Archive for September, 2014

Paralegal Warrior Challenge

Friday, September 26th, 2014

If you are looking for a reason to be thankful today, perhaps you can be thankful this is not a part of the standard law office role for paralegals:

USARPAC paralegal Soldiers committed to ‘warrior trials’

The top paralegal Soldiers throughout the Pacific region participated in the seventh annual USARPAC Paralegal Warrior Challenge, Sept. 15-19.

The Paralegal Warrior Challenge tested Soldiers’ mental and physical resilience as well as their military occupation specialty knowledge. The challenge was held at multiple locations across Schofield Barracks, Fort Shafter, and Aliamanu Military Reservation, Yongsan, Korea.

“The challenge is designed to test our paralegals that have shined throughout USARPAC and try to identify the best warrior paralegal in the command,” said Sgt. Maj. Craig Williams, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, Command Paralegal for I Corps. “The Soldiers are learning a lot about themselves and some are finding that mental toughness that they didn’t know they possessed.”

The five-day warrior challenge began like most challenges and that’s with an Army Physical Fitness Test. After the APFT, the Soldiers had to conquer a swim challenge. The following day consisted of an M16 range where noncommissioned officers had to qualify on the M16 and M9. The Soldiers also had to complete a 4.2 miles foot march in 45 minutes. The USARPAC paralegals had multiple written exams to take and a board. To prove their Soldier abilities, they had to perform several warrior tasks and drills.

At the end of the five-day competition, all participants received certificates of achievements and coins of excellence. The overall competition winners received Army Commendation Medals and plaques.

For the Soldier that scored the highest on the APFT that Soldier would receive the Iron Soldier Award. This year Sgt. Chris DeFrancisco, assigned to 8th Army in South Korea, earned the Iron Soldier award for scoring 334 points on the extended scale.

DeFrancisco also won the overall competition and became USARPAC’s 2014 Paralegal Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. Spc. Glen Swanson, assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, was named USARPAC’s Paralegal Soldier of the Year.

Virginia Paralegals’ Week

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Last week I finally  added the Virginia Alliance of Paralegal Associations to my blogroll in response to a June request from Karen Axell, RP, President of VAPA. While looking at the site I noticed this: Governor Terence R. McAuliffe proclaims October 12-18, 2014, as Paralegals’ Week. The Governor’s proclamation includes several reasons for the week including recognition that “the research and administrative duties performed by paralegals are essential to the ability of attorneys to provide their clients with quality legal services.

OLP eDiscovery and LitSupport Certification Exams‏

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

I am on the Advisory Council for the Organization of Legal Professionals, although they get along quite well without much advice from me as evidenced by this from a LinkedIn article by Damian A. Durant, J.D., Rise of standards & certifications key to e-discovery partner selection – Part 1:

We are finally seeing the emergence of industry standards and professional certifications as the e-discovery industry continues to mature. The recent California Bar advisory opinion on e-discovery competency drew much attention and is the most recent example of the trend.

“A corporation or law firm selecting an e-Discovery or Discovery Management partner should determine if the partner has enough qualified, certified personnel and implements industry standards into their practice.”

….

Any would-be client should require independently certified individuals across the staff of the prospective partner and in the service delivery teams assigned to their work.

  • The Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP) also offers a widely respected certification called CeDP (Certified E-Discovery Professional) and the CLSS (Certified Legal Support Specialist) certificate. OLP also now offers an E-Discovery Project Management certificate. The Association of Litigation Support Professionals (ALSP) in lieu of developing its own certification, recommends the OLP certification to its members.
  • The Association of Certified E-discovery Specialists (ACEDS) offers perhaps the most widely known e-discovery competency certification known as CEDS (Certified E-Discovery Specialist). Public sources suggest over three hundred people have the CEDS qualification.

Both OLP and ALSP in their mission statements emphasize standards and certifications, but ACEDS only secondarily. Of course establishing standards and certifications is challenging for even much larger professional organizations.

OLP and ACEDS reportedly utilized teams of experts to develop bar-like multiple choice exams that try to cover the complete Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), from information identification through document production. As such, ACEDS and OLP are the leading providers of e-discovery certifications, but expect other non-profit organizations to enter the certification arena soon.

