Monday, August 30, 2010

Over-the-Top Brownies

My friend Cheri dropped off a plate of these brownies at our house on Sunday. They are OMG out-of-this-world delicious. She was given the recipe by a co-worker, Amy, for publication in the upcoming Hospice of Northwest Michigan cookbook...which I'll certainly be purchasing for holiday gifts.

Not only are these brownies tasty, I like it that the recipe makes a 9x13" pan of goodies that, in turn, must be cut in very small pieces because it's so the result will feed a gang. Be sure to store them in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

1 batch brownies (boxed mix or your favorite recipe)

1/2 cup salted peanuts

1 cup chopped Reese's peanut butter cups

1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 Tablespoon butter

1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal

Mix brownies according to directions. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 9 x 13" baking dish (prepared according to the directions on your brownie recipe).

Remove from oven and top with peanuts and chopped peanut butter cups. Bake an additional 4-6 minutes.

While they finish baking, melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. Stir in cereal (do not skip the cereal, it does add a lot to the recipe). Remove brownies from the oven and spread chocolate mixture over top.

Refrigerate at least two hours until set. You will probably need to keep these refrigerated.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Paralegal Profile: Kris L. Canaday

Kris L. Canaday, who recently relocated to Slidell, LA from Dequim, WA, answers my Thirteen Questions this week. Kris is a virtual freelance paralegal who works with attorneys across the country from her home office.

You'll enjoy reading the answers Kris submitted, particularly her opinion about the latest trends in the industry. Thanks, Kris!


1. Where do you work and what is your job title? I work as a [virtual] freelance paralegal from my home office providing support to attorneys (and their paralegals) around the country.

2. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? My career as a paralegal was quite unexpected. My first taste of the legal field occurred when I was [unwillingly] thrust into a two-week legal secretary position after a lot of coaxing by my temporary agency and the attorney. I fell in love with the job the very first day ... the fast pace, the necessity for detail and organization, analytical skills, and what I then dubbed "organized chaos."

I immediately knew I had found my calling and that the legal field provided a way for me to fulfill my need to analyze everything and desire to draft formal documentation. After I completed my temporary assignment, I immediately sought full-time employment at a law firm. I obtained a legal transcription position and worked myself into a paralegal position within a couple of months. The rest, as they say, is history.

3. What is your favorite part of your job? My favorite part of my job is the work itself ... the review, analysis, document preparation ... I love it all. Knowing I am helping attorneys regain a work-life balance and move their practices forward is a close second though!

4. What professional associations do you belong to? I am currently a member of the Washington State Paralegal Association, National Federation of Paralegal Associations, and the National Association of Freelance Legal Professionals.

5. How has your membership benefited you? Membership has expanded my network, introducing me to attorneys and paralegals I would not have otherwise met. As a result, I have had the opportunity to lead association meetings and contribute articles relating to freelance legal professionals and military spouses. These opportunities have helped me develop new ideas for reaching out to both attorneys and military spouses to help educate them on the opportunities available to them.

6. Do you have any professional certifications? When I decided to make paralegalism my career, I went back to school and earned a bachelor's degree in legal studies and a paralegal certificate to back up my experience. I have not yet decided whether to pursue specific certifications since I have already received a degree and certificate in the field.

7. What has been the highlight of your career? Working in the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) for the University of California has, by far, been the highlight of my career. I believe job satisfaction is a direct consequence of one's colleagues.

I've had jobs where I loved the work but the people made the job miserable and I've had jobs where the work wasn't great but the people were and I loved the job as a result. Working in OGC offered both great people, including my mentor, and work with plenty of opportunity to advance my career and knowledge. I grew significantly as a person and a paralegal during my tenure there. I will always hold dear that time of my life and career.

8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? I think the paralegal industry will continue to expand and grow. I believe that regulation of the profession will be a hot trend for many years to come.

Several driving factors in technology and the economy may also push the prevalence of virtual work. For example, the ability to connect to anyone anywhere anytime is changing the way firms practice ... more and more firms are adding a virtual law practice to their brick and mortar practice or leaving the brick and mortar behind completely for the virtual world. Similarly, paralegals have the ability to connect with their attorneys from any location; a very lucrative idea for small firms and solo practitioners who have been hit hard by the economy and do not have the financial ability or overhead to hire employees.

9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? I've touched a bit on social media. Although I'm not heavily involved, I do find it a means for interacting and networking with other legal professionals, which is very important to me as a [virtual] freelance paralegal ... it serves as my "office communications" and provides a connection to other professionals who share my interest in law.

