Monday, November 30, 2009

A Relocating Paralegal Shares Some Tips for the Job Search

by Jennifer Taylor

The last thing anyone wants to do in the midst of an economic downturn is move cross-country and look for work. But that is exactly what I did at the end of August. My husband’s employer transferred us from Cincinnati to Austin,Texas.

I had two months advance notice to plan and prepare for the move. Having worked as a litigation paralegal at a large Ohio firm, I enjoyed senior status, worked with great attorneys on interesting cases and earned a nice salary. Now I had to start all over in a brand new town. In short, I was terrified.

The first thing I did was update my resume. I had not updated it in over seven years. I asked co-workers, bloggers (thanks Lynne!), friends and relatives to review my resume. I started researching how to write a winning resume. I probably revised it 50-plus times.

I put feelers out in the Austin area before my move. I joined the Capital Area Paralegal Association and gained access to their job bank. I got an Austin cell phone number ASAP. I researched the job market and salary range for Austin paralegals.

I also learned that most paralegals in Texas are licensed by the state bar. No problem, I thought. However, when I contacted the state bar association, I was dismayed, upset and worried to learn that you must work under the supervision of a Texas attorney for three years before you can sit for the bar's licensure exam for paralegals. Uh-oh. Undeterred, I applied for jobs that required licensure, explaining that I had a bachelor's degree, plus over 10 years solid experience.

I did meet a wonderful contact through the local paralegal association who gave me all kinds of tips, introduced me to people and encouraged me. It took me 53 days, but I found a great job in Austin.

First of all, I treated the job search itself like a full-time job. Here are some of my tips:
  • Network; tell everyone you are looking for a job. I even put a notice up on my old employer’s internal message board to see if any partners knew Austin attorneys. I generated some leads.
  • Join the local paralegal association and gain access to their job bank.
  • Think outside the box. I looked for paralegal work on Craigslist, the State of Texas jobs website, and trolled the website of every law firm in town. I applied at insurance companies, mortgage companies and banks. Paralegal skills translate well into these fields.
  • Line up good references. I approached partners and former employers before I left town to make sure they would be willing to say good things about me.
  • Apply for jobs that are not in your field IF you think you can do the job. That is, in fact, how I landed my new job. Turns out they loved my resume, I clicked with the hiring manager and they fast-tracked me for hire. Having worked in complex litigation for years, I landed an in-house senior paralegal position with an organization that oversees compliance and enforcement of electric power plants in Texas. I have no experience in electric law.

The most important tip is to not give up. I obsessively looked for work and did my share of complaining to anyone who would listen. I applied for over 50 jobs but I only generated three interviews and actually received two job offers on the same day. I kept telling myself that unemployment was temporary. The power of positive thinking or doing my homework? You decide.

________________________
Jennifer Taylor is a senior paralegal with the Texas Regional Entity in Austin, Texas.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shhhh, This Attorney Got His Paralegal a Christmas Gift from Coach!

When I stumbled across The Philadelphia Inquirer’s “Black Friday” article, which included an interview with attorney Jesse Cohen, I couldn’t help but agree with the reporters’ opinion, i.e. “nice boss.”


Industry analysts have warned that such sales may not be as pervasive this year. Retailers generally are stocking minimal inventory so they can sell what they have at higher prices, rather than getting stuck with overstuffed clearance racks at season's end.

Evidence of this was apparent to shopper Jesse Cohen yesterday in Center City. The 30-year-old lawyer plied Walnut Street and found the gift he wanted for his paralegal. He wouldn't say what he bought - for fear of spoiling the surprise - but the provenance was emblazoned on the shopping bag he carried - Coach (nice boss).

Nevertheless, he was less than thrilled with his Black Friday experience.

"I expected a lot more people and a lot more sales," he said. When he picked out the gift for his paralegal, he asked if it was on sale.

"No," the sales clerk said.

"But it's Black Friday," Cohen protested.

"Nothing is on sale," she told him.

He bought the present anyway…

Yup, nice boss.

And don’t rag on me about letting the cat out of the bag (not that I know what was in the bag, but click on the link at the picture above and check out Coach's adorable line of wallet wristlets). A lot more people read The Philadelphia Inquirer than Practical Paralegalism.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Paralegal Student Shares Story of Sexual Abuse in New Book

When Amanda Bennett stepped forward to report alleged sexual molestation by her stepfather, Scott McCarter, she could not have anticipated the heartbreaking consequences. On May 25, 2006, McCarter was scheduled to appear in court to answer the charges. Instead, he shot and killed his wife, Wendy, their two minor children, Scotty and Melanie, and then killed himself.

But Bennett, now a paralegal student in the ABA-approved program at Cumberland County College in New Jersey, is sharing her story in Amanda's Voice (Fireside Publications, 2009), written by her grandmother, Eileen Bennett, a reporter. Eileen Bennett told The Daily Journal that it was Amanda who inspired her to tell the story:

She recalled a candid moment when Amanda Bennett was talking about her lost family members and feeling so many things had been left unsaid.

"I feel like I should write a letter... but I don't know who I would send it to," Bennett recalled her granddaughter saying. That sparked a three-year labor of love that resulted in the book, "Amanda's Voice." Fireside Publications of Lady Lake, Fla., released the 210-page publication earlier this month.

The book details Amanda Bennett's decision to publicly name her stepfather, McCarter, as a sexual abuser and how she coped with the devastating ramifications.

Amanda Bennett is publishing her story to help other girls that are experiencing abuse. She also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the N.J. Division of Youth and Family Services for improperly handling her case and failing to protect her family, and received a $750,000 settlement.

Her grandmother thinks of Amanda's Voice as a testimonial to her granddaughter's courage and resilience:

I don't think of it as the story of her abuse, it is the story about the beautiful person she has become. I see the beautiful young lady picking herself up and getting on with life -- there are not many people that can do it.
For more information about Amanda Bennett's story, see reporter Matt Dunn's in-depth feature story, "Victim has a voice in new book" at nj.com.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Medical Examiner Accused of Lying About Having Paralegal Degree

Sometimes it's easy to see why someone lies on a resume, including listing a fake college education to get a job, but why would a licensed physician tell a defense attorney that he has a paralegal degree?

