Estrin Report: The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client Book Review

The following is from the Estrin Report. Chere Estrin is also Editor-in-Chief of KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals and SUE, For Women in Litigation; and Chairperson of the Board, The Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP).*

The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client Book Review

I don’t know what it was that I expected when I picked up a copy of Robert Mongue’s latest book, “The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client” but that wasn’t as important as the fact that I just couldn’t put it down.

This is a book for everyone. While it is written specifically for paralegals, just substitute any position and you have a book that teaches you how to deal, motivate and learn from the older generations. This publication is not only for paralegals, it can be read by lawyers, administrators, legal secretaries – practically anyone who works in any capacity in a law firm environment. Why? Because for the first time that I can remember, someone is teaching how to handle the characteristics, traits, mental capacity and appropriateness of actions to age of clients and colleagues.

Mongue’s book does not cover the ho and the hum of regular “how-to” paralegal books. In fact, what he covers should be taught in every school regardless of specialty, profession or even age. Here, Mongue deals with our feelings about aging and the myths, stereotypes, cultural prejudices and extrapolations to the general population based upon personal experience. He draws you in as he explains behavior and the aging process and teaches you how to react as a result. As it turns out, much of what we think about the elderly is wrong, wrong, wrong.

With the millions of Baby Boomers about to set siege in the swamplands of Florida; the sunbelt of the Southwest and the hot, hot, hot but dry desert weather in Palm Springs, many firms and paralegals recognize that acting as counsel and paralegals for the senior generation will be much different than how the younger set thinks, acts and reacts. For the first time, Mongue tells you why so that you are better equipped for a smoother meeting, deposition, will writing, client meeting or other important event in your client’s space.

Mongue goes into great detail describing the professionalism and protocol you need in order to get the best possible information, client relationship, witness testimony and cooperation from an aging society. It’s simply fascinating. One chapter is devoted to death, dying and the end of life planning while another explains simply how to understand the differences in cultures such as generalities and diversity; Moslems, Jews, Catholics, Christians, Native Americans, Latinos/Hispanics, African Americans and others in what they want as they wind up the last quarter of their lives.

The book gives great tips on how to best communicate with someone in their later years. It teaches you how to talk to a senior citizen; how to best safe-proof their homes for optimum safety as the body changes and much more.

For any paralegal working with elderly clients, this book is a must-read. Even if you are working with graying baby boomers who are your colleagues, this book will clarify much of the “how-to’s” and answer the why’s: Why is the boomer thinking that way; why is last to embrace certain things but so much further ahead in accepting other concepts? Why doesn’t she understand me? The publication is artful in describing chronological, sociological, biological and psychological aging in a style that immediately captivates the reader. The book is so good, that you can substitute any part of the paralegal’s role throughout the book with another position entirely and still learn a brand new skill.

The chapter on Estate Planning and the Perils of Intestacy is excellent. The book covers “how-to” of estate planning such as a) explaining basic concepts b) writing forms c) the estate d) clarifying confusing basic estate plans e) basic estate planning.

The rich voice and highly expressive tone of the book plus the sharing of some of Mongue’s personal stories makes this book a great learning tool for paralegals of any level and any specialty. I highly recommend it to experienced paralegals, students, attorneys, legal assistants and anyone, anywhere who simply wants to be able to get their message across to those who have crossed over into eligibility for the early blue plate special at Tony’s Trattoria down the street.

Ranking: ***** 5 stars out of 5 stars
Publisher: Carolina Academic Press, Durham, North Carolina
Pages: 328 pages

*In the interest of full disclosure, I am on the OLP Advisory Board

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