Posts Tagged ‘problem solving’

Chosing to Sit in the Dark is Not Professional

Monday, April 5th, 2010 reports this morning on an attorney whose case was dismissed because he missed a notice of motion for summary judgment due to computer problems. More precisely though the problem was that he chose not to deal with the problem. 

A federal appeals court has upheld dismissal of a wrongful termination case granted after the plaintiff’s lawyer experienced computer problems and never got e-mail notice of a motion for summary judgment.

Lawyer Charles Everage of Charlotte, N.C., said his computer was afflicted by a malware virus and other problems. As a result he never learned of the motion and he didn’t respond to it. A trial judge dismissed the suit Everage had filed on behalf of a fired worker, and denied the lawyer’s motions to reinstate it.

The Richmond, Va.-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. Everage was aware of his computer troubles, the court said, and should have checked the court docket or informed the judge and opposing counsel of the situation.

Everage was “willfully blind,” the court said in a 2-1 opinion (PDF), and he can’t obtain relief from the consequences of his choices. The majority opinion by Judge Allyson Duncan noted Everage had testified that he chose not to call opposing lawyers because he didn’t want to alert them to the court’s deadline.

Everage “made the affirmative decision to remain in the dark,” Duncan wrote. A concurring opinion by Judge Andre Davis elaborated, referring to “counsel’s unwise and misplaced strategic choice to litigate, ostrich-like, with his head in the sand.”

Apparently Everage needed a good, professional, empowered paralegal who could identify the problem,  and analyze and implement solutions such as those suggested by the court. The professional paralegal does not simply complain about a problem or ignore a problem. Rather she or he takes control. If the problem cannot be solved, plans are made and implemented to determine and minimize the ill effects of the problem. A good paralegal, assuming Everage was willing to listen and work as a team with that paralegal, could have helped him arrive at solutions much better than role-playing an ostrich.

DOJ Civil Division Awards Paralegals

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Paralegals were among those earning DOJ awards for service last week. According to awards included:

Dedicated Service Award:

Henry LaHaie: has honorably served the Civil Division for more than 30 years, more than 20 of them devoted to making the Office of Consumer Litigation increasingly efficient and effective. LaHaie is responsible for developing OCL’s paralegal support system that rivals any private firm’s litigation support. He has eagerly assisted other offices in the division by sharing his concepts of office automation and making paralegals effective partners in active litigation. LaHaie does all of this in addition to supervising and reviewing a busy civil and criminal litigation caseload.

Award for Excellence in Paralegal Support

Award description: It recognizes outstanding achievements in the performance of paralegal duties.


Amy Kokot: She supervises a team of seven paralegals providing litigation support for the defense of cases filed under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. Kokot is a superb leader, who thinks ahead to ensure every task is completed in a timely manner and without complications. She consistently demonstrates an impressive level of responsibility and attention to detail that is unsurpassed.

Katrina Nieves: She has served the International Trade Field Office, National Courts Section, for more than 20 years. She is the supervisor of a litigation support team that directly assists 10 attorneys in the field office, and frequently aids visiting Department attorneys as well. She consistently presents a positive image of the office by greeting and working with visitors, including court personnel, in her singularly friendly way. She is always forward thinking, and easily resolves or prevents operational problems.

Craig Radoci: has provided exceptional assistance in preparing for various trials and hearings. His adeptness in electronic discovery and Trial Director software has led to rich and easily navigable trial presentations. Radoci has provided extremely effective factual and legal research assistance to the office’s attorneys. He is highly praised for his support in preparing for trials and hearings, and his efforts have contributed to successful outcomes.

Brian Ruberti: He maintains QTrack+, the database he helped design to track the Fraud Section’s cases. His ability to marry the technical capabilities of the system with an understanding of what section attorneys need as lawyers and how the information may be understood by the public provides an indispensable tool.

Nicole Dammeyer, Janine Johansen, Melissa Kohilakis, Michelle Phillips, Maria Swails-Brown and Adriana Vecchio: The Guantanamo Habeas Corpus Team is recognized for the superb litigation support provided over the past year to a team of 50 attorneys litigating more than 200 cases. The team has labored under extraordinarily difficult circumstances: very tight time constraints, large volumes of classified information, and many, many late nights and weekends. Throughout it all, this team has been thoroughly professional and has met every odd challenge with enthusiasm.

These individuals demonstrate the traits of professional paralegals. Here are some of those traits previously discussed on this blog as marks of true professionals:

Eagerly assists – shares concepts

Thinks ahead to ensure every task is completed in a timely manner and without complications

Demonstrates an impressive level of responsibility and attention to detail

Consistently presents a positive image

Forward thinking, and easily resolves or prevents operational problems

Understanding of …how the information may be understood by the public

Thoroughly professional and has met every odd challenge with enthusiasm

Sounds like a good self-evaluation checklist for all of us. Congratulations to all of the recipients!