Monday, December 10, 2012

Do you give gifts at the office?

The ABA Journal recently asked attorneys about their holiday gifting:
"The season for law firm bonuses, holiday cards and related gift-giving is already upon us.  
"So this week, we'd like to ask you: Do you give gifts at the office? If so, who are your recipients, and how much do you spend? Do you just buy for the person you report to, the people who report to you, or for co-workers who are truly close friends? Or all of the above? 
"Tell us instead if you opt out of shopping altogether and hope your co-workers do the same with regard to you. Or if you just bring in some baked goods and call it even."
The Paralegal Mentor is curious about happens at your office for the holidays. Do you give gifts? If so, to whom and how much do you spend? Please answer in the comments below.

To read the ABA Journal article, follow this link.

Friday, December 7, 2012

25 Excellent Clutter-Free Ideas for Holiday Gifting

Elle is ready for Christmas. Are you? The holidays are looming and it's time to think about gifts.
Since we all talk about how we need to get organized and clear out the clutter, it only makes sense that more gifts should be clutter free -- in other words, consumable-- so no one's stuck with more "stuff" in January.

Recently I asked readers "What is your favorite clutter-free gift (or gifts) to give or receive?" Here are some of their great ideas (and a few of mine):

1. Gift Cards/Certificates. This was mentioned the most. My granddaughter will be getting one from Visa or MasterCard so she can shop anywhere she pleases. My grandson will get the same to use on a school trip planned for January. 
  • My advice is to do something similar unless you know what the recipient likes. In past years I've purchased gift cards to Starbucks, Target, Home Depot, Cabella's (The Don can always find something there), iTunes, Amazon, Macy's, Bed Bath & Beyond, and to a major gas station.
  • If the recipient has a hobby, send them a gift card (or certificate) so they can purchase supplies from the store that feeds their addiction. Let's see if The Don reads this and gets me a gift certificate to our local quilt store.
2. Brown Sugar Vanilla Body Scrub! A fun, zero calorie, non-clutter way to pamper yourself.

3. Coffee.
Give a pound of a nice coffee or a pack of the cups used in a Kuerig (or some similar brand). People also enjoy tea and hot cocolate mix.

  • My office used to give a pound of "Pointner Blend" coffee that was named after one of the partners. It was 1/2 pound Columbian (caffienated) and 1/2 pound Hazelnut decaf ground together. It's delicious! Once the Pointner Partner departed, we switched to Snickerdoodle flavor.
4. An experience. Choose a balloon ride, cooking class, dogsled ride, a play, a fishing trip...the list goes on. A day at the zoo or state park passes would be wonderful family gifts. How about tickets to a game or to a concert? One year I gave The Don tickets to an Olivia Newton John concert -- he's been crazy about Olivia since she sang Hopelessly Devoted to You. Another year I gave him tickets to a NASCAR race.
5. Homemade Treats.  Jellies and jams, cookies, a coffee cake, a quiche, white chocolate covered pretzels, fudge, etc. See today's featured recipe for a cookie mix that is so nice to have on hand.  Also look for these 3 recipes on this site Hot Fudge Sauce, Aunt Nancy's Granola and Vinnie's Favorite Hot Chocolate Mix.
6. If you don't cook, purchase food Gifts. American Spoonfoods is headquartered in our area, as is Cherry Republic. Both have a wide variety of products that will fit any budget. A reader suggested Kringle from O&H Bakery in Racine, WI. One year someone sent us tamales...delicious! Omaha Steaks are also nice.
7. A cute USB. These always come in handy and some will make you smile. Other computer supplies are nice, too. Vince gave me a PowerMat last year and I love it. While these both qualify as "stuff", they're so useful that I had to include them.
8. Donation to favorite charity in someone's name.  This also works well when someone passes away or has a birthday, anniversary, etc. My mother makes a donation to Hospice in our family's name since that is one of our favorite charities.

