Posts Tagged ‘awards’

The “C” Mantra

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

The NFPA National Paralegal Reporter for December/January, among several articles worthy of reading announces the winners of the Thomson Reuters Scholarship Winners (Melissa Jurik and Anne Caitlin Griffin) and the Chancellor University Scholarship Winner (Shelly L. Bender.) Their winning essays are included.

Melissa’s “Our Mantra – Learn As Much As You Can” was particularly interesting to me as it relates to my recent post on professional self-assessment in which I made the point, “The professional paralegal strives to move beyond just “doing the job” – average or satisfactory work. So as we do our year end assessments, we should each ask ourselves, ‘Am I doing “A” work?'” While I was speaking of already practicing paralegals, Melissa applies the principle to paralegal students and newly minted graduates. She points out, “In that diverse group of students, there are a myriad of personalities and work ethics. Some have the mantra of ‘C’s get degrees’ and are doing just enough to get by, while a larger group of us are on a mission to learn as much as we can to make sure we are prepared to enter into the workforce.” She then argues in favor of completion of a voluntary exam such as The Paralegal CORE Competency Exam as a way of showing employers that the “individual has met the standards that are objectively established and verified by a third party.”

Those of you who read my previous post are aware that I agree with Melissa on the need for students to be doing “A” work if they expect an “A” grade. That can best be accomplished by adopting Melissa’s mantra: Endeavor to learn as much as you can rather than work for a passing grade. That same attitude applies to getting and keeping a job. It certainly applies to any paralegal who sees themselves making a career as a professional paralegal.


Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Several items of interest today from NFPA (National Federation of Paralegal Associations.) They serve to illustrate the benefits to paralegal professionals and the paralegal profession of active membership in paralegal professional associations such as NFPA, NALA, and NALS. Check out this blog’s blog roll for links to many of these fine organizations.

1. Through Patricia Lyons of Roger Williams University on the AAfPE (American Association for Paralegal Education) listserv:

The NFPA-Thomson Reuters Scholarship deadline is fast-approaching!  All scholarship packages must be submitted to NFPA by July 1, 2012!  The first place scholarship is $3000 and second place is $2000 plus a stipend for travel to attend the NFPA Convention in Anchorage, Alaska!

The link to the application, etc. is at href=<

Also, for those who work with practicing paralegals or know of lawyers who work with paralegals, there are additional links to awards information so that paralegals can be recognized for their accomplishments to the paralegal profession.  They can be found at: href=

2. From NFPA through a LinkedIn announcement:

The new NFPA website ( is a complete redesign…We designed for both the technology of today and tomorrow…Behind the scenes, there are many ways the new website design will help NFPA HQ be better able to serve you and many more additions will be worked on over the summer.

Moreover, the new site’s technological underpinnings are very extensible. We will be able to add new features and enhance existing ones using HQ resources, not expensive web design firms. We feel that what we are unveiling is great in its own right, but more than that, we see it as a foundation to build upon for even more member value in the future.

3.  From  a LinkedIn discussion forum post by Rebecca Vazquez:

Statistics project…anyone’s stats would be greatly appreciated!!

I’m doing a Statistics project with regard to paralegals/paralegal students. Can anyone weigh in with the following stats:

1. Did you go to school for a certificate or degree?
2. What area(s) of law do you work in?
3. How many years experience do you have?
4. If you are no longer a paralegal but were once, how many years did you work before you quit?

I’m trying to determine the percentage of years that paralegals who graduate with a certificate/degree work in the field compared to the percentage of years those who don’t have a degree or certificate work.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

I can’t vouch for the scientific validity of a statistics project done through LinkedIn, but the results will be of interest in any case. If you’d like to add to the data, post a comment here or email me and I’ll forward the info to Rebecca through LinkedIn. Or you can do it yourself through the NFPA LinkedIn group.

