Posts Tagged ‘FRadman’

Be Part of the Solution – Volunteer

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Marianna Fradman, frequently as source for materials that end up here, posted a link to “Pro Bono Report 2015: Treading Water” on the New York City Paralegal Association‘s Linkedin discussion board. The report itself is interesting as are other articles on the “Justice Gap” on The American Lawyer‘s website. I was drawn to the post by Marianna’s lead-in comment, a reminder that all legal professionals be part of the solution to the justice gap problem:

Special Report: The Justice Gap
Big Law is flourishing, yet legal aid is in crisis. Is it something we, paralegals can do? The answer is yes. We can volunteer. It gives a satisfaction, much needed experience and yes, it looks good on a resume too.

Volunteering for pro bono projects benefits you, the paralegal profession, and the public. There’s more on the topic, including some typical volunteer projects in the Volunteering category on this blog. Contact your local paralegal association for opportunities in your area.  Maybe you lead by example your attorneys into doing more to assist in resolving the justice gap!

 

Being Mentored

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

I’ve mentioned Mariana Fradman on this blog several times. She’s a top-notch paralegal with over twenty years experience who continually gives back to the paralegal profession. She’s an officer of the New York City Paralegal Association, but this post arises from her role as Chairperson of the NYCPA’s Mentor Committee. In that capacity she coordinates the Mentoring Program, matches students in paralegal studies, paralegals changing practice areas or paralegals who are new to the community with an experienced practicing NYCPA members who are willing to be a resource and make an affirmative effort to get the newcomer oriented to the legal environment. While I’ve occasionally spoken about the value of mentoring here, I have not focused on the role of the person being mentored. Mariana recently started a discussion regarding the role of the person being mentored on The Paralegal Society’s LinkedIn discussion board by posting an article entitled, “This Is Why You Don’t Have a Mentor” by Ryan Holiday that started on 99u.com. The article is good, but of more interest is the discussion found in its comments section on the extent to which the personal life of the person being mentored should be brought to the relationship.

The article draws a bright line, stating that personal life should be left at home: “Your personal life is irrelevant. Your excuses aren’t going to fly. If you get asked to do something, do it the way it was asked. If that means staying up all night to do it, then ok (but that’s to stay your little secret). No one cares what’s going on with you, or at least, they shouldn’t have to.” There is a lot of truth to this and it is a general approach to your obligations as a paralegal, a student, a mentor or a mentee. However, the line may be a bit too bright as pointed out in several of the comments. The gist of those comments is, “Yes, leave drama at home, and if you have no drama at home, don’t create it in the office. No one likes to be involved with drama. But a mentor relationship is built on sharing life experience. An aspiring person in a new field looks up to someone successful thats (sic) doing exciting things.”

Where do you come done on this? In any case, the article and the comments are worth a read. Join the conversation!

Critical Thinking – An Essential Skill

Friday, October 24th, 2014

As so often happens, Marianna Fradman has started an interesting discussion on LinkedIn. This time her post is on The Paralegal Society’s discussion board. Her post consists of a single question and a link to an article in the Wall Street Journal,Bosses Seek ‘Critical Thinking,’ But What Is It?.” Her question is, “How do paralegals define this skill?” In a later comment she also asks, “Does it mean that ALL paralegals have to possess this skill? How to measure it?” Here are my initial thoughts on the first two questions:

The ability to solve problems and “connect the dots” is a good way of describing the concept of critical thinking, but critical thinking involves a particular approach to problem solving. I like the way that approach is set out in this quote (I can’t remember the source for sure, but I think it’s from S. Contrell’s work:

Critical thinking means “weighing up the arguments and evidence for and against”. It involves:
• Considering an issue carefully and more than once
• Evaluating the evidence put forward in support of the belief or viewpoint
• Considering where the belief or viewpoint leads – what conclusions would follow; are these suitable and rational; and if not, should the belief or viewpoint be reconsidered? Critical thinking goes hand in hand with analytical thinking.