I am most involved with LinkedIn and am also connecting with people through ParalegalGateway. I recently opened a Twitter account, as well, but it is still foreign to me; I have not yet had the time to delve into it to figure out how it works.

10. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? For two reasons, the number one advice I give is to go back to school. I worked as a paralegal for almost seven years before earning my paralegal degree and certificate and, although the career came first, my studies were concurrent with my work for much of that time. However, core law classes taught me things you don't learn from on-the-job training ... things every person working as a paralegal should know. Although I worked as a paralegal and did my job well, I no longer feel like I was qualified to do so prior to my schooling.

Moreover, our profession is on track to be regulated. Several states, such as California, already have statutes regulating paralegals. In these instances, one cannot hold oneself out as or work as a paralegal without meeting specific requirements. Anyone contemplating a new career as a paralegal will be ineligible for a paralegal position without meeting those requirements, which usually require some sort of formal education. Thus, in states that regulate paralegals, education is a prerequisite to landing a paralegal job.

11. Is there a quote that inspires you? My favorite thing to say is, "Perseverance pays." It is analogous to the phrase, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

This concept is applicable in so many ways. When life gets tough, it's important not to give up. The same goes for being overwhelmed with work or school. And, if you look at successful individuals, the key to their success is most often perseverance; there is no success without failure. Successful people don't stop when they fail ... they learn from their errors and keep trying until they succeed.

12. You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? I attribute my success as a paralegal to my long-time mentor and friend Vanessa Adams. She helped me take my career to the level it is now. She taught me how to do my job and she taught me what it takes to be not just a paralegal but a great paralegal. She taught, listened, understood, mentored both professionally and personally, and led by example. Without her I would not be where I am now.

13. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? I think perhaps the best way to keep your paralegal career interesting is to stay involved. There are many ways and opportunities to stay involved, whether by continuing to expand your knowledge-base through CLE or law classes, taking on new tasks and responsibilities at work, or by becoming more involved outside of work through membership opportunities or pro bono work.

Bonus...just for fun question: If you had to be in any other profession other than a paralegal, what would it be? If I had to be in any other profession, I would be a psychologist. Although law is my passion, psychology has always been my love. I believe the two complement each other. When I went back to school to get a bachelor's degree in legal studies, I also obtained a bachelor's degree in psychology.

My dream would be to go through another dual degree program and earn a J.D./Ph.D. in Psychology and focus my research on eyewitness testimony and false confessions in the hope of someday implementing a nationwide training program for jurors and improving interrogation techniques.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Congratulations To New OSBA Certified Paralegals

The Ohio State Bar Association recently recognized 26 paralegals who met the requirements necessary to earn the designation of “OSBA Certified Paralegal.”

The Association celebrated their hard work and dedication to excellence in the profession at a ceremony held at OSBA Headquarters on July 23, 2010.

“It’s not easy to become a specialist,” said OSBA President Carmen V. Roberto during the ceremony. “It takes a lot of work. Paralegals serve a purpose within the legal community that I don’t think is appreciated to the extent it should be. It fills a void that existed in this profession.”

By definition, a paralegal eligible for OSBA certification is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience, who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.

The OSBA held a ceremony to formally recognize all 26, and even published a video to commemorate the event. Follow this link to view pictures of the event. The video is available on YouTube by following this link.

Congratulations to the following new OSBA Certified Paralegals!
J. Michele Banner, Brouse McDowell LPA
Natalie E. Smith, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Cheryl A. Conroy, Ben Venue Laboratories, Inc.

Cincinnati: Theresa L. Combs, Waite Schneider, Bayless & Chesley Co. LPA;
Kisha L. Dosa, Montgomery, Rennie, and Johnson;
Erik B. Lutson, The Kroger Co.;
Stephanie S. Morris, Freund, Freeze & Arnold;
Venessa C. Wickline, Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP

Carol S. Taylor, Allstate Staff Counsel;
Carmen M. Verhosek, Hickman & Lowder Co. LPA

Linda T. Brown, State of Ohio - Auditor of State;
Nellie B. Chambers, Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP;
Kristen L. Dell, Marshall & Morrow LLC;
Jennifer L. Early, Bricker & Eckler LLP;
Michelle L. Lacy, Weltman Weinberg & Reis Co., LPA;
Christina J. Miller, Bricker & Eckler LLP;
Rebecca A. Pace, Vorys Sater Seymour & Pease LLP;
Mindi L. Schaefer, Reminger Co. LPA

Patricia R. Niswonger, Gudorf Law Group, LLC
Erica M. Smith-Forth, Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz

Jennifer L. Hayhurst, Ohio State Medical Association

Elizabeth J. Nelson, Stebelton, Aranda & Snider

Cassandra S. Potts, Utrecht & Young, LLC

Tracey L. Antognazzi, John J. Ready & Associates

Mary P. Giulivo, The Lubrizol Corporation

Paper or Paperless: Who's doing the filing?

