Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Paralegal Voice ~ Management Careers for Paralegals: Spotlighting IPMA

The latest edition of The Paralegal Voice, “Management Careers for Paralegals: Spotlighting IPMA,” co-hosted by Lynne DeVenny and me, is now available at Legal Talk Network.

In this episode, we welcome Karen Tuschak, President of the International Paralegal Management Association, Stacie McLean, IPMA President–Elect, and Sylvia Naim, IPMA Secretary-Treasurer, to take an in-depth look at IPMA, and discuss IPMA’s mission, the job market for paralegals, what they look for when hiring, and key traits needed to make a successful paralegal.
Also, in this episode, we discuss:
  • How Karen, Stacie and Sylvia became paralegal managers
  • The history of IPMA
  • The hardest part of a paralegal manager’s job
  • Opportunities for paralegal managers
  • Advanced degrees for paralegals interested in management careers
  • The importance of first impressions online
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MP3 Link:

Internet resources and additional information:

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

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

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Professional Profile: Robert S. Hrouda, RP

Robert S. Hrouda, RP
Robert S. (Bob) Hrouda, RP is a Litigation Paralegal at the law firm Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

As of 2008, Bob is a PACE Registered Paralegal (RP). He is a member of the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals (PAP), the South Jersey Paralegal Association (SJPA), and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).

He serves as the current Vice President and Director of Positions and Issues for the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc.  

1. What prompted you to choose a paralegal career?  My father put the idea in my head, wanting me to look into Maritime law.   But Mr. Conti's Business Law course I took at North Catholic High School cemented it.

2. What is your favorite part of your job?  The Law is forever changing.  Being able to research and stay on top of current changes, mainly e-discovery, is the most favorite part of my job.  Staying current on technology is key.

3.    How has your membership in professional associations benefited you?   Membership in these associations has benefited me greatly in many areas including keeping up with current trends in the profession, keeping up with case law and legislation affecting the profession, and networking.  The ability to call or email a colleague in another jurisdiction in order to ask questions about local rules, finding a vendor, etc, has been a huge help and major cost savings to our clients.

4.    What has been the highlight of your career?  My election to President of the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals and my elections to the NFPA Board of Directors have been great highlights of my career.  But I have to say that my biggest highlight was being involved in a pro bono case here in Philly. 

The firm at which I worked represented a family of children where both parents were incarcerated and we were trying to end parental rights and get the children into permanent foster homes or adopted.  The youngest boy nearly starved to death and weighed less at 6 months of age than he did at birth (hence the incarceration).  Our trial team was successful.  It was a very emotional case and to this day I still think about it and wonder what those children are up now.

5.    What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry?  Regulation by far is the hottest trend.  After over more than 20 years of hearing "it's coming", the time has come to push it as much as possible. 

While I totally understand how the profession has developed, and appreciate what our pioneers have done, the time of what I term "apprenticeship" is now over.  I believe gone should be the days of someone just starting and "working their way" up to the position of paralegal.  Standard educational requirements and regulation are necessary. 

I've heard one too many times that Joe Attorney is bringing in their neighbor's child for the summer  -  "let's just call them a paralegal".   While I truly believe we ALL play a major role in the legal team, just because I handle some associate duties does not make me an associate.  The same should hold true for others doing some administrative paralegal duties.

6.    If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be?  My first advice would be to stay current on technology.  When taking electives, they should take computer courses and public speaking courses.  While in school, also get used to being very organized and at times not sleeping much.

7. What advice would you give yourself if you met you as a first-year paralegal?  Watch that sense of humor - it can get you in trouble some times.

8.     You've enjoyed a successful parale
gal career.  To what single event or person do you attribute that success?

My adoptive father was the person to influence my drive in my career.  He had a work ethic like none other I've seen.  He was a fleet manager for a dairy distributor here in Philadelphia, managing their fleet and fixing diesel engines.

I remember him falling on the sidewalk during winter, breaking his arm, going to the hospital, coming home with a cast, putting on his work clothes and off to work he went.  When he retired, he had a huge amount of accumulated sick and vacation time. 