Critical thinking is essential for every good paralegal. It is what separates a paralegal from other support staff in a law office and makes them a member of the legal team. It is the second principle of my first book, The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional:”

The second principle has to do with the way the paralegal approaches any and all aspects of paralegal practice. It is a proactive rather than reactive approach. It seeks to understand and manage even those aspects of practice that the paralegal cannot control. This principle involves taking a rational empowered approach.
While the specifics were different in each of the chapters, in each chapter of this book we identified the areas of concern, analyzed each aspect of that concern, set priorities that addressed those concerns, sought a greater understanding of the area of concern, investigated solutions and barriers to those solution, and established procedures for implementing solutions and removing or overcoming barriers to those solutions. We did so in a direct, rational and professional way. We did so in a way that honored our own need to be efficient, effective and empowered, and honored the interrelationships and responsibilities of the first principle.

Critical thinking can be learned, but only through practice. You can’t just read about it and expect to become proficient at it. Legal professionals have some help in this regard since the methodology of legal reasoning, statutory interpretation, and case analysis all incorporate a critical thinking approach to solving problems. Therefore, we practice critical thinking each time we do one of these tasks. As we do more the task, we become more practiced in the skill. Perhaps more than anything else in our Paralegal Studies Program, the demand that our students engage in critical thinking exercises separates the program and our students from those described in the article:

According to research detailed in those books, students rarely study on their own for more than an hour a day, and most don’t write in-depth papers that require sustained analysis.

For their part, students seem to think they are ready for the office. But their future bosses tend to disagree. A Harris Interactive survey of 2,001 U.S. college students and 1,000 hiring managers last fall found that 69% of students felt they were “very or completely prepared” for problem-solving tasks in the workplace, while fewer than half of the employers agreed.

Judy Nagengast, CEO of Continental Inc., an Anderson, Ind., staffing firm, says she has come across young graduates who “can memorize and they can regurgitate” but who struggle to turn book learning into problem solving at work.

Students successful in our program can perform well beyond memorization and regurgitation, because they are required to practice critical thinking on a regular basis. This leads to a bit of a paradox: Although they are more prepared for the office than students who can only memorize and regurgitate, they are apt to see themselves less prepared because they know what the expectations are!

Legal Careers Rx for non-attorneys

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Mariana Fradman, MBA Senior Real Estate Paralegal at Kaye Scholer LLP and NYCPA Treasurer, Mentor Program & CLE Chairperson (NYCPA is an exemplar of what paralegal associations can be. An excellent set of officers! Check it out even if you are not a New York City paralegal.) announced through the NYCPA LinkedIn discussion board a new LinkedIn Group:Legal Careers Rx for non-attorneys.

The announcement is brief, so I’ve included it all here:

In less than two weeks, over 900 paralegals joined the group. The group is about career strategies, job search techniques, resumes, workplace situations, stress/burnout, virtual paralegals, promotions & more.

Paralegal Certification and the ABA

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

As usual I am behind in my reading. I am just now noticing that 29 days ago Marianna Fradman of the NYCPA posted a link on the NYCPA LinkedIn discussion board entitled, “A Warning to All of the ‘ABA Certified Paralegals” on Law.com Legal Blog Watch, which itself was a synopsis of Chere Estrin’s article entitled, “Are you a “Certified Paralegal”? Maybe not.” The gist of the article is this:

I’m on my soapbox today with a pet peeve. I noticed that some paralegals are putting “ABA Certified Paralegal” on their resumes, social media or announcing it to friends and employers. Here’s a suggestion: Stop now while you still can! Save yourself some embarrassment or even keep yourself from getting rejected from a job!

The ABA does not offer certification. Certification is a process of taking a very rigorous exam that is based upon work experience and knowledge. It is not your final exam in paralegal school. Generally, you need to meet certain educational and work experience requirements, submit an application for approval, pay a fee and take the exam in a secured environment.

For example, The Organization of Legal Professionals, OLP, offers a certification exam in eDiscovery.

The full article is worth the read, especially since it includes the correct way to reference graduating from an ABA approved program.

This is just one of the many problems arise from the current state of the paralegal profession. As I previously noted here, and more extensively in The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional, even attorneys can be confused leading to must frustration for both paralegals and attorneys on the legal team.

Those interested in paralegal regulation and certification should check out the fine articles included in The Empowered Paralegal Professionalism Anthology.