There is a saying that goes like this: If you want to know if the person you are hiring is truthful, ask if they like to file.

If the answer is "Yes!" do not hire her because she's not truthful. NO ONE likes to file! Like it or not, though, filing accurately and regularly is crucial in the legal industry.

A filing system is really a finding system. This is your method for storing information today and finding it quickly and easily tomorrow. This applies whether you deal with paper or you've 'gone paperless'.

Searching for a misplaced document or file is not only a waste of time and energy, it's also a waste of money. Assuming you work 48 weeks in a year and spend just five minutes of each hour of an eight-hour workday looking for lost documents or files, you will waste 160 hours per year. Using a billing rate of $95 per hour (insert yours here), the annual loss is $15,200.

Usually this search involves several people and it delays getting your work done, so the cost increases proportionately. You also lose credibility and appear unprepared when you do not have information at your fingertips.A good filing system can remedy all of this.

Here are some tips to help you create a system that will minimize the time you spend (waste) looking for lost files and documents.

Begin by making some decisions. You need a clear plan that is understood by everyone in the office.
First decide who is responsible for the filing. This may be delegated to one or more employees or it may be that the person doing the work on the file is responsible for putting their work away and cleaning up any loose ends. Unless this is clear, papers will be thrown haphazardly into the file, if they make it there at all, creating a continuing nightmare.

Second, decide when the filing will be done. Again, doing this as the work is done is really the most efficient and results in fewer errors. If that can't happen, establish a policy that filing is to be done by the end of every day or at the beginning of the next. Don't allow papers to disappear into a filing tray, never to surface again.
Establish a filing system that is easy and flexible. Your mantra should be 'store it where you can retrieve it...file it where you can easily access it.' Visualize how you use files and set up a system that is both flexible and matches your situation. This system should include a policy on where the files will be stored (a central area or in the office of the person working on the file?) with an explicit rule that the floor is not a filing cabinet.

Also, how do you want the files set up in the first place? How will the documents be put in the file? What kind of file folder will be used? How do you want them labeled? Even if all the filing is done perfectly, if the label is not visible, you won't be able to find the file.

Remember that bloated files are a waste of money and space. Statistics reflect that you will only refer to about 20% of what you file. The remaining 80% just takes up space. Generally waaaaaay too much paper is being filed in the first place. Aim to keep your files lean and mean. Don't save anything you will not need. Condense and purge whatever you can before filing. You don't need five copies of the same document. This is true even in a paperless environment.

Before you put documents away, ask these questions:
  • Is this relevant?
  • Will I need this again? Can I get this again if I need it?
  • What are the consequences of getting rid of this?
  • What is the worst case scenario if I don't have this?

Depending on the answers to your questions, you may be able to get rid of the paper altogether.

Are you done? Move it out! Do the math: if you keep adding files to the filing cabinet and never move any out, the cabinet will soon be overflowing. When you are done with a matter, move the file to closed storage immediately. This is the only way to make room for new files.

If more comes in than goes out, you have a problem. Your file drawers should have a minimum of two inches of free space or it will be too difficult to put anything away. Where will the files go? Probably on your desk, on the floor, on the chair...and the piles mount.

What about those files on your desk? A vertical step file organizer is your solution to the piles of files on the corner of your desk (or on the floor!) that become part of the landscape and soon forgotten. When the files are upright, they are easier to see and easier to locate.

In a paperless environment, you would apply many of the same principles. If you've gone paperless, good for you! You will still need resources and a system. Decide who will scan and 'file' incoming documents in the system and where they will be placed for easy retrieval. You'll also have to determine responsibility for 'filing' email and outgoing documents. Again, simplicity is key. If your system is too difficult, you're just asking for trouble.

Your challenge: Visualize your office: consider the flow of work and the best location for your files. Then design a policy for setting up the files, doing the actual filing, and moving the closed files to storage. This policy will include who will actually do the work, when they will do it, and how it will be done. Be very clear and concise. Remember that this is a lot like home: if everyone understands their responsibilities, does their fair share and picks up after themselves, the problem will be solved.

