Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Paralegal Voice: Paralegals Who Love Their Jobs...and Why

The latest edition of The Paralegal Voice, Paralegals Who Love Their Jobs...and Why is now available at Legal Talk Network.

In this episode, Lynne DeVenny and I spotlight four successful paralegals from across the country who love their jobs. These delightful guests share their diverse backgrounds, discuss career highlights, and offer ways to stay relevant and enjoy long careers in the paralegal profession.
You won't want to miss this lively discussion that is full of career tips for you. The episode's guests included
Brian Haberly, RP a corporate and securities paralegal with Clearwire Corporation; and president of the Washington State Paralegal Association
Patricia F. Clapper ACP, NCCP a paralegal with Levine & Stewart; President of the North Carolina Paralegal Association
Ruth Conley, CP a litigation paralegal at Andrews Kurth LLP; and
Carl H. Morrison III, AACP a paralegal at Rhodes, Hieronymus, Jones, Tucker& Gable, PLLC.
Also in this episode:
Tips for balancing a job, professional association leadership, and family life.
Using social media to enhance your career
How to keep your career fresh and challenging

How to keep up with practice and technology skills
Lynne and I also share practice and social media tips.

Follow this link to listen to the podcast::

Follow this link if you want the MP3 download:

There were several Internet resources referenced in the podcast:
Washington State Paralegal Association
WSPA’s Twitter account @wspaonline


Brian Haberly’s LinkedIn profile

Brian Haberly’s Twitter account, @brianhaberly

North Carolina Paralegal Association

Patti’s Paralegal Page

Patti Clapper’s Linkedin profile

Patti Clapper’s Twitter account, @lglduck

Ruth Conley’s LinkedIn profile

Carl Morrison’s LinkedIn profile,

Carl Morrison’s Twitter account, @cmorri3371



American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc.
The Paralegal Voice also thanks its sponsors: NALA...The Association of Paralegals and Legal Assistants and SunTrust.

Please share the links to this episode of The Paralegal Voice with your friends and colleagues. If you have a request for a future show, or a question for us, you are welcome to contact us at

Be sure you never miss a podcast by subscribing to any Legal Talk Network show, including The Paralegal Voice, by using the RSS Feed links or iTunes links at

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jenna Borum: Virtual Paralegal Practice Tips

Jenna Borum, paralegal and owner of Generate Legal, LLC, provided these practice tips for paralegals who have already established their virtual practice or plan to do that as their next career step.

Generate Legal, LLC provides virtual and outsourced paralegal services and support to licensed attorneys in the Baltimore, Maryland metro area and remotely via "The Cloud" to licensed attorneys across the country.

Jenna graduated from Villa Julie College (NKA Stevenson University) with a degree in Paralegal Studies – an ABA approved paralegal program. She brings over eight years of paralegal experience to her virtual practice and specializes in the areas of Civil Litigation, Plaintiff Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, Premises Liability, Insurance Defense and Family Law.

She is a member of the Maryland Association of Paralegals (MAP) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).

When Vicki asked me for a virtual paralegal practice tip, I couldn't just come up with one. So, here are several that I'd like to share with you:

1. Have a niche. You can't be all things to all people, so find your niche and stick with it. Sure, there is always room to grow and learn more, but you really need to have a succinct focus for your business, especially in the beginning.

2. Become an expert at something. Although, somewhat related to your niche, I think it helps to become an "expert" at something vital that your client needs and will come back to you for.

3. Have a referral system in place with other virtual paralegals. I can almost guarantee that at some point in your business, you will get a call from an attorney who needs help in an area that is not in your niche. If you both have the time to spend on a potential learning curve, then take care of the matter yourself. When you don’t have the time or if you are going on vacation, it is wise to have a virtual paralegal you can refer to. I also refer to legal virtual assistants (non paralegals) for certain administrative tasks that I don't offer clients.

4. Continuing Legal Education (CLE) is a must. Never stop learning!

5. Set up Google alerts. This is a resource that will be helpful in all aspects of your business... from marketing to legal trends to legal tech - whatever is of interest to you. You never know what you'll find. Through Google alerts, I found a plagiarizing virtual paralegal who copied word for word a blog post of mine without giving me proper credit. Although, it is a form of flattery, it's still wrong. Thankfully, this particular incident ended without much hassle on my part and the removal of my wording from her post, but it certainly was an eye-opener.

6. Use a professional web-based legal practice management system, such as Clio, for your business. It will make your life easier from the beginning.

7. Have specific time(s) in the day to check business email and return calls to clients and potential clients. Of course, my clients can always get a hold of me in the event of an emergency.

8. Smile when you talk. Since virtual paralegals spend most of their time talking to clients by phone, smile when you talk. It makes communicating more pleasant.

I hope you find these tips helpful. I wish you much success in your virtual paralegal business.
Contact Jenna at Generate Legal, LLC  You may also want to get Sixty-Six SolidTips from your Virtual Paralegal Success Team (a free instant download), as well as the Virtual Paralegal Interview Series, a 4-CD set that includes over 4 hours of interviews with virtual paralegals who provide how-to's, resources, and advice for establishing a successful virtual business.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Honoring Pamela R. Cobb, ACP

Pamela R. Cobb, ACP, of Memphis, Tennessee, lost a valiant four-year battle with cancer this past December.

While a member of the Greater Memphis Paralegal Alliance (GMPA) and the National Association of Legal Assistants, Pam had many accomplishments throughout her career.

She held every office of GMPA, was awarded NALA’s President’s Award, served on the Memphis Bar Association’s Committee for Unauthorized Practice of Law, and served on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee of Legal Assistants.

Pam was a leader, a pioneer, and a champion of the paralegal profession and certainly is still considered to be a true expert in her field.

