Posts Tagged ‘paralegal mentor’

A Goddess in Disguise

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

When Odysseus went off to fight in the Trojan War, he placed his friend Mentor in charge of his son Telemachus. Odysseus was gone twenty years, ten to fight the war and ten on his Odyssey traveling back home. During this time, the goddess Athena visited Telemachaus often. She guided him in his search for his father and his efforts to stave off the many suitors seeking to marry his mother on the assumption that Odysseus was dead. She offered encouragement and practical advice during Telemachus’ quest. In order to hide her involvement, Athena disguised herself as Mentor. Today we use the term “mentor” to refer to an experienced and trusted person who advises and guides aspiring new members of a profession.

This was all brought to mind by a post by Philip Haebig on the Paralegal Group LinkedIn discussion board, describing the difficulty he had finding a mentor and encouraging the use of LinkedIn and similar media for mentoring purposes. He states in part, “In closing, it took forever to get someone to be brave enough to say yes to mentoring a young starter. It took respect and dedication in heeding that mentor’s advice. And most of all it cost me very little for the growth it has facilitated, which is why I make the most of my connections in my network. After all, one’s network can truly be their net worth. Seeing as LinkedIn and the Internet are the exact place(s) to do this with very little hassle to both potential Mentor and Mentee, I am happy to share my knowledge, resources, and encouragements. And I suggest that you do too!”

I join Philip in encouraging experienced paralegals to become goddesses/gods in disguise as mentors of new paralegals. The comments to his post reinforce the notion that paralegals associations can and do play a role in connecting mentors and mentees:

Connie Johnson
Paralegal at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP

Hi Philip – I am the President of the Inland Counties Association of Paralegals in California. My association is actually working on getting a mentoring program together something like what you have discussed. I am sharing your link with my other board members. Would you mind if we include it in a future newsletter? We have a lot of student members, we are all on advisory boards of local educational facilities, and are hopeful we can get some people to step up and be mentors such as you detailed above.

Mariana Fradman, MBA
Senior Legal Assistant, Chadbourne & Parke LLP

Dear Philip – can I please share your post with my mentees? You said exactly what I was trying to deliver during my presentation about the benefits of LinkedIn at the NYCPA Mentor Program Workshop last Thursday.

Paralegals not likely to “disappear.”

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

The topic of the “disappearing” paralegal is in the news a lot these days. It is a topic discussed on the American Association for Paralegal Education listserv with the goal of adjusting paralegal education to make sure that the paralegal profession remains not only viable, but flourishes. One of the best comments I have read so far on the topic though comes from Vicki Voison, the “Paralegal Mentor.” I often refer to Vicki and comment on things she writes here, but this time I’m going beyond referring and commenting, to re-posting her entire piece:

Will Paralegals Disappear? The Paralegal Mentor Says “No”!

by Paralegal Mentor

Recent headlines on the Internet have been alarming:

  • Paralegal Jobs are Vanishing….
  • Rise of Technology Causing Paralegal Jobs to Disappear?
  • Recession, tech killing middle-class jobs…
  • Paralegal jobs being overtaken by technology…
  • As technology evolves, jobs disappear…

Instead of allowing these dire, attention-grabbing headlines to create a profession-wide panic, let’s give some common sense thought to these predictions.

Background Information:

As recently as 2010 the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, predicted there will be an 18% growth rate in paralegal jobs through 2020 and that this is one of the fastest growing professions.

In contradiction to that, The Associated Press released a report in January 2013 stating that 5 years after the start of the Great Recession, millions of middle-class jobs have been lost world-wide and will never return. Additionally, millions more are likely to vanish.

Further, the report states that, “Year after year, software that runs computers and an array of other machines and devices become more sophisticated and powerful and capable of doing more efficiently tasks that humans have always done.” The analysis refers to jobs that are routine and repetitive in the service sector and examples used are paralegals, meter readers and travel agents.

In August 2012, The ABA’s House of Delegates approved updates to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to acknowledge that information is stored digitally as well as in paper files, clients communicate electronically as well as by phone calls, and email isn’t the only method of electronic communications.

