Posts Tagged ‘award’

Paralegal Receives Legion of Merit

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Paralegal, Sergeant Major Terry Pahl (Ret), was recently awarded one of the highest ranking ribbons/honors in the United States Army. We know because his law firm, recognizing the value of marketing the professionalism of its paralegals as well as its attorneys, issued a press release through The release goes on to say:

SGM Pahl is the recipient of the Legion of Merit. This award is the 7th highest honor in the United States Army, above a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Soldier’s Medal.

This honor recognizes his “exceptionally meritorious service in positions of increasing responsibility, culminating a 40-year career as the Command Paralegal Noncommissioned Officer, 214th Legal Operation Detachment, United States Reserve Legal Command.”

He served his country with distinction and excellence and upon retirement is recognized for the performance of duty that represents exemplary service in the finest traditions of the Army.

SGM Pahl retired from the United States Army Reserves on March 1, 2012.

He continues work as a paralegal in the civilian field as Family Law Paralegal for the firm. He has more than 26 years of experience as a paralegal in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers Compensation, Child Support and Family law.

Congratulations to Terry and to the firm fortunate enough to have him as a member of its legal team!


Paralegal Gains Woman of Excellence Award

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

The 17th Annual Women of Excellence Awards, presented by the Lafayette (Louisiana)  Commission on the Needs of Women, include the Founder’s Award to Nancy Goodwin. According to this report:

Mrs. Goodwin is a paralegal with the law firm of Ziegler & Lane.

Prior to becoming a paralegal, Mrs. Goodwin was the Director of the Louisiana Coalition on Jails and Prisons and Coordinator of the Louisiana Committee to Abolish the Death Penalty. She has spent many years as a paralegal working on prison abuse litigation and death penalty defense. She has also been a long time advocate for disabled people who have been denied Social Security benefits.

Her proudest achievement is that she was able to help continue Bill Ziegler’s law firm as Ziegler & Lane after Mr. Ziegler’s death. She says the best advice she ever received was, ‘Don’t let other people govern your reactions.’ Her motto is; It’s what you do with what you’ve got that counts. Others call her a true hero.

This, of course, follows nicely upon my recent post on pro bono work, but I was also taken by Ms. Goodwin’s dedication to Mr. Ziegler and Ziegler & Lane. I suspect this is in a large part due to respect paid to her by them. One theory is that this exchange of respect is more likely to occur in small firms than large, and perhaps this case illustrates that point, although there is some evidence of it occurring in slightly larger firms. In any case, Ms. Goodwin is clearly able to establish a good relationship with her attorneys. I also note that Ms. Goodwin is listed, with her photo along with two attorneys on the firm’s “About” page, as a “Non-attorney representative.”

AAJ 2011 Paralegal of the Year

Monday, August 1st, 2011

On the upside of recent paralegal news, the American Association for Justice has selected Christina L. Koch as the 2011 Paralegal of the Year. According to PR Newswire,

Ms. Koch was nominated for the award by Inserra & Kelley, Attorneys at Law, where she has served as a litigation paralegal for over nine years. Ms. Koch holds a Two-Year Paralegal Degree, has received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, and is currently working on a Master’s Degree in Justice Administration; all while working 50-60 hours a week at Inserra & Kelley. While balancing life between career and education, Ms. Koch has generously donated her time and finances to various charitable groups.

To be considered for this prestigious award, candidates must have demonstrated their value as members of a legal services team, shown dedication to the legal profession, and shown dedication to AAJ’s mission.

Congratulations to Christina. Congratulations also to her law firm who recognized her service to the firm and nominated her for the award.

Paralegal Glory

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

As previous posts here have indicated it seems that the military is often far ahead of civilian legal services in recognizing the value of paralegals and the need to view the attorney/paralegal relationship as a team. For example, The Las Cruces Sun-News is carrying a story from the White Sands Missile Range announcing an award received by the Range’s JAG office:

The Legal Assistance Office at White Sands Missile Range was recently awarded the Chief of Staff Award for Excellence by the Army’s Office of the Judge Advocate General for their excellence in legal assistance in the category of a medium office…

While any award to a legal services office must be a team effort, Lt. Col. James Dorn, Staff Judge Advocate clearly recognizes the role of the paralegals:

“All the glory belongs to George Clark and our paralegals because it really is a team effort,” said Dorn

“They were basically going that extra mile as far as service goes. We received the award for excellence, so that pretty much says it all.”

