Posts Tagged ‘Networking’

NFPA Provides Webinar on Pro Bono Work: Register Now!

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

As frequently discussed here (see “Volunteering” category) pro bono work, of course, benefits the persons receiving the services and the public, but provides just as much if not more benefits to the paralegal performing the services in the form of experience, networking, fulfilling ethical requirements, and just plain feeling good about doing good as well as benefiting the paralegal profession. So I please to re-post this announcement posted by Theresa Prater on NFPA’s LinkedIn discussion board:

Announcement from National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. – PRO BONO WEBINAR – MARCH 29 — REGISTRATION OPEN

Here is the link to the registration form for the first NFPA Pro Bono Webinar to be held on March 29: http://paralegals.org/displayemailforms.cfm?emailformnbr=175366

Our speaker is Michael Adler of Philadelphia, whose topic is “Meaningful Giving: The Benefits of Helping Others While Networking Through Pro Bono Work.” This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about networking opportunities while giving back. There is no CLE credit for this webinar.

This is a free event for NFPA members; there is a small charge for non-members. We hope to make pro bono webinars available throughout the coming year.

There’s More to Canada than Ontario

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

I tend to focus here on paralegalism in Ontario because that province has a regulatory scheme for paralegals, allowing them to act independently of attorneys in some instances. However, as I’ve noted previously, there is a lot more to Canada than Ontario. Paralegals from across the country belong to the Canadian Association of Paralegals (CAP), a thirty- year old organization which held its Atlantic conference last month in St. John according to the Telegraph Journal.

The announcement of the conference in this report shows the similarity of the paralegal profession and professional associations in Canada to those in the United States, including networking and an issue regarding professional identity similar to that being discussed currently on the Paralegal Today listserv:

“It’s a really wonderful opportunity for networking,” says Heather Tait, vice-president Atlantic provinces and board member of the national organization.

The conference is aimed at paralegals, law clerks and legal assistants and will be held at the Delta Brunswick Hotel. The “paralegal” designation is intended to standardize various designations, including legal assistant, legal technician, technical clerk, law clerk, etc., and to facilitate international exchange with paralegal associations in other countries.

CAP is a non-profit national organization dedicated to the professional development of its paralegals across Canada.

I found this to be of particular interest and look forward to hearing more about it:

Earlier this year, it oversaw the creation of a non-profit organization called Paralegals Without Borders Quebec, an initiative of CAP and its directors whose role is to contribute and actively participate in projects that respect and protect fundamental rights.

Volunteering Opportunities and Stories

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Today’s post returns to a frequent topic here – volunteering as an essential part of being professional. (See the “Volunteering” category.) But today instead of the sermon coming from me, I’m relying heavily on two posts from other blogs. First, Lynne DeVenny at Practical Paralegalism has a post entitled “Be the ONE – Message to Paralegals,” that reports, ” Kathy Para, an attorney for Jackonsville Area Legal Aid in Jacksonville, Florida and the Jacksonville Bar Association’s Pro Bono Committee Chair, is looking for legal professionals to be “The One” to help make a difference, even if it’s in a single pro bono case.”

This post is excellent not only for the report, but for the additional information Lynne provides including these links:

The National Pro Bono Volunteer Opportunities Guide
Directory of Pro Bono Children’s Law Programs
The National Domestic Violence Pro Bono Directory
CASA State and Local GAL programs

Finally, Lynne provides her own story as encouragement:

It is an incredible feeling to make a difference in the life of a person who could not otherwise afford representation in the legal system. Volunteering your time will make a difference in your life, too. The years I spent as a Guardian ad Litem changed the way I see the world forever, and may have contributed to a decision I made years after I submitted the report in my last case: to adopt a child from the foster care system.
 
Which brings me to the second post. Apparently coincidentally Melissa at Paralegalese also tells of her recent experience in a post entitled, “Giving Back, Paying Forward.”  I’ll not repeat the entire post here, but here are the first and last paragraphs, which echo Lynne’s feelings about volunteering:
 
 
I’m ashamed to say that it has been years since I sought out volunteer work of any kind. But I broke that streak recently when I volunteered at the monthly Saturday legal clinic sponsored by the Memphis Association of Legal Services (MALS). Thank goodness that I did.
 
….

I’ve decided to make the MALS Saturday clinics a monthly habit. It feels good to be donating time toward the field I love. If you are a legal secretary, paralegal, law student, or attorney in the Memphis area, and you are interesting in volunteering, visit the MALS website.

 

Many of my posts here have pointed out that volunteering is an opportunity to network, gain experience, and satisfy ethical obligations. The bottomline though is that it is an opportunity to do good. Networking, experience, satisfying ethical obligations and feeling better about oneself are just terrific side-benefits that contribute to professionalism.

