Posts Tagged ‘civility’

Senior Partner Murdered in Tulsa Paralegal Mentor Presentation!

Monday, October 11th, 2010

It’s been a busy time here at OleMiss with mid-term exams (the fact that I’m teaching media ethics in the School of Journalism this semester may help explain the alarmist headline for this post) and my preparations for a presentation on the role of paralegal educators in teaching civility scheduled for October 26 in Indianapolis for the AAfPE National Conference, but I do want to take a minute to note that Vicki Voison, The Paralegal Mentor is also speaking to a conference and her presentation is this week! Here’s her announcement:

This Saturday, October 16th, I’ll be in Oklahoma speaking at the Fall Conference of the Tulsa Area Paralegal Association (TAPA). The conference takes place in at the Holiday Inn – Tulsa Center.

This 90 minute presentation will cover ethics issues related to the law firm’s technology system. The mystery will focus on issues of confidentiality and privilege and take you through the tangled web of electronic equipment, blogs, email, metadata, social media…and more.
My goal is to talk about ethics for 90 minutes and keep attendees awake at the same time. I’ve come up with a good way to do that…we’ll be solving a mystery! Oh, dear…the Senior Partner has been murdered! Carolyn, a litigation paralegal with the firm, believes there are clues within the firms technology system that will point to the murderer. She enlists the help of the firm’s IT guru, McTechie…and they’re off.
If you’re in Tulsa and want to help figure out who murdered the Senior Partner…as well as learn a lot about law firm ethics…just click on this link for more information and to register. See you there!

If I were in Tulsa on October 16th, I’d be checking in on Vicki’s presentation and the rest of the Tulsa Area Paralegal Association (TAPA) conference.

Cell phone civility

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

A post on ABAJournal.comtoday reports on some very pominent people who have stopped using cell phone, “giving them more power over their time and eliminating distractions that interrupt their work and their relationships.” I like this idea as a matter of time management and have written on the need to institution phone rules, cell or land-line, for both time and client management purposes. Of course, completely doing away with the boss’s ability to contact you as a paralegal is not a good attorney managment technique. The key is to manage the phone (and email) rather than let it manage you.

This post is really about another aspect of the ABAJournal.com report though:

A Los Angeles-area college dean, Jonathan Reed of the University of La Verne, said ditching his cell phone helps him pay attention in meetings and frees him up to talk to strangers. “A cell phone signals that my whole world is me and it excludes everyone else,” he told Bloomberg. He recalls a recent trip where he saw two men in a restaurant sitting with beautiful women, and both were on their cell phones.

“Do they have someone better on the other line?” he wondered.

I have noticed a growing tendency on the part of legal professionals, including attorneys, to leave their cell phones on while meeting with clients.  Aside from being just plain rude and unprofessional, this is disasterous for client management. When the cell phone is left on and caller ID is being checked, the implication is that there is someone out there who is more important to the legal professional than the client who is right in front of them. Clients note the distraction and wonder if they are being billed for the time taken to check the caller ID. In general, they feel disrespected – and rightfully so. It also prevents the legal professional from being able to sell the idea that when they are with another client, they focus only on that client and, therefore, cannot take their call. The client knows this isn’t true, because the legal professional is willing to take other calls while with them. What this tells the client again  is that they are simply not important enough to garner the professional’s attention while the professional is with them or to be a distraction to the professional when the professional is with another client.

Civility does seem to be on the wan. The courts have started to take action against the lack of civility given by one attorney to another in the courtroom and the litigation process in general. Legal teams who want to keep their clients ought to start by being civil to those clients.

Civility Forum Gives Insight into Profession

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

A few weeks ago I did a post on civility in the legal profession forums being held in Canada based on my wandering around the Paralegal Society of Ontario’s website and my attention being  caught by a link for the “Civility Forum Tour.”  This was of interest to a great degree because of my recent post regarding civility on paralegal discussion forums. The newest issues of The Paralegal Mentor’s newsletter references a story in the Lawyers Weekly – Canada reporting on one such forum. The article is worth the read for its discussion of civility, but also for another quote by Richard Lammers, V.P. Paralegal Society of Ontario who I quoted in the original post:

‘I got a great insight into how the profession treats one another,’ said Richard Lammers, vice president of the Paralegal Society of Ontario, who attended the meeting in Windsor, Ont. last December.

‘Before paralegals were members of the society, we didn’t have much contact or insight into what was going on in the profession,’ Lammers added.

This emphasizes a point made in a post regarding Lynne DeVenny at Practical Paralegalism noting that the Tulsa County Bar Association now allows paralegals who meet the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Minimum Qualification Standards for Legal Assistant/Paralegal to become associate members of the association. As I said there, ” The bar as all to often neglected to recognize not only the importance of paralegals, but the fact that paralegals are, like the lawyers themselves, part of the legal profession. Opening the bar association to paralegals allows the attorneys and paralegals who must work together as a legal team in the law office to associate together as the professionals they are.” Mr. Lammer’s comment  suggests that such association may very well lead to insight on the part of both paralegals and attorneys regarding the other half of the legal profession.

Discussion Forum Civility

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

The holiday break has provided an opportunity to catch up a bit on various discussion forums and comments to posts on some of the blogs I frequent. Perhaps it is just the holiday spirit catching up with some participants, but the threads often seem to turn to discussions of the lack of civility on the part of many of the persons posting comments. This lack of civility – from simple name-calling to outpourings of pure vitriol – is common on political and news blogs and does not speak well of the state of political discussion in our country today, not only because it emphasizes what divides us rather than what binds us together, but because it seems to arise out of an inability of those persons to make their case based on facts, evidence and sound reasoning. This is bad enough when practiced by the general public, but of greater concern when it appears in legal and paralegal forums and blogs such as Paralegal Today and Above the Law. Indeed, the increasing lack of civility within the legal community has led some federal district courts to sponsor seminars dealing with the topic!

One problem with this lack of civility is that it the posts become a public record. Certainly, everyone who posts on the internet should be aware that anything they post on the internet can ultimately affect their careers. Several posts on this blog have dealt with this danger. However, it seems to me that the greater danger to those persons stems from what they say rather than where they say it, because what they say about others and how they say it, says much more about them, even if the say it anonymously. Those who will “make it” as paralegals are those paralegals who are professional. Persons who cannot not be civil when making a point are simply not professional. Those who hide behind the veil provided by internet discussions are even less so.

Professionalism is not just a way of behaving on the job. It is an attitude – a state of being. It requires the ability to work with others civilly. It requires the ability to listen to and communicate with others in a way that ones message gets through to them. It requires the ability to state your point clearly, concisely and rationally. It requires personal integrity even when there is no chance of “getting caught.” It often requires the ability to conduct self-examination and introspection. Those persons who cannot control what they say on discussion forums, need the latter in order to achieve the rest and become professionals.