Maybe because he is accused of listing a law degree on his curriculum vitae - from a law school that never existed.

The Chief Medical Examiner of El Paso County, Texas, Dr. Paul Shrode, is the subject of a complaint filed with the Texas Medical Board, accusing him of "violating state law by falsifying his resume to obtain the job of chief medical examiner of El Paso County."

In addition to not having the law degree listed on his C.V., he is accused of failing to "disclose that he had failed the board certification exam in pathology."

Dr. Shrode's credentials have been questioned in the past. The El Paso Times reports:

That was why the county commissioners in 2007 questioned Shrode about his résumé and his claim of having a graduate law degree. Called before the Commissioners Court, Shrode admitted he had no such degree.

He detailed each of his degrees and qualifications, and then said he had made a mistake on his résumé in claiming a law degree.


Since he completed medical school and doesn't need a law degree to qualify for the medical examiner position, that's an interesting mistake to make.

If you're going to bestow a J.D. upon yourself, at least verify that your university of choice had a law school that coincides with your stated dates of attendance.

But in 2007, the El Paso County Commissioners didn't seem bothered by Shrode's lack of lawyer or paralegal credentials, merely admonishing him, "Don't do it again" - because "it's not like you're going to hurt one of your patients."

All righty, then.

Paralegal in Coma After Getting Swine Flu

In an effort to keep our office free of swine flu, occasionally our office manager has an assistant disinfect the items that people frequently touch - doorknobs, light switches and telephones. As he sheepishly makes his way around the office with a jumbo bottle of Clorox wipes, we tease him about her hypervigilence and his way with a disinfectant wipe.

But I won't tease him anymore after reading that 22-year old Florida paralegal Claudia Hernandez is in a coma after contracting H1N1 or "swine" flu, and prematurely delivered her son, who did not survive. Even sadder, CBS4 is reporting that "doctors have given family members little hope Hernandez will recover."

It's human to joke about the swine flu and even call it funny names like "oinkmageddon" (Stephen Colbert), "a-pork-a-lypse" and "hamthrax", perhaps to avoid thinking about how serious a health threat it is, but the infection can cause life-threatening complications, especially for high risk individuals, including pregnant women.

Tonight, I'm keeping Claudia Hernandez and her family in my thoughts and prayers, and on Monday, I'm thanking our office manager for her efforts to keep us safe and healthy.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

This Here Is a Medal-Winning Paralegal Blog

Or I Get a Consolation Prize for Not Being Included in Top Law Blog Scam

When I read "Blogger Award Scam Aimed at Top Law Bloggers" at Social Media Law Student, I gotta confess that my first thought wasn't "What a rip off" or "How dare they try to hoodwink some of the best legal bloggers in the country," but rather this, which I promptly shared in a comment at the post:



I started reading this post, and then got my supplies together to throw a big Pity Party (Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, a spatula, brand new bag of Double Stuf Oreos, a Cosmo (the martini, not the mag) and my phat Welsh Corgi Phoebe) ’cause paralegals are treated like the red-headed stepchildren of the blawgosphere and we never get included in Top 100 Law Blog scams – maybe ’cause we’re not lawyers but still – and then I saw your Medal of Awesomeness and thought that it makes all those hours of blogging into the wee hours mainly so my mama can tell her friends I’m an author totally worthwhile, so I put back all of the Pity Party supplies, except for the dog and the Cosmo.


This is Practical Paralegalism's first - and possibly last - medal. And I'm gonna ignore the fact that SMLS is spreading 'em around like peanut butter.

I am definitely showing it to my mama, and hanging it smack dab on the front of my refrigerator, right beside the middle school cafeteria's lunch menu for the month, which features a number of healthy meals that my teen won't eat. This dream menu also neglects to inform parents that if your child spends your hard-earned dough to eat a la carte instead, she can have French fries, cheese sticks and cookies for lunch every single day.

Is that a nutritional combo worthy of its own Medal of Awesomeness, or what?

What Really Happens When a Legal Assistant Is Out Sick

Ever wondered what goes on at the law office when you're out sick? We know the Legal Assistant Fairy doesn't come and empty our in-boxes, but what else isn't happening?

Here's an eye-opening tweet:



I'm just hoping it's not the legal assistant's cell...

Practical Paralegalism also sends best wishes for a full and speedy recovery to this much-missed legal assistant :)

Paralegals & Turkey Day

I am so thankful for my wonderful readers: your post comments, ideas, tipoffs, encouragement, feedback, emails, tweets, LinkedIn and Facebook shoutouts, guest posts and profiles. This paralegal blog wouldn't happen without you.

But I hope you're not reading this post today.

It's Turkey Day, and I hope that your office is closed for business today - and tomorrow. If you do end up at the office this weekend assembling trial notebooks, I feel your pain - been there and done that.

Because for some of us, the fun never stops, as evidenced by this want ad I found under Craigslist legal/paralegal jobs in New York:



Peace, grace & best wishes for a safe, blessed holiday season with family and friends,

Lynne

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Man Flips Off Officer - And Gets 50k and a Paralegal Career

When I try to parallel park, I usually just curse under my breath a lot, but when Pittsburgh resident Dave Hackbart got frustrated trying to parallel park in April 2006, he gave "the finger" to one uncooperative driver, and then gave the same finger to another driver who yelled at him not to make that rude gesture in public. The second driver turned out to be a Pittsburgh police officer.

In response to flipping off the officer, Hackbart received a citation for disorderly conduct, and "was found guilty by a magistrate and fined court costs."

Probably most people would have let it go at this point, and remembered what their mamas said about keeping your middle finger to yourself.

But Hackbart filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city - and received a $50,000 settlement (of which he'll get about a fifth after attorney fees and costs), plus an agreement by the city "to retrain its officers in the limits of disorderly conduct law."

Hackbart said, “A lot of good things have come out of this. Hopefully it’s a big deterrent and it helps other people down the road who are in my shoes.”

In this case the gesture and its consequences were so far-reaching that Hackbart was inspired to quit his job waiting tables and go to paralegal school.

