Posts Tagged ‘OLP’

OLP eDiscovery and LitSupport Certification Exams‏

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

I am on the Advisory Council for the Organization of Legal Professionals, although they get along quite well without much advice from me as evidenced by this from a LinkedIn article by Damian A. Durant, J.D., Rise of standards & certifications key to e-discovery partner selection – Part 1:

We are finally seeing the emergence of industry standards and professional certifications as the e-discovery industry continues to mature. The recent California Bar advisory opinion on e-discovery competency drew much attention and is the most recent example of the trend.

“A corporation or law firm selecting an e-Discovery or Discovery Management partner should determine if the partner has enough qualified, certified personnel and implements industry standards into their practice.”


Any would-be client should require independently certified individuals across the staff of the prospective partner and in the service delivery teams assigned to their work.

  • The Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP) also offers a widely respected certification called CeDP (Certified E-Discovery Professional) and the CLSS (Certified Legal Support Specialist) certificate. OLP also now offers an E-Discovery Project Management certificate. The Association of Litigation Support Professionals (ALSP) in lieu of developing its own certification, recommends the OLP certification to its members.
  • The Association of Certified E-discovery Specialists (ACEDS) offers perhaps the most widely known e-discovery competency certification known as CEDS (Certified E-Discovery Specialist). Public sources suggest over three hundred people have the CEDS qualification.

Both OLP and ALSP in their mission statements emphasize standards and certifications, but ACEDS only secondarily. Of course establishing standards and certifications is challenging for even much larger professional organizations.

OLP and ACEDS reportedly utilized teams of experts to develop bar-like multiple choice exams that try to cover the complete Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), from information identification through document production. As such, ACEDS and OLP are the leading providers of e-discovery certifications, but expect other non-profit organizations to enter the certification arena soon.

Who is he talking about?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

According to ABAJournal.comVermont Law School Plans to Downsize Staff; Dean Says Nonlawyer Specialists Will Do More Legal Work The dean and president of Vermont Law School states:

The field of health care has been transformed with more cost-effective treatment by nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and the legal field will follow with less work being done by lawyers, according to a law dean who is preparing for changes ahead by downsizing…

Mihaly told AP that law firms will no longer be staffed only with lawyers. ‘‘The market and technology are going to take that model and shake it,” he said. Firms will instead give more work to specialists who have less than three years of legal training, he said.

This is not surprising.  As regular readers of this blog know I view paralegals as a large part of the solution to the access to justice problem in the United States. However, the profession will not be able realize its full potential until it is recognized as a profession in the same sense that physician assistants and nurse practitioners are in the medial field as mentioned by Mihaly. There has been great progress in this regard, usually lead by paralegal professional associations such as NALA, NFPA, and NALS.

But let’s talk a bit more about  who these “specialists who have less than three years of legal training” are as it presents quite an array of opportunities for paralegals. For example, I am presently schedule to present as part of a six part webinar sponsored by the Organization of Legal Professionals on the Role of the Trial Technician. This edition starts in February of 2013. (It was last presented at the end of 2011 and this will be a “new and improved” version.) OLP also provides training and certification in e-discovery specialties.  In short, Mihaly is talking about a paralegal with specialized experience, training, and certification. If he sees the future correctly (and I think he does), the world is just beginning to open up for the effective, efficient, and professional paralegal.

Disclosure: I am also on the OLP Advisory Board although OLP seems to do quite well with little advice from me!

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 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.

The Legal Process Relationship to Trial Presentation

Monday, November 28th, 2011

This Wednesday I’ll be trying something new: part of a live video webcast presented through the Organization of Legal Professionals. I’ll be presenting Part B: The Legal Process.

Part B: The Legal Process
The Legal Process Relationship to Trial Presentation
Effective Assistance in the Presentation
of Evidence

Learn how each stage of trial presentation relates to
the actual trial.