He was an extremely hard worker and always said "It doesn't matter what you do.  Just be the best at what it is you decide to do".  I will tell my two daughters the same thing as they grow up and contemplate their careers.

9.    What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting?  Get involved in your local and national associations.  If you cannot make meetings, join committees or boards, then volunteer to write articles or do other things from home and help shape your profession.  Volunteering doesn't have to mean "face time".  There is so much that needs to be done from all areas that anyone who wants to help can help.  The network you create is tremendous.

10. Who would play you in a movie of your life?  Adam Sandler.

11. What electronic device can you not live without?  My Korg keyboard.  It's a great escape to the end of a bad day (at which times you'll hear me banging out the Stones or Kiss) or the end of a good one (going softer with Styx, Billy Joel, and Elton John).

12. What time in the morning do you first check your email?  5:30 am except weekends.

13. If you could not be a paralegal, what would be your dream job?  I would be a professional soccer player.

Bonus Question: What three items would you want if you were stranded on a desert island?  A tarp, soccer ball, clean water.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year...Fresh Start

As 2010 ends and 2011 begins, it's tempting to make resolutions for the New Year. Organize your office? Increase your billable hours? Lose weight? Be on time for work? Sit for a certification exam?

Whatever you have in mind, read on...

It's common knowledge that resolutions rarely work. All those good intentions seem to fall by the wayside by the middle of January...all that's left are guilt and regret that once again you're not able to keep your resolutions. By next December you'll be making the same resolutions all over again.

It's time to change the pattern. Resolutions don't work because they're usually a very broad statement: This year I'll lose 20 pounds. This year I'll learn to speak French. This year I'll look for a new job. You've got the want know what you want to do. The problem is, you're only looking at the big picture.

Instead of making resolutions, set goals. A goal is something you commit to fully and work toward all year long. Take a few minutes right now to visualize your top three goals for 2011. Then take out a piece of paper and write those goals down.

Make a plan. Once your goals are set, decide what you have to do to reach each goal and then plan each step toward your goal from beginning to end. For instance, if you want to learn French this year your first step might to be to search for a class. The next step might be to enroll in the class. The next step might be to buy your study materials. Your next steps would be to attend each class and do your homework.

Do you see how each step you take helps you reach your end goal? This process will work for any goal you might want to reach.

Take this one step further. Schedule each step in your planner...make an actual appointment. This ensures you will set aside the time to accomplish each step. Don't make the mistake of putting the steps on 'to do' lists because a 'to do' list is just a wish list and you will invariably run out of day before you run out of list. The 'to do' list just goes on and on. Your planner is a real guide for accomplishing your goals.

Your challenge: Plan to make 2011 your best year ever. Take a few minutes to set your goals. Break the goals down into achievable mini-goals. Decide when each mini-goal must be accomplished to reach the main goal by the end of the year. Enter those mini-goals in your planner. Make appointments with yourself for completing each one.

If you do your planning and then do your scheduling, you can accomplish absolutely anything you want and this time next year you'll be celebrating the fact that you actually reached your goals. Here's to out with the with the a new year and a fresh start. Happy New Year!

©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, January 10, 2011

What Attorneys Wish Their Paralegals Knew - and Vice-Versa

The latest edition of The Paralegal Voice, "What Attorneys Wish Their Paralegals Knew - and Vice-Versa" co-hosted by Lynne DeVenny and me, is now available at Legal Talk Network.

In this episode, we welcome Kim Walker, a senior litigation paralegal for Berger & Montague, P.C. in Philadelphia, and blogger at Paralegal Pie, to talk about her recent article, “What Do Attorneys Wish Their Paralegals Knew?”.

We discuss how paralegals can improve their legal technology skills, maintain the highest level of professionalism in the office, and communicate more effectively with their supervising attorneys. We also talk about what we wish attorneys knew, emphasizing how attorneys can better utilize paralegals in the practice of law.

Also in this episode:
•Kim talks about how she started blogging and writing for

•Kim gives tips for becoming an expert in legal software, as well as the importance of continuing education

•Vicki talks about the importance of career-dressing, office etiquette and how paralegals can market their firms.