Sources: TIME.com; The New York Times

Paralegal Profile: Peter Buckley, Creator of LinkedIn's Paralegal Network Group

Job Title: Paralegal II

Employer: Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Boston, MA

Years of Paralegal Experience: 13

Career Highlight: The biggest career highlight was the first time that firms and companies sought me out for my experience. That spoke volumes to me regarding how much I have progressed in my profession and how people took notice.

Practice Tip for Paralegals: Organization, attention to detail, the ability to think outside the box and having the drive to tackle any type of legal task are some of the most key components in this profession. This is a profession where multitasking is essential. Without it you would not advance very far. Most importantly, keep up with your CLEs as well as any other legal education that is offered. There are a lot of free opportunities out there; you just need to look for them.

As the creator and administrator of the LinkedIn Group, Paralegal Network, with over 1,100 members, how do you think paralegals most benefit from using social media?
Social media is extremely useful in today’s legal community. When researching, it provides endless opportunities to gather information that used to take what seemed like forever to obtain. Now the interactive Internet provides access to groups like LinkedIn and provides networking capabilities that I believe are essential today.

Since I started the Paralegal Network, paralegals from all over the country have been able to connect and network for various needs. I realize that there are many groups like this one, but I am amazed by how many individuals, including myself, have benefited from this group for whatever reason and how selfless the members are when offering advice and/or direction.

I am hoping to expand this group to offer many more resources in the very near future so please join in and give me your feedback. The more I know of the needs of the members, the more I can help offer resources

For paralegals new to social media, how do you suggest they get started?
If they are reading this then they have already started! Finding sites such as this one will offer the opportunity to connect with much more.

What is your favorite social media site for paralegals?
The social networking sites that I use the most are LinkedIn and Facebook. I have used some of the other big ones but they did not offer me what I was looking for. I will only use the ones that I believe are safe and only reveal information that will not turn me into a victim of identity theft.

What is your favorite blog for legal professionals?
I do not blog on a regular basis and do not have a lot of experience using them. To give Lynne the plug that she deserves, I have used Practical Paralegalism and LinkedIn.

Do you Twitter? No

Is entering the paralegal profession worth it? Today you see more job postings for paralegals than for attorneys. Now is not the time to become an attorney but the paralegal field is growing, even in this economic crisis. In the life of a firm or corporate legal department, the need for paralegals is more prevalent. Although paralegals will not make the same salaries as attorneys in most cases, paralegals have been known to make six figure salaries. You can advance in this profession as far as you want. You just need the drive to make it happen.

Favorite Internet Resource for Paralegals: I have many favorites, depending on what I am looking for. All paralegals should open themselves to the world of endless media via the Internet. But there are many sites that are not good and can be detrimental to a research project. Some of the most important ones are your local paralegal association's website and links to your applicable state legislature. Others include but are not limited to:

http://www.paralegals.org/
http://www.lexis.com/
http://www.westlaw.com/

Fun Fact: I am a complete nerd when comes to absolutely useless trivia.

Professional Links:

http://http://www.paralegals.org/
http://www.libertymutual.com/
http://www.massparalegal.org/
http://http://www.linkedin.com/myprofile?trk=hb_side_pro

___________________
I "met" Peter via LinkedIn. If you haven't already joined Paralegal Network, I recommend sending a request to join today. For other LinkedIn paralegal groups, see my prior post about some of the larger and active groups currently available, "LinkedIn: Network by Joining Paralegal Groups."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Internet Quote: Don't Put This on Your Law School Application

Or "Oh, No, You Didn't Just Say That!"

I don't know if you're following the hot mess of a romantic entanglement and a legal predicament that is former NRL star Greg Bird and his girlfriend, American paralegal Katie Milligan, but if you're not, you haven't missed much.

Australia's News.com reports that Milligan testified today in Sydney District Court regarding Bird's appeal of his conviction for allegedly assaulting her with a glass during an argument, and admitted that she initially lied about his roommate attacking her. She explained that she was "drunk, high and crazy" and lunged at Bird with the glass first.

And then she confessed:

I'm obviously not going to be a very good lawyer.

Ya think?



UPDATE: NRL star's conviction for glassing girlfriend quashed

Social Media 101: Facebook Really Isn't Private

Or Not to Beat a Dead Horse...

When North Carolina family lawyer and blogger Lee Rosen says, "Realistically, anything you put on Facebook or on Twitter or other social network sites, is going to be discoverable. You have no privacy ultimately." - you can take it to the bank.

Rosen is one of the social media and legal experts interviewed for ABC11's investigative report "Divorce laywers find evidence on Facebook". Following closely on the heels of my recent post about Facebook pictures costing a disability claimant her monthly benefits after her carrier gained access to them, I think it's critical to reiterate that nothing posted on Facebook is private.

In the same article, family attorney Victoria Bender reminds us that there are things paralegals cannot do when using social media for investigative purposes because "there are some ethical issues with social networking sites in divorce cases."



If you will accept anybody as your friend and my paralegal goes online and says will you be my friend and they say yes and they look at everything that's on your Facebook page, that's probably a violation of my ethical obligation to give full disclosure when you're talking to the attorney in a case. However, if your friend goes and does it before you go to see an attorney and they get all this information from Facebook, they haven't done anything wrong.

The best advice from this article is, "Think before you post."

Rosen also has an excellent blog, Divorce Discourse, which I highly recommend that legal professionals add to their RSS feeds, because he discusses everything from practice management to law office technology in a well-written and down-to-earth manner that is a pleasure to read.




Sunday, November 22, 2009

Preachin' to the Paralegal Choir

Or Can I Get an "Amen"?


I don't know if this Twitterer is a paralegal or not, but I think I might have this cross-stitched to hang over my desk...

Social Media 101: Facebook Can Cost You a Paycheck

Or What Happens in a Chippendales Bar, Stays There

I tell my kids, my friends, my clients, as well as attendees at my social media presentations for legal professionals, that Facebook is wonderful, but also dangerous if used without some basic common sense. But many of them don't believe me. So I'm going to start giving them a copy of this Yahoo! News article, "Canadian woman loses benefits over Facebook photo."