Paralegal Superstar

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

There appears to be no escaping headlines like “Paralegal Who Faked Kidnapping and Law Degree Is Sentenced for Embezzlement.” For awhile I referenced such articles in posts collected in the category entitled, “Paralegal Crimes.” Lately, however, I just ignore them unless there is something in the article that sparks a comment about an issue of particular importance to the paralegal profession. Instead, my focus is on those paralegals who exemplify the best what professional paralegals and the paralegal profession can be personally and professionally. Once the dust clears on some other matters requiring my time and attention, I hope to create a page on this blog for articles about paralegals who win “Paralegal of the Year” awards. In the meantime, congratulations to RoxAnn Mack of Longmont, Colorado. The Longmont Times-Call reports in part:

LONGMONT — She rolls up her sleeves to give back in all sorts of ways — by donating blood six times a year, researching arrest warrants for homeless people in Denver, leading a team in the annual Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Race for the Cure and more.

Yet, it surprised Longmont’s RoxAnn Mack in 2011 when her pro bono paralegal work and community service won recognition from the Colorado Supreme Court, the Colorado Bar Association and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.

In December, she got one more kudo when, a website dedicated to serving and connecting paralegal professionals, named her one of 12 “paralegal superstars” nationwide. She will be featured on the March page of the organization’s calendar.

“I was kind of surprised by all of this because I just didn’t think that I had done enough,” Mack, 51, said.

Take a moment to read the entire article. Of notable significance, it seems to me, is the breadth of the recognition of her achievements – not only fellow paralegals, but the state bar and Supreme Court.

When A Plaque isn’t Just a Plaque

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I’m a big fan of national, regional, and organizational awards, but often the sweetes honors come from those with whom and for whom we work. Here’s an example:

Caryn S. White recently was presented a plaque in recognition of her 20 years of dedicated service to the Spencer Law Firm, according to a SWF press release.

White serves as office manager at the firm. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in management and human resource management from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and was granted a paralegal certificate from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Of course, I’m assuming that this recognition is not just a way to make up for having failed to treat Caryn with respect on a daily basis. Given the fact that she’s been there 20 years. For a short period of time I worked in a firm where the office manger was given a party and very nice “bonus” to recognize her 25 years of service and then forced into “retirement” about a  year later. Given my experience at the firm, I suspect that the latter treatment was much more representative of her treatment over the course of her career than the party and bonus!

Having no information to the contrary I’ll stick with my assumption that this is a well-deserved formal recognition of Caryn’s contribution to the firm that is in addition to the  regular respect and appreciation  to which she is likely entitled. Congratulation, Caryn!

By the way, paralegals are not granted certificates from good educational programs. The certificates are earned by the paralegals.

Singing for the Unsung

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Little comment on this from MinnLawyer Blog other than to say it’s an idea I like:

Minnesota Lawyer announced the honorees in its third annual Unsung Legal Heroes Awards. The awards are meant to honor support staff employees who have consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty in their work. This year’s honorees were nominated by colleagues, supervisors, and the staff of Minnesota Lawyer. … A lunch will be held at noon September 22 to recognize this year’s honorees. Congratulations to everyone.

Paralegals Win JAG Awards

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Among the winners of recently announced Air Force JAG awards were:

Senior Master Sgt. Steven Fitzgerald, a paralegal manager, of the 14th Air Force, at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., earned the Karen Yates-Popwell Award for outstanding paralegal senior NCO. This award recognizes the active-duty SNCO in the grade of senior master sergeant or master sergeant selected as the most outstanding paralegal of the year based on demonstrated excellence, superior initiative, leadership, management skills and professionalism.

Tech. Sgt. Karin Burke, the NCO-in-charge of claims and legal assistance, at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, earned the Steve Swigonski Award for outstanding paralegal Airman. This award recognizes the active-duty Airman in the grade of technical sergeant or below selected as the most outstanding paralegal of the year based on demonstrated superior initiative, technical skill, leadership ability and devotion to duty.

Lt. Col. Daniel Rouse, the assistant staff judge advocate, of the 8th AF, Barksdale AFB, La., earned the Reginald C. Harmon Award as outstanding Reserve judge advocate. This award recognizes the most outstanding Air Reserve Component officer in the grade of lieutenant colonel or below. The recipient is selected as the most outstanding judge advocate of the year based on training accomplishments or contribution to mission support, exhibition of leadership in the military or civilian community, and enrollment in off-duty programs of professional self-improvement.

