Posts Tagged ‘recognition’

Paralegal Glory

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

As previous posts here have indicated it seems that the military is often far ahead of civilian legal services in recognizing the value of paralegals and the need to view the attorney/paralegal relationship as a team. For example, The Las Cruces Sun-News is carrying a story from the White Sands Missile Range announcing an award received by the Range’s JAG office:

The Legal Assistance Office at White Sands Missile Range was recently awarded the Chief of Staff Award for Excellence by the Army’s Office of the Judge Advocate General for their excellence in legal assistance in the category of a medium office…

While any award to a legal services office must be a team effort, Lt. Col. James Dorn, Staff Judge Advocate clearly recognizes the role of the paralegals:

“All the glory belongs to George Clark and our paralegals because it really is a team effort,” said Dorn

“They were basically going that extra mile as far as service goes. We received the award for excellence, so that pretty much says it all.”

Here’s some more on how they managed to provide increased service with the same manpower:

Legal assistant Willie Smith said in order to accommodate the increase in appointments, the office increased the times they would accept appointments by four hours. Although he is honored by the award, Smith said his greatest reward is helping soldiers on a daily basis.

“I’ve been around for 11 years helping soldiers when they have problems, and helping them to solve the problems is my reward,” Smith said.

Clark said the feat of increasing the workload without adding an additional employee could not have been done without the flexibility of everyone in the office and the ability to take on different roles. According to Clark, the office consists of one attorney, one paralegal and two legal assistants.

How often does a law firm attempt the same thing only to find that the staff is not fully on-board? How many of those instances are the result of not recognizing the importance of paralegals both on a daily basis and particularly after the previous times they were called upon to “kick it up a notch?”

When A Plaque isn’t Just a Plaque

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I’m a big fan of national, regional, and organizational awards, but often the sweetes honors come from those with whom and for whom we work. Here’s an example:

Caryn S. White recently was presented a plaque in recognition of her 20 years of dedicated service to the Spencer Law Firm, according to a SWF press release.

White serves as office manager at the firm. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in management and human resource management from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and was granted a paralegal certificate from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Of course, I’m assuming that this recognition is not just a way to make up for having failed to treat Caryn with respect on a daily basis. Given the fact that she’s been there 20 years. For a short period of time I worked in a firm where the office manger was given a party and very nice “bonus” to recognize her 25 years of service and then forced into “retirement” about a  year later. Given my experience at the firm, I suspect that the latter treatment was much more representative of her treatment over the course of her career than the party and bonus!

Having no information to the contrary I’ll stick with my assumption that this is a well-deserved formal recognition of Caryn’s contribution to the firm that is in addition to the  regular respect and appreciation  to which she is likely entitled. Congratulation, Caryn!

By the way, paralegals are not granted certificates from good educational programs. The certificates are earned by the paralegals.

Paralegal Association has Profound Impact of Lives of Children

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Practical Paralegalism’s sharp eye notes the nomination of the Northwest Florida Paralegal Association’s nomination for the Children’s Champion of Northwest Florida award. The nomination is “for making a profound impact on the lives of local children.” I would like to hear more about the association’s work that had that profound impact.

In addition to this nomination, NWFPA’s nifty website tells us:

NWFPA recognizes over 40 members that have attained Florida Registered Paralegals (FRP) status, utilizing the association for networking and continuing education purposes.

The NWFPA sponsored an essay contest for Law Week 2009 focusing on Abraham Lincoln and his contribution to the fields of law and government.

In step with what many paralegal associations have done nationwide, NWFPA has established a LinkedIn networking group.

NWFPA clearly demonstrates what a professional association can and should be, and what professional paralegals can do when they work together as a profession and for the profession.  In fact, unlike many association, not only live up to, but go beyond their mission statement:

The NWFPA Mission Statement

The Northwest Florida Paralegal Association is dedicated to encouraging the ethical and professional growth of paralegals in the northwest Florida area by providing continuing education to members of the paralegal profession; by providing a venue for members to interact with other members of the legal community; and by supporting and carrying out the programs, purposes, aims and goals of the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc.

Congratulations to NWFPA! And thanks to Lynee DeVenney for her post featuring this association.

Paralegal named “Woman of the Year”

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

One of the best ways for the legal profession to change it’s image is through public recognition of its members who do good and do it well. CapitalCityWeekly reports on a paralegal who received much deserved recognition:

Sitkan honored for work on domestic violence

Capital City Weekly

SITKA – Elisabeth Schafer, paralegal in the Sitka District Attorney’s Office, has been chosen as “Woman of the Year” by the board of Sitkans Against Family Violence. The award recognizes dedication and service to women and children in the community.

“My work with victims of domestic violence is the most satisfying part of my job,” said Schafer, who has worked as a paralegal in Sitka since 2002. “I know that sometimes I am the first person to whom a victim can safely express herself after years of emotional and physical abuse. It’s gratifying to see former victims in the community looking healthy, happy and safe.”

In addition to her paralegal work, Schafer is a member of Sitka’s Domestic Violence Task Force. She has three adult children and two grandchildren. The “Woman of the Year” award will be presented at a dinner on April 17 in Sitka.