New commentary language added to Rule 1.1 (the duty to provide competent representation) requires lawyers to keep abreast of the benefits and risks associated with technology, according to new commentary language added to Rule 1.1 on the duty to provide competent representation.

It is insulting that the work of a paralegal would be classified as a “routine and repetitive” job, similar to those of a meter reader. The American Bar Association defines paralegals as performing specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible. Working as a paralegal is not just a job, but a career. It’s doubtful meter reading can be considered a career.
The reality:

Paralegal jobs will not be obliterated by technology. Instead, technology will change paralegal jobs, as well as paralegal responsibilities and skill requirements. But what’s new?

From the time this profession emerged in the 1970’s, paralegals have had to deal with change. The unwritten rule has always been that you either kept up or you were out of a job.

From the manual typewriter to the good old Selectric to today’s desk tops, iPads, laptops, and smart phones, paralegals have accepted new challenges and met expectations. Often it is the paralegal who introduces the new technology to their employers and then trains the staff to use it.

One more thing: the legal field will always require the human touch. Software cannot soothe clients, decide what must be done, or run by itself. Software cannot deal with court staff. Software cannot be relied upon to be correct. A good example is your spell check! The training and expertise of the paralegal, as well as the ability to deal with people, will always be needed.

What should you do?

Don’t be frightened by these headlines. Instead, do what you have been told to do over and over again:

  • Observe trends in the industry. If business is slow in your focus area, take necessary steps ensure you will have a job, perhaps in another specialty area.
  • Never stop learning; take advantage of CLE opportunities.
  • Pursue professional certification.
  • Become an expert in your focus area.  This will require work on your part which might include pursuing advanced certification, returning to college, and keeping up with new rules and case law.
  • Be the one establishing systems and routines that will help your employer.
  • Watch for new technology, adopt it, and learn it. Never — ever — refuse to use it.
  • Prepare a great resume and keep it up to date.
  • Use social media. It’s here to stay, folks, and it’s a great networking tool, as well as an excellent way to learn about new trends, technology and tools.

The bottom line? Remember that headlines are designed to grab your attention. Lately, they have caused paralegals to fear for their future.

Don’t fall for this! Instead, study and interpret the materials yourself so that you can make wise decisions. Then follow the steps above so your career will continue to move in the right direction: forward.
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© 2013 Vicki Voisin, Inc.  Do you want to use this article in your newsletter, ezine or Web site? You can, so long as you include this entire blurb with it:

Vicki Voisin, “The Paralegal Mentor”, delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by setting goals and determining the direction they will take their careers. Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She is the co-author of The Professional Paralegal: A Guide to Finding a Job and Career Success. Vicki publishes Paralegal Strategies, a weekly e-newsletter for paralegals, and hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network.

More information is available at www.paralegalmentor.com where subscribers receive Vicki’s 151 Tips for Your Career Success.

Comfortable, Professional Shoes

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

I am sure most of you already know that Lynne at Practical Paralegalism has a long running feature on Paralegal Career Dressing. It is very well done. (Despite my tendency to read the titles as “Paralegal Cross Dressing” when feeling the effects of my medication.) I now note that Vicki, The Paralegal Mentor has provided a link to a posting at lawyerist.com entitled, “Dress for Success: The 5 Shoes Every Woman Should Own.”

I am all for this coverage of this topic. I deal with the need to dress professionally in The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional,” and have posted about it on this blog. But the example I use in the book relates to So, my question today echos that asked by Melissa H. long ago: Where are all the men? Of course, as Melissa points out, there are fewer men in the profession and few (if any) paralegal bloggers, but those in the profession do need to know how to dress professionally and fashionably. Lynne, perhaps you could throw a shirt, tie, and slacks on that bony friend of your and give some hints to the guys. Oh, and some comfortable, professional shoes!

Not Doing Nothing -The Paralegal Voice on Ethics and Professionalism.