LAPA Pro Bono Fair

Thursday, May 13th, 2010
The Los Angeles Paralegal Association (“LAPA”)’s website states it “is dedicated to developing, strengthening, and advancing the paralegal profession. LAPA provides networking opportunities, continuing legal educational programs, and pro bono activities for paralegals and members of the legal community throughout the Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Area.” I like this opening because it acknowledges the link between networking, CLE, pro bono work and the advancement of the paralegal profession – a topic of several posts on this blog.

Some professional associations just talk the talk, but LAPA also walks the walk. It not only has a webpaage at its site dedicated to pro bono activities, it has announced it’s annual pro bono fair. This is an excellent idea for paralegal professional associations, although it likely works better in larger metropolitan areas. Here some info from the announcement and the link to the LAPA site where the announcement appears:

LAPA’s Pro Bono Section presents its annual

Pro Bono Fair

June 19, 2010

National University
5245 Pacific Concourse Drive, Suite 301
Los Angeles, CA 90045
(near LAX)

Admission: $5.00 and a new unwrapped toy to be donated

Must pre-register for event. For additional information, contact probono@lapa.org.

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon

Insights. These major organizations are going to be providing useful information about the services they deliver to their clients

Connections. Take advantage of the great opportunity to meet and learn about volunteer positions or paralegal internships in one location.

Opportunities. Find your match here and learn how you can meet your volunteer goals.

Alliance for Children’s Rights

Bet Tzedek Legal Services

California Women’s Law Center

Disability Rights Legal Center

Inner City Law Center

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

Learning Rights Law Center

Public Counsel Law Center

and others…..

Professional Association Membership Benefits

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The benefits of belonging to a paralegal professional association have been discussed often on this blog. (See Professional Associations category) They are also the subject of a recent post on the Paralegal Today discussion forum: “Hello, I am about to complete my BA in Criminal Justice and plan to pursue a Master of Professional Studies (Paralegal) in January. Do you think it would benefit me (networking, possible scholarship opportunities, etc.) to join an organization like NALA as a student?” I agree with the answer given by Tina Medlock,

I’d suggest joining a national association and your local affiliate of that organization. Networking at the national level is always great, especially if you want to relocate, or you work throughout the country, or national involvement is part of your professional goals. However, your networks built through local affiliate will give you a much more specific chance to learn and grow as a professional. You’ll have more chances to meet people within your local legal community; more chances to volunteer; and more chances to be able to pick up the phone, call across town, and say “Hey Alice, how do you do this?

Benefits of membership are also the topic of a Paralegal Voice podcast that I recommend:

On this edition of The Paralegal Voice, co-hosts Lynne DeVenny and Vicki Voisin welcome Patricia E. Infanti, PP, PLS, President of NALS, the Association for Legal Professionals, and Kathleen R. Amirante, PP, PLS, the association’s President Elect, who discuss the opportunities provided by membership in a professional association. They look at the history and mission of NALS, what NALS is doing to attract a diverse membership and how they are informing attorneys and the general public about the qualifications for using the title ‘paralegal’.

However, I’d like to emphasize that paralegal professional association provide more than just networking and similar benefits. They provide opportunities – opportunities to advance not only oneself, but the paralegal profession itself and the communities to which the paralegal professionals belong.  So, yes, join paralegal professional associations, but do not just join them – participate, volunteer, lead those associations.

By the way, NALA 35th Annual Convention and Exhibition will be in Jacksonville, Florida July 14-17, 2010, the NALS 59th Annual Education Conference & National Forum is scheduled for October 21-24, 2010 in Branson, MO, and the 2010 NFPA Regulation / National Leadership / PACE Ambassadors Joint Conference will be June 4-6, 2010 in Washington DC.

Pro Bono Paralegals Can Promote Access to Justice in Memphis

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Lynne at Practical Paralegalism appears to be the first to blog in support of the  Memphis Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee call  for more lawyers and paralegals to volunteer for pro bono projects.  She also provides this link to the notice in the Commercial Appeal . Such projects are a constant theme of this blog. They provide experience and networking opportunities while satisfying ethical obligations and increasing self-esteem. I join Lynne in encouraging Memphis area paralegals (those working and those looking for work) and paralegal students to join this effort. Here’s some information from the original notice:

The theme for the volunteer drive is “Each One, Bring One; Each One, Take One,” meaning each volunteer brings another volunteer and each volunteer takes a pro bono case or a volunteer shift.

Each person who volunteers becomes eligible to win a prize.

The committee conducts regular free Saturday clinics at the main library and the weekly attorney-for-the-day program at the Shelby County Courthouse.

The Access to Justice Committee is a collaborative effort with Memphis Area Legal Services.

For more information contact Linda Warren Seely at 255-3417 or go to legalhelp.memphisbar.org.

Paralegal Students Man Guardianship Help Desk

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

The Lake County News-Sun reports on a “Guardianship Help Desk” set up by the Lake County Bar Association:

“It’s to help assist these people going through the process and making the court process more efficient,” Rochford said.