9. A State Parks Gift Package.  This reader purchased one for her son and his wife. It includes an annual pass to all parks in their state, magazine subscription and a $100 credit for any of the state park inns. Proceeds support their state parks.  Check your state's DNR website.
10. Movie Tickets. Most theaters have gift certificates or buy real tickets to a new movie.
11. Time. Spend time with a friend or family member - maybe go to a show or dinner out. Time is the most valuable gift you can give.
12. Fun Munchies. Another reader asks people for fun munchies for her work lunches. She nearly always bring a lunch to work and gets bored with her own stuff.  She's gotten fruit cups, juice boxes, tuna kits, shelf stable meals that just need a microwave, bags of chips or kettle corn, fruit gummies, candy, powder drink mixes for her bottled water, granola bars, you name it!  These are things that take pantry space, but not for long.  They make preparing her lunches more fun and don’t cost a lot for anyone to buy.  AND they don’t gather dust!
13. Useful handmade items. Pot holders and dishcloths like your grandmother used to make are fun. Also check out these Bowl Buddies -- simple to make and will keep their fingers from burning when they heat a dish in the microwave. 
14. Services. Ideas include organizing, oil changes, car wash, snow removal, spa treatments or any kind of service that offers gift certificates.
15. Wine. White? Red? Pino Noir? Champagne? It will all be used and the bottles will be recycled.
16. Picture Books. Again, not totally clutter-free but watch them melt when you give them a book of memories from a trip, a party, a special occasion -- so simple to produce at Shutterfly.  Or how about a gift certificate to have a family portrait made?
17. Something they would get themselves.  A month's worth of the gardening service or maid service that they already use. You could also buy them a professional carpet cleaning. For something a little less expensive, purchase prepaid credits to get their digital pictures printed.
18. A Gift of the Month. Try a gift-of-the-month club for the gift that keeps on giving. There are gift-of-the-month clubs for every taste. Your gift recipient will receive fresh food or other items each month. In addition to food of the month clubs, you can also find spa items, wines, flowers and DVDs that can arrive every month (A year of Netflix, anyone?) You don't have to commit to a full year since most allow you to give for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months. Chocolate of the Month? Cheese of the Month? Wine of the Month? Flower of the Month? Beer of the Month, Fruit of the Month? 
19. Travel accessories. How about a personalized luggage strap from IDmyBag? Another gift that will protect your friends and family is an id bracelet to wear when they're running or cycling (and really should be worn all the time). This may save their life in the event of an accident.

20. Magazine subscription. My kids would be so disappointed if they didn't get their annual subscription to People! Tailor the subscription to their interests and you'll be a hero. Another gift that keeps on giving -- and then can be passed on or recycled.

21. A Movie Rental Night. Buy a six pack of their favorite beverage (the kind with  plastic bottles and cardboard carrying case). Remove the two middle bottles. Stuff a couple of bags of microwave popcorn in one of the vacant spaces. Put a couple of bags of candy (M&M's?) and a movie rental gift card in the other.

22. Dinner on the town. In Atlanta several restaurants have joined up to offer The Ultimate Dining Card. Recipients can choose from several wonderful restaurants...and the cards can be reloaded. Is there something like this where you live?

23. A Membership (or contribute to something they want to do). This might be a membership to a zoo, museum or aquarium -- or even a health club. As for contributing to something they want to do, my sister had a great idea: she paid for her son and his wife's entry fees to a marathon they want to run. Those fees are steep these days.

24. A dessert every month -- that you make. Who wouldn't love having a cake, cookies, a pie, Banana Pudding (with the vanilla wafers), a cheesecake, etc. showing up at their house once a month? If you love to cook, give them your own gift certificate. You have the fun of cooking and whatever you make can go on someone else's hips!

25. Treat yourself! During this very busy time of the year, treat yourself to something you would really enjoy. A massage? A pedicure? A few hours to play golf or tennis? Lunch with a friend? Whatever you choose, just be sure it generates no clutter. DO NOT play the "one gift for them and one for me" game or you'll be overwhelmed with "stuff" in January.

Your challenge: Sometimes the most difficult part of gift giving is the indecision: not being able to decide what to give. This is a waste of time and you end up doing last minute shopping. Once you have an idea, don't waffle. Buy it or make it and then move on. Another time saver is to give the same gift to several people.

Do you have any additional ideas? Tell me...just enter your suggestion in the comment box below.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Think Before You Tweet!

Despite all the warnings and information available, it seems that legal professionals still post stupid things on Facebook and Twitter -- and put their jobs in jeopardy.

A Kansas appeals court attorney was fired Monday after using foul language about the state’s former attorney general, Phill Kline, in comments she posted to Twitter last week.

Sarah Peterson Herr, a research attorney for a Kansas Court of Appeals judge, posted the comments while Kline was appearing before the Kansas Supreme Court as part of an ethics investigation.
One tweet commented on Kline’s facial expression, saying “Why is Phil Klein (sic) smiling? There is nothing to smile about, douchebag.” 