To make a long story short - and pointed, very pointed - Canadian Nathalie Blanchard's disability insurance carrier obtained Facebook photos of her engaging in some lively recreational activities while she was on an extended medical leave from IBM for depression, including frolicking on a beach and "having a good time at a Chippendales bar show," and cut off her monthly sick-leave benefits, deeming her available for work.

Blanchard is appealing the decision and says her doctor advised her to try and have some fun.

The article doesn't say how Blanchard's insurance company obtained the Facebook photos - if her insurance agent was one of her Facebook friends, if she was part of an open network allowing the agent or another representative of the company to view her profile, or if the company obtained the photos via other means.

Helloooo, Facebook Isn't as Private as You Think

This story reminds me of an individual who posed this question to me after one of my social media presentations: "I want to use Facebook for professional networking, but what do you think of me creating a separate and secret personal account for the more off-color exchanges I have with a rather bawdy group of friends that I don't want other professionals to see?"

My response?: "It's not a good idea to post anything on Facebook that you don't want someone else to see, particularly if it could damage you in any way."

Even if you think that only a few select friends have access to your "secret" raunchy Facebook profile, you don't know who is sitting around their computer screens viewing those bawdy exchanges (or photos) with them, knowing full well it's you. Let's not even talk about what happens if one of your fellow "bawdy buddies" suddenly decides that you're public enemy number one, instead of a trusted friend. And there are other ways that your personal information can become out of your control once it is posted on the Internet.

If that harmful or negative information you posted on Facebook can be viewed by a single person, then there are countless ways for it to be seen by others and preserved as potential and damning evidence against you.

Do you value your present (or future) professional reputation, but still want to get raunchy or photographed with a Chippendale in your lap? Then don't do it on the Internet.

Social Media Tip: Don't put anything on Facebook that you wouldn't want your present or future co-workers to see, and check your Facebook privacy settings right now!


Legal Secretaries Bearing Brunt of Recession

Robert Half Legal's 2010 Salary Guide is now available, and it's no surprise that legal professional salaries won't experience much growth in 2010.

To get your free copy of the guide, click here. If you're doing your homework regarding what you can expect for next year's salary, either as a currently employed paralegal or someone seeking paralegal work, this would be a valuable addition to your information arsenal. But keep in mind that salaries in your area are affected by what the market will bear, and that there may be a significant difference in rural areas and smaller firms.

Per Robert Half Legal's press release, the guide "is used extensively by law firms and corporate legal departments nationwide to determine appropriate compensation levels for employees. In addition, government agencies and educational institutions rely on the guide for current data on salaries and hiring trends in the legal field."

According to The Lawyers Weekly interview with Jonathan Veale, division director of permanent placement at Robert Half Legal's Toronto office, we haven't seen an end to downsizing by big law firms, but mid-size firms are faring better.

Bankruptcy, litigation, family law, personal injury law, and labor and employment law are still going strong, which is consistent with The Paralegal Voice's "New Hiring Trends in the Paralegal World" podcast at Legal Talk Network, featuring Charles Volkert, Executive Director of Robert Half Legal.

Veale told The Lawyers Weekly:

...By far, however, the brunt of the recession is being borne by support staff at law firms, in particular legal secretaries.“

In the past, firms often aimed for one legal secretary per lawyer, now it’s more common for one legal secretary to support two or three lawyers,” Veale says. Law clerks have done better than legal secretaries during this recession since they can add value on both the administrative and financial side, according to Veale, as they can bill their time to a file.


I wouldn't be surprised to learn that many paralegals and legal assistants are also supporting more lawyers than they have in the past. It's also a given that if lawyers can expect a dip in salaries, so can the rest of the staff.

Also not surprising are Robert Half International's 2010 salary guides indicating that related fields are also affected by the recession, with "starting salaries expected to remain pretty much flat in accounting and finance, information technology and administrative fields."

Have you taken Practical Paralegalism's survey at the sidebar, "Are You Planning to Ask for a Raise Anytime Soon?"


Related Posts: Robert Half Legal's New White Paper: Law Offices Face New Challenges; New Hiring Trends in the Paralegal World (with links to more career and specialty information)

Internet Quote: Do Paralegals Mind Being Called Paramedics?

Or "Oh, No, You Didn't Just Say That!"

Like me, Peter Hermann, a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, would love to get picked for jury duty, just once. But the odds are stacked against paralegals and journalists. Hermann shares his experience about not getting picked in a great article, "Chance to hear jury at work evaporates".

Hermann's number even got skipped over when people were called to the box, possibly because he's "written extensively over the years about law enforcement, the city's unrelenting crime problem and how police fight the scourge of drugs." But a paralegal might have slipped through on the basis of a court typo:


There were, of course, errors that lightened the mood as people stood to state their names and occupations: The court file mistakenly listed a paralegal (who works in a federal prosecutor's office, no less) as a paramedic, a heavy equipment operator as a conservationist.

It's an easy mistake to make, right?

How many of my paralegal readers have had the "inside-the-jury-box perspective"?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Practical Paralegalism’s Recommended Reading This Week

One of the many reasons that I blog for paralegals is to share information relevant to our profession. There are hundreds of new articles posted every week on the Internet, but once a week I will try to break them down into a half dozen or so “don’t miss” articles focusing on legal news, practice tips and technology – and a good laugh or two.

Here’s this week’s recommended reading:

“Preserve a Web Page as a PDF” from Business Hacks shows you how to convert an entire web page (not just part of it) into a PDF file, very useful for paralegals in a litigation or research setting.

“How to: Redact in Acrobat 9 Pro” from The Rung gives a step-by-step instructional on redacting documents using this “essential tool for legal professionals.”

“Top 10 News Readers Judged by Mashable Readers”. Google Reader is ranked number one in this survey.

“What is Google Chrome OS And Why Does It Matter?” by PluggedInLawyer. Tracy says, “Mark my words, desktops and desktop applications are going the way of the T-Rex.” For those of ya’ll, like me, who are like, “Draw me a picture”, check out this video from Social Media Law Student.

Finally, check out “Man Tests Police by Dressing to Match Suspect’s Description” from Lowering the Bar. They passed the test with flying colors, and arrested him for obstructing justice. Get a hobby, buddy.

