Monday, July 29, 2013

Ethics by the Book: Lessons Learned from Legal Literature

Attention: Paralegals, Legal Secretaries, Attorneys and other Legal Professionals

Ethics by the Book: Lessons Learned from Legal Literature

Begins August 7th – Earn 1.5 Hours Ethics MCLE Credit

 How do ethics rules apply to you?
What steps should you take to comply with ethics rules and guidelines?

How can you learn the ethics rules without being bored to tears?

 The Paralegal Mentor has a solution:Ethics By The Book: Lessons Learned from Legal Literature

The responsibilities and ethical obligations of attorneys and paralegals are affected by various rules of professional conduct and national, state, and local professional association guidelines.
Paralegals and legal secretaries face the same ethics issues as attorneys and are responsible for following the ethics rules applicable to attorneys. They should not only know the applicable guidelines, but should also understand the rules of professional guidelines that apply to lawyers as they are likely to encounter them on a regular basis.
The more legal professionals are aware of the rules, the better they are able to avoid ethics problems. This webinar will provide an overview of the common ethics issues, guidelines and rules of professional conduct that apply to lawyers and the paralegals and legal secretaries who assist them.
Learning about ethics rules can be tedious and boring. To avoid the boredom, join The Paralegal Mentor for this unique learning experience.  

The Details:

  • You will read A Case of Redemption by Adam Mitzner over a period of 3 months
  • You will attend 3 one-half hour classes to discuss ethics situations encountered in the book and how they apply to ethics rules adopted by the ABA, various State Bar Association and by professional associations such as NALA, NALS and NFPA.You will receive a Certificate of Attendance verifying 1.5 hours of MCLE Ethics Credit You will receive a handout for each class with notes and applicable rules.
    • Note: Classes are held at 1pm Eastern on Wednesdays, August 7th, August 28th and September 25th. If you cannot attend any of the classes, you will be provided with the recording and a brief quiz to verify you reviewed the materials. You must participate in all 3 sessions to qualify for MCLE credit.  
  • You can attend this webinar by phone or via your computer -- it's your choice. There will be slides and you will be able to view them however you attend.
  • This course is approved for 1.5 hours Ethics MCLE by NALA. It will qualify for credit from NALS and NFPA and other certifying entities.
  • Registration fee: $57
    • Note: The customary investment for my ethics courses is $67. The fee for this course is reduced so you can apply the savings to the book’s purchase price.


acaseofredemption-e1369094481277Dan Sorensen was once a high-powered New York City defense attorney . . . but that was before a horrifying accident killed the two people in his life who meant the most, plunging him into a downward spiral. As he approaches rock bottom, Dan is unexpectedly offered the opportunity of a lifetime: defend an up-and-coming rapper in a murder trial on the front page of every newspaper. Although his client swears he’s innocent of the brutal slaying of his pop star girlfriend, proving it will not be easy, especially because he’s suspected of bragging about the crime in one of the hottest songs in the country.
Unsure that he’s ready to handle such a high-stakes case, Dan realizes this chance to save a man he believes has been falsely accused of murder just may be his last and only hope to put his own life back on track and achieve redemption for his past sins. But as Dan delves deeper and deeper into the case, he learns that atonement comes at a steep price. A powerful and riveting new voice in fiction, Adam Mitzner pulls out all the stops in his follow-up to the highly acclaimed A Conflict of Interest. A Case of Redemption is a gritty, sophisticated thriller that will draw fans of Scott Turow and John Grisham into a world of relentless suspense.
 About the Author: Adam Mitzner
Adam Mitzner graduated from Brandeis University with a B.A. and M.A. in politics, and from the University of Virginia School of Law. He lives in New York City where he is the head of the litigation department of Pavia & Harcourt LLP, in midtown Manhattan. Pavia & Harcourt recently received some acclaim because it is the law firm where Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor practiced before she was appointed to the bench. More information is available at You can also follow Adam on Facebook.