Another predicted that Kline would be disbarred for seven years for his conduct. 
Herr's comments appeared around 10 a.m. Thursday when Kline was standing before the seven-member court answering questions about his conduct while he was attorney general and Johnson County district attorney.

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss said Monday that Herr had been fired and that her case had been referred to other offices for possible ethical violations.

Herr said she failed to realize her posts were readable by all Twitter readers and she understood her posts may have reflected badly on the state’s court system. 
Court rules regarding judges and justices commenting on pending cases extend to the judicial branch staff.

Source: Washington Post

NALA 2012-13 Utilization/Compensation Survey

NALA 2012-13 National Utilization and Compensation Survey  Now Ready for YOU!

NALA's National Utilization and Compensation Survey of paralegals is now underway!  The survey form is online at and ready for you to complete! The control number is 729843.

This biennial survey, conducted since 1986, is the nation's most comprehensive look at the paralegal profession.

Questions cover:
  • educational backgrounds, 
  • work environments, 
  • duties and responsibilities, 
  • billing and salary levels, and
  • regional demographics affecting paralegal utilization and compensation.
Participation in the convenient "scroll-and-click" survey is totally anonymous. A universal control number is required for access in order to thwart Web surfers from finding the survey and spoiling it with bogus entries. The control number is 729843.  The control number is the same for every participant and cannot be used for identification.

The survey is open to all paralegals ....  Please participate and please tell others of this opportunity.

The survey findings will be summarized in the January 2013 Career Chronicle edition of Facts & Findings. The report in its entirety will be posted on  the NALA web site for all visitors, f'ree of charge.

Question of the Week: The Holidays are Looming...

Question of the Week. The holidays are looming and it's time to think about gifts.

Since we all talk about how we need to get organized and clear out the clutter, it only makes sense that more gifts should be clutter-free -- in other words, consumable-- so no one's stuck with more "stuff" in January.

So this week, the Paralegal Mentor wants to know: What is (are) your favorite clutter-free gift (or gifts) to give or receive?

Please help by sharing your ideas in the comments section below.

Paralegals Note: Ethics Palooza - 2012

Ethics Palooza 2012. With the end of the year quickly approaching and the deadlines for fulfilling ethics MCLE looming, I’ve planned an extraordinary opportunity for you: Ethics Palooza – 2012!

What is Ethics Palooza? A series of four 90-minute ethics courses. Take one, two, three or four courses – the choice is yours.
Ethics Rules for Fees and Billing
Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 1:00 PM Eastern Time 
Leveraging New Technology Tools to Meet Ethics Obligations
Thursday, December 6, 2012 –1:00 PM Eastern Time

Double the Ethics = Double the Issues:Ethics for Corporate Legal Professionals
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 – 1:00 PM Eastern Time

Dollars and $ense: The Ethical Handling of Client Property by Attorneys and Paralegals       
Thursday, December 13 – 1:00 Eastern Time 
Each course will qualify for 1.5 hours Ethics MCLE

Each course meets the requirements of the NALA Certifying Board for Paralegals for continuing legal education required to maintain the CP (Certified Paralegal) credential and will be approved by NALA, NFPA, NALS and for the Florida FRP.

Presenter is a California State Bar approved MCLE provider.

For more information, follow this link.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What does your employer do to make you feel valued?

It was my privilege to present Double the Ethics = Double the Issues: Advanced Ethics for Corporate Paralegals at the International Paper Company paralegal retreat at Walt Disney World.

What lucky paralegals and how nice of IP to do this for them. Definitely a demonstration of appreciation.

Recently I asked Paralegal Strategies readers what their employers do to show them they are appreciated. Here are a few of the responses I got:
  • They were very happy and excited when I was elected to a national office - said that it was a feather in the cap of the program I work for - (This came from the Director of our Agency)

  • Summer hours - in the summer, we can leave an hour earlier than our normal time paid.
  • Absolutely Nothing.
  • Allows me the flexibility to work from home when necessary to care for my child.
  • Random paid time off. For example, the CEO deciding to send everyone home an hour early on Friday afternoon. Or giving an extra day off around a holiday (i.e., Monday, Dec. 24).
  • Pays dues, provides education stipend and paid time off for CLE.
  • All employees are given a free paid day for their birthdays; as for my immediate boss, he will occasionally give us an extra hour off or longer lunch.
  • VERY generous holiday bonus every year I've been here.
Does your employer take steps to show you are valued and appreciated? What does he/she do? Leave a comment below -- I would love to hear from you.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Paralegal Career Opportunities in Litigation Support

On The Paralegal Voice
co-hostVicki Voisin welcome’s guests Ann L. Atkinson, ACP, NALAPresident, Michael Potters,CEO/Managing Partner of Glenmont Group, Inc.and Patrick Oot, co-founder of the Electronic Discovery Institute for a lively discussion about career opportunities for paralegals in the area of litigation support, particularly eDiscovery and technology.