Staffed by volunteer bar association attorneys and paralegal student volunteers from the College of Lake County, assistance is provided for people petitioning the court for guardianship of a minor child. The free service is for people establishing a legal relationship with a child not their own to make decisions about the child’s education, health and welfare, Rochford said.

Many people were involved in making the project work.

Circuit Judge Diane Winter, who presides over Probate Court, said many people coming into her courtroom often had incomplete or incorrectly completed paperwork, forcing the judge to assist with the paperwork.

“This was all very time-consuming for me to get these cases into court. I was only able to hear a few cases in a few hours. Now we can serve more litigates,” Winter said.

She said the help desk makes the system more efficient. Rochford said many people were frustrated with the system and previously had to come to court multiple times due to paperwork issues.

The help desk was in planning for about a year and involved cooperation by many, including county clerks and administrators, the bar association, the sheriff’s office and College of Lake County students, Winter and Rochford said.

But, of course, I am focusing on the paralegal students. I generally promote and encourage this kind of volunteering anyway, but this one is of particular interest because it demonstrates how access to justice can be improved through wise utilization of paralegals. Since each attorney can supervise several well-trained paralegal, more people gain access.

Paralegal assistants from the college received special training last fall so they work on the help desk, said Gayle Miller, CLC’s department chair of paralegal studies.

Nearly 30 students signed up, and about 20 attorneys have registered to supervise, Miller said. Because paralegals are not qualified to offer legal advice, Miller said there is always a supervising attorney at the help desk.

This project also provides a networking opportunity and experience for the students, as well as good exposure to the public. Those helped by the project, at least, will have a better understanding of the role of a paralegal as part of the legal profession.

Texas Sized CLE + Networking for Paralegals

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Angie F. Laird, ACP, TBLS, posted this invite on the Paralegal Today discussion forum:

YOU’RE INVITED!

The Southeast Texas Association of Paralegals (SETAP) is hosting its annual Spring seminar on April 9, 2010 at the MCM Eleganté Hotel & Conference Center in Beaumont, Texas. We have a full line-up of great speakers and topics. SETAP is an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Full attendance will qualify you for 6 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) credit toward the maintenance of your NALA certification. In addition, credit from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) will also be granted in various specialty areas of law.

Our seminar is being held in conjunction with the Texas Alliance of Paralegal Associations’ (TAPA) Conference that will be held the next day and attended by Presidents and Presidents-Elect of various paralegal associations across Texas.

Also, we are hosting a welcome social Friday evening after the seminar. Please join us for an evening of fun and entertainment! This will also be a great networking opportunity for you! We have chartered a bus to transfer us to and from the social. You won’t want to miss it!

All are invited to attend the seminar and the social. Go to www.tapa2010.webs.com for seminar and social details as well as the registration information.

Active, cooperative associations with events like these will go a long ways to establishing a professional identity for the paralegal profession.

Paralegal Profession Recognized by Tulsa County Bar Association

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Lynne DeVenny at Practical Paralegalism notes 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. Lynne correctly notes, “This is a great opportunity for Tulsa paralegals and legal assistants to expand their professional network and educational opportunities.” More important, she states, this is an important recognition, “of the importance of its area paralegals and legal assistants.”

The latter is of the most significance to me, although I do not mean to minimize the networking and educational opportunities. 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.

One question that arises is whether this step would have been possible without the establishment in 2000 of the minimal qualification standards by the Oklahoma Bar Association. While such standards do not amount to licensing they do, at least, help establish the identity of paralegals as a profession.

Central Florida Paralegal Volunteering Follow-up.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Cassie D. Snyder, CP, FRP (Certified Paralegal/Florida Registered Paralegal), Second Vice President & Editor of the FOCUS, and CFPA Yahoo Group Moderator provided me with information requested in my post yesterday regarding the Central Florida Paralegal Association’s request for volunteers. Here’s the low-down on the program:

CFPA assists each of the counties providing Teen Court in our general location in finding paralegal volunteers for this program to act as Jury Advisors to the teen jury they are assigned to for the evening.  These teen juries consist of legal magnet program students (who also act as the prosecution and defense attorneys) as well as teens serving out part of their punishment as a jury member for a specified number of juries.  The role of the Jury Advisor is to make sure that the jury renders a punishment in each case heard (usually 2 cases a night) that is a fair punishment and in line with the Teen Court guidelines.  In Seminole County, paralegals can actually take the training program to sit in as Judges (usually done by attorneys).  This opportunity is a great way to give back to the community as a paralegal and is very rewarding.  When I volunteered, I would even bring my teen daughter at the time to volunteer for her community service hours for high school.

Here is a link to the Orange County Teen Court Program – http://www.ninthcircuit.org/programs-services/teen-court/

Definitely a win/win/win on this one – good deeds, networking and useful experience!

Thanks, Cassie, for the fast and informative response.