Archive for August, 2013

PANH Celebrates 30th

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

From my old stomping grounds (northern New England) comes this:

The Paralegal Association of New Hampshire will celebrate 30 years of service to the paralegal community during its annual meeting at the Bedford Village Inn on Friday, Sept. 20.

The keynote speaker will be New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster…

The third week of September traditionally has been declared Paralegal Week by the governor of New Hampshire, and PANH schedules its annual meeting during this period.

The fact that PANH continues to not only survive, but strive speaks for itself. Here’s what the New Hampshire Bar Association has to say anyway:

“The purpose of the governor’s proclamation is to remind employers to recognize the contributions and the dedication of their paralegals,” according to the New Hampshire Bar Association. “In busy work environments, people tend to take for granted the hard work done by paralegals. These professionals assist in providing high-quality legal representation to clients by ensuring accurate work content and making other overall contributions to the legal team.”

Keeping a Settlement Hinged

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

I am  currently outlining a book tentatively entitled, “The Empowered Paralegal Guide to ADR,” so stories about mediation tend to catch my attention. Professional Liability Matters’ article, “When a Settlement Unhinges: Failure to Document a Mediated Agreement” (brought to my attention by a post on the Franklin & Marshal [my alma mater] is a good example. While the story emphasizes the likely consequences of failure to document a settlement, an important lesson for attorneys, I view it as another example of the value of a good paralegal. Paralegals have many roles in the ADR process, not the least of which is assisting in ensuring that agreements do not become “unhinged.” They do so by helping the client understand the process and the agreement, helping the attorney and client communicate so that the client does not agree to something by which they will not abide and many other ways. Most apropos to the linked story is the ability of a good paralegal to assist in drafting a written document that can be signed by the parties before leaving the scene of the agreement. If the paralegal takes good notes during the course of the mediation, tracking agreed items and language on a separate sheet of paper (albeit an electronic sheet of paper), the resulting document can fairly easily be converted into a signed document confirming the agreement. It helps to have a stockpile of boilerplate language on hand to cut-and-paste into the agreement when and as appropriate. 

Email shortcuts

Monday, August 26th, 2013

The subtitle to the first The Empowered Paralegal book is Effective, Efficient, and Professional. This blog has focused on the “Professional,” with occasional trips into “Effective and Efficient,” some like the encouragement to have only one file on the desk at a time somewhat controversial. One part of the typical legal professional’s day that can interfere with efficiency is managing emails. I’ve spoken here previously about “Email Rules.” So I’m passing on a link to post from Legal Technology Today ‘s site (a part of the ABA Law Practice Management Section’s Legal Technology Resource Center) entitled, “Email Shortcuts: Faster and Safer.” It includes instructions for both Windows and Mac users, and explains,

Email shortcuts are an easy way to save a few seconds and cut down on the risk of a misdirected email. An email shortcut is an icon on your desktop that, when double-clicked, will automatically open up your email client and address a new email to a pre-set person. For example, you might have a shortcut on your desktop that says “Email John Doe” and when you click on it, it’ll open and address an email to john.doe@example.com.

Those saved seconds can be precious, but I’m a bigger fan of this method’s ability to reduce the risk of a misdirected email. Fixing the problems caused by misdirected email takes a lot of time and, worse, some of those problems can never be fixed. Once the cat is out of the bag, it’s out.

State of Washington Now Accepting Applications for LLLT Education Waivers

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Via the AAfPE listserv Michael Fitch, a former AAfPE president, forwards an email from the Washington State Bar Association regarding the new Limited License Legal Technician program previously discussed here in January. The program is getting underway and, as the title of this post states, applications are now being accepted for LLLT education waivers. Here’s the email:

WSBA is leading the nation with the implementation of a new program that will educate and license a new classification of legal practitioners called Limited License Legal Technicians (LLLT). LLLTs will possess the knowledge and skills to help the public with specific legal assistance, like selecting and filling out legal forms and guiding them through the legal system.
Experienced and certified paralegals are now eligible to take advantage of a waiver period that allows them to register for courses needed to obtain an LLLT license, while waiving some core education prerequisites.
To qualify for the education waiver, experienced paralegals must have:
  • Passed the Certified Paralegal Exam conducted by NALA OR the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam conducted by NFPA;
  • Active certification as a Certified Paralegal with NALA OR as a PACE Registered Paralegal with NFPA;
  • Completed 10 years of substantive law-related experience supervised by a licensed lawyer.
Classes are planned with professors from all three Washington law schools and will begin at the U of W Law School in September, both live and via webcast.
Waiver applications will be accepted by the WSBA until Sept. 18, 2013 for the fall courses. Family law will be the first practice area licensed, with others to follow in the future. The fee to apply for the waiver is $150.
The goal of the WSBA LLLT program is to provide much-needed access to justice by helping the public access affordable legal and law related services. For more information about the WSBA Limited License Legal Technician program including instructions on applying for the education waiver, please visit www.wsba.org/LLLT or contact Thea Jennings at theaj@wsba.org.

 

Why Society Needs More Paralegal Practitioners

Monday, August 12th, 2013

The article from which I stole the title for this post is actually about Tanzania, but it seems to me a lot (but not all) of that article could and should apply to paralegals here in the U.S.:

“WHO are paralegals?” A youth was overheard asking a woman with whom they were engaged in a conversation.Truly, just like this youth, there could be many Tanzanians who have no who the paralegals are and what could be their role in society.

The paralegals are not educated lawyers, but have received training on human and legal rights. They help communities and individuals in need of legal assistance.

Their unique talent and knowledge, received outside the conventional education systems, contribute immensely to relieve many people who have been trapped in legal problems.

Paralegals are persons trained in basic legal skills, including, problem solving, counseling and statement taking. In essence, they provide first aid legal to those in need of such a service. A paralegal is sometimes described as a non-lawyer person who performs tasks which require some knowledge of law services and procedures. In most cases, paralegals perform their duties within lower section of the community, for instance, at district, ward, village and family levels.

Here’s the link to the article which goes on to provide an interesting description of the history and present status of paralegals in Tanzania.