There was a lot of important information shared during this episode, including:
  • The growing need for paralegals with advanced technology skills;
  • The technology skills employers are looking for;
  • How paralegals can acquire those skills;
  • How NALA provides technology information and training;
  • Paralegal employment opportunities in corporations and law firms;
  • How paralegals who do not want to leave their current employment can advance their technology skills;
  • Websites and resources for learning more about technology.
  • The Number One site that recruiters and employers turn to when seeking new employees.
  • And more!
Be sure to listen to this episode. It’s easy…and it’s free! Just click on the following links:

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, 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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Paralegal Salaries on the Rise

Robert Half Legal has released its Annuary Guide with the news that starting salaries for Legal Professionals are projected to rise 3.0 Percent in 2013
The largest increases in base compensation are expected for associates, paralegals and legal secretaries at midsize and small-to-midsize law firms. Litigation support specialists also should see greater-than-average salary gains.

Robert Half Legal is a legal staffing firm specializing in lawyers, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. The company's annual Salary Guide is based on extensive research, as well as local and national employment data gathered from Robert Half Legal offices throughout North America.
"As law firms focus on pursuing new revenue opportunities, the market is strengthening for mid- and senior-level associates with business development skills, extensive client contacts and experience in high-demand practice areas such as healthcare, commercial law and litigation," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal.  
"While salaries have not yet returned to pre-recession levels, many hiring managers are offering above-average compensation and bonuses to attract the industry's best candidates and retain their most valuable employees."
Volkert added that many law firms and corporate legal departments are balancing the demands of managing rising workloads with the need to contain costs. "Increasingly, law firm partners and general counsel are bringing in legal professionals on a project basis to access expertise and extra support that may not be available internally," said Volkert.
Lawyer Positions: According to Robert Half Legal research, average starting salaries for lawyers are expected to increase 3.2 percent in 2013. The position that will see the biggest rise in compensation is a licensed lawyer with four to nine years of experience at a small-to-midsize law firm (10-35 lawyers).
Base compensation for this role is expected to rise 4.9 percent, to the range of $87,250 to $157,500 annually, on average. Lawyers with the same amount of experience at midsize law firms (35-75 lawyers) will see starting salaries rise 4.8 percent, to the range of $119,750 to $178,250 per year. First-year associates at small-to-midsize law firms will earn between $58,250 to $84,750, on average, a 2.1 percent increase from 2012 projections.
Corporate attorneys will see average compensation gains of 3.4 percent over 2012. Starting salaries for licensed in-house attorneys with 10 to 12 years of experience will rise 3.9 percent, to the range of $134,500 to $235,500 annually.
Legal Support Positions: Law firm paralegals are expected to see average starting salaries increase 3.3 percent in 2013. The position of midlevel paralegal with four to six years of experience at a midsize law firm should climb by 4.4 percent, to the range of $53,500 to $66,000 annually.
Legal secretaries at law firms can expect average starting salaries of 2.7 percent in 2013. Midlevel legal secretaries with seven to 11 years of experience at midsize law firms will see the highest starting salaries at the range of $49,250 to $61,750 per year, a 3.5 percent increase from 2012.
Starting salaries for legal professionals with litigation support expertise are predicted to rise 3.5 percent, on average. Litigation support managers with seven or more years of experience should see starting salaries increase by 4.4 percent, to the range of $78,500 to $111,250.
Other key findings from the Robert Half Legal 2013 Salary Guide include:
  • Compliance managers can expect average starting salaries to grow 3.4 percent, to the range of $68,750 to $104,000 per year.
  • In-house senior/supervising paralegals with seven or more years of experience will earn $56,000 to $86,500, a 3.1 percent increase from 2012.
  • Compensation for contract administrators with four or more years of experience is projected to increase 4.1 percent, to the range of $58,750 to $104,500 annually.
  • Lease administrators will see average base compensation increase 3.2 percent, to the range of $51,250 to $71,250.
  • Starting salaries for law librarians are projected to rise 2.0 percent, to the range of $45,000 to $69,750 per year.
To listen to a complimentary hiring and compensation trends podcast featuring highlights from the Robert Half Legal 2013 Salary Guide, visit
About the Robert Half Legal Salary Guide:  The Robert Half Legal 2013 Salary Guide includes projected starting salary ranges for more than 70 legal positions. This information is derived from the thousands of full-time and project placements handled nationwide by Robert Half Legal's recruiting and staffing professionals. Continuing or ongoing salaries are not reported as many factors, such as service time and work ethic, make ongoing pay difficult to measure. Bonuses, incentives and other forms of compensation, including benefits and retirement packages, also are not taken into account.
Robert Half Legal's annual Salary Guide is used extensively by law firms and corporate legal departments to determine appropriate compensation levels for employees. In addition, job seekers, academic institutions, legal associations and government agencies rely on the guide for current data on salaries and trends in the legal field. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics also cites the Salary Guide when compiling the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
About Robert Half Legal: Robert Half Legal is the legal staffing division of Robert Half International. The company provides law firms and corporate legal departments with highly skilled professionals, including lawyers, paralegals and legal support personnel, on a project and full-time basis. With North American and global locations, Robert Half Legal also offers managed review and e-discovery services. More information, including online job search services, can be found at