©2010 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 achieving 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 publishes a weekly ezine titled Paralegal Strategies and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network. More information is available at

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Paralegal Voice: Intellectual Properties Paralegals

The latest edition of The Paralegal Voice, Intellectual Property Paralegals,co-hosted by Lynne DeVenny and me, is now available at Legal Talk Network.

We welcome paralegals, Colleen Sarenpa, Director of Trademarks for Polaroid Corporation at PLR Brand Services, LLC, and Gwen Spurrier, a paralegal at the Minneapolis law firm of Gray Plant Mooty, to talk about one of the fastest-growing specialty areas today: intellectual property.

Colleen and Gwen discuss how they entered this highly specialized area of the law, their biggest challenges on the job, and what it takes to become an intellectual property paralegal. Also in this episode:

•Our guests’ career paths to IP work
•The definition of IP and its sub-specialties
•The responsibilities of an IP paralegal
•How to get into the IP specialty area
•Online IP resources
•Practice and social media tips from Vicki and Lynne

Page URL:

MP3 link:
Internet resources referenced in the podcast:
The Paralegal Voice also thanks its sponsors: Westlaw Deposition Services and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).

If you enjoyed The Paralegal Voice, please share the link to the podcast with your friends and colleagues.

Do you have a request for a future show or a question for us? You are welcome to contact us at

Monday, August 23, 2010

Janice Linker: Metrolina Paralegal Association 2010 Paralegal of the Year

The Metrolina Paralegal Association (MPA) has announced that Janice D. Linker, CLA, NCCP has been named its 2010 Paralegal of the Year Award

The MPA Paralegal of the Year Award is given to a paralegal
who exhibits a commitment to professionalism and to the advancement
of the legal community. The paralegal must also be a member in good
standing of the MPA.

Ms. Linker has been a senior paralegal at Johnston, Allison & Hord, P.A.
in Charlotte, NC for thirty-seven years. She was nominated by James
W. Allison, the managing partner of the firm along with two of the firm’s
long-standing clients, who described her as a paralegal with a “wonderful personality” and “unsurpassed” work ethic. Ms. Linker is also “efficient” and held in “high regard by many long-term clients.”

In addition, to her work at Johnson, Allison & Hord, Ms. Linker has served in several leadership roles in MPA including Third Vice President, NALA Liaison, and Historian.

Ms. Linker received a commemorative plaque, a cash gift, and a complimentary year of general membership in the MPA.

The Metrolina Paralegal Association serves paralegals in the Charlotte, NC area and is an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)

Congratulations, Janice!!

Take These 3 Steps for Career Success

Throughout my career, I have immersed myself in learning. Because I have always worked as a paralegal, I have primarily attended and spoken at law-related seminars. Lately I've become interested in time and space organization, so I've been learning a lot about that, too.

I've discovered, though, that it is also important to take ample time to focus on personal development . Why? Because it's essential that you work harder on yourself than you do on your job. If you do this, the job will take care of itself and your life will be successful.

Over the years, I have learned 3 steps for success that I want to share with you. I refer to these as my "a-ha's" because they have helped me focus on very important areas of my life and they have also helped me create a successful career.

1. You are the average of the five PEOPLE you hang around the most. This is a principle taught by Jim Rohn, whom some call the father of personal development. A light bulb went off when I heard this. It made me realize that it's necessary to surround myself with people I want to be like....people who are success oriented, who have vision, who have spirit and dedication.

The key is to make a concerted effort to be with people who think big and talk about great ideas, instead of the headlines of People Magazine, the price of gas (how depressing!), or how much they hate their jobs and their bosses. Attitudes and levels of thinking are contagious. Beware!

There are tons of great seminars offered both where you live and all around the country. You have no excuse not to get out there and surround yourself with people who have positive attitudes and like-minded goals.

2. Your ENVIRONMENT must support your goals. Your success depends more on your environment than you may realize so it's imperative that you give yourself an environment that supports you at the level you want to attain, not the level you are at now. There are three areas of your environment that you should give your utmost attention:

  • Your physical environment. Do you love your work space? Do you have enough room to work comfortably? Does this space encourage you to think? Are you surrounded by things that are beautiful and bring good memories, such an eye-catching piece of art?

    We can't all have a gorgeous view from our offices, or even a window, but we can create an environment that brings us peace and tranquility without spending a lot of money. Little touches like flowers, photos of friends, family or your recent vacation, even an interesting paperweight, can make you feel good.
  • Your emotional environment. Do you get the support you need from your friends, family and co-workers? These people are not mind readers. It's up to you to ask for what you need from them.