GMPA and Southwest Tennessee Community College (located in Memphis, Tennessee) have established a scholarship for paralegal students at Southwest to honor Pam. This is a celebration of Pam and her contribution to the legal community, to GMPA, to NALA, to the ABA, to MBA, to Southwest, and to all of the friends and colleagues she has had in her career as a teacher, paralegal, mentor, and officer.

Her tireless lobbying for voluntary certification and recognition of paralegals in a positive light is why so many paralegals chose our profession. This scholarship will be used for students who need a hand up to study, grow and contribute to the profession that Pam loved and championed for many years.

Pam and her husband were avid Harley Davidson motorcycle enthusiasts. This past February the Memphis Chapter of the Harley Owners Group held a chili and dessert cook-off. GMPA sponsored prize drawings. The Wild Pigs (a group of Harley riders made up of Memphis policemen) presented a donation for the scholarship.

In order for the scholarship to be self-sustaining, $20,000.00 must be raised. Thanks to the cook-off and other donations, half of that amount has been raised. Consider this worthy cause and make your donations payable to Southwest Tennessee Community College Foundation, with the memo Pam Cobb Scholarship Fund. Mail your check to:
Southwest Tennessee Community College Foundation
Attention: Rose Landey
5983 Macon Cove
Memphis, Tennessee 38134
Donations are also accepted on line. Go to On the left side of the window, click on Support Southwest. In the next window on the right side, select Scholarship Funds. In the next window, below the You Tube box, click on Make a Gift Donate Online. If you receive a Security Alert; click OK. Complete the form. In the Scholarship field, use the drop-down arrow and select Pam Cobb (under the Ps); then click Pay Now. In the next screen, complete the credit card information and gift amount. You are done! It’s that easy!

The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization and donations made to the Foundation are tax deductible. Should you require a copy of the Foundation’s tax-exempt notice from the IRS, please contact Ms. Landey at 901-333-4577.

****Thanks to Libby Roleson, ACP for providing this information.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Will robots replace Lawyers and Paralegals?

First it was the downturn in the economy that threw a monkey wrench into the the legal profession, now Business Insider reports that all signs point to humans becoming obsolete in the workforce.

That's bad news but the really bad news is that Lawyers and Paralegals are among the next 9 jobs projected to be replaced by robots. Really?
"As IBM's Watson proved on Jeopardy, robots are becoming smarter than people. They also make fewer mistakes and they don't get bored."
Smarter than paralegals? Really? Parlegals get bored? Well...maybe.
"By 2013 there will be 1.2 million industrial robots working worldwide -- that's one robot for every 5,000 people, according to Marshall Brain, founder of How Stuff Works and author of Robotic Nation.
"Robots are currently analyzing documents, filling prescriptions, and handling other tasks that were once exclusively done by humans.
The areticle explains why Lawyers and Paralegals could be replaced:
Instead of paying an army of lawyers and paralegals to review documents, software can do the job in a fraction of the time for a fraction of the cost.
The New York Times reported that Blackstone Discovery of Palo Alto, CA provided software that helped analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000.
"From a legal staffing viewpoint, it means that a lot of people who used to be allocated to conduct document review are no longer able to be billed out,” Bill Herr, a lawyer, tells the New York Times. “People get bored, people get headaches. Computers don’t.”
It's true that robots don't require much office space (if any), don't collect benefits or go on vacation. But where does the human contact come in for clients? For that, no one can replace Lawyers and Paralegals.

Now I'm you think you'll be replaced by a robot?

Paralegal Resource: Practice Tips from the State Bar of Michigan

Each week the State Bar of Michigan's Practice Management Resource Center (PMRC) publishes a practice management tip. The information is available at no cost and often helpful to paralegals.
This week's tip is particularly interesting and useful: Have you ever wondered how spammers collect e-mail addresses? Not only does the PMRC tell you why, but also offers some solutions for you.
According to the PMA, there are several methods by which email addresses are collected but the most common use spam robots and e-mail harvesters, applications that are on the Internet constantly browsing and recovering information formatted in the classic e-mail format, i.e. Here's additional information:
"These roving harvesters are busily working the Internet and social media sites. They can pick up your e-mail address from your web page or blog, a Tweet, and almost anywhere else you post an e-mail address. How can you share your e-mail address and reduce your risk of having it harvested? Use at
" is a free service which will allow you to protect your e-mail address behind a URL (uniform resource locator) that is protected by a “captcha.” A captcha is challenge response test that is commonly used to verify that the computer is responding to a human. Review the Privacy Statement and Terms of Use at before you sign up. The example from the site is - give it a try and then determine if a URL for your e-mail might be a valuable tool to add to your anti-spam arsenal.
"PS–FYI: This tip full of acronyms and techspeak may have added a new term to your lexicon. Just in case you are interested in the etymology for “captcha,” provided the following: Captcha is the acronym for Completely Automatic Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart."
The PMRC Tip of the Week is a service of the Practice Management Resource Center. It is not intended as legal advice, nor is it an ethics opinion. (

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

10 Ways to Prepare Top Civil Injury Settlement Demands

Is your settlement demand package full of good information or just empty air? Empty air is not good...and definitely not good for your client.

Learn how to prepare an effective settlement demand package on Wednesday, March 30th, when Lynne DeVenny teams up with me to present 10 Ways to Prepare Top Civil Injury Settlement Demands

There's much more to an effective settlement demand package than simply gathering medical records and bills. A knowledgeable paralegal can be indispensable to a successful outcome This 90-minute webinar (which will provide 1.5 hours of MCLE credits) is designed to help you become that indispensable paralegal.