This insightful course will guide you in your courtroom trial presentation assignments by exploring various stages of the trial process and how it relates to your trial presentation. Learn from a seasoned trial attorney and Associate Professor of Paralegal Studies


  • Find out how to apply the legal process directly to your trial presentation
  • Understanding and communicating basic concepts: facts, evidence, and proof
  • Obtain practical tips for the handling of evidence
  • Understanding the role of causes of action in:
    Dispositive motions
    Pretrial preparation
  • The Rules of Procedure as a Guidebook to Successful Litigation
  • Effective Assistance in the Presentation of Evidence
  • Ethical considerations in trial presentation
  • Identify the most common mistakes in trial presentation
  • Learn psychological tips to convince the jury

While Peter Phaneuf, President of TrialTek Consulting, LLC Washington, D.C., a trial consultant with 23 years of litigation experience will present Part A:

Part A: The Lab
Trial Technology in Today’s Courtroom
Using Trial Director

 More and more litigation support professionals along with paralegals and other legal professionals are asked to use electronic trial presentation software to present evidence in court. If done well, the exhibits can improve the odds of winning a case. Poorly presented evidence, however, can risk both the case and your career.

 As courtrooms adopt new technologies, IT professionals, courtroom personnel, and trial presenters can find a wide range of equipment available in each new situation. Being organized and knowing how to work both old and new systems are your two best strategies.

 Attending the Trial Presentation Professional Workshops will enable you to stay at the top of your game by recognizing what to present and how to present it. Experience in trial presentation and familiarity with trial presentation software is a plus for this program, but certainly not a requirement.

 Learn the inside secrets to presenting trial exhibits that can persuade judges and juries to decide in your favor.

How your trial exhibits are presented to the judge and jury in this highly visual day and age, can cause you to win or lose your case.

This valuable course shows you how to effectively utilize Trial Director to maximize the effect of your trial exhibits. Taught by one of the top Trial Presentation Consultants in the country.


  • Options for evidentiary presentation in trial:
    A discussion about the range of your
    options from boards to full tech support.
  • Creating concepts for demonstrative evidence
    Evaluating the evidence. Discussions include how to
    present options for presentation based upon factors such
    as type of case or the legal argument to be made.
  • Audio and video facts that affect your presentation of
    A discussion of how to set up the courtroom.

Although I’m Part B, I go first with a two hour session on Wednesday, then alternating with Peter for the rest of the six week course. More info here.

Client Grief and Paralegal Professionalism

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Those familiar with The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client are aware that it focuses on the premise that elder law is a dual-natured creature and in many ways is quite unlike any other area of law. Substantively the law is law – statutes, cases, rules, and regulations – all of which must be researched, analyzed, understood and applied. Unlike any other type of law, however, elder law is not about something a client is going through, such as a divorce, bankruptcy, a real estate transaction, or even a criminal charge. Elder law is about whom and what the client is – an elderly person. The book seeks to enhance understanding of elder law clients, the laws applicable to them, and the issues they and their families face.  One of those issues is the grief felt by family, friends, and even the legal team, when a client dies or is dying. Thus, a understanding of how people view death, dying, and aging, including an understanding of how that people’s perspective differ depending on cultural, educations, religious, and personal backgrounds, is essential to paralegal professionalism for paralegals that work with the elder client and families.

This point was reinforced for me when I browsed through the first issue of Freelancer, a monthly e-zine from the National Association of Freelance Legal Professionals, a new professional association discussed in a previous post. It includes an article by Tina Johnson, a paralegal in a Minneapolis law firm. The article, entitled “The D Factor: Dealing with Death and Clients’ Emotional Up and Downs.” I can’t print the entire article here, of course, but here’s a link and here’s a particularly pertinent excerpt:

Certified grief counselors we are not, but we certainly display professionalism by treating clients with tact, empathy and compassion and by ensuring client confidentiality. Calming fears and soothing worries, paralegals must be prepared to deal not only with the legal aspect of things, but with the relational aspect as well.

It is not surprising to know that many times the paralegal is the go-to person the client contacts when they just need someone to talk to such as the grieving surviving spouse who is going through the mourning process and finds it very difficult to function on a day-to-day basis. In my experience, these clients often do not open mail or follow through on requests made by the law firms as part of the probate administration process. By talking and listening to the client, paralegal can reassure, support and encourage the client and provide as much assistance as the client needs.

So, assuming the link works, take a few moments to read Tina’s article, and a few more to check out the entire issue of Freelancer.

Disclosure: There is a link between the National Association of Freelance Legal Professionals and the Organization of Legal Professionals. I am on the OLP Advisory Council, although frankly the organization seems to do quite well without any assistance from me.