About the Presenter: Vicki Voisin, ACP

  • A California State Bar approved MCLE provider;
  • 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;
  • Spotlights resources, ethics issues, organizational tips, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential;
  • Nationally recognized author and speaker regarding issues of interest to legal professionals;
  • Co-author of The Professional Paralegal: A Guide to Finding a Job and Career Success;
  • Publisher of a weekly e-newsletter titled Paralegal Strategies;
  • Host of The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Paralegal Mentor Productions;
  • Earned a B.S. degree in Business Management from Central Michigan University;
  • Received the Advanced Paralegal Certification (ACP) from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA);
  • Received NALA’s 2012 Founder’s Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the growth and future of the paralegal profession, which impacted this profession in a positive manner for a significant period of time;
  • Current member and Past president of NALA; Presenter on NALA Campus LIVE! and at the 2012 Convention;
  • Current member of NALS…the association for legal professionals ; currently serving on NALS Grassroots Committee;
  • Current member and Past Chair of the Paralegal/Legal Assistant Section of the State Bar of Michigan;
  • Has worked in the paralegal field for over 20years;
  • More information is available at

Paralegal Warrior Training Course

Were you at the NALA Convention in Portland? Are you going to the NALS Convention in Atlanta? What about the NFPA Convention in Hartford?  Turns out, there was a convention for military paralegals at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin July 12 through 26. Who knew?

Paralegal soldiers from throughout the U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard came together to conduct the 2013 Paralegal Warrior Training Course.

The course, which includes classroom and tactical training, is designed to help soldiers refresh the paralegal skills they may not frequently use in their day-to-day military occupation.
“I don’t do anything paralegal related in my unit,” said Spc. Stephanie Hart, paralegal, 118th Military Police Battalion, Rhode Island National Guard. “I do more admin related stuff, so this course has really helped refreshed my memory from when I was in [Advanced Individual Training].”
The annual course, organized by the United States Army Reserve Command Staff Judge Advocate Office, is centered around keeping the students up-to-date on the changes frequently happening in the legal field of the military, said Sgt. Maj. David Becker, the command paralegal for the U.S. Army Reserve.

The course, now in its 17th iteration, continues to improve each year.
“Every year, we have built upon it to make it better for the students attending,” said Becker, a Bismarck, N.D., native. “It has traditionally been more classroom training, but over the past few years, we are trying to give them everything they need to be successful not only with the technical skills, but also develop their operational skills as well.”
Staff Sgt. Alex Ushomirsky, paralegal, 153rd Legal Operations Detachment, has attended the course twice and he agrees with Becker on the improvements.
“Before, it was more classroom focused,” he said. “We still went to the field and did some tactical training, but nothing like we did this year. This year, it was way above and beyond my expectations.”
This year, the students spent 36-hours in the field conducting tactical operations, including squad movements, urban operations, and medical evacuation training involving an actual MEDEVAC helicopter flying in to add realism to the training.
“Although the field training was hard this year, it was good. The inclusion of the helicopter for the MEDEVAC training was great,” Ushomirsky, a Philadelphia resident added.
Hart, a West Warwick, R.I., resident, said the training wasn’t what she was expecting before she arrived.
“I thought we were going to do a lot more classroom learning and less [physical training], hands-on and field training,” she said. “But, I really liked the field portion. I like doing tactical movements and battle drills.”
The students also conducted mock administrative separation boards and Article 15 hearings, allowing the soldiers to properly conduct proceedings they are likely to see in the legal field, said Master Sgt. Steve Minyard, the director of this year’s PWTC and Duncanville, Texas, native.

Spc. Edward Yi, paralegal, 300th Sustainment Brigade, said he has experience participating in administrative boards from his active duty service and felt the mock boards were accurate training.
“It was awesome,” the Rowlett, Texas, resident, said. “I think given the amount of time we had to prepare for the boards, we did really well and that our case would have won in a real-world situation.”
While Yi has experience with administrative boards, Staff Sgt. Joe Myers, paralegal, 8th LOD said he has little because his job as a paralegal is centered on more administrative areas.
“It was nice to experience the process,” Myers, a Wichita, Kan., resident, said. “I don’t get much experience on the board portion of the job, so I can definitely see this training being useful. I feel more confident now and feel I have a good starting block for future boards I might have to participate in.”
“There are so many different aspects of being an Army paralegal, so you never truly get to do it all at the same time,” Ushomirsky added. “This course gives you the chance to do all the other stuff you wouldn’t otherwise get to.”
Ushomirsky urges paralegal soldiers in the Reserve and National Guard to attend the PWTC as soon as possible saying, future students will leave with more knowledge and capability.
“I strongly recommend you come here, it is a great course and the instructors provide great training,” he said. “When you do this training, you will not only be prepared to continue your career as a paralegal, but you will be more prepared for the [Advanced Leader Course] and [Senior Leader Course] allowing you to further your career in this field.”
Source: dvids (Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Paralegal Writing Skills

On this edition of The Paralegal Voice, Vicki Voisin explores paralegal writing skills with noted legal writing educator, Gary Kinder. They focus on the importance of writing skills and how paralegals can improve those skills.