Here’s some more on how they managed to provide increased service with the same manpower:

Legal assistant Willie Smith said in order to accommodate the increase in appointments, the office increased the times they would accept appointments by four hours. Although he is honored by the award, Smith said his greatest reward is helping soldiers on a daily basis.

“I’ve been around for 11 years helping soldiers when they have problems, and helping them to solve the problems is my reward,” Smith said.

Clark said the feat of increasing the workload without adding an additional employee could not have been done without the flexibility of everyone in the office and the ability to take on different roles. According to Clark, the office consists of one attorney, one paralegal and two legal assistants.

How often does a law firm attempt the same thing only to find that the staff is not fully on-board? How many of those instances are the result of not recognizing the importance of paralegals both on a daily basis and particularly after the previous times they were called upon to “kick it up a notch?”

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 Honored as Advocate for Low-Income People

Friday, November 19th, 2010

According to the Florida Times Union at, Jacksonville paralegal Virgina MaCabe is among those honored by Jacksonville Area Legal Aid as this year’s recipients of the Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Services. Congratulations to Virginia. This kind of service benefits not only the people served, but the paralegal profession.

I’d like to see a more organized approach to the utilization of paralegals as part of the resolution of access to justice issues in the United States, but until such a system is in place, paralegals like Virginia help bridge the access to justice gap while honoring their ethical obligations to the community, the legal system, and the profession.

Connecticut Paralegal of the Year Demonstrates Professionalism

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Today’s The Connecticut Law Tribune reports on Patricia B. “Pattie” Chouinard who recently received the first ever Connecticut Paralegal of the Year award. The reward seems well deserved for many reasons. Here are some of the comments from the story that emphasize Pattie’s professionalism:

“Don’t ever turn any [assignment] down,” Chouinard said she tells college students that she mentors and new associate lawyers she helps train. “The best thing you can do when someone asks you to help with X, Y and Z is to say, ‘Absolutely,’ and learn as you go. The hands-on experience is so much more valuable than anything else.”

She’s able to balance the demands of about 20 business lawyers who need her assistance morning, noon, night and even some weekends. All the while she plays critical leadership roles with the Central Connecticut Paralegal Association and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.

She also coordinates the projects and workloads for the other paralegals in the business law department. And she assists the firm with orientation and training of new associates.

“She makes a client’s problems her own and addresses them in a way that makes sure the client is well taken care of,” added Brooks. “If she needs to be here at night, in the wee hours of the morning, she’ll do that.”

Chouinard is especially proud of her involvement with the Central Connecticut Paralegal Association. For 20 years, she’s served on the group’s board of directors in various capacities. She’s currently vice president.

Chouinard has also participated in a bevy of CCPA pro bono activities, including annual Utility Day events at which the paralegals are partnered with Statewide Legal Services. The volunteers help consumers work out schedules to pay off their overdue utility bills.

Last but not least, Chouinard sometimes mentors paralegal students and some, she said, have gone on to become attorneys. “It’s wonderful. Students are like sponges and soak up anything and are willing to learn anything,” Chouinard said.

Before leaving Pattie, I’d like to extend kudos to her firm.  Here’s what Pattie has to say about them:

She adds that the attorneys at Shipman & Goodwin have always made the firm’s paralegals “an integral part of the team…”

Shipman & Goodwin clearly have reaped the rewards of this attitude regarding paralegals while providing an environment where Pattie has been able to fully actualize her potential to the benefit of herself, her profession, her employers, the legal system, and the public. Congratulations to both.