The handout is full of forms and checklists you'll use time and again to prepare effective settlement demand letters and packages that work. Register here for 10 Ways to Prepare Top Civil Injury Settlement Demands.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tammy Pyles Wins NCPA Scholarship Essay Contest

Congratulations to Tammy Pyles, a student at Caldwell Community & Technical Institute (CCC&TI) , who placed first in the North Carolina Paralegal Association (NCPA) student sholarship Essay Contest.

Tammy will receive a $400 scholarship, a free one-year student membership in NCPA, and free registration to the 31st Annual NCPA Meeting and Seminar in Cary, N.C. from March 24-26, 2011. Pyles’ essays will also be published in a future issue of the NCPA FORUM magazine.

The essay recounts Pyles’ story as one of six children raised in a “blue-collar” family with a strong work ethic. She started working as a child, first with a paper route, chores and baby-sitting and moving on to part-time work as a teenager to help her mother with household expenses.
“I have worked for nearly my entire life,” Pyles writes in her essay. “Through all of this, the desire for higher education remained in my heart. I attended college classes at night from time to time but never completed a degree.”
Pyles, who is originally from Pittsburg, Pa., relocated to the Caldwell County area in 2002. She worked for a short time in sales and later took a job in a medical office where most of her previous experience had been. After five years, she decided she needed a change. She found herself without a job and with a decision to make.
“I asked myself, ‘OK, where do I go from here,’ and the most attractive and exciting scenario that played through my mind was the opportunity for a new career. I could better myself, even in the face of unprecedented economic downturn, by earning a college degree.”
Pyles says that the decision for her to return to school was a family decision and that she is thankful for the support she receives from her husband, Brian, and two sons.
“It has been a sacrifice for my whole family for me to be doing this, to be going to school full time. I couldn’t do it without their support.”
Being a full-time student with a family was part of what motivated Pyles to enter the North Carolina Paralegal Association’s essay contest.
“With being in school full time and having a family, money is tight but I was interested in membership with the NCPA and attending the conference,” she said. “I am truly thrilled that my essay won and that I will be able to attend the NCPA Annual Meeting and Seminar.”
Paralegal Program Director Amy Hall says that Pyles is an excellent student and is deserving of the award.
“Tammy is an exemplary student. She brings a wealth of knowledge to the classroom and is a joy to teach. I am so proud of Tammy’s accomplishments,” said Hall. “She is very deserving of this award and will represent our college well at the upcoming North Carolina Paralegal Association Annual Seminar.”
Now in her second semester of the Paralegal Program at CCC&TI and boasting a 4.0 grade oint average, Pyles says she is excited about what the future will hold once she has chieved her dream of earning a degree. Pyles says she has some specific plans for how to se her newfound knowledge and skills.
“My desire is to work within the community through a government or county agency or ourt system, perhaps as a child support advocate, or in a social services position,” she said. “This type of paralegal work is most attractive to me because helping people, especially hildren, is truly my heart.”
Congratulations, Tammy! You've set goals and worked hard to achieve them.

Source: CCC&TI and the Charlotte Observer

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Theresa Scharf Wins NFPA Pro Bono Award

Congratulations to Teresa Scharf who received the Individual Pro Bono of the Year Award from the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) at its 2010 annual conference held in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Teresa is a member of the Paralegal Association of Central Ohio where she serves as Chair of the Pro Bono Committee. In that capacity, she is actively involved in conducting a free legal clinic each month.

She also supports paralegal education and presents at student-held association meetings regarding the paralegal profession.

A litigation paralegal at Newhouse Prophater Letcher & Moots in Columbus, OH, Teresa attended Columbus State Community College, graduating cum laude with her degree in Paralegal Studies.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Deal of the Week: Deadline Direct

Life in the law firm is a never-ending round of deadline calculations. Missing  one can be catastrophic.

There's a lot of pressure to get this right and I have to admit that I could hyperventilate everytime I receive a Scheduling Order from the Court with so many confusing deadlines. Counting days on your calendar or using one of those date wheels you pick up at conventions isn't easy.

Now California Paralegal Barbara Haubrich, ACP, CAS has come to the rescue with her very reasonably priced (how reasonable is $9.99!!!) Deadline Direct, a great gadget for the legal professional's Microsoft Windows 7 or Vista desktops and business toolbox.

Barbara says, "Deadline Direct is a handy tool that gives you all the options you need to calculate business deadlines. Time increment choices include calendar days, business days, weeks, months, or years. You can add or delete weekends, federal holidays, or any other date of your choosing.

Deadline Direct eliminates making manual notes in Microsoft Outlook concerning deadline calculations. It provides a notes field that will automatically include the notes with the calculation in its integration features to Microsoft Outlook calendar, task, or e-mail."

This is an ideal economical tool for
  • Solo to Small Law Firms
  • Medium to Large Law Firms
  • Virtual/Freelance Paralegals
  • Legal Secretaries
  • Compliance Professionals
  • Broker & Real Estate Professionals
  • Corporate & Non-Profit Professionals
  • Hospital & Risk Mgmt. Professionals
  • Small or Large Businesses
For more information regarding Deadline Direct, visit Barbara's web site where you'll find a handy video that explains this tool:

Scholarships Available for Cape May County NJ Paralegal Students

If you could use financial assistance to further your paralegal education, it’s just have to search, meet the requirements and take the time to apply.

For instance, Legal Secretaries of Cape May County, New Jersey awards a $500-$750 scholarship annually and is currently seeking applicants for 2011.

Applicants must be residents of Cape May County and enrolled in the Paralegal Studies program at Atlantic Cape Community College (ACCC)...or be a graduating Cape May County high school senior who intends to enroll in the Paralegal Studies Program at ACC. Grade point average and community service are also factors in determining the winner.