Did you read an article this week that you think paralegals should see? I’d love it if you would share the link with us.

Internet Quote: Using Technology to Avoid Your Scary Paralegal

Or "Oh, No, You Didn't Just Say That!"

Does this quote from Law Practice Today's recent article, "Technology Whiz: Don't Let Technology Overwhelm You" apply to anybody you know?

Neither should you use technology as a crutch for your avoidance behavior. Let’s say you’re scared of one of your tougher paralegals, or you don’t really like your secretary, so you move her cubicle across the office and e-mail everything to her. Risking the potential for misinterpretation of assignments, pretending to be on the phone when she walks by, managing by e-mail … none of those methods solves the problem head on, but instead only exacerbates it.

Uh-oh. If you find yourself mostly in an email relationship with your supervising attorney, does that mean you're in a dysfunctional work relationship?

I hope not. My boss and I email a lot...

Add Twitter to Your Paralegal Job Search Resources

A Tweet Is Worth a Thousand Words:




Twitterers are not only sharing information about legal news and technology, but they're sharing job listings.

To find jobs in your area, enter a query in the "search" box at Twitter.com, and see what pops up.



If you're using a multi-column Twitter application like TweetDeck, you can set up a search column for any subject that interests you. If you're open to relocation, just set up columns for "paralegal" and "legal assistant", and check out the steady stream of paralegal job listings across the country.

The above query also turned up Raleigh paralegal Rella Haire's celebratory tweet:



Way to go, Rella!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Congratulations to ParalegalGateway's 2010 Superstars!

ParalegalGateway has announced its 2010 Paralegal Superstars:


Amy Shillingburg - San Diego, CA
Jeannie Cartabiano - Redlands, CA
Catherine McKenzie - Vero Beach, FL
Viola Ange - Cedar Hill, TX
Laura Ahtes - Wilmington, DE
Patty Dietz-Selke - Atlanta, GA
Madelaine Vines - Colorado Springs, CO
Kathleen Miller - Irvine, CA
Ruth Conley - Houston, TX
Brian Haberly - Seattle, WA
De Dishman - Portland, OR
Carolyn Yellis - Orange County, CA

Congratulations to all of these outstanding paralegals for their achievements, and special thanks to Jeannie Johnston, CEO of ParalegalGateway, for her generous and tireless service to the paralegal profession.

Check out ParalegalGateway.com, its wonderful listserv for paralegals and its active LinkedIn Group, and consider joining this virtual community of knowledgeable and hard-working professionals. ParalegalGateway members are generous with their support and experience, and are a great resource for career and practical skills advice.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Is This, The Seventh Grade?

Seriously, the immature behavior at work described in the Matter of Sindoni v. County of Tioga sounds like a screenplay for the sequel to Mean Girls.

Law.com reports that Penny Sindoni, a senior typist who had enjoyed a solid 11-year work history with the Tioga County Health Department, was terminated for creating a hostile and disruptive work environment as a result of her animosity toward a co-worker, Christeenia “Teena” Cargill. A New York appeals court upheld her dismissal.


Sindoni was accused of helping organize a group of five other employees that became known as the "I Hate Teena Club," using the name that Cargill goes by.

Sindoni wore a ribbon that identified her as a central figure in the "club," according to the decision. She countered that she wore the ribbon in sympathy for two employees who worked under Cargill and that it did not signify her status in the group.

Sindoni was the only member of the group who lost her job because of the behavior.

We’ve all worked with people that we didn’t like, but there’s no excuse for regressing to middle school bullying and passive aggressive behavior. If you have a problem with a co-worker, talk to him or her civilly and directly, and then if that doesn’t work, have a private talk with the appropriate supervisor or manager.

But don’t start a “mean girls” clique complete with beribboned gang markings – unless you don’t really need that paycheck.
________________________
Best Reader Comment from macinjosh: "The judge also ruled that the Petitioner has cooties and ordered a cootie shot to be administered within 15 days."

Dog Gets His Day in Court

This story involves my two favorite subjects: paralegals and dogs. But this time, they are opposing parties in an unusual court proceeding.

I just learned that New Hanover County, NC has a Dangerous Dog Appeals Court. Star News Online provides a summary of how dog court works:


To be a dangerous dog, the animal must meet one of three criteria: the animal bites a person in any location; it attacks another pet, killing it or causing at least $250 worth of medical damage; or it has an attitude of attacking when it’s off its owner’s property, McNeil said.

A victim of a dog attack has five days to file paperwork for it to be determined dangerous. The dog owner also has five days to file a defense.

The case then goes before a panel of volunteers with extensive knowledge about dogs. The members are appointed by the board of health. The panel is not told the breed of the dog or the names of the owner or victim.

Hopefully, the panel doesn't get to hear the name of the dog either, especially if it's "Kujo".

Paralegal Rebecca Zumpe was in Dangerous Dog Appeals Court this month, alleging that Kujo, a lab mix owned by Bob Greene, broke through his invisible fence while she was jogging with her dog, and knocked her down, fracturing her ankle. She's had surgery and missed two months of work because of her injuries.

Kujo's owner says Zumpe's own dog knocked her over.

Oddly, the three-person volunteer panel seemed more concerned about Kujo's safety. The panelists felt he shouldn't be all alone in his yard where just any old dog can waltz through the invisible fence and take him down.

The verdict: install an actual physical fence and Kujo will be found not guilty.

I couldn't tell from the article or the video what "offense" Kujo will be cleared of - not having a real fence?

Source: WWAY News Channel 3

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ya Win Some & Ya Lose Some

I like to enter contests, like this photo caption contest recently held by Above the Law for this picture:

My entry:

Attorney Dino Saur felt a vague sense of unease when he realized he hadn't heard a peep out of his paralegal's office in two days and wished he'd been nicer when she suggested that the office go paperless.

Okay, maybe you had to be there. (I'm pestering my attorneys constantly to go paperless. I bet the thought of burying me under paper has crossed their minds more than once.)

The winning entry:

We are not currently conducting any 3L hiring, but we will keep your resume on file as our needs change.