  • I have a great group of friends that I can bounce ideas off, ask for help with problem solving, and share my successes. Of course, sometimes I just need to vent! If your friends, family and co-workers can't provide this, you may need to find a career coach or a support group that will.

  • Your intellectual environment. It's crucial that you feed your brain with new ideas and up-to-the-minute knowledge. Are you stimulating your brain every day? If not, you need to find a way to make this expose yourself to creative and innovative thinking that will stretch and increase your brain power. Again, seminars, teleclasses and books/audio programs are helpful.

    I really enjoy listening to these on my iPod so I can learn while I take a walk or when I travel...this makes a long drive, a lengthy wait in an airport, or my time on an airplane zip by. My personal favorite is downloading books to my iPod from my membership at iTunes also has many podcasts and other programs available at little or no cost.

3. Your future is created by your habits. It only makes sense that your daily habits will create long-lasting effects in your life. The habits you establish today will determine the results you have tomorrow.

If you want to be healthy and in shape, you must have the habits of a person who is healthy and in shape. If you want to be a successful paralegal, you must have the habits of a successful paralegal. If you want to be a leader, you must have the habits of a leader. None of these things will happen tomorrow unless you establish habits today that will lead to the results you want.

Your challenge: Visualize YOUR tomorrow. What kind of person do you want to be? Where do you want your career to take you? Then decide: What new habit can you put into place now that will make your tomorrow what you want it to be? What can you do today to create a work environment that gives you joy? What will you do to surround yourself with people who will support you and who will be a positive influence? Ask yourself these questions now so that you can create habits for yourself today that will result in the tomorrow you want.

©2010 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 achieving 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 publishes a weekly ezine titled Paralegal Strategies and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network. More information is available at

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Paralegal Predicament: Why won't they listen to my voice mail?

Can you help with this 'predicament' submitted by Cindy Geib, ACP, Pa.C.P.?
Hi Vicki:

I have a question for you. Perhaps it's already been addressed before and if so, let me know how others are handling this problem. It seems to be getting worse by the day!

Here's my problem:
I leave detailed messages for our clients, explaining why I'm calling, what information I need or what the information is that I am providing - case update, etc. , and when the person can call me back if a call back is required. Short, sweet and to the point!

Then I get a call back usually within an hour sometimes almost immediately saying , "Hi, I saw your office called." They call back without listening to the voice mail message! I'll ask "Did you listen to my message?" and the answer is almost always "No" or they only listened to part of it!

Then I have to explain everything over again and bill them once again for my time. Often when I have left a question and then they do not have the answer and have to call back again with the answer.
Why have voice mail if you are not going to listen to your messages????? Any idea on how to get people to listen to our messages before they call back? Thanks!

Here's my response to Cindy's predicament:

This is certainly a problem and one I've experienced on more than one occasion.

People look at their Caller ID and return the call without bothering to listen to the message. Another thing that drives me crazy is that the Caller ID may display one number but that's not the number I told them to use in the message...they use it anyway. My favorite (not!) is the caller who simply says 'Someone from this number called me...'

I don't have a good solution...but I'm going to put this out in Paralegal Strategies this week under 'Paralegal Predicament' and see if we get any feedback. Thanks for writing!


While thinking about Cindy's predicament, I found this post at Law.Com Legal Blog Watch written by Bruce Canton: Why No One Under 30 Answers Your Voice Mail. He makes some valid points and from the comments following the post, it appears he's not alone.

Do you have any solutions for Cindy? Please leave your comments/solutions below. I'll have a follow up report in a future issue of Paralegal Strategies.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Professional Profile: Kari Berger, Indianapolis, IN

Kari Berger, of Indianapolis, IN, answers my Thirteen Questions this week. She is employed by Delaney & Delaney, LLC. in Indianapolis. Kari is the Marketing/Public Relations Director for the Indiana Paralegal Association (IPA) and is also a member of NFPA.

You'll enjoy reading Kari's profile, particularly her ideas for keeping your paralegal career interesting...and what she'd do if she couldn't work as a paralegal. Thanks, Kari!

Kari L. Berger
Indianapolis, Indiana

1. Where do you work and what is your job title? I'm a paralegal with DeLaney & DeLaney LLC. in Indianapolis.

2. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? It was supposed to be a stop along the way to law school but I fell in love with the position and the people in my office.

3. What is your favorite part of your job? I love being the person to initially review documents in a case through the discovery process...I love finding the "smoking guns".