Clear and Concise

Friday, September 19th, 2014

A good deal of our paralegal studies program at the University of Mississippi focuses on developing the ability to write clearly and concisely. (I am fortunate enough to have been given an internal grant from the Center for Rhetoric and Writing to improve  our ability to improve students’ writing ability.) It helps to explain why clear and concise writing is important before attempting to teach it. My explanation usually includes references to page, line, and word limitations in rules of procedure, but while the students read those limits, it seems students and many practicing legal professionals often do not believe the limits are enforced. That’s why I am passing on this story from abajournal.com:

Judge scolds BP for squeezing extra lines into brief

Posted Sep 18, 2014 09:50 am CDT

By Debra Cassens Weiss

BP is on notice that a federal judge will be closely scrutinizing its briefs for excess words in litigation over the Gulf oil spill.

In an order (PDF) on Monday, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said BP evidently abused a 35-page limit by slightly squeezing the spacing between the lines. The limit was already 10 pages longer than usual, and it called for a double-spaced brief.

As a result of the manipulation, Barbier said, BP exceeded the already enlarged page limit by about six pages. Slate and NPR have stories.

“The court should not have to waste its time policing such simple rules—particularly in a case as massive and complex as this,” Barbier wrote. “Counsel are expected to follow the court’s orders both in letter and in spirit. The court should not have to resort to imposing character limits, etc., to ensure compliance. Counsel’s tactic would not be appropriate for a college term paper. It certainly is not appropriate here.

“Any future briefs using similar tactics will be struck.”

BP is represented by several law firms, and Barbier did not identify the firm at fault. He does, however, reference the Pacer number on the offending brief, which was submitted under the electronic signature of Kirkland & Ellis lawyer J. Andrew Langan. A Kirkland & Ellis spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Langan said he would refer the ABA Journal’s request for comment to the appropriate person.

One comment states:

Instead of word processing tricks, I suggest go ‘old school.’ Consult an early version of Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” and learn to write using fewer words.

I agree. I suspect Celia Elwell, The Researching Paralegal, also agrees, since she frequently posts articles such as this: Classic Writing Tips from C. S. Lewis

 

I looked up your LinkedIn profile and Facebook page

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

The title of this post is stolen from the first line of reason number two for not hiring an interviewee for a job published by The Estrin Report. Much of what she has to say also applies to persons who already have a job as a paralegal, but can’t understand why they are not advancing, not more respected, etc., so I’ve copied below the entire reason number two. The rest of the article, “10 Reasons Why I Won’t Hire You” which is well worth reading in its entirety.

2. I looked up your LinkedIn profile and Facebook page before I invited you to interview.

You may think employers are checking Facebook to see if you’re that 20-year-old posting pictures of you and your buddies wildly drunk at a party. Or, they say they avoid Facebook because it is a “social” situation and not relevant. Not quite. They peek anyway. How you behave in some social settings can spill over into your social skills in the office. How about where you got into a public argument on your FB page with Sally over some petty little thing? Remember how it escalated into the War of Words? It was all about your criticism of typos in her posts.

Was that your attempt at leadership? Hmmm. It probably wasn’t the wisest thing to publicly tear someone down, and I wasn’t particularly fond of the fact you encouraged your FB friends to jump in and defend you. Not my idea of a leader. Here’s an indication of what situations may show up on the job. Red alert! No thanks.

Oh, and by the way, LinkedIn showed different dates and firms than what’s on your resume. It didn’t seem to be updated, either. No thanks, once again.

F

Paralegal lauded for former nursing home owner prosecution

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Yes, the other members of the legal team – federal prosecutors and an investigator – were lauded also, but the fact that the paralegal was included as an active member of the legal team rather than just an appendage to it is significant:

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Glenn D. Baker, William G. Traynor and Dahil D. Goss; Investigator Donna J. Davis and Paralegal Specialist Barbara A. McIntosh received a Director’s Award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team for their investigation and prosecution of Houser for healthcare and tax fraud.

The full story is here.