Hehe. Good one. (Or maybe a little mean, if you're a law school student.)

So I didn't win this one. I did win virtual assistant Tina Marie Hilton's "Excuse Buster" contest for free blog coaching.

My winning excuse:

My blog doesn’t have a sponsor & my personal assistant is a Corgi that eats cat poo. I am clearly the most needy of your entrants :)

I'd like to say it was my wit that won the day, but Tina drew my excuse out of a hat.

But I'm really excited about working with Tina to make Practical Paralegalism a better resource for paralegals.


Related Posts: Tina's terrific guest post, "5 New Technologies that Paralegals Need to Learn Now", as well as my staff feature, "Introducing the Staff of Practical Paralegalism, a Blog for Paralegals"

Working Girl Wednesday: Mortgage Payment Vs. Jimmy Choo Shoes

Or “You Know I’m Allergic to Ugliness”

Imelda Marcos, the “Iron Butterfly”, said that. She also said, “I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes. I had one thousand and sixty.”

TIME Magazine said actually 2,700 pairs were left behind when Marcos fled Malacanang Palace, and calculated, “If Imelda Marcos changed her shoes three times a day, and never wore the same pair twice, it would take her more than two years and five months to work through her shoe supply…”

Her infamous shoe collection even gets its own song, “3,000 Pairs of Shoes” in the new off-Broadway show, Imelda: A New Musical.

Corporette says this pair of Jimmy Choo black cutout pumps are “splurge-worthy” at $665, and I know Imelda, who had a thing for black pumps, would have snapped them right up back in the day, along with 67 more pairs.


I dunno. $700 is a mortgage payment or a month's rent for many of us working stiffs. But I guess people have been evicted for having what is now known as "Imelda Marcos Syndrome" ("when you need 2,000 pairs of shoes for just 2 feet!")

I’ve heard of Jimmy Choo shoes, mostly because of Sex and The City. But I’ll admit to being a rube. I’ve never seen an actual pair. Maybe because they start at hundreds of dollars per pair, and Target doesn't carry the line.

Jimmy Choo says, “My clients keep my shoes forever.”

I get that, since I’d blow my shoe budget for life with the purchase of a single pair.

I vote to make my mortgage payment instead, but having a thing for a pair of wicked black cutout pumps myself, agree that they are a wardrobe staple. So I’m checking out these knockoffs for under $100, which leaves me a few bucks left over for Starbucks once in a blue moon:

Fittzwell Chelsea Black Pumps with toe cutouts for $38.17 from Overstock
Joan & David black pumps with side cutout detail for $71 from Zappos (with rave reviews from customers):


My budget is allergic to $700 shoes.


______________

Addendum: One of my savvy readers says she gets deals on Choos on eBay. So, I'm extending a "Reader Choo Challenge". Go "window-shopping" on eBay and see if you can find a pair of Jimmy Choos in your size that are work-appropriate. Email the link to your Choos to lynne.devenny@gmail.com, and I'll do a post with "Choos for Working Girls". I'm going to be Choo-shopping in my size, too :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Start Your Legal Research with Google Scholar

Just last week, I told a group of paralegals at a civil litigation seminar to always start their informal case investigation with a Google search. This week, I would tell them that they can also start their free legal research using Google Scholar.

What is Google Scholar?

Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.


Just go to http://scholar.google.com/. To search for case law, select "Legal opinions and journals", and then enter your query and prepare to be quietly impressed. I quickly tested it with a few queries about common North Carolina workers' compensation issues, and all of the key cases appeared in the top search results. Then I narrowed the search to articles only, querying the terms "workers' compensation" with various medical conditions, and was very pleased with the results.

Google Scholar may not replace your other free and fee-based legal research services, but it's not a bad place to get started.

For an excellent review of Google Scholar's capabilities, see "Google Makes Free Caselaw Search Available in Scholar" from Internet for Lawyers and "More Sources on Google Scholar Case Law" from Just in Case.

If you've tried it, what do you think, and for what purposes would you recommend it?

Paralegal Profile: Tammy Cravit, Advocate for Children in Foster Care

Job Title: Juvenile Dependency Paralegal

Employer: I own and operate my own freelance paralegal firm, Paralegal for the Children, in Lompoc CA.

Years of Paralegal Experience: About 2

Specialty Areas: I specialize in juvenile dependency law – that is, the law that governs the operation of the foster care system. The firm I mainly work with is appointed by the court to represent the minor children in the system, and to advocate for their needs and interests.

Career Highlight: I’ve had a number of instances lately where I was tasked by my supervising attorneys with researching and drafting trial briefs on behalf of our clients. When I get an e-mail saying, “Congratulations, we won the argument based on your trial brief, and the right outcome is going to happen for our client”, that always makes me feel great.

Paralegal Practice Tip: Always pay attention to the technicalities – standard of review, burden of proof, whether an argument is waived on appeal, and issues of timely filing. Sometimes, these little "gotchas" can transform a tough case into an easy win. (And, on the flip side, you don’t want to transform an easy win into an impossible defeat by messing this kind of stuff up.)

For paralegals interested in working with children in the foster care system, either as a career or as a volunteer with the courts, what do you recommend they consider before applying?

Working in the juvenile dependency system is intensely rewarding, because the work you do has a real, tangible impact on the lives of the kids in the system. But being engaged in that system also brings you face-to-face with some of the worst kinds of cruelty that we humans can visit upon one another. Police reports and even autopsy reports are sometimes part of my work, and reading them is always heartbreaking. Make sure you have the emotional strength and support systems to cope with that, or doing this kind of work will drive you crazy.

Also, although I’ve been blessed to see (and contribute to) many positive outcomes for our clients, there are also times where you have to watch a kid go back to a birth family that has barely squeaked through the reunification system. Sometimes, those kids end up back in foster care months or years later, and the cycle repeats. You have to be able to accept that you can’t save everyone, and that sometimes the best you can do is produce a better outcome for a kid than what she would have had without your work.

Like me, you added to your family by adopting a daughter from the state foster care system. Do you have any advice for those considering building their families through adoption?