Fine tuned writing skills are pivotal to a firm’s success. They affect first impressions through websites, newsletters, client leads, emails or network listings, client representation, legal write ups, and the list goes on.

Gary Kinder is a lawyer and New York Times bestselling author. He has taught over 1,000 writing programs to prestigious law firms nationwide. His career is dedicated to teaching legal professionals how to write precisely, vividly, concisely and memorably. He channeled years of experience studying superior legal writing and editing into the creation of WordRake, software designed to help law firms and organizations tighten their prose and become better writers. He also authors a weekly writing tips blog called

Vicki and Gary share:
  • The basics of the Plain Writing Act of 2010
  • How the Act affects paralegals.
  • Common writing pitfalls and how to avoid them
  • The common problem most people have with legal writing
  • Why it may not be a good idea to adopt the writing style of the lawyer(s) you work with
  • Technology tools that will help with writing skills
  • Why points in your writing must be expressed as succinctly as possible
  • The THREE items you must own if you want your writing skills to progress
  • And more!
In the Practice Tips section of the show, Vicki provides guidelines for gathering sufficient information from a potential client so the firm can decide whether or not to accept a case.
Be sure to listen to this episode. It’s easy…and it’s free! Just follow this link for connection information: 
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 the host 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

Biz Buddies: Tips for Working with Friends

In this 13th episode of Biz Buddies 4 Virtual Professionals, Vicki and Tina talk about Working with Friends. 

They discuss:
  • The Biz Buddy One Year Anniversary Celebration where you can win:
    $20 gift card to After listening to this podcast, go to the Clerical Advantage Facebook Page  (like us if you haven’t already) and tell us you’re a friend of Biz Buddies. You can get as creative as you want.  The winner will be announced on our August episode.
A copy of The Professional Paralegal; How to Find a Job and Career Success; This book (co-authored by Vicki with Charlsye Smith Diaz, PhD) is a $60 value and contains tips that would help everyone with resumes, organizing office, time management. Just leave a comment below about the benefit(s) of listening to podcasts.   Winner to be announced on our August episode.
  • And a Special offer for all of our Biz Buddies Friends:
  • Vicki is offering a steep discount on her Virtual Paralegal Interview Series, a 6 CD set that includes interviews with 6 people who have established successful virtual businesses. Regular price is $79... reduced to $47 for Biz Buddies fans. Go to and click on the "resources" page to order this product..
Vicki and Tina also discuss:        
  • The benefits of working with a friend
  • Is there a downside to working with friends?
  • How do you charge friends?
  • What about bartering?
  • What if your friends ask for free services?
Be sure to listen to this episode. It’s easy…and it’s free! Just click on the following links:
Page URL:
iTunes Link:
Please share the links to this episode of Biz Buddies for Virtual Professionals 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 Biz Buddies 4 Virtual Professionals on iTunes.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Paralegal Profile: Kerie S. Trindle Byrne, CP, PLS

Keri S. Trindle Byrne, CP, PLS,  is a Legal Assistant who specializes in family law at May, Potenza, Baran & Gillespie, P.C. in Phoenix. She earned an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies from Phoenix College.
1.  What prompted you to choose a paralegal career?  The paralegal profession chose me.  I was a young college student working two full time jobs when I was asked by my roommate’s mom to help her move her law office.

I showed up early on a Saturday morning, packed boxes and hustled.  Before I knew it, they asked me to draft some letters to clients. When I did a good job and impressed them with my writing skills and work ethic, they hired me for a part time secretarial position. They also connected me with another attorney who needed part time secretarial help.

Before I knew it, the other attorney was training me to draft everything from initial family law pleadings to complex pretrial criminal motions. She became my mentor and I eventually began working for her full time in a paralegal role. She encouraged me to learn as much as I could about being a paralegal and she provided me with the space to do it.

2.  What is your favorite part of your job?  I found that I have a passion for people driven law like family and criminal, rather than paper driven law.  I feel most at home with the social work aspect of my career.  I am the conduit by which clients are able to communicate their fears, frustrations, anxieties and needs to their attorney.  When I can be a patient and understanding ear for clients and help them get to a place where they can take a breath, calm down and be connected with the lawyer so they can receive the legal advice they need, I am at my best.  My day is complete and I feel most fulfilled when I am able to help someone through one of the most difficult moments in their life.