The 2010 scholarship winner, Barbara Montgomery, is shown here with Michele Devine-Hartnett, President of the association.

With an April 22, 2011 deadline looming, applications are available at or contact the association’s President, Michel Devine-Hartnet at 609-846-0969

To fund the scholarship, the association is hosting an event that is open to the public and sounds like a lot of fun: a disco- themed evening of food, fun and a Chinese auction on Wed., April 27, from 5:30-8 p.m at Avalon Country Club. The cost is $25 and includes appetizers, soda, iced tea and coffee/tea.
Legal Secretaries of Cape May County was formed in 1990. Members include legal secretaries, paralegals, and legal assistants, as well as employees of courts, banks, trust companies, title companies, real estate offices, and public offices.

More information about the association, the scholarship and the fundraiser is available at

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Robert Half Legal Releases 2011 Salary Survey

This is a great day for posts by Sally Anne Kane at

Ms. Kane reports that "As we emerge from one of the grimmest job markets in decades, the Robert Half Legal 2011 Salary Guide offers a sign of hope for increased hiring in the legal industry.

The Salary Guide predicts a small rise in 2011 salaries for legal professionals including lawyers, paralegals, office managers, case clerks, document coders and legal receptionists."

According to the report, paralegals will see the largest increases. Paralegals with four to six years of experience at midsize law firms will see average base compensation ranging between $48,250 and $62,500, a 3.7 percent increase over 2010 projections.

The Guide predicts that senior paralegals with seven or more years' experience at midsize firms will see a 3.1% increase in compensation in 2011 and can expect to receive a base salary from $55,000-$70,750.

Ms. Kane quotes Charles Volkert, Executive Director of Robert Half Legal:
"We are optimistic that, as the economy improves, hiring will continue. Who knows if it will ever go back to the market of 2007, but law firms and corporate legal departments are going to continue to put a premium on legal professionals with experience in in-demand practice areas."
The RH Salary Guide states that the current in-demand practice areas include litigation, bankruptcy, foreclosure, intellectual property, contracts and licensing, corporate transactional law, and healthcare law.

To access the Robert Half 2011 Salary Guide, follow this link. Also, NALA's 2010 Salary Guide is available at and the State Bar of Texas has released its salary survey which can be accessed by clicking here.

All of this information is important to paralegals nationwide as they watch trends for the paralegal profession to set goals and plan their careers.

Learn about Careers in Fashion Law at

In this post at, Sally Anne Kane (who is also the Editor of Paralegal Today), asks:
Do you have a love of the law and a passion for fashion? You can combine both in the emerging area of fashion law?
According to this post, rising incidents of design piracy and copycat litigation have fueled the growth of fashion law. According to Lawcrossing,
"Fashion law offers a backstage pass to a glamorous, star-studded industry. There are opportunities to attend glitzy, upscale parties; wear the latest in designer fashions; and hobnob with all of the beautiful people."
According to Ms. Kane, Fordham University School of Law launched the world's first Fashion Law Institute in 2010. This program offers the study of fashion-related legal issues as well as pro bono legal counseling for designers in need. More such programs are emerging across the nation.

Follow this link to learn more about a career in fashion law.

Paralegal Profile: Connie S. Johnson

Connie S. Johnson, of Grand Terrace, CA provided answers my Thirteen Questions. Connie is a paralegal with Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith. She is a member of the Inland Counties Paralegal Association (ICAP) and currently serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors.

What was Connie's first job? What has been the highlight of her career? If she could not be a paralegal, what would be her dream job? Read on.
1. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career? Probably my natural born curiosity. I was never content with just doing what I was told, I always wanted to know why and if no one could tell me I would dig until I found out myself.

2. What is your favorite part of your job? I think I enjoy writing motions and pleadings the most. Digging into the latest court cases and statutes and pulling everything together to support our position. I have a huge sense of satisfaction when I have the finished product in front of me, ready to go.

3. What professional associations do you belong to? Inland Counties Association of Paralegals (ICAP). I have been a member since 2008 and am currently Vice President of the Board of Directors. I am also a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).

4. How has your membership benefited you? I have the opportunity to discuss issues and changes in the industry with paralegals from other offices and states and learn things that I may not have learned otherwise. I have also made friends with some amazing people.

5. What has been the highlight of your career? I was the recipient of the 2010 NALA Affiliates Award.

6. If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be? Never be afraid to ask questions. If something is done and you don't know why, question it. The more you ask, the more you learn and the better you become at your job.

7. What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting? Always be willing to learn something new. It lets you work in a large variety of law and keeps things interesting.

8. Who would play you in a movie of your life? Bette Midler. I see a lot of me in her.

9. What was your first job? I was an insurance policy typist for Aetna Insurance for a year.

10. What time in the morning do you first check your email? As soon as I open my eyes at 5:00 a.m. I grab my Blackberry and check my e-mail to ensure that something catastrophic didn't occur during the wee morning hours that might need my immediate attention before I brush my teeth.

11. What was the last movie you saw in the theater? The Blind Side. Truly an awesome movie!

12. What is the best live concert you've ever attended? I have never attended a live concert; however, I have played in thousands of them. I wouldn't switch the stage for the seats under any circumstances!

13. If you could not be a paralegal, what would be your dream job? The first chair French horn player in the New York Philharmonic. I've played the French horn most of my life and it has always been my first love.

Bonus...Just for Fun Question: What's the worst gift you ever received? Early in our relationship my husband forgot my birthday and wrapped up a padded toilet seat for me so I would have something to open. He told me it was from the "bottom" of his heart.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Paralegals Participate in True Distance-Learning

GW Paralegal students meet with the Tanzanian Ambassador to the U.S.
 Distance-leraning component added to curriculum. The George Washington University College of Professional Studies (CPS) has announced it is adding a true distance-learning component to its curriculum.