•Lynne talks about how to handle mistakes and how to look like a mind-reader

•Vicki and Lynne share practice and social media tips.
Page URL:

MP3 Link:

Internet resources referenced in the podcast:
•Paralegal Pie

•The Philadelphia Association of Paralegals


•The Legal Intelligencer

•“What Paralegals (And Attorneys) Wish Attorneys Knew” (Haley Lobs Law Bomb),
The Paralegal Voice also thanks its sponsors: Westlaw Deposition Services and NALA...The Association of Paralegals and Legal Assistants.

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

Also, you can make 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

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Above The Law Names Holiday Card Finalists

I love holiday cards...both sending and receiving. So when I saw Above The Law had named the 7 finalists from its 2nd Annual Holiday Card Contest, I had to take a break to check them out and vote for my favorite.
They're all great...especially those with music...and demonstrate that attorneys can be both fun and creative. In my opinion,though, the card sent by Clayton Simms, a Salt Lake City criminal defense firm, tops them all. You can see the firm's card here...and don't forget to scroll down.
Be sure to follow this link to check out all 7...and vote for your favorite...then return to this blog and tell me what you think. I'd love to know which card you like best.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2010 in Review: A Look Back at Events that Were Good for All Paralegals.

It wasn’t difficult to say ‘Good-bye!’ to 2010 and ‘Hello!” to 2011!

I'm addicted to news events so I'm always listening news programs  or reading newspapers, as well as paying attention on line and there was way too much ‘not good’ news last year. That was really depressing.

Regardless of the national news, though, there were some important highlights in the paralegal industry so I decided to take a look back to compile a list of what I consider to be the Top 10. Once you’ve looked at my list, leave your comment below and tell me what about other important events for paralegals this past year.

1. Florida Bar Appoints Special Committee to Study
Mandatory Paralegal Regulation
Florida could become the first state to mandate paralegal certification, requiring anyone working as a paralegal to pass a test and meet educational and continuing education requirements. While more than 3,000 Floridians have obtained voluntary certification as paralegals through a program begun by The Florida Bar in 2008, many paralegals are pushing for a mandatory program.
The Bar has created a nine-member Special Committee to Study Mandatory Paralegal Regulation which is comprised of 3 attorneys, 3 paralegals and 3 members of The Bar’s board of governors. (Source:

2. NALA Announces CP Exam Computer Based Testing
NALA...The Association for Legal Assistants and Paralegals made great strides with its voluntary certification program in 2010.

The "The Certified Paralegal Examination transitioned from a paper-and-pencil test to computer-based testing with plans to offer it each day in September, January and May, beginning September 2010. There are no changes in the examination eligibility requirements or the exam application fees. NALA will utilize the ACT Testing Center network, providing over 200 testing locations. Examinees may set their own testing times and days in each testing window. (Source:
3. Paralegal Gateway Unveils Updated and Improved Website
 The Paralegal Gateway website took a brief hiatus in 2010 while founder, Jeannie Johnston, performed a cool face lift and made some incredible improvements. She did a bang-up job!

Known as 'the' site for Paralegals, the new site featured integrated social networking, a deadline and filing calculator, the ability to search for legal services and a Career Center that lists available positions. Freelance Paralegals were also included, with members having the ability to post their service listings at no cost. There are also sections for Canadian Paralegals, Paralegal Students, Military Paralegals, an Association and Schools listing, legal information by state, and much more! (Source:

4. What’s PDF/A?
And Why Are Federal Courts Requiring You to File in This Format
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts announced a prospective change to the technical filing standard associated with its Case Management / Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system. A move to the new more-controlled PDF/A standard is necessary to enhance CM/ECF security and to improve the archiving and preservation of case-related documents. PDF/A is the standard for long-term archival storage of PDFs.  (Source: Federal Courts Moving to Requiring PDF/A for Filings, a blog post by Rick Borstein)

5. NALA Offers 17 Advanced Certified Paralegal Credentials
In 2010, NALA’s increased the number of Advanced Certified Paralegal opportunities to credentialing in 17 areas, as well as the opportunity to be a Personal Injury ACP.
The Advanced Paralegal Certification Program for Personal Injury paralegals offers a variety of certifications to paralegals based on practice areas. Paralegals may earn multiple certifications in practice areas. If a Certified Paralegal (CP) successfully completes the Core Course and all 8 practice area courses, the paralegal is eligible for the ACP Personal Injury Credential. (Source:

6. Employment of Paralegals and Legal Assistants Projected to Grow
 28% between 2008 and 2018.
The US Bureau of Labor statistics says that employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations as employers try to reduce costs and increase the availability and efficiency of legal services by hiring paralegals to perform tasks once done by lawyers.

