know that.

and concludes,

I am convinced that the most significant difference between the good lawyers and the mediocre-to-poor ones is that the good lawyers take time to try to do it right, making sure they know the rules, statues or cases behind what they are doing.  Which category will you place yourself in?

I am convinced as the judge of his conclusion and feel it is as applicable to paralegals as lawyers. Unfortunately all too often both  attorneys and paralegals view the Rules of Procedure (Civil, Criminal, Appellate) as obstacles to be overcome on the way to trial. I’ve done entire presentations  on “The Path of a Civil Lawsuit” attempting to change that point of view. The Rules are not obstacles to a trial, but a guidebook for the trip to trial.  No need to wander aimlessly through that trip – the Rules will guide you, telling you:

oWhat you can, must and cannot do
oHow to do it – Format and Procedure
oWhen you can, must or cannot do it
oWhere to do it
So take the judge’s advice:  Keep your rule book on your desk — open — every time you have to issue process, or file a motion to compel, or file a counterclaim, or a 12(b)(6) motion,  glance at the rule, and refresh your recollection.

Benefits of Belonging to Paralegal Professional Associations

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

One of the many keyword searches that brought a searcher to this blog was “what are the benefits of membership in NALA and NFPA?” Part of the answer can be found by clicking on the significant number of posts in the “Professional Associations” category link. But this search was of particular interest to me because I am in the middle of doing a final edit on the galley proofs of the chapter on paralegal associations in The Empowered Paralegal Professionalism Anthology. So this provides me with an opportunity outside of the acknowledgments pages of that book to thank NFPA, NALA, and NALS for their permission to reprint materials from their websites that assist in illustrating the many benefits of belonging to the respective associations.

“The Paralegal” Speaks on Time Management

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

As regular readers of this blog know, time management is one of the basics of paralegal empowerment and professionalism. So, I enjoyed reading Ana Perrio’s post regarding time management onThe Paralegal. According to her website, Ana Pierro, “is a paralegal supervisor in the Office of the General Counsel at a large financial institution in the Greater New York area.   Ana has over 16 years experience working in law firms and in corporate legal departments with experience in insurance defense, plaintiff’s personal injury and product liability, asbestos litigation, securities litigation, compliance, regulatory work recently government affairs.”

Ana’s post two of the biggest impediments to time management: the telephone and email. The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional” devotes entire chapters to time, workload, and client management. Ana is correct that time management requires active management of email and telephone. If you do not control them, they willcontrol you. So, I recommend some specific rules. These are rules that you put in place to govern the way you manage emails and calls. Click here to check out the fundamentals for email rules and client management phone rules.

Florida Paralegal Legislation Nixed

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Just about every paralegal blog and listserv has written about the proposed legislation to license paralegals in Florida except this one. (I know, I know, this one hasn’t had a post about anything in quite awhile.) If you don’t know about it, check out this account in the Estrin Report or this one at Practical Paralegalism or this one from the Paralegal Mentor. I’ve temporarily emerged from the pile of papers and exams I’ve still to grade before commencement exercises on Saturday long enough to chime in with this from Elona Jouben on the Paralegal Todaylistserv:

This was just delivered to my in-box:

As of 05/07/2011, the House Bill 1149 regarding the Regulation of the Paralegal Profession has been “Indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration” and subsequently “Died in Civil Justice Subcommittee”.

I checked the Senate Bill and it has met the same fate.

Elona, by the way, wrote her thesis for her Masters at George Washington University arguing that compulsory regulation of paralegals in Florida is unnecessary. An slightly edited version of that thesis appears as an article in The Empowered Paralegal Professionalism Anthology, soon to be available in college bookstores and at online vendors. (As soon as I finish the editing of the galley proofs and complete an index, that is.)