Three students in the school’s paralegal studies master’s degree program, Jamila Hussein Nandule-Cook, Yadi Sanchez and Audreona Duffin, will spend four weeks in Tanzanian villages providing paralegal assistance, studying Tanzanian law and legal processes, conducting research and sharing best practices with local paralegals and students.

The students depart for the East African country March 17 and return to the US on April 15th..

Following two weeks of intensive orientation at the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the three students will work in mobile legal clinics in various districts, providing assistance on issues ranging from inheritance and personal property to theft and domestic violence.

One lawyer for every 35,400 people? According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Fact Book, there are currently more than 41,000,000 people in the country of Tanzania, and fewer than 1,000 lawyers based on statistics by the Tanhanyika Law Society. Additionally, since 1931, there have been 1,135 lawyers in Tanzania. If all those lawyers were still alive and practicing, there would be one lawyer for roughly every 35,400 people.

Tanzanian native wants to give back. “I’m looking forward to making a difference in the lives of the women and children of my home country. Apart from poverty, I had no idea what the real legal issues were for the underserved in Tanzania,” said Ms. Nandule-Cook, 28, a Tanzanian native and second-year paralegal studies student.

“I hope to learn how human rights law plays in place in an African country, the difference between the law systems in the U.S. and Tanzania and how we can apply some of the laws.”

Studying Kiswahili. Over the course of the fall semester, the three students studied the Kiswahili language, culture and legal system. In February, they met with the Honorable Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar, Tanzanian Ambassador to the United States, to discuss their upcoming trip.

Designing the program. Development for this program began in 2008 when Helen Kijo-Bisimba, former executive director of LHRC, came to the United States as a guest of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. While in the U.S., Mrs. Kijo-Bisimba met with Ms. Marsh to discuss ways that GW could partner with the LHRC to increase access to justice and promote the rule of law in Tanzania through the training and support of paralegals.

According to Ms. Marsh, Tanzanians who are unrepresented, uninformed and marginalized can be victims of the system and often, when they do pursue legal redress, end up in worse positions than before they began their legal actions. She also said that they decline to pursue legal remedies that are or should be available to them.

Preparing Paralegals for global work. “The practice of law is global and our students should be prepared for work that is global in context,” said Kathleen Burke, dean of the College of Professional Studies. “An understanding of international law, related issues and a study abroad component can provide dynamic experience for our paralegal studies students.”

Learn More about the George Washington University program. The George Washington University’s College of Professional Studies programs are designed to fit the needs and lifestyles of adult learners and working professionals, combining the expertise of University faculty with that of outside partners including government agencies, professional associations, consulting organizations, foundations, and business and industry leaders.

To learn more about The George Washington University’s Paralegal Studies Program, visit For additional information on the College of Professional Studies, visit

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Texas Paralegal Division Releases 2010 Salary Survey Results

The Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas has released its 2010 Salary Survey results.

This survey reports on paralegals in Texas in 2010, including their work, compensation and benefits.

Statistics are presented on the organizations or firms’ paralegals work in, paralegals’ salaries, how billing for paralegal work is done, paralegals’ education and certification(s), and employee benefits.

The information in this report was gathered in the 2010 State Bar of Texas Paralegal Division Compensation Survey, which was available to the members of the State Bar of Texas Paralegal Division and other invited groups from November 15, 2010 through December 15, 2010.

The survey was conducted online through the Paralegal Division website. There were 1,425 completed surveys that were used for this report.

It's interesting to note that the median gross annual salary for paralegals working in corporate legal departments is $66,852; in a law firm it's $48,641; and in government entity it's $45,751. Of the paralegals responding, 71.5% work in law firms.

Whether you work in Texas or not, this is survey contains valuable information that can help you plan and focus your paralegal career. Follow this link to access the survey results.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Twitter: Go from Eye-Rolling to Enthusiastic

Do you just roll your eyes when someone tells you they love Twitter?
Do you think Twitter is a huge waste of time?
Do you think Twitter has no value for you in your career?
You may want to think again. Social networking, and especially Twitter, can be a powerful career tool if used correctly.

First, a brief comment about two other popular social networking sites:
LinkedIn was launched in 2003 and now has 85 million users. It is primarily a professional site where people set up a profile that resembles a resume. This is not a "fun" is used for professional connections. You can connect with individuals and you can also join various professional groups. Everyone should have a presence on LinkedIn.
Facebook has 500 million users...that's 1 in every 13 people on earth. 40% of Facebook users are between the ages of 18 and 34. Launched in 2004, Facebook is more'll see people sharing pictures and life events, as well as adding items to their farms.
Both LinkedIn and Facebook are other words, you cannot connect with someone unless they accept your invitation...and vice versa..
In contrast, Twitter launched in 2006. At 175 million members, it is the fasting growing, most popular and successful social networking site.

Twitter is easily accessible. Posts (called Tweets) are short (140 characters) and to the point.
You can "follow" people on Twitter without their permission. Of course, there will be more interaction if they "follow" you back. However, you can learn a lot just by following someone so don't let this stop you. And this one street but can turn into a relationship that leads to learning and other connections.If Twitter is used well, here's what's available to you:
* Global networking and interaction with paralegals, attorneys and other legal professionals. These are connections you would have no idea existed except for Twitter. They can be very helpful for your career development
* Inside Information about law firms and corporations
* Access to cutting-edge knowledge and resources; sources of information that will help you keep your skills current
* The ability to establish your credibility and marketability
* 24/7 real-time stream of information from a globally diverse population
* Information about your specialty area
* Looking for a job? You may access the hidden job market and locate open positions that are not advertised; remember, employers are using social media to find and explore talent; you may connect with hiring managers, decision makers, recruiters and influencers; you'll also have the ability to research companies to increase your credibility at an interview.
* Blog posts, articles and events that are important to your career development
How do you start? Set up your profile. Include your one wants to look at an avatar and lack of a picture does nothing to forge the relationships you're looking for. Be sure you're truthful.