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Paralegals: Are You Reactive or Proactive?

Are You Reactive or Proactive?By: Vicki Voisin, ACP

The question is: are you reactive or proactive?
Reactive people have a tendency to respond to things that happen, rather than making them happen. Their responses are hasty.

A term that might apply to their responses is "knee jerk".

Proactive people are always looking ahead. They focus on future activities, projects and events and then anticipate needs, problems and possible outcomes.

It is, of course, much better to be proactive than reactive.

Here are five tools you can use to be proactive in almost any situation:

1. Your Planner. Proactive people use planners the way they are supposed to be used: to record future events and scheduled activities.

When you are able to view future events, you can anticipate possible problems and act before they occur. Just looking at an event, such as a meeting, in writing sets your mind thinking about things you will need for that meeting.

It doesn’t matter if you use an electronic planner or a paper planner. What is important is that you use it.

2. Checklists. Proactive people use checklists for all repetitive events or activities.

Checklists are especially important for recurring activities you encounter at work, such as performing discovery, preparing for trial, and handling a real estate. They actually work well for anything you do, including meeting planning, travel, conferences, workshops and interviews.

Checklists must be updated frequently, adding anything that was missed so it won’t be forgotten the next time.

3. Goals. Proactive people hold planning sessions with themselves and set specific goals for the future.

They not only put them in writing, along with deadline dates, but they schedule time in their planners to actually work on them.

When you do this, you create your own future rather than allowing unplanned events to dictate your plan your future for you.

4. Long-range planning. Proactive people recognize that it’s never too early to plan and that planning too late results in crises and time critical situations.

You’ve heard it said that if the Titanic had turned sooner, it never would have hit the iceberg. Small adjustments made early avoid having to make big adjustments at the last minute, possibly when it's too late.

5. Attitude. Proactive people recognize that attitude is their most important weapon in the battlet o remain proactive.

You have to have the right attitude or mindset to respond proactively. This means you don’t resent the work you must do ahead of time to be successful.

For instance, proactive people jot down items for discussion before they make a telephone call or make a list of the things they need before going to the supermarket. They consult a map before taking a trip and read the instructions before assembling a book case.

My request to you:  "Proactive" means to act beforehand. Taking action in the present will influence things in the future, perhaps even the future itself.

Practice those habits exhibited by proactive people: Think ahead. Set goals. Schedule time for activities. Plan daily. Use checklists. Review results. And continually make adjustments to improve future outcomes. Remember, there power in being proactive.

What actions do you take to be proactive?


© 2011-12 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 setting 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 Paralegal Strategies, a weekly e-newsletter for paralegals, and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network.

More information is available at where subscribers receive Vicki's 151 Tips for Your Career Success.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Paralegal Profile: Theresa L. Carrico, ACP

Theresa L. Carrico, ACP is a Paralegal with Brewer, Krause, Brooks, Chastain & Burrow, an insurance defense firm in Nashville, Tennessee. She specializes in Insurance defense automobile accident liability and she's also worked in firms that practice family law and criminal defense.  
Theresa has an Associate’s Degree in Nursing from Tennessee State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a Legal Studies Concentration from Austin Peay State University.  She is a NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal in Automobile Accidents and she also teaches paralegal courses at Kaplan's ABA approved Nashville Campus.
1.    Why did you choose a paralegal career?  I have always been drawn to the law. I wanted a new career (out of the medical profession completely!) but I also wanted to utilize my past educational experiences.