3.  What professional associations do you belong to?  I am a member of NALS…the association for legal professionals.

4.  How has your membership benefited you?  NALS has provided me with opportunities for personal and professional growth and I cannot imagine my life without it.  NALS is a top-notch legal professional organization that offers education, certification and networking.

At first, I joined because I wanted to be a member of the club.  My friend was a member and she made it sound like a really fun place to be.  Once I joined and began attending meetings, I learned just how right she was.  The other members had “it” and I wanted “it.” Inspiration came to me at every meeting to obtain my certification and complete my degree in paralegal studies.  Both of which, I did with the support of my local chapter.  So many members of the association have become mentors to me and have helped me navigate challenging situations.

In addition to the countless continuing legal education credits I have earned, the certifications and degree I achieved, the opportunities to serve in local, state and national leadership roles, I have a built in network of cheerleaders and friends. I have become a cheerleader for the profession and others who want more from their careers and I would not enjoy the success I have today without NALS.

5.  What has been the highlight of your career?  I would say I have not yet had “the highlight” of my career.  I was, however, honored to be awarded the NALS of Phoenix Award of Excellence in 2012.  It was a proud moment for me.

6.  If someone contemplating a paralegal career asked you for career advice, what would your answer be?  Be prepared to work hard and take every opportunity.   Attorneys and supervisors need to see you working hard to complete projects efficiently and completely.  When they do, they will give you more opportunities and responsibilities to grow in your career.

7.  Is there a quote that inspires you?  “Think, Believe, Dream, Dare” by Walt Disney.  I live this quote everyday as I think of ways to do things in my life better, believe in myself, dream the big dreams and dare to do them.

8.  What is the most important step a paralegal can take to keep his or her career interesting?  Be the person who volunteers to do something you have never done before and be clear about your inexperience.  There are opportunities where attorneys need extra help on projects that don’t have tight deadlines and they are willing to train someone who is willing to learn.  Attorneys a d supervisors love people who show a willingness to learn and who take initiative.  If you are available to assist with a project, tell them you have never done it before, but you are willing to give the project a try. This keeps your skills fresh and your mental acuity sharp, plus it makes the job interesting and allows you to develop marketable skills in other areas.

9.  Who would play you in a movie of your life? For some reason, every time I look at this question Kathy Bates comes to mind.  She seems to always play strong willed characters with an energetic, no-holds-barred, spitfire personality.  That’s how I see myself, strong, self-assured, but a little rough around the edges.

10.  What was the last movie you saw in the theater? Technically, this answer is Zero Dark Thirty. I say technically, because I attended the 2013 Best Picture Showcase and saw all nine Best-Picture nominees over two consecutive Saturdays.  So, the day I saw Zero Dark Thirty, I also saw Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook.  It was a great day.

11.  What TV channel do you most often have on? I am a cultural sponge, so I am soaking up a ton of information from many sources.  The History Channel and NatGeo rank among my favorites.

12.  What song do you often sing to yourself? Three Little Birds by Bob Marley “…don’t worry, about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right.”

13.  Where do you like to go to have fun? Fun isn’t a place to me, it is a state of mind.  As I do my work or take on new tasks and responsibilities, I try to remember the quote by Mary Poppins, “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.”  However, I love Disneyland.  It is the happiest place on Earth for me and has been for my entire life.  My parents took our family to Disneyland every year at least once no matter our circumstances.  Even if it meant my parents, my sister, brother and I had to scrimp and save or do extra jobs in the months leading to vacation, we always had that time to look forward to as a family.  Since marrying my husband Derek, and gaining two bonus children, visiting Disneyland has renewed meaning for me as I share these traditions with my own family. We try to go several times a year and we have a blast. 

Bonus Question: Is there a song lyric that best describes you or your philosophy on life? I have a playlist on my iPod titled “Big Picture.”  So many of the songs on that playlist have a special meaning to me and they are all a part of my life philosophy.  The song I most identify with is I Stand by Idina Menzel. The chorus is, “I stand for the power to change. I live for the perfect day. I love ‘til it hurts like crazy. I hope for a hero to save me. I stand for the strange and lonely.  I believe there’s a better place. I don’t know if the sky is heaven, but I pray anyway.”