Demand for paralegals also is expected to grow as an expanding population increasingly requires legal services, especially in areas such as intellectual property, healthcare, international law, elder issues, criminal law, and environmental law. Competition for jobs is expected to continue as many people seek to go into this profession; experienced, formally trained paralegals should have the best employment opportunities. (Source:

7. “What Do Attorneys Wish Their Paralegals Knew” Goes
Viral on the Internet!
Kim Walker, a senior litigation paralegal with the Philadelphia law firm of Berger & Montague, P.C., and also a freelance author and blogger at Paralegal Pie, wrote "What Attorneys Wish Their Paralegals Knew" for the Legal Intelligencer. This generated a lot of buzz on the Internet, particularly at the Paralegal Gateway forum.

Kim polled attorneys at 3 Philadelphia firms, asking a simple question: "What do you wish your paralegal knew?" You can read the article here:

Kim was the December guest on The Paralegal Voice which I co-host with Lynne DeVenny. We discussed how paralegals can improve their legal technology skills, maintain the highest level of professionalism in the office, and communicate more effectively with their supervising attorneys. We also shared what we wish attorneys knew, emphasizing how attorneys can better utilize paralegals in the practice of law. To listen to the replay, follow this link.

8. New Case on Paralegal Fees from
the District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Edge Family Chiropractic, (No. 1D10-0565, June 25, 2010) addressed the question of the reimbursement of paralegal fees in attorney fee awards.

The court’s opinion cited cases in the United States Supreme Court in which NALA filed an amicus brief, Missouri v. Jenkins, and Richlin Security Service Co. v. Chertoff. In both cases, the US Supreme Court held that the term “attorney’s fees” includes paralegal services and that the paralegal fees should be reimbursed at market rates. The Florida opinion cites how attorney use of paralegals encourages cost-effective delivery of legal services and reduces the cost of litigation. To read the full opinion, follow this link.

9. Dupont Legal Honored by Inside Counsel as an Innovator
in Corporate Legal Departments
The Dupont Company is included in Inside Counsel's top 10 people/entities who exemplify the development of innovative solutions that have lunched the legal department to a higher level.

Dupont Legal's innovation involves the utilization of paralegals as a greater resource across multiple disciplines. The result was The Dupont Legal Model and the DuPont Paralegal Utilization Model. The company has several practice groups, such as immigration and bankruptcy, where the paralegal—under the supervision of an attorney—is doing all this work.

Paralegal Manager Marybeth Davies spearheaded this program, as well as the creation of "Dollars and Sense of Paralegal Utilization: The DuPont Paralegal Utilization Model," a publication that offers best practices for using paralegals to their fullest potential. It’s available for purchase at

10. NALA Releases the 2010 National Utilization/Compensation Survey
...and It’s Free!
Approximately every 2 years since 1986, NALA has conducted a national survey of paralegals. With over 20 years of reports, this regular "look" at the paralegal profession has produced some interesting and valuable data. The findings are divided into 4 sections: participant background; employers and paralegal duties and responsibilities; billing rates; and compensation levels.

The 2010 survey included 1451 responses averaging 20 years of legal experience from a diverse geographical area. 5% of the respondents were males; 95% are females. The average age of survey participants is 46.

The survey presents information concerning the work environment, duties and responsibilities, billing rates and compensation levels of paralegals. It also includes a review of current findings in comparison with findings of previous surveys. Economic data is presented in terms of such factors as size of city, size of firm, educational backgrounds, years of experience, and specialty area of practice. Anyone can access the survey at

My Request to You:
That's my list of important events that benefited all paralegals last year but I'll bet there are many more out there. My request to you: leave a comment below with other highlights that should be noted for 2010.

Copyright 2010 Vicki Voisin, ACP