Paralegal Wins JAG Award

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

This is a busy time for paralegals at Maxwell/Gunter Air Force Base. I recently posted on a training program there that trains JAG attorneys and paralegals as a team. The Maxwell/Gunter Dispatch now reports:

A Maxwell Air Force Base JAG school team member has been recognized with an Air Force-wide award.

Ronald Frazier, the chief of paralegal training and curriculum of The Judge Advocate General’s School, earned the Harold R. Vague Award as outstanding legal service civilian as part of the 2009 Judge Advocate General Award.

These two announcements may be related as Mr. Frazier appears to have some significant involvement in paralegal training programs at the base:

“Mr. Frazier was selected based on his demonstrated excellence, initiative and devotion to duty with special emphasis given to his development and improvement of paralegal training programs and procedures,” said Col. Tonya Hagmaier, commandant of The Judge Advocate General’s School.

Congratulations to Mr. Frazier!

Paralegal is Children Champion

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Sue Allen, a New Hampshire paralegal with 25 years of experience has been nominated as a Champion of Children according to this report. Her list of accomplishments and activites on behalf of children is indeed extensive. What caught my attention most was how many of those activities and accomplishments involved utilization of paralegal skills, even though she did not use them in the context of law.

Ms. Allen served on the Elementary Building Committee “dealing with deadlines.” She then moved onto the School Board where she “helped with negotiations.” Others are not so explicit but each of the activities clearly required use of her organizational, communication, people management, analyzing, prioritizin, planning, and other skills that are part of the typical professional paralegal’s toolkit.

Congratulations to Ms. Allen for the volunteer work she has done for children and for showing the paralegal profession in its best light.

As an aside, all this work and networking cannot but have helped her employer’s business. So the law office’s bottom line is improved by more than the simple utilization of her skills at the office. Perhaps this is one reason why she has been at the same firm for 25 years. I suspect there have been times when Ms. Allen’s outside activities have seeped into the office and interfered with her job activities. The smart law office recognizes the beneficial tradeoff and the good for the community, and encourages rather than discourages this type of volunteer commitment.

How NWFPA Profoundly Impacted Children’s Lives

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Service to the community is an important aspect of any profession, professionalism, and professional association. Last week I posted a follow up to Practical Paralegalism’s post on the Northwest Florida Paralegal Association’s nomination for the Children’s Champion of Northwest Florida award. The nomination is “for making a profound impact on the lives of local children. Lydia Brackett, NWFPA’s current president, was gracious enough to respond to my request for additional information. Here some detail on the association’s actions that led to the nomination for consideration by other paralegal associations:

The Northwest Florida Paralegal Association has two committees that have worked as outreaches to aid the needs in our community. We have a Charity Committee and a Christmas Committee. Our Association was one of the co-founders of the Manna Food Bank in 1982. This organization collects and provides food to children and families that are in need. Additionally, for a number of years, we have participated in the “Cram the Van” which collects and distributes school supplies for children in the Pensacola regional area. Every year our Christmas Committee distributes stockings which our members take and fill for the Salvation Army. For the last 3 years instead of having a Christmas social luncheon, our committee has opted to hold an auction to benefit the Children’s Services Center here in Pensacola. Being in the Panhandle of Florida, our economic level is not equal to that of South Florida, but this past year our auction was able to raise more than $2,800 for the Center which is incredible given that the bidders are mostly our own members with a few guests. Last year the Children’s Services Center merged with United Cerebral Palsy and that organization was impressed with the fact that all the money collected at the auction is given to the Center. Nancy Wolf of Children’s Services Center called to tell us the Center was nominating us for the award. This came as a surprise since our Association never considered the services we provide to the community would have such an impact. The hard work and tireless efforts of this year’s committee, Judy Williamson, Dana Martinez-Jones, Amanda McCleskey, Kimberly McCrory, Colleen Blazer, and Regina Vino, Chairperson of the Christmas Committee, along with members Julie Leggett, Elona Jouben, April Murphy, Melissa McKinney, and volunteers Kris Baier and Mitch Sims greatly contributed to this nomination. The fact that this nomination recognizes the contributions made by the NWFPA to our community over the years is overwhelming. I am continually amazed by where one simple idea can lead.