Be prepared for the fact that the foster care system is a government bureaucracy, with the same turf wars and inefficiencies as any other large bureaucracy. There’s never enough funding, never enough staff, and never enough services to meet everyone’s needs. So, if you’re going to become a foster parent and/or adopt, you need to be prepared to advocate – and sometimes advocate hard – for the child(ren) in your care. Also, keep notes of all your contacts with the system, and save your sent and received e-mails. They can save your bacon if something goes wrong – for example, if a false allegation of abuse or neglect is made. And don’t fool yourself into thinking that can’t happen.

Favorite Internet Resource: I love The Volokh Conspiracy (http://www.volokh.com/) - the authors are a group of law professors at various colleges, the subject matter is very diverse, and I always learn something.

Favorite Legal Software: Not strictly legal software, but the (Mac-only, for the moment) program Scrivener (http://www.literatureandlatte.com/) is fabulous for organizing and managing large legal writing projects such as trial and appellate briefs.

Fun Fact: In addition to my spouse and our 14-year-old daughter, I also share my home with three medium-sized parrots: A Goffin’s Cockatoo, a Congo African Grey Parrot (who talks prodigiously), and a Chestnut-Fronted Macaw.

Do you Twitter? Yes.

If so, Twitter handle: I’m still figuring out the point of Twitter, but I do have an account – my handle is @KidsParalegal.

Favorite Quote: “Childhood does not wait for the parent to become adequate.” – In re Marilyn H. (1993) 5 Cal.4th 295, 310, 851 P.2d 826; 19 Cal. Rptr. 2d 544.

Professional Link: http://www.childrensparalegal.com/
__________________________
November is National Adoption Month. There are so many wonderful children in foster care waiting for their "forever families". Even if adoption isn't right for your family, volunteering your time, mentoring a child or donating to your local foster care agency can still make a difference in the lives of these very special children.

Tips for New Attorneys that Paralegals Can Use

I frequently tell paralegals interested in career advancement not to limit themselves to news and continuing legal education geared solely to paralegals – but to attend relevant seminars in their specialty areas for attorneys (that allow paralegal attendees) and read their publications, too.

For example, Lawjobs.com recently posted an article, “10 Tips for Beginning a New Career”, geared to law school graduates, but the article is just as relevant to paralegal school graduates, including these tips:

“Realize how little you know, and ask questions.”

Ask good questions, including clarification of instructions, and write down the answers. You’ll only look stupid if you didn’t ask an obvious question which would have kept you from making a major mistake - or if you keep asking the same questions over and over.

“Learn the rules of civil procedure.”

Sleep with the rules and/or statutes pertaining to your new specialty areas if you have to. When I was first learning workers’ compensation law, I carried an annotated version of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act and a huge workers' compensation CLE manual known back in the day as “The Bible” with me everywhere. While my oldest daughter was in dance class or music lessons, I studied them until I knew them as well as I know my prized lasagna recipe. Even though I locate relevant rules and statutes on the Internet now, I still keep the book on my desk (because we spent a lot of time together and it feels like a friend).

“Work really, really hard.”

Do more than you are asked, and try to anticipate the next step in the case you are working on. Instead of passively asking for directions, take the initiative and demonstrate your increasing knowledge by offering to take that step, such as drafting the needed document or obtaining the necessary information. Always be alert for opportunities to learn and gain new skills.

And don’t forget to read what the attorneys are reading, too.

Paralegal Posting of the Week: This Attorney Never Yells

But He Will Make You Take a Polygraph Test

You know what I love best about maintaining a blog for paralegals? My readers that send me funny stuff, like this Craigslist ad for a Tuscon, Arizona paralegal or “legal/personal secretary” from my friend whose job I want, because she actually gets paid to read paralegal want ads:


Need a super man or woman who can full-time type, move, file, and organize super fast in a multi-tasking environment. Also needed: trustworthy with top secrets, quick critical thinking skills, researcher with computer files, organized to the extreme. Must be kind with the public yet stern to collect money so you can be paid bonuses. A personal organizer includes keeping detailed calendars, tracking 50+ clients' movements while keeping in communications with them and your attorney. Keeping your own private office, as well as the attorney's office, super neat and professional at all times is a must. Must meet daily goals and stream line procedures to prove efficiency at all times. In return, your honesty, hard work, opinions, and quick work product will be rewarded with respect, job security, and financial perks. This is a job where work product is needed each day; therefore, this is not a job where personal calls will be possible during work except for emergencies. Often you will operate on an honor system and a great deal of faith and trust will be placed on you. Your attorney who needs you is one of the most kind and fair (i.e. never yells), but very principled. Do not apply if you cannot show up to work every day on time, if you have any criminal behaviors or abusive drug/alcohol intake. Peoples' lives will be directly affected if you miss work often. Quickbooks and WordPerfect REQUIRED, Vista, and Family Law experience preferred. First week will be testing/training period part-time to see if career is an excellent match. Email resume and detailed essay about personality and experiences that prove you have the quality traits needed to succeed in this high security clearance position. If any previous employers were unhappy with your performance, include explanation, because all will be called as well as criminal background check will be done. Include all disclosures, including any gaps in time of unemployment, you know all will be discovered, so prove your honesty from the beginning and how you are a changed person from any unfavorable facts. Random drug testing is performed on the premises. If only minimum commissions are earned (base goals only which all prior assistants over years have met) then 25K is minimum pay.


The ad's a little on the long side, so I helpfully highlighted and italicized the best parts for you, but it was hard, because I could have highlighted and italicized the whole ad.

I’m almost (but not quite) speechless. I find this ad super-alarming (and super-annoying with all the "supers"), and not just the part about getting paid on a commission basis in what seems to be a peculiar family law practice. (Um, “tracking clients’ movements?”).

I tried to imagine what my cover letter for this job might say, but all I could come up with is, “That time I was in the first grade and stole my best friend’s ice cream sandwich right off her lunch tray and practically swallowed it whole created such a lingering sense of shame that it’s put me off ice cream sandwiches ever since, but only the kind with chocolate ice cream in the middle. I believe that these unfavorable facts made me the person I am today, fully capable of presenting just the right blend of kindness and sternness to your clients in order to get paid bonuses.”