Attorneys and Files

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

For an interesting and amusing take on file location management and dealing with your attorney’s foibles, check out “Why Am I the One Who Has to Find the File??” By Grace Thoreau in this month’s OLP Newsletter.

Grace has done a good job recognizing the attorney’s foible and coming up with a plan to address it. Her plan utilizes her ability to interpret “code” used by both her attorney and the attorney’s secretary. I advocate more open communication between attorneys and paralegals. To the extent each member of the legal team can recognize their weaknesses (in this case one of the attorney’s weaknesses is forgetfulness), plans can be implemented that address the weakness and prevent problems, so I’d prefer that the cleverness be put into that aspect of the problem rather than dealing with the problems that do arise.

I am aware that not all attorneys (or paralegals) are open to recognizing and addressing their weaknesses. However, we can take a proactive rather than reactive approach. In this case, that approach may be to develop a plan for tracking files once they go into any office, then go the the attorney with a “look what I have done for the office” attitude, rather than focus on the attorney himself. Of course, no one approach will work for all attorneys. It may even be that Grace’s approach is the only one that will work with the attorney.

Many attorneys think their paralegals need training when it is actually they that need the training. That is why I like to approach the problem, e.g., files get lost and the paralegal has to spend time looking for it, rather than the personalities. There are many such problems that paralegals and attorneys will mention to a third party, especially if given an opportunity to do so in an anonomous or confidential way. Often both recognize the problem and secretly blame the other for it, rather than taking a team approach to solving the problem.

By the way, I (and I think many attorneys) have a forgetfulness problem. It was often necessary to implement methods to prevent that problem from causing real problems. For example, my paralegals were instructed to never give me an original document of any importance – affidavits, deeds, etc. All originals were to be copied for me (assuming I had some need for them), and the original kept and indexed separately.

Update on OLP e-discovery Certification

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

The Organization of Legal Professionals provides this update on e-discovery Certification:

  • The certification exam for non-attorneys in e-discovery core competencies is well underway.  A certification exam is a complex undertaking and many important decisions are made in the planning and development phase.  We expect to roll out the first exam by March 1st.
  • Training for e-discovery is being made available to The OLP members and non-members. Be sure you are on the mailing list for the most recent courses.
  • As previously discussed  here the need for expertise, and thus training and certification, in the e-discovery field continues to grow. So, watch for the opportunities provided by OLP.

    In the interest of full disclousure, I am on the OLP Advisory Council.

    The Paralegal Voice – Episode Three

    Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

    Practical Paralegalism announces today,

    The third episode of Legal Talk Network’s monthly podcast, The Paralegal Voice, “E-Discovery Trends in the Paralegal World”, co-hosted by “The Paralegal MentorVicki Voisin and Practical Paralegalism’s Lynne DeVenney, is now available. This episode, featuring Tom Mighell, legal technology expert and a consultant at Fios, and paralegal Dorothe Howell, a paralegal with extensive experience in gathering electronic data, as the expert guests, explores everything from the basics of e-discovery to what it takes to train for a career in this growing legal specialty area.

    The importance of understanding e-discovery in today’s legal practice cannot be easily overstated. In this regard, you should check out OLP, the Organization of Legal Professionals, a new organization presently focused on E-discovery Certification as previously discussed here. The professional paralegal makes a point of being up-to-date on important trends in legal practice.

    OLP E-discovery Certification

    Friday, August 28th, 2009

    In a previous post discussing the value of advanced paralegal certifications I indicated I would have more to say about the Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP). Here it is from OLP itself:

    OLP’s PURPOSE: To promote the common business interest of the legal community, establish guidelines and standards for legal professionals on e-discovery and other topics, evaluate compliance with same, and serve as a resource on quality certification.

    The OLP is a non-profit organization establishing guidelines and standards for legal field, with an emphasis on e-discovery. The organization:

    Evaluates compliance with the standards;
    Recognizes organizations and programs which demonstrate compliance
    Serves as a resource on quality certification;
    Certifies educational providers that meet OLP’s standards.

    OLP’S VISION: OLP is an administratively independent resource recognized as an authority on standards for professional certification of individuals and organizations providing services and products to the legal industry.

    It’s the end of the week and I’m slowing down a bit, so I’m also going to let Chere Estrin of The Estrin Report and Know: The Magazine for Paralegals, give a further explanation of the reasoning behind OLP. This is from one of her communications on the topic:

    Today’s screaming for qualified e-discovery professionals has reached an unprecedented volume. Recently, Socha-Gelbman published an overview of the results of their annual survey on the Legal Technology News site. ( ).