Congratulations, Elizabeth! Your work and your professionalism help not only the victims of domestic violence, but the paralegal profession.

Paralegal earns Combat Action Badge

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

No comment on this one from dvids. Just a salute to Romeo Belunta:

Romeo Belunta, a paralegal assistant and Tampa Bay, Fla., native with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Mountain Warrior, became the first paralegal from the task force to receive a Combat Action Badge.

A Soldier earns a CAB by actively engaging or being engaged by enemy forces.

Belunta, a former infantryman, earned the coveted badge while performing paralegal duties at Combat Outpost Keating, in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province, near his home base of Forward Operating Base Bostick.

Belunta traveled to COP Keating in early July to offer legal assistance to the Soldiers there.

Washington State Paralegal Week

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

According to the Washington State Paralegal Association newsletter, Findings & Conclusionsthe State of Washington is presently celebrating Paralegal Week by virtue of a proclamation from the Governor. Some of these proclamations can be quite formulaic, but I like this one which states in part, “Whereas, paralegals are multi-skilled professionals…”

By the way, the newletter now comes in a nifty digitalized magazine format allowing you to “flip” pages, as well as a more standard format. Unfortunately, it does not allow me to copy and paste the language from the proclamation and I’m not about to type it all in. If you’d like to read the whole thing, go to page 3 of the newletter.

Paralegal Day in Mississippi

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Today is Paralegal Day in here in Mississippi by virtue of a Proclamation by the Governor.

Note to my students, especially those in the Professionalism, Empowerment and Ethics course: We will celebrate this event in class, not by cancelling class. Tonights topics: Work Ethic and Personal Integrity

Do Attorneys Underestimate the Value of Talented Paralegals?

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Pennsylvania paralegals recently celebrated “Paralegal Week” by virtue of a proclamation by Pennsylvania Governor Rendell, apparently at the urging of the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations. The proclamation states,

WHEREAS, The practice of law is a demanding, challenging, and complex endeavor – one in which the rights, liberties, and safety of our citizens have been protected and preserved for centuries; and

WHEREAS, member of the bar require knowledgeable and reliable assistance to fulfill the duties of their profession. Paralegals have become an invaluable source of support in law offices, providing lawyers with a variety of skilled professional services throughout their practice; and

WHERES, paralegals are highly educated, trained, and experienced professionals with expertise in legal and case research, interviewing clients and witnesses, legal and correspondence writing, and other critical areas of successful and efficient law practices; and

WHEREAS, the value of talented paralegals is often overlooked by the general public, but their worth is never underestimated by the lawyers and firms for which they work; and

WHEREAS, the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations, along with other associations, is dedicated to the advancement of the paralegal profession through education, a network of support, and raising public awareness and appreciation.

THEREFORE, I, Edward G. Rendell, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do hereby profclaim July 20-24, 2009, PARALEGAL WEEK,  and July 24, 2009, PARALEGAL DAY throughout our Commonwealth.

This sort of recognition is good for the profession and well deserved. I wonder, though, how many paralegals agree with the statement,

WHEREAS, the value of talented paralegals is often overlooked by the general public, but their worth is never underestimated by the lawyers and firms for which they work. (Emphasis added)

Certainly, my email suggests that lawyers and firms do at time, perhaps with some frequency underestimate the value of talented paralegals. As discussed in a previous post, this is due in part to a lack of understanding as to exactly what that value is.

Betty Hickok

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

The Washington Post reports that Betty Hickok has died at age 91.  I had not heard of Betty before this report but she was a “onetime home economist who served in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II and who later worked as a paralegal.”  “Later” was in 1977, when (according to my calculations she was 59) ” she enrolled in the paralegal program at George Washington University law school. After completing the program, she worked at Protection for Elderly People, a senior citizens’ group in the city.” Thus, she was a pioneer of the profession and desires a mention here. Check the obituary for more on what appears to have been a remarkable life.

New Hampshire Bar Association Recognizes Paralegal Professionalism

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Each year the NH Bar Association presents its Paralegal Award. The NHBA Paralegal Professionalism Award is presented annually to the nominee who best exhibits a high degree of professionalism, which includes: having an outstanding level of knowledge about his/her job; having motivation that exceeds expectations; is considered a role model for other paralegals; and promotes paralegal work as a profession. Nominations for this year’s award closed on August 1. It will be awarded on September 18 at the New Hampshire Paralegal Association’s Annual Meeting. Last year the NHPA’s vice-president, Aniko Bouley was honored with this Award.

In addition,New Hampshire’s Governor John Lynch has declared the third week in September, “Paralegal Week.”

According to the New Hampshire Bar Association, “The purpose of the governor’s declaration is to remind employers to recognize the contributions and the dedication of their paralegals. In busy work environments, people tend to take for granted the hard work done by paralegals. These professionals assist in providing high-quality legal representation to clients by ensuring accurate work content and making other overall contributions to the legal team.”

If you are aware of other states or bar association that recognize paralegal professionalism, please let me know. You can comment to this post or email me at