Choose connections carefully and then, like joining any group, watch and listen. Monitor and observe Twitter sites that are of career or personal interest to see what the conversation is like.

What do you Tweet about? Events, conferences, trends, recent accomplishments, books you're reading, helpful resources, interesting articles. The list is endless. Just be sure you're contributing meaningful conversation.

Stay out of overwhelm. Twitter does not and should not take all your time and energy. Choosing three primary themes such as "paralegal" "career management" and "marketing" or whatever you're interested in. Keeping to three areas will help you stay focused and not get sidetracked.

Don't hesitate another minute: get started on your Twitter profile right now and start reaping the benefits of your Twitter interaction. Be patient and invest the time you need. Ask good questions, make connections. It will pay off in the form of a larger network of colleagues and friends, as well as a broader knowledge about your professional interests.

©2011 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

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Paralegal Says Others Scribed ‘Attorney’ Signatures

The ABA Journal reports that paralegal who formerly worked at the Maryland offices of Shapiro & Burson has alleged that more than 1,000 "attorney" signatures on deeds in foreclosure cases were actually scribed by non-attorneys. 

Of course, an investigation has been launched.

It is also reported that four former notaries at Baltimore-based Friedman & MacFadyen resigned their commissions earlier this year amidst an attorney general investigation of claimed irregularities at multiple law firms involving false attestations that attorneys had signed foreclosure documents. This was reported in the Baltimore Sun.

If these allegations are true, there will be ramifications for both the attorney and the staff members who signed the attorneys’ names to legal documents.

Paralegals cannot sign their names to pleadings nor can they sign the attorney’s name to pleadings. This is because a pleading is considered an appearance before the court with the same weight and importance as a live appearance.

There is one exception: The North Carolina Bar Association issued its 2006 Ethics Opinion 13 that ruled that a lawyer may allow a paralegal to sign his name to court documents so long as it does not violate any law and the lawyer provides the appropriate level of supervision. This is to be done only under extreme circumstances when the lawyer is not available and no other lawyer in the firm is able to do so. Again, this is for emergency purposes only and applies only to paralegals working in North Carolina. This is not allowed in any other state.

If you are ever asked to witness a document that is already signed and you didn't personally witness the signing, please decline. If you are ever asked to sign the attorney's name to a pleading, please don't. There can be serious ramifications for both you and the attorney.

A Free Paralegal Resource: Legal Talk Network

Legal Talk Network's wide array of legal podcasts are available at no cost to in absolutely free. This is a really convenient way to stay informed about trends in the legal profession...brought to you by leading experts in the legal community.

Take a look at this week's new podcasts: 

Darvon & Darvocet Litigation: An estimated 10 million Americans are taking Darvocet, Darvon and other medications today for their pain. Darvon and Darvocet were removed from the US market after a safety study showed heart risk. On Ringler Radio, host Larry Cohen welcomes Attorney Frank Woodson, from the Montgomery, Alabama firm of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., to take a look at the effects of Darvon and Darvocet, the FDA's role and the litigation that will follow. Larry and Frank discuss how the FDA has changed under the new Obama administration, what to do if you are experiencing side effects from these drugs and if we will see an increase in lawsuits involving Darvon/Darvocet in 2011.

The Defense of Marriage Act:  On February 23rd, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Obama administration would no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in cases pending in federal court. Attorneys and co-hosts Bob Ambrogi and J. Craig Williams welcome Tobias Barrington Wolff, Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Ken Klukowski, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, to discuss this controversial decision. Tobias and Ken discuss how this decision could affect current court cases, the impact on same sex-marriage and if this is the beginning of a DOMA repeal.

The Practice of Franchising:  How did franchising develop? In this edition of the BU Law podcast, host and media veteran, Dan Rea of WBZ-Radio 1030 welcomes Attorney Morton Aronson, Of Counsel at the firm of Federal & Hasson, LLP, to spotlight the practice of franchising. Dan and Mort discuss the key elements of successful franchising, domestic vs. international franchising and how franchising can help in our difficult economic times.

You ARE Backing Up, Right?  Everyone (well, we hope everyone) knows data backup is important. That's why we always vow to be more diligent after we lose more data at an inopportune time. Data backup has become more complicated over the past few years as our data moves out from our computers to the cloud. We know what to do, so why don't we? In this episode, co-hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss current good practices for data backup, whether backup fundamentals are changing, and how to walk the backup walk and not just talk the backup talk.

Maximizing Popular Applications for Legal & ABA TECHSHOW 2011 Preview:  How important is it for lawyers to stay on top of technological developments? Very. On the Legal ToolKit, host Jared Correia, Law Practice Management Advisor with Mass. LOMAP, welcomes Paul J. Unger, an attorney and partner with Affinity Consulting Group and the Chair of ABA TECHSHOW 2011, to talk about how attorneys can get the most out of some popular computer applications and to do a quick preview of the upcoming ABA TECHSHOW 2011.

Retiring Baby Boomers' Impact on Law Firms:  Could it be possible that Baby Boomers in IT and litigation support really might retire? Will law firms and law departments be caught off guard and face a sudden talent drought? In this March edition of Law Technology Now, host Monica Bay welcomes David Cowen, founder and president of The Cowen Group and Michael Potters, CEO/managing partner of The Glenmont Group, to explore the ramifications and offer tips on how organizations can prepare for the brain drain.