Tech. Sgt. Robert Misener, a paralegal, of the 6th Air Mobility Wing, at MacDill AFB, Fla., earned the David Westbrook Award as outstanding Reserve paralegal. This award recognizes the most outstanding ARC paralegal of the year. The recipient demonstrated superior initiative, technical skill, training accomplishments or contribution to mission support, exhibition of leadership in the military or civilian community, and enrollment in off-duty programs of professional self-improvement.

Ronald Frazier, the chief of paralegal training and curriculum, of The Judge Advocate General’s School, at the Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala., earned the Harold R. Vague Award as outstanding legal service civilian. This award recognizes the legal service civilian (non-attorney) employed by or serving with the JAG’s Corps selected as most outstanding legal service civilian of the year based on demonstrated excellence, initiative and devotion to duty. Special consideration is given to those individuals who develop or improve systems, programs or procedures that enhance management efficiency or cost-effectiveness for Air Force legal programs.

The award recipients will be formally recognized at an awards banquet at the Air Force JAG Corps’ Leadership Summit this fall in Orlando, Fla.

Congratulations to them all and a hearty “Thank you” for their service to our country.

By the way this is more evidence that paralegals are more important than ants, Comedy Central.

Paralegal Association has Profound Impact of Lives of Children

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Practical Paralegalism’s sharp eye notes the nomination of 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.” I would like to hear more about the association’s work that had that profound impact.

In addition to this nomination, NWFPA’s nifty website tells us:

NWFPA recognizes over 40 members that have attained Florida Registered Paralegals (FRP) status, utilizing the association for networking and continuing education purposes.

The NWFPA sponsored an essay contest for Law Week 2009 focusing on Abraham Lincoln and his contribution to the fields of law and government.

In step with what many paralegal associations have done nationwide, NWFPA has established a LinkedIn networking group.

NWFPA clearly demonstrates what a professional association can and should be, and what professional paralegals can do when they work together as a profession and for the profession.  In fact, unlike many association, not only live up to, but go beyond their mission statement:

The NWFPA Mission Statement

The Northwest Florida Paralegal Association is dedicated to encouraging the ethical and professional growth of paralegals in the northwest Florida area by providing continuing education to members of the paralegal profession; by providing a venue for members to interact with other members of the legal community; and by supporting and carrying out the programs, purposes, aims and goals of the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc.

Congratulations to NWFPA! And thanks to Lynee DeVenney for her post featuring this association.

Central Florida Paralegal Award and Volunteering

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

The Orlando Sentinel has several reports of interest. Here are two of them:

Annette L.S. Root, Florida Registered Paralegal with the Law Offices of Neal T. McShane, Orlando, has been awarded the 2009 Paralegal of the Year Award by the Central Florida Paralegal Association Inc.

Teen Court volunteers: The Central Florida Paralegal Association needs teen volunteers for its Teen Court program. Orange County volunteers meet Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Juvenile Justice Center. Contact David Medvec at Osceola County volunteers meet Wednesdays at the Osceola County Courthouse. Contact Angie Martinez at Seminole County volunteers meet Tuesdays at the Juvenile Justice Center in Sanford. Contact Alison Mikel at 407-665-5364 or

Congratulations to both Annette and CFPA.  Annette is, by virtue of the award, an uncommon person. CFPA’a involvement in volunteer programs is, fortunately, not uncommon for paralegal professional associations. This program appears to be a particular good opportunity to volunteer and network – a win/win situation for sure. I’m particularly partial to programs that focus on teenagers. I’d be interested in more details on this program as there is no indication in the story as to what the program does (although some intelligent guesses can be made) or what the teen volunteers are volunteering to do.