I considered Legal Nurse Consultant, but after I started studying for my certification, I realized that what I really wanted to BE was a paralegal. (I have to admit; I was a little influenced by Ally McBeal!)

2.    What is your favorite part of your job?  I work at a firm where paralegals are truly made to feel a part of the team. I really enjoy doing the nitty-gritty investigative work, whether it be medical record analysis,  researching plaintiffs' criminal backgrounds, or Facebook research. My supervising attorney is easy to work with and respects and appreciates my work.           

3.    What professional associations do you belong to?  I am a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants, a member (and former Director) of the Healthcare Paralegals Federation, and I recently ended a two-year term as the Central Chapter Chairperson of the Tennessee Paralegal Association (a NALA affiliate organization). I also just joined the American Association for Paralegal Education as an individual member.

4.    How has your membership benefited you?  I believe that I have benefitted greatly from memberships in these associations. The educational and network opportunities afforded by these groups are priceless! As a result of my TPA membership, I have contacts across my state who can help me find resources such as court reporters and experts as well as provide information about out-of-county judges/courts that has proved valuable when preparing for a case in an unfamiliar county.

5.    What has been the highlight of your career?   I think the highlight of my career is just realizing that I am exactly where I have wanted to be in my career. I have my “dream job” a great firm doing exactly the type of work I love for a great group of attorneys. I am also a part-time faculty member and get to teach new paralegal students, which is very rewarding.                   

6.    What do you see as hot trends in the paralegal industry?  I believe the paralegal job market will become more & more competitive.  Education and voluntary certification will be much more important, and more states will begin adopting regulations defining paralegal education and certification requirements. 

7.    What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting?   Remember that this is an ever-changing field and stay educated! Continue seeking out educational opportunities. It is so easy today to take a course; many are online “webinars” or self-study courses. 

8.  What electronic device can you not live without? My iPhone of course.

9. What was your first car? A canary yellow Ford Escort

10. What was your first job? My first job was working in a pharmacy, where I got to deliver     medications to the assisted living facility next door. I used to love sitting down and     visiting with our customers.                                    

11. What time in the morning do you first check your email? I am already checking my email on my iPhone as I am putting on my make-up in the morning.               
12. What sports team are you passionate about? Tampa Bay Buccaneers (GO BUCCS!)

13. What’s your favorite vacation getaway?  Anywhere on the Gulf Coast! I love those white sandy beaches.                                           

Bonus Question: If you could not be a paralegal, what would be your dream job? Being a paralegal IS my dream job! I spent fourteen years as a registered nurse, so this is a second career for me. I was lucky enough to get to choose this career when I was a little older (and maybe wiser?).       

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Virtual Paralegals: Forming a Magical Team

Are you thinking about working virtually but don’t know how to get started?

Paralegal Voice co-host Vicki Voisin welcomes virtual professionals Tina Marie Hilton, owner of
Clerical Advantage and Cathy L. Ribble, ACP, owner of Digital Paralegal Services, LLC, to spotlight virtual paralegals and how to form a magical team.

Tina and Cathy share their personal experiences, the important skills needed to be a successful virtual professional, as well as the websites and blogs that they visit often for their businesses. They also predict a very bright future for virtual professionals and provide their reasoning for that.

Tina and Cathy also share:
  • Why they started their virtual businesses.
  • The services they offer.
  • Important skills and personality traits needed to work virtually.
  • The good and non-so-good things about working virtually.
  • Tips for forming a virtual team.
  • Educational opportunities offered by Tina at Virtual Assistant Survival School
  • How writing and guest blogging have benefitted Cathy’s business.
  • Their favorite blogs and websites that are helpful to their businesses.
  • Their predictions about the future of virtual professionals.
  • And more!
Be sure to listen to this episode. It’s easy…and it’s free! Just click on the following links:
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, 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, October 12, 2012

Male Paralegal Confesses: His Salary is Higher Than Female Co-Worker

Within eight months of each other, two young college grads start work as paralegals in a small, New York City law firm.
  • Both are graduates of top-20 colleges in the Northeast.
  • Neither has any relevant paralegal experience.
  • One gets an office; the other gets a cubicle.
  • The one with the office earns a significant amount more.
Question:  Which paralegal is female?  If you guessed the lower-paid cubicle dweller … you’re right.