A Professional Reality Check

Monday, October 24th, 2011

It is no surprise I am sure that the New York City Paralegal Association has a LinkedIn group, nor that Mariana Fradman, President of that wonderful group, continues to post links to great materials and sites there. And certainly it is no surprise that Karen George, FRP, would produce a well-written article. Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprise at Mariana’s link to Karen George’s article at The Paralegal Society entitled, “WANTED: Paralegal, No Experience Necessary. A Professional Reality Check.”

This is a very good article that is well worth a full reading. I particularly liked her emphasis on the paralegal as a professional:

A paralegal is a professional position. By becoming a paralegal, you have stepped away from the subordinate positions in the work world and stepped into a new realm on the employment list. You are a professional and that means there’s a new and harder set of rules in the “game of employment” for both sides: the employee and the employer.

…Whatever your expectations, you have them because you are A PARALEGAL. You now hold a certificate or a degree, you have studied long and hard, and incurred loans to become and be able to call yourself A PARALEGAL.

The employer seeking a paralegal has certain expectations as well: that the paralegal dress in a professional manner, conduct himself professionally, not have to be micromanaged, and to not be directed in an assignment the same way his legal assistant or receptionist or file clerk is directed. The attorney expects the paralegal to come to have those abilities and knowledge that are instantaneously helpful to the attorney. In sum, he is seeking a partner, not exactly an equal partner, but a partner in the representation of the client.

…The bottom line is this: by becoming a paralegal you have stepped out of the regular job market. You are no longer looking for the “regular job” you may have previously held. You are now a professional and the playing field is different. You bring not only your education to the application table, but you must also bring proof that you can fill a very important role in the firm from the moment you enter it – and for the most important person in the office — the attorney. A paralegal is not hired to be “taught” how to be a paralegal. A paralegal is hired to fill a position that is intricate to the process. The position requires critical thinking based on experience, which is knowledge.

Of course, Karen does not stop there. She goes on to explore the implications of seeking employment and experience as a professional and adds some sound advice.

As a side note, this is my first trip to The Paralegal Society and I have added it to my Paralegal Blogs list. While you are there reading Karen’ article, look around at the rest of what it has to offer.  Mariana’s LinkedIn profile states she is a “Mentor at The Paralegal Society.” Perhaps one day soon I can get her to do a guest post discussing The Paralegal Society mentors.

NYCPA

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

A while back I was invited to join the New York City Paralegal Association Advisory Committee. Thus far I have been of little assistance to the group. However, while in NYC last week I did have the pleasure of meeting with four members of the NYCPA Executive Board: Mariana Fradman, President, Cynthia Bynum, Vice-President, Nicole DeMent, Treasurer, and Channet Jusino, Secretary.  These Board Members reflect the NYCPA as a whole: remarkably diverse, knowledgeable, competent, and professional. And they pretty much cover the range for the paralegal profession, including a single attorney law office, a very large law office, corporate in-house counsel office, and a “hybrid.”  While the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the association’s involvement in access-to-justice programs, I also learned a lot about NYCPA. I was impressed.

This relatively new paralegal association appears to exemplify the best of professional associations. The creation of a nation-wide advisory committee is just one example. The association also provides CLE programs designed to meet the needs of the membership – no small task given the diversity of the membership, networking events, newsletters, and the other standard benefits of a professional association. This association also goes further providing pro bono opportunities through NYC Housing Court and immigration access-to-justice programs. It also has entered into at least one international agreement with the goal of establishing standards for paralegal practice. 

Thanks in particular to the contribution of one of the members of the Board, the association also seems to have a unique sense of branding. I left the meeting with one example, a notebook/pen set bearing the NYCPA logo.

 All-in-all the group seems to be admirably living up to its Mission Statement:

New York City Paralegal Association, Inc. (NYCPA) primary objectives are education: providing members with career guidance and Continue Legal Education (CLE) seminars; network opportunities; global, national, and state proficiency standards; and Professional recognition. The NYCPA is dedicated to promoting the professional growth of paralegals and the advancement of the paralegal profession. Our vision is to develop a strong association that encourages interaction among students, entry-level and experienced paralegals to facilitate the exchange of insightful information, advice, and guidance to build successful careers.
One final note. There are some virtues of an association that cannot be easily ascertained from the websites, event lists, and other indicia of accomplishment. The members of the Board with whom I met exhibited a level of personal interest in and support of each other, as well as their profession, that is really the bedrock of any successful organization.