Revitalizing Your Career with Continuing Education:  Looking for new opportunities in the paralegal world? On The Paralegal Voice, co-host Vicki Voisin welcomes Karen G. McGee, ACP, President of NALA and Christine E. Porter, ACP, Chair of NALA's Continuing Education Council, to talk about opportunities through NALA and how you can revitalize your career with continuing education. They discuss Advanced Certification and all of the options available in specific practice areas, as well as NALA's new "blended learning" approach and how to use these tools for career growth.

The Making of Out of the Ashes: 9/11:  Just days after the devastation of September 11, 2001, the federal government created the Victim Compensation Fund, a fund designed to help grieving families get through the tragedy. From this tragedy a documentary titled, Out of the Ashes: 9/11 was born. On Lawyer2Lawyer, attorney and co-host Bob Ambrogi welcomes executive producer, writer and co-director of this documentary, Marilyn J. Berger from the Seattle University School of Law and Debra Brown Steinberg, partner with the firm, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, to get an in-depth look at the making of the incredibly compelling documentary. This documentary examines the legal, moral, and ethical ramifications of the Victim Compensation Fund and its impact on the civil justice system.

Inside ITC Investigations:  Why are companies choosing the International Trade Commission over district court litigation for patent disputes? On this edition of IP Counsel, host Attorney Peter Lando, partner at the firm of Lando & Anastasi, LLP, welcomes Attorney Craig R. Smith, partner at Lando & Anastasi, LLP, and a leading intellectual property trial attorney, to talk about why companies are choosing the International Trade Commission over district court litigation for patent disputes. Peter and Craig give an inside look into ITC investigations, and tackle a number of issues including recent holdings and other activity that have made the ITC a more popular forum.

Performing Quality E-Discovery Searches: Is it Time to Set Some Standards? Is it time to set some standards when it comes to quality searching in e-discovery? On Digital Detectives, co-hosts Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc. and John W. Simek, Vice President of Sensei Enterprises welcome Jason R. Baron, the Director of Litigation for the National Archives and Records Administration, to talk about e-discovery searches and whether it is time to set some standards to ensure quality searches. Jason talks about how best to search for electronic evidence in civil litigation, how searching has changed since the early days and also how the courts are handling thorny questions involving searches. He also shares information on the upcoming DESI IV workshop.

The Paralegal Voice: Revitalizing Your Career with Continuing Education.

Looking for new opportunities in the paralegal world?

In this month’s episode of The Paralegal Voice we welcome Karen G. McGee, ACP, President of NALA and Christine E. Porter, ACP, Chair of NALA’s Continuing Education Council, to talk about opportunities through NALA and how you can revitalize your career with continuing education.

Karen and Chris discuss Advanced Paralegal Certification and all of the options available in specific practice areas, as well as NALA’s new “blended learning” approach and how to use these tools for career growth

Also, in this episode, we discuss:
• Results of NALA’s 2010 National Utilization and Compensation Survey

• Most popular tool paralegals use for professional growth

• Learning and authorship opportunities

• Benefits of attending and/or speaking at seminars and web-based programs

• The importance acting and participating as a professional to be recognized as a professional
To access this podcast:
Page URL:


Internet resources and additional information:
• National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) website (

• NALA’s 36th Annual and Exhibition (

• Facts & Findings, NALA’s bi-monthly journal for paralegals (

• NALA’s 2010 National Utilization and Compensation Survey (

• Learning opportunities provided by NALA, including NALA Campus Live! (

• NALA’s Certified Paralegal and Advanced Certified Paralegal programs (
The Paralegal Voice also thanks its sponsors: NALA…The Association of Paralegals and Legal Assistants, and Sun Trust.

Please share the links to this episode of The Paralegal Voice with your friends and colleagues.

If you have a request for a future show, or a question for us, you are welcome to contact us at TheParalegalVoice@gmail.

Also, you can make sure that you never miss a podcast by subscribing to any Legal Talk Network program, including The Paralegal Voice, with RSS Feed Links or iTunes links at http://legaltalknetwork/rss-feeds/.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'll be reading this book: Knock-Off

If I lived in Bucyrus, Ohio, I know I'd belong to the The Deathly Pleasures, a mystery and suspense book discussion group that meets at the Bucyrus Public Library. This month they're discussing Knock Off by Rhonda Pollero.

Why would I belong? Because I love to read mysteries, especially legal mysteries. What I love even more is a legal mystery with a paralegal as the central character.

Knock Off, the first in a series by Pollero, features paralegal Finley Anderson Tanner (F.A.T.), who oversees the investigation of the death of a friend's husband. Isn't Finley Anderson Tanner just a great name for a paralegal?

I've breezed through the Odelia Grey mystery series written by real-life paralegal Sue Ann Jaffarian. Odelia is a middle-aged, plus size, paralegal and amateur sluth who also happens to be a corpse magnet. Jaffarian's character makes me laugh (ala Stephanie Plum) and I'm eagerly awaiting the release of  Twice as Dead in June 2011. (Also, Sue Ann was the December 2010 Guest on The Paralegal sure to listen if you haven't already!)

Meanwhile, I'm going to see what Finley Anderson Tanner has going on. There are 3 books in Pollero's series: Knock Off, Knock 'Em Dead and Fat Chance. All of the books are ranked at 4+ stars on Amazon. Here's a bit about Finley:
Finley Anderson Tanner (F.A.T.), a 29-year-old West Palm Beach paralegal whose designer name-dropping prattle and discount shopaholism obscure her smarts. Bored silly by her job in the estates and trusts department, she agrees to help a senior partner handle a client convinced that her deceased husband didn't fall asleep at the wheel but was actually murdered.