Paralegal Honored by Maryland Legal Aid

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

The Baltimore Sunreports that Carol Ahlum, Legal Aid Bureau of Midwestern Maryland paralegal, was among those honored at a recent “gala.” This is no suprise to Facebook fans of Maryland Legal Aid where Carol was congratulated last October:

Congratulations to Carol Ahlum, who will receive the Maryland Legal Services Corporation’s 2009 William L. Marbury Outstanding Advocate Award in December. The annual award is presented to a non-attorney who has demonstrated outstanding service in Maryland representing or expanding service on behalf of the rights and legal needs of low-income people.

While I’ve been pleased to report on recognitions given to paralegals on a regular basis (see the “Awards and Honors” category), Carol drew my attention for additional reason: the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law online library carries an entry regarding a successful appeal of a Defendant Maryland Department of Human Resources denial of an application for food stamps. That entry notes:

Appellant represented by Carol Ahlum, Legal Aid Bureau, 21 W. South St., Frederick, MD 21701

I assume this is the same Carol Ahlum, and that Carol has won not only the award, but also the respect and confidence of the attorneys supervising the Legal Aid Bureau to the extent that she is given the responsibility for representing clients at these appeal hearings!

I am interested in hearing from paralegals regarding other opportunities for paralegals to represent clients at administrative hearings and other proceedings.

DOJ Civil Division Awards Paralegals

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Paralegals were among those earning DOJ awards for service last week. According to awards included:

Dedicated Service Award:

Henry LaHaie: has honorably served the Civil Division for more than 30 years, more than 20 of them devoted to making the Office of Consumer Litigation increasingly efficient and effective. LaHaie is responsible for developing OCL’s paralegal support system that rivals any private firm’s litigation support. He has eagerly assisted other offices in the division by sharing his concepts of office automation and making paralegals effective partners in active litigation. LaHaie does all of this in addition to supervising and reviewing a busy civil and criminal litigation caseload.

Award for Excellence in Paralegal Support

Award description: It recognizes outstanding achievements in the performance of paralegal duties.


Amy Kokot: She supervises a team of seven paralegals providing litigation support for the defense of cases filed under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. Kokot is a superb leader, who thinks ahead to ensure every task is completed in a timely manner and without complications. She consistently demonstrates an impressive level of responsibility and attention to detail that is unsurpassed.

Katrina Nieves: She has served the International Trade Field Office, National Courts Section, for more than 20 years. She is the supervisor of a litigation support team that directly assists 10 attorneys in the field office, and frequently aids visiting Department attorneys as well. She consistently presents a positive image of the office by greeting and working with visitors, including court personnel, in her singularly friendly way. She is always forward thinking, and easily resolves or prevents operational problems.

Craig Radoci: has provided exceptional assistance in preparing for various trials and hearings. His adeptness in electronic discovery and Trial Director software has led to rich and easily navigable trial presentations. Radoci has provided extremely effective factual and legal research assistance to the office’s attorneys. He is highly praised for his support in preparing for trials and hearings, and his efforts have contributed to successful outcomes.

Brian Ruberti: He maintains QTrack+, the database he helped design to track the Fraud Section’s cases. His ability to marry the technical capabilities of the system with an understanding of what section attorneys need as lawyers and how the information may be understood by the public provides an indispensable tool.

Nicole Dammeyer, Janine Johansen, Melissa Kohilakis, Michelle Phillips, Maria Swails-Brown and Adriana Vecchio: The Guantanamo Habeas Corpus Team is recognized for the superb litigation support provided over the past year to a team of 50 attorneys litigating more than 200 cases. The team has labored under extraordinarily difficult circumstances: very tight time constraints, large volumes of classified information, and many, many late nights and weekends. Throughout it all, this team has been thoroughly professional and has met every odd challenge with enthusiasm.

These individuals demonstrate the traits of professional paralegals. Here are some of those traits previously discussed on this blog as marks of true professionals:

Eagerly assists – shares concepts

Thinks ahead to ensure every task is completed in a timely manner and without complications

Demonstrates an impressive level of responsibility and attention to detail

Consistently presents a positive image

Forward thinking, and easily resolves or prevents operational problems

Understanding of …how the information may be understood by the public

Thoroughly professional and has met every odd challenge with enthusiasm

Sounds like a good self-evaluation checklist for all of us. Congratulations to all of the recipients!