4. What professional associations do you belong to? Indiana Paralegal Association, National Federation of Paralegals, Indianapolis Women's Golf League and I volunteer on the Operations Committee for the Susan G. Komen Indianapolis Race for the Cure.

5. How has your membership benefited you? My memberships have helped me become more connected to the legal community and other working women in Indianapolis. It has been a very strong networking tool.

6. Do you have any professional certifications? The preliminary results reflect that I recently passed the PACE examination, however I am not allowed to start using this certification until September when the official results are released.

7. What has been the highlight of your career? I received the 2008 New Member Paralegal of the Year award from the IPA.

8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? E-discovery! This is everywhere you look right now -- especially CLE's!!

9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? I do have a Facebook account.

10. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? It is the perfect position for someone who loves to be involved in the legal community, but does not like public speaking. I never have to appear in front of a judge, which seems a little scary to me!

11. Is there a quote that inspires you? "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning how to dance in the rain."

12. You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? Kathleen DeLaney took a chance on me when I was fresh out of college. She has been a fantastic teacher and mentor.

13. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? With all the new technology out there today, there is always a new development or some new software related to the legal field. I try to attend CLE seminars to learn about all the new advancements. This gives me an opportunity to keep in touch with modern technology and gives me ideas of how to do my job more efficiently

Bonus...just for fun question: If you could not be a paralegal, what would be your dream job? That's easy...I'd be a professional golfer.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sweet and Saltines

Here's another recipe from country music recording artist Trisha Yearwood who says:
"After a meal, my mama will always say, 'I need a little something sweet.' If she has dessert, she will inevitably follow it up with, 'Now I need a little something salty.' It’s become a joke at our house. These crackers are so good, you will just keep eating them -- and Mama has her sweet and salty thing covered. Beware ... they’re really addictive." Serves 20
I've made these several times...they're really tasty and so simple to make. Trisha's right, they're addictive!

40 saltine crackers
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Line a large jellyroll pan with aluminum foil...I used a double thickness of DO NOT want to have to clean this pan.

Line the pan with the saltine crackers. Here's how it looks when you start.

Here's a picture of the finished pan of crackers. ===========>
The crackers may not cover the entire pan but don't worry, it will all work just fine.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour over the crackers, covering them evenly. Put the jellyroll pan into the oven and watch closely. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes, or until just bubbly.

Remove from the oven and pour the chocolate chips over the crackers. When the chips melt a bit, spread them over the crackers with a knife.

Transfer the pan to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely cold. They will form one big sheet.

Break up into pieces. Store in an airtight container.
I'm not going to give up my day job as a paralegal to become a food you can see from these pictures, I'm a bit short of talent in that department. However, I can tell you that these are simple and people love this treat. You'll love how easy they are to make.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Melissa Hamilton ACP Elected NALA Region 6 Director

Melissa Hamilton, ACP, a paralegal in the legal division of the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDOT) in Bismarck, ND has been installed as director of Region VI of NALA, The Association of Legal Assistants/Paralegals.

Region VI includes paralegals from North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri.

Melissa previously Chaired NALA's Professional Development Committee (PDC) which oversees NALA's LEAP (Leadership Enhancement and Preparation) Program, the Career Chronicle, NALA Model Standards and Guidelines for Utilization of Legal Assistants and the NALA Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility. The PDC also reviewed and finalized NALA's 2010 National Utilization and compensation Survey. Her leadership of the PDC has prepared her well to represent paralegals on NALA's Board of Directors.
Melissa has more than 16 years of experience in the legal field and has been with NDDOT for six years. A graduate of Belfield High School, she attended Dickinson State University, and earned her bachelor of science degree in paralegal studies from Minnesota State University, Moorhead.

Congratulations, Melissa!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tricia Yearwood's Key Lime Cake

This recipe is from 'Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood: Stories and Recipes to Share with Family and Friends'. I was intrigued when Marge Dover, NALA Executive Director, told me about it over dinner at Benny's Steak & Seafood while were were in Jacksonville for the NALA Convention.

Of course I had to try it as soon as I got home. It's simple to don't even have to drag out the mixer...and the result is a moist flavorful cake that everyone who's tasted it just loves. Enjoy!

Key Lime Cake
from Trisha Yearwood

1 (3oz) package lime-flavored gelatin
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (I confess...I rarely sift flour!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup lime juice (from about 25 small Key limes or 5 large regular limes...I added the grated zest...seems a shame to waste that!)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the gelatin, sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir to mix well. Add the eggs, oil, orange juice, lemon juice and vanilla.

3. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans (or whatever pan you've chosen) and bake for 35-40 minutes. Test for doneness by lightly touching the top of the cake or inserting a toothpick. Cool layers in the pans for 5 minutes and then turn out onto racks.

4. While the layers are still hot, mix the lime juice and confectioners' sugar and pour it over the layers on the racks. You can pierce the layers with a fork to allow the glaze to soak in better. Allow the layers to cool completely as you prepare the icing.

Cream Cheese Icing

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar

1. Cream the butter and cream cheese. Beat in the confectioners' sugar until the mixture is smooth and easy to spread. Spread the icing between the layers and on the top and sides of the cake.

(Note: You can also bake this cake in one 9x13" pan or one jelly roll pan. I used a jelly roll pan and held my breath as the cake looked like it might spill over in the oven but it held.)

of your choice (3 9-inch round pans; one 9x13" pan; or one jelly roll pan. Note: I used a jelly roll pan and held my breath as the cake looked like it might spill over in the oven but it held.)

10 No-Cost Resources for Your Professional Arsenal

The #1 goal of every paralegal should be to remain competitive in the profession. If you simply do your job day in and day out, ignoring the change going on around you, your professional growth will come to a halt.'re busy and time is limited. How can you manage to balance your job, your continuing education, your personal obligations...and at the same time focus on your professional growth? How do you keep up with the latest trends in legal technology and practice management? How do you stay on top of current paralegal news?

Fortunately, technology has come to your rescue. The solution to your dilemma is to use the many, many great web sites, newsletters and blogs available on the Internet. There are many, many great web sites, newsletters and blogs available on the Internet.

While it difficult to whittle the list down, here are my top 10 suggested resources for your professional arsenal, all of which are available to you at no cost:

1. Legal Talk Network offers legal podcasts, hosted by leading attorneys and legal experts. Not only do they produce The Paralegal Voice, but also many other podcasts that highlight the important issues in the legal profession. The podcasts are available on-demand on the Legal Talk Network website (, in the podcast directory at iTunes, and by f'ree subscription to RSS feeds. Not only do listeners worldwide get the latest legal topics and trends, but legal professionals make connections with colleagues. This helps everyone meet the challenges of a changing legal world. Follow this link to my last blog post to see the variety of programs that were produced last week.

2. Paralegal Gateway is an all-inclusive site (honestly, it's like the Mall of America for paralegals!) that you should check frequently for paralegal news and events, as well as employment opportunities and lots of other resources. There's also a forum for paralegals to connect with other paralegals and a newsletter. Jeannie Johnston has done a terrific job with this site and is to be congratulated for the service she offers paralegals. (

3. Legal Careers is a daily blog is authored by attorney Sally Anne Kane who is also the editor of Paralegal Today. Recent must-read articles include: Reasons to Choose a Legal Career, Legal Education and Training, Hot Legal Careers for Non-Lawyers, Hot Careers in Law Enforcement, and Law firm Life. (

4. Practical Paralegalism: To say that North Carolina paralegal Lynne DeVenny, NCCP, is a prolific blogger is an understatement. At Practical Paralegalism, she celebrates paralegals and offers a few cautionary tales as well. Lynne is also my co-host on The Paralegal Voice. (

5. Patti's Paralegal Page: Patti F. Clapper, ACP, NCCP, is the President of the North Carolina Paralegal Association (NCPA). She blogs about cool and unusual web sites for paralegals and other legal professionals with a few funny legal stories along the way. (

6. Oregon Law Practice Management: Don't let 'Oregon' fool you. While this blog is authored by Beverly Michaelis, Paralegal Management Advisor for Oregon Law Practice Management, and is geared toward practice management tips for Oregon lawyers, it offers practical information that anyone can apply in any state. For instance, one of Beverly's recent articles is titled, 'Lexis Nexis News Channel'. (

7. The Empowered Paralegal: Robert Mongue is Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at the University of Mississippi. He blogs for and about professional paralegals and the paralegal profession. (

8. Inter Alia is an internet legal research weblog where you'll find attorney Tom Mighell's fabulous Mighell Marker, a newsletter that delivers relevant and timely legal research information, and other fun stuff, to your inbox every Sunday. (

9. ABA Journal Top Stories is a great way to get your legal news. You'll want to check it frequently for the latest happenings in the profession. (

10. Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog provides excellent practice management tips. Mr. Calloway is an Oklahoma-based weblog about law practice management, the Internet and technology as it applies both in law practice and in all our lives. (