Follow this link for a Q&A with Anthony,* the young male paralegal from the riddle above, to find out why he’s coming out on top, and feels guilty about it.

Have you had any experience with this situation? Once you read Anthony's interview, please leave your comment below. I want to know what you think!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Paralegals: No More Fax Machines, Panty Hose?

LinkedIn surveyed more than 7,000 global professionals for their opinions regarding tools and trends will disappear from offices in the next five years and which will become even more common.

Fortunately, Paralegals and other legal support staff members are not on the list!  However, nearly three quarters of those surveyed said they expected fax machines and tape recorders to disappear, along with other once common office tools like the Rolodex, desk phones and even desktop computers to become obsolete.

Here are the top 10 office tools and trends that professionals think will vanish in the next five years:
  1. Tape recorders (79 percent)
  2. Fax machines (71 percent)
  3. The Rolodex (58 percent)
  4. Standard working hours (57 percent)
  5. Desk phones (35 percent)
  6. Desktop computers (34 percent)
  7. Formal business attire like suits, ties, pantyhose, etc. (27 percent
  8. The corner office for managers/executives (21 percent)
  9. Cubicles (19 percent)
  10. USB thumb drives (17 percent)
More than half of professionals surveyed say tablets will become increasingly common in the office. Laptops also ranked high, with 34% of those surveyed predicting they would become more common.

I doubt many of you will mourn the loss of the fax machine, the cubicle or the standard working hours. However, you may miss your Rolodex and your business cards.

This survey is just the latest example that technology in the workplace never stops changing. You will need to adapt to these changes or else risk having technological skills that are obsolete as well.


Paralegal Career 101: Dealing with Work-Related Stress

On this September edition of The Paralegal Voice, co-hosts Lynne DeVenny and I explore the different kinds of work-related stressors many paralegals face on a day-to-day basis.

We talk about the realities associated with an exciting but deadline-driven, detail-oriented career, and offer tips for both anticipating and resolving common stressors.

In this episode, Lynne and I share:

  • The stressors they have experienced in our careers.
  • The job stressors paralegals contact us about most often.
  • Advice for relieving stress due to increased workload.
  • Tips for dealing with last minute deadlines created by someone else.
  • Suggestions for dealing with difficult colleagues.
  • Guidance for working in a specialty area you do not like.
  • And more!
Be sure to listen to this episode. It’s easy…and it’s free! Just click on the following links:
MP3 Link:
The Paralegal Voice also thanks its sponsors: NALA...The Association of Paralegals and Legal Assistants and Clio.

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, 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, September 14, 2012

Survey Says Nearly 1/3 of Lawyers Plan to Hire

Nearly one-third (32 percent) of lawyers interviewed for the Robert Half Legal Hiring Index plan to hire full-time legal professionals during the fourth quarter of 2012, while 3 percent anticipate staff reductions.

The net 29 percent of respondents projecting an increase in hiring activity is down one point from the previous quarter's forecast. Law firms are expected to do much of the hiring; healthcare is the practice area predicted to see the most growth in the coming months.

The vast majority of lawyers surveyed are optimistic about business opportunities. Three-quarters (75 percent) of attorneys are somewhat or very confident in their organizations' prospects for growth in the next three months, down nine points from the third-quarter survey.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing firm specializing in lawyers, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 100 lawyers at law firms with 20 or more employees and 100 corporate lawyers at companies with 1,000 or more employees. All of the respondents have hiring authority within their organizations.

Key Findings

The net 29 percent of lawyers expecting to hire in the fourth quarter is down one point from the previous quarter's forecast. Those who are hiring plan to add an average of two full-time positions.

The three most in-demand positions are lawyers, paralegals and legal secretaries.
Healthcare is the practice area expected to see the most growth in the fourth quarter, followed by general business/commercial law and bankruptcy/foreclosure.

Nearly half (45 percent) of lawyers say finding the right talent remains challenging, a six-point decrease from the third-quarter survey.

Three-quarters (75 percent) are somewhat or very confident in their organizations' prospects for growth in the next three months, a nine-point decline from last quarter.

Hiring Trends

"Steady hiring is projected for the legal field as law firms strive to meet clients' requests and increase profitability," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. "In particular, small and midsize law firms are recruiting associates with solid business development skills and client portfolios to expand practice groups in high-demand specialties such as healthcare and corporate law."

Twenty-seven percent of lawyers anticipate healthcare will be the practice area that experiences the most growth in the coming months. General business/commercial law ranked second with 16 percent of the response, followed by bankruptcy/foreclosure (13 percent).