Monday, June 13th, 2011

It’s been awhile, I know. But I’ve not been doing nothing. Two children graduated (one in Providence and one from grad school at NYU – both summa!). So we drove from Mississippi to Providence, then to NYC, then back to Providence, then up to Maine where I’ve been holed up in a cottage re-charging while indexing and doing final edits on The Empowered Paralegal Professionalism Anthology, editing a student’s Masters thesis, conducting an online course, working on The Empowered Paralegal Cause of Action Handbook,etc. What I have not been doing (obviously) is posting here. However, with the Anthology behind me, I’m likely to get back to regular posting.

In the meantime there are a whole lot of people who really have not been doing nothing and I’m just catching up with what they’ve been doing. As usual Vicki Voisin, The Paralegal Mentor, and Lynne Devenny of Practical Paralegalism top the “active” list with blog posts, newletters, speaking engagement, etc. However, the item you should catch if you haven’t already, is the latest edition of their The Paralegal Voice:

Ethics and professionalism are essential to becoming a successful paralegal. On this edition of The Paralegal Voice, co-hosts Lynne DeVenny and Vicki Voisin welcome paralegal, Camille Stell, Director of Client Services for Lawyers Mutual, who provides ethics tips for paralegals, talks about how paralegals can assist attorneys in the area of client communications and what paralegals can do every day to maintain the highest level of professionalism.

This is an important topic and Lynne and Vicki handle it well!

 

Paralegal Mentor’s 13 Questions

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Vicki Voison, The Paralegal Mentor, regularly provides profiles of paralegal professionals who have had an impact on the paralegal profession. I’m mentioning this for two reasons. First, I wanted the opportunity to write “provides profiles of paralegal professionals” just for the alliteration. Second, her most recent newsletter contains this, which I am passing along to those who might not yet have seen it:

One last thing…I need your help. If you’d like to participate in the professional profile and answer my Thirteen Questions, or nominate someone else who’s made an impact on the paralegal profession, please contact me at vicki@paralegalmentor.com. Ditto for news. If you’ve received an award or have other paralegal news, contact me so I can include that in Paralegal Strategies. Thanks!

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.

Paralegal Menter Mastermind Call Follow-up

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

I had a very interesting and enjoyable time last night as The Paralegal Mentor’s“Mastermind” Call of the month. I believe there is still time so sign up for a recorded version of the call at The Paralegal Mentor’ssite. Alsom, check out the other services, many free, offered there.

There is only time for a quick follow-up today and I will focus on Vicki Voison’s statement that as a new paralegal in a small town she found it necessary to “enlarge her world.” It seems to me that this is sound advice not only for each paralegal individually but for the profession as a whole.

In order for the profession to obtain a unified identity (which is not the same as unanimity of opinion), there has to be as much interaction between the members of the profession as possible, together with an exchange of ideas, concerns, problems and solutions. This has, in the past, been done through personal participation in professional associations such as NALA, NFPA and NALS, and I believe that is still the best way. However, social media presents an additional opportunity in this regard through listservs, forums and blogs.

I encourage each of you to participate as fully as you can in each of these opportunities. Professional associations provide opportunities for you to network and satisfy ethical obligations. Listserv, forum and blogs provide opportunities not only to learn, but to contribute to the development of the profession. Each of you has something valuable to contribute through your comments to blog posts, responses to listserv questions and, in general, the telling to others of your experiences, espeically those experiences that result in solutions to problems.

Certainly I view that this blog not as a forum for me, but for the paralegal profession. Your contributions are not only welcome, but strongly solicited.

Paralegal Mentor “Mastermind Calls”

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Vicki Voison, The Paralegal Mentor hosts monthly Paralegal Mentor Mastermind Calls that are free to subscribers. Last month’s theme is ‘Marketing Your Paralegal Career’ with Leila Malekzadeh of Adams Martin Group. Her ezine says, “If you missed registration for this event, it’s not too late to get on the list to receive the recording. Just send an email to vicki@paralegalmentor.com with ‘Mastermind Recording’ in the subject line.”

Even more important, however, her website also says,

Mark your calendar for the next Paralegal Mentor Mastermind Call on Tuesday, November 10th, at 8:00 pm. My guest expert will be Robert Mongue Esq., Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at the University of Mississippi where his primary focus for research, writing and teaching is professionalism in the paralegal profession.

Although you, as a professional, will not need it, I’ll remind you Tuesday morning.