Finley's sweet but boring boyfriend is out of town, and her credit cards are maxed out, so she applies her bargain-hunting instincts to the investigation and finds a statistical improbability in the "accidental" deaths of several jurors after a medical malpractice suit. She meets the obligatory bad boy detective, Liam McGarrity, and wriggles out of several tight spots in this lighthearted romp.
Now doesn't that sound like fun? I'll let you know!

NALS PD 2011 - There's an APP for That!

NALS...The Association for Legal Professionals ( has announced that its 2011 Professional Development & Education Conference has gone mobile.

You will be able to download the mobile guide to enhance your experience at NALSPD. With the APP on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android device, you’ll be able to plan your day with a personalized schedule and browse exhibitors, maps and general show info.

You can also follow the Twitter stream using the #NALSPD hashtag to see what other attendees are saying about the conference. Tweet directly from the app and have the hashtag included in your message.Let everyone know what you think about sessions as they are going on by “liking” the session in the app.

How easy is that?  To get the guide, follow this link:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Florida News: HB 1149 and SB 1612 Regulation of the Paralegal Profession

Florida Senator Garrett Richter filed SB 1612 which calls for the licensure of paralegals practicing in Florida and would be effective July 1, 2011.

SB 1612 would require the Florida Supreme Court to establish minimum standards and qualifications and provide for continuing education, certification, and professional conduct.

A similar bill, HB 1149, has been introduced in the Florida House of Representatives by Rep. Richard L. Steinberg.
The full text of SB 1612 can be accessed by following this link:

HB 1149 can be accessed here:

This is all very confusing because last August the Florida Bar agreed to study the mandatory regulation of paralegals. Thereafter, a Special Committee was formed and charged with studying the following:
1) Whether the Supreme Court of Florida has the constitutional authority to require mandatory regulation of paralegals.

2) If the Supreme Court of Florida has the constitutional authority to require mandatory regulation of paralegals, whether there should be mandatory regulation of paralegals.

3) If there should be mandatory regulation, what should the mandatory regulation encompass and/or require? It is the mission of this committee to propose a framework that can be used for the adoption of rules. It is not the mission of this committee to draft specific rules.

4) If it is determined that the Supreme Court of Florida does not have the constitutional authority to require mandatory regulation of paralegals, what other options exist within the framework of The Florida Bar to provide additional regulation or recognition of the paralegal profession? It is the mission of this committee to propose a framework that can be used for the adoption of rules. It is not the mission of this committee to draft specific rules.
While I am not privy to all the discussion involved in this issue, it does seem to me that the legislature has not allowed the State Bar to properly study this matter and make a recommendation.

My hope is that Florida paralegals will make their opinions known to Senator Richter and Respresentative Steinberg. Questions and comments can also be directed to Lori S. Holcomb, FRP Counsel, at (850) 561-5840,, or 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300.

NEFPA Members Learn: Beware of Elevator Chatter

NEFPA Members - July, 2010
Last July I had the privilege of getting to know the members and officers of the Northeast Florida Paralegal Association (NEFPA) at NALA's Annual Convention and Exhibition held in Jacksonville FL. What an enthusiastic group of paralegals!

The association works very hard to keep its members informed...and they demonstrated that once again last Thursday when more than 100 people attended an event at Jacksonville's River Club with featured guest speaker Cindy Laquidara, general counsel for the City of Jacksonville.

The Jacksonville Financial News and Daily Record reported that Ms. Laquidara spoke about professionalism and government law, as well as the effect social media and the Internet have on the practice of law. She stressed the difficulty of dealing with all the people who want to ask you about cases you're working on, especially when everyone around you is talking about the case. Put simply, you can't talk about any cases because innocent conversations can lead to huge problems in the courtroom.

Ms. Laquidara reiterated many points about issues of confidentiality and attorney-client that I emphasize repeatedly in Paralegal Strategies and in the ethics courses I offer: 

Paralegals must remember that ethics rules are quite clear while you're at work.
  • Within the confines of the work place, conflicts checks are routine. It's usually apparent whom the firm is representing.
  • Everyone understands that communications, both oral and written, must be confidential. Privileged documents and communications are evident.
  • It's obvious that the attorney is the one licensed to practice law.
  • Other people are paying attention to what you are doing.
It's after hours, when you're not at the office, that you may let your guard down and ignore the ethics obligations that follow you wherever you go. Always remember:
  • All of your actions after hours are bound by the same ethical obligations as when you are on the job.
  • Further, these acts may be just as damaging, perhaps even more damaging, as anything you do at the office.
Simply put, don't talk about cases outside the office. Don't post anything about confidential matters on social networks or blogs. Always remember that there is little expectation of privacy when you are with other people, no matter what the situation.

Congratulations to GMPA Advanced Certified Paralegals

Three members of the Greater Memphis Paralegal Alliance (GMPA) have achieved the designation of Advanced Certified Paralegal:
Kelly Heflin, ACP a paralegal with Stratus Foods;
Airolyn Loggins, ACP, a paralegal with Medtronic SofamorDanek,
Gina M. Youngblood, ACP a paralegal with Bourland, Heflin, Alvarez, Minor & Matthews
The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) initiated the paralegal specialty certification in 1981.  Surveys have consistently shown that those with specialty certification are billed at higher rates by firms and receive higher compensation.

Those with the advanced certification have already achieved the CLA/CP credential and have already demonstrated mastery of skills and knowledge tested by the two-day CLA/CP written examination. The subjects tested are:
• written communications

• legal research

• ethics

• judgment and legal analysis

• the American legal system and general knowledge of four areas of substantive law
Source:  The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee. For more information about the Advanced Certified Paralegal credential, visit NALA's website