    One of the most important single observations from it is the shortage of expertise in the market-place with providers, law firms and corporations reported as “fighting each other for the few people who actually understand what is involved in handling electronic documents”. That is significant because the lack of qualified professionals can only grow as a problem. Predictions of 20% or 25% growth in the field does not guarantee that a generation of skilled and knowledgeable people are simply going to pop up. …

    …As a result of this crying need from judges, law firms and vendors alike, a new non-profit organization, The Organization of Legal Professionals ( has been formed for the purpose of providing an exacting and tough certification exam to establish core compentencies. This organization has assembled a stellar Board of Governors and Advisory Council to assist them. The names of these legal icons are the best in the nation and beyond.

    The benefits to law firms, legal departments and vendors alike are tremendous. Just a few include the delivery of higher level quality services; better adherence to risk management; lower malpractice rates; and assured competencies in a new profession that at present, has no barriers to entrance.

    In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I am a member of the OLP Advisory Council, so I am doing so.

    Which to Chose: Masters of Paralegals Studies or CP/PACE Registered Paralegal Certifications

    Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

    Megan M. has contacted me asking:

    I’ve recently read several posts on your blog site, and was wondering if you could provide your thoughts on the following subject:


    For a recent graduate from a Bachelor’s program in Paralegal Studies (ABA Approved program), do you believe it would be more beneficial for said student to next pursue NALA certification or instead pursue a Master’s degree in Paralegal Studies?

    The current economy has created a limited number of jobs,  and I wonder which “add-on” would help distinguish a Paralegal in a large pool of candidates?


    Your thoughts would be appreciated, either directly or via your blog.

    I would like to hear from practicing paralegals before giving a final answer on this as they are more likely to have relevant data on this than an academic, even one who practiced law for three decades. However, my initial thought is “it depends.”

    Certifications such as CP or CLA by NALA, PACE Registered Paralegal by NFPA, and PP (Professional Paralegal) by NALS are less expensive and faster to obtain than a Master’s, so they are more likely to “add-on” to your marketability in the economy as it exists now. No one knows what the economy will be like by the time you finish a Master’s.

    However, unfortunately there is a great deal of confusion among the Bar over what these certifications mean. Although the ABA has recognized these certifications, many attorneys have not yet become knowledegable about them. As I pointed out in a previous post, many attorneys are confused as to exactly what a paralegal is and can do in general. The present status of paralegal education is no less confusing to many attorneys. What is the difference, in terms of the work the paralegal can perform between a paralegal certificate, an associates degree in paralegal studies and a bachelors degree in paralegal studies? What does it mean to be certified? Is being certified the same as having a certificate? Who does the certification?

    Certificates of completion of a paralegal program can mean nothing more than that a person completed a few courses, but they are often confused with a person being a “Certified Paralegal.”  As NALA points out,

    Occasionally, paralegals call themselves “certified” by virtue of completing a paralegal training course, or another type of preparatory education. Although a school may award a certificate of completion, this is not the same as earning professional certification by an entity such as NALA. In this instance the school’s certificate is designation of completion of a training program.

    Most attorneys, on the other hand, are familiar with Master’s Degrees and are impressed by them, so a Master of Paralegal Studies may draw more attention to your resume than a CP or PACE Registered Paralegal designation. Also, you are likely to be able to obtain the CP or PACE Registered Paralegal designation fairly easily by the time you complete the Masters simply because you will have mastered the material necessary to take the exams and thus have both “add-ons.”

    Your state or local paralegal association may be able to give you information regarding the prevalence of CP, PACE RP, or PP paralegals in the area and the general awareness among the local bar of their significance. You may also check websites for law offices that list their paralegal staff and see how many have the CP, PACE RP, or PP designation. A firm with several CPs is more likely to recognize the value of the certification. In general the more sophisticate the attorneys in your area are, the more likely they are to understand the significance of NALA, NFPA or NALS certification

    By the way, there are advanced certifications for specific areas over and above the general CP certification. NALA, for example, offers Advanced Paralegal Certification in a number of competencies. There is also a new organization, The Organization of Legal Professionals, which is developing certification in e-discovery. (More on the latter, later.)