Volkert noted that companies are expanding their legal teams to support renewed business growth, manage regulatory activity and comply with healthcare reforms. "Legal departments are bringing in licensed lawyers, contract administrators and support professionals to handle a greater volume of work in-house and reduce spending on outside counsel," he said.

Organizations planning to hire will add an average of two full-time positions in the fourth quarter. The vast majority plan to hire lawyers (93 percent), paralegals (28 percent) and legal secretaries/assistants (14 percent).

"As law firms and corporate legal departments continue to hire lawyers, the demand for legal assistants and secretaries should increase, particularly for litigation support specialists who are proficient in trial preparation and project management software," Volkert said.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Paralegals and Microsoft Office Suite

How well-versed should paralegals and paralegal students be in Microsoft Office Suite?

Paralegal Voice co-host Vicki Voisin welcomes Deborah Savadra who blogs at, to take a look at the skills most legal employers expect and how paralegals can master those skills, and the resources available for improving skills.

Deborah shares her top tips for Word and Outlook, as well as her favorite technology tools. Important points included in this episode:
  • Deborah’s career path that included legal support staff member, technology “fixer upper”, blogger, paralegal and columnist.
  • How well versed paralegals and paralegal students should be in Microsoft Office Suite.
  • The skills most legal employers expect and how to demonstrate mastery of those skills.
  • Resources for paralegals who want/need to improve their skills.
  • Deborah’s top 5 tips for Word and Outlook that every paralegal needs to know.
  • Deborah’s favorite technology tools.
  • And more!
Be sure to listen to this episode. It’s easy…and it’s free! Just click on the following links:

Page URL: 

MP3 Link:

The Paralegal Voice also thanks its sponsor: 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, 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

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paralegals: Are You Stuck in the "Someday" Trap?

When opportunities come your way, do you say, "I'll do that when I have time!"?

When you consider your career goals, do you usually think, "I'll get around to that sometime in the future!"?

When the sticky notes and piles of papers and files accumulate in your office, do you usually think, "I can't be bothered with that so I'll ignore the clutter for now!"?

You may be stuck in the 'someday' trap!

The 'someday' trap brings your goals to a standstill. It plays havoc with your future. It kills productivity. It causes procrastination. If you allow yourself to let 'someday' be a part of your thinking it will be very difficult to move your career forward and reach your life goals.
  • Someday you'll sit for a certification exam.
  • Someday you'll move to that area of the law that really interests you.
  • Someday you'll join your local association, join a committee and run for office.
  • Someday you'll attend a national convention.
  • Someday you'll take a few continuing education courses.
  • Someday you'll present a CLE course.
  • Someday you'll write an article for a professional journal.
Someday...someday...someday. Stop! Someday is NOT a day of the week. How about a new way of thinking? How about having 'someday' be today?

Here are some simple suggestions for turning 'someday thinking' into 'today thinking'

List your top 5 short term goals. What you want to accomplish in the next 90 days? Examine those goals to determine the steps you'll take to reach them. Once you've done this, schedule the steps on your calendar. Treat these as appointments so that they really do get done.

List your long term goals. Once you've determined your short term goals, use the same process to determine and accomplish your long term goals (say in the next 3-5 years), and your really long term goals...what do you want to accomplish in your lifetime. As you're doing this, don't hesitate to dream and to think big. Do not limit yourself.

For all these goals, make an appointment in your calendar to get each step done and don't let the 'someday trap' stop you.

You can't do everything at once, of course, so you'll have to make choices. Choose to do the things that are important to you and your goals and let the other things go.

When you change your thinking to 'today' instead of 'someday' you're not only going to feel better about yourself, but you'll move your career in the right direction: forward.

Imagine seizing opportunities when they come your way. Imagine your office without clutter and piles. Imagine being able to find documents when you need them. Imagine the feeling of accomplishment as you reach your goals. When you imagine that it feels wonderful, right?

Actress Camryn Manheim said it best:
"Waiting, waiting, waiting. All my life, I've been waiting for my life to begin, as if somehow my life was ahead of me, and that someday I would arrive at it."
You can't wait for your life to begin or for your paralegal career to be what you want it to be. You have to operate on the premise that you can't wait for someday to make changes. You have to take steps today to make those changes.

What are you waiting for? You have the ability to transform your career and your life beginning today. It's up to you to make that happen and to stop waiting for someday.

What changes will you make? How will you make those changes?