As I said, it was difficult to narrow the list to 10 so I have some bonus mentions for you:

* Digital Paralegal Services: Cathy Ribble, CP, a virtual paralegal working out of Guthrie OK, has established this web site and she publishes a newsletter, Connect with Cathy. She has lots of great tips for everyone working in the legal environment. Cathy also collaborated with me to produce "Sixty-Six Solid Tips from Your Virtual Paralegal Success Team". (See and

* Mid-Missouri Paralegal: Lori Robinett is both a talented author and President of Mid-Missouri Paralegal Association. She fills this blog with really interesting material you'll be able to utilize in your paralegal practice. (

* Richmond Paralegal Association (RPA) and Washington State Paralegal Association (WSPA) tie for their good material and consistency. Amy Vaughn and David Richardson are the force behind the RPA site, while WSPA President Brian Haberly, RP provides the information (See and

* Last, there's a "new kid on the block" and it appears Barbara Haubein, an Advanced Certified Paralegal in Trial Practices, and a California Advanced Specialist in Civil Litigation, has a winner on her hands! She's the author of The California Litigator, a bi-weekly newsletter for California legal professionals who are interested in enhancing their knowledge and strategies in the area of California state civil litigation support. (

Finally, do remember that the purpose of the Paralegal Mentor program is to provide this newsletter to boost your professional growth, so I hope you'll continue to follow it, forward it to other paralegals, and reprint the articles in your association's newsletters. Another resource is the Paralegal Mentor Blog. And if you're interested in working virtually, you might want to check out "Sixty-Six Solid Tips from Your Virtual Paralegal Success Team". Again, all are offered to you at no cost.

There are many, many resources available over the Internet and it was difficult to pick only those mentioned in this article. This will get you started, though, and once you get the hang of using these you can expand your resource base. Always pay attention to what others in the career field are reading so you can make additions to your own list of favorites.

©2010 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 achieving 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 publishes a weekly ezine titled Paralegal Strategies and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network. More information is available at

Monday, August 2, 2010

Paralegal Profile: Mona Hart Tucker, ACP

Mona Hart Tucker, ACP, of Daingerfield, Texas, answers my Thirteen Questions this week. She is an Advanced Certified Paralegal employed by Nix, Patterson & Roach, LLP. in Daingerfield, a city approximately 120 miles northeast of Dallas. She she specializes in Civil Litigation.

Mona is the immediate Past President of the Northeast Texas Association of Paralegals (NTAP) and the current editor of the association's newsletter, Key Note. She's also a former Director of the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas.

You'll enjoy reading Mona's profile, particularly her opinion regarding hot trends in the industry.

1. Where do you work and what is your job title? I am an Advanced Certified Paralegal with Nix, Patterson & Roach, LLP .

2. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? I found the law very intriguing, and love being around and conversing with intelligent, educated people.

3. What is your favorite part of your job? Without a doubt, it's legal research

4. What professional associations do you belong to? NALA, Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas, College of the State Bar of Texas, Northeast Texas Association of Paralegals

5. How has your membership benefited you? Networks, networks, networks!

6. Do you have any professional certifications? Certified Paralegal, then Advanced Certified Paralegal...both through the National Association of Legal Assistants.

7. What has been the highlight of your career? Serving as Director on the Board of the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas

8. What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry? I see paralegals moving away from clerical work and more into the actual work that attorneys have traditionally done. I know that's part of the definition of a paralegal, but in actuality, it hasn't always worked out that way.

9. Have you dipped your toes in the social media waters? If not, do you see that in your future? I'm on LinkedIn and I have a blog. I signed up with Facebook in order to see some pictures my brother had posted there, but I've rarely looked at it since then.

10. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? Join one or more paralegal groups. The networking is invaluable.

11. Is there a quote that inspires you? My own: Never let 'em see you cry.

12. You've enjoyed a successful paralegal career. To what single event or person do you attribute that success? I can't name a single person because there were two, both former employers: LeRoy LaSalle (now deceased), who worked with my schedule and encouraged me to go back and finish my college education; and T.G. Davis, who paid my expenses and encouraged me to go for my paralegal certification.

13. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Don't limit yourself to one area of law. Take CLE courses, read pertinent articles, interact with other paralegals.

Bonus...just for fun question:
What is your most treasured possession? My 1997 Chevrolet Camaro, 30th anniversary edition, 6-speed, LT1 engine, FlowMasters, Chevy bowtie exhaust tips...