Based on this ad, this attorney wouldn’t have to yell to scare me.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Parking Lots Just Got a Little Scarier

As if we don't have enough to worry about in busy mall parking lots during the holiday season, like getting kidnapped in our own car (or just forgetting where we parked it), now we have this to worry about, courtesy of West Headnote of the Day:


Click on the picture for the full headnote, but if you get snake bit in a parking lot on a business premises in Louisiana, you better be able to prove the business owned and controlled that vicious, toothsome serpent (even though I personally think that having anything other than a garter snake in your parking lot is a defect).

Like the headnote of the day? Here's the link to subscribe: http://westapps.west.thomson.com/westheadnote/subscribe.asp




The Paralegal Voice: Getting Back on the Right Track

by Lynne DeVenny & Vicki Voisin

Following a recent episode of The Paralegal Voice on Legal Talk Network, we were very pleased to hear from one of our listeners, Andrea, who has a question about getting into the paralegal profession after graduating several years ago and then experiencing difficulty landing a job post graduation:


I earned my A.A. Degree in Paralegal Studies in 2002 from an ABA approved school. Unfortunately, I ran into several road blocks since I had no experience in the field. The legal field is what I see myself doing as a career. I do have experience in the Criminal Justice field. For the past four years I have been a volunteer officer. How do I get back on the right track? Do I need to go through NALA to obtain a certification that will update my educational background? I appreciate any advice you can give.

Answer: Andrea, thanks for listening to The Paralegal Voice and for sending a question about your paralegal career.

We are not sure if you are currently working in a law office or not. If not, we recommend that you obtain an entry-level job in a law firm so that you can acquire on the job experience. Consider legal secretarial, administrative assistant and/or receptionist positions.

If you can't find a job immediately, look for a volunteer or internship position with a small law firm or a legal non-profit organization. Work on obtaining practical skills and getting current references.

We also recommend that you further your education by working toward a bachelor's degree. You might also consider taking computer classes if you do not have the technology skills that employers are seeking. If you do have a strong set of computer skills, including advanced knowledge of Microsoft Office, emphasize them on a well-done one-page resume.

You should be sure to join a professional paralegal association to take advantage of networking opportunities and continuing legal education classes. If you are a student, those classes are usually offered at a substantial discount.

We urge you to consider professional certification (you mentioned NALA's CLA/CP program) some time in the future when you feel comfortable taking the examination. This credential certainly won't hurt and will offer you the credibility you are seeking. However, locating a law-related job and obtaining legal experience should be your first priority.

Andrea, be sure to let us know if you have any other questions. We wish you much success as you pursue your paralegal career.



______________________
Please send questions to TheParalegalVoice@gmail.com, and stay tuned for our December podcast featuring the world's most famous paralegal and environmental activist, Erin Brockovich.

Paralegal Fights Human Trafficking

I saw this news story about fighting human trafficking, even as I was fighting back tears about the discovery of five-year old Shaniya Davis’ body on the side of a highway in North Carolina. As if the violent death of a child isn’t heart-breaking enough, her mother, Antoinette Davis, has been arrested and charged with selling her daughter into sexual slavery.

I feel a little better knowing that a paralegal is among the many dedicated people working to stop human trafficking. Rachel Braver, the Human Trafficking Paralegal and Outreach Coordinator with Legal Aid of North Carolina, in Raleigh, NC, says “the southeast is prone to trafficking because many states are agricultural and have a high immigrant population.”

It’s tragic that the death of a little girl, who should have been cherished and protected by her family, is raising the public's awareness of the terrible circumstances of thousands of other victims, children, women and men, forced to labor as slaves in brutal conditions, and experiencing extreme violations of their human rights every day, many right under our noses.

But we need to pay attention and support the non-profit organizations trying to fight human trafficking, including the many legal aid groups decimated by slashed budgets and decreased staffing.

And we need to pay attention to what is going on around us - and if we see someone who might be a victim, not turn a blind eye.

How many blind eyes were turned to Shaniya?



__________________________
Read the article “How You Can Blow The Whistle on Human Trafficking” in full for links to websites that offer information and help.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Suspended Attorney’s Use of Paralegal Results in Disbarment

State bars take an extremely dim view of attorneys that continue to practice law after being ordered not to, including when they try to circumvent the restriction by using paralegals to prepare court documents.

Following a regular disciplinary history with the Florida State Bar since 1994, Gerald John D'Ambrosio was suspended for a year in October 2006, after engaging in the unlicensed practice of law in Illinois and Oregon - but based on the Florida Bar’s November 12, 2009 order of disbarment, D’Ambrosio ignored the suspension and continued to work as an attorney, including:
  • Occupying the premises of his former law office, and allowing a “pro se” litigant and friend, Dr. Tom Bolera, to use the office address as his residential address on court documents (in the same Illinois action that got D’Ambrosio suspended).
  • Researching law on the Internet to assist Bolera in the Illinois action.
  • Using a paralegal to prepare documents and provide legal services to help Bolera continue to pursue the legal action in Illinois.
  • Starting a letter with “I am counsel” for another individual and confirming that he advised that individual in litigation. Even D’Ambrosio admitted to the Grievance Committee it was “poor judgment” to refer to himself as counsel. (Luckily, he was not on trial for effective legal writing, after also including this statement in the letter, “The complaint you filed is bogus…”)

The disbarment order contains detailed findings regarding D'Ambrosio's use of a paralegal to prepare documents in the Illinois case, including:

…During oral argument, D'Ambrosio admitted that when he was suspended he used a paralegal to assist Bolera proceed "pro se" in the Illinois matters. Further, the record demonstrates that while he was suspended, D'Ambrosio engaged in a sham by using the paralegal so he could continue engaging in the practice of law.

* * * * *


D'Ambrosio's sworn statement, taken by The Florida Bar's Grievance Committee, indicates that the paralegal never met or spoke with Bolera. D'Ambrosio was the conduit for any communications. The paralegal never sent anything directly to Bolera—the paralegal's work was sent to D'Ambrosio, who then communicated with Bolera. D'Ambrosio admitted this was the procedure, especially for the amended complaint (which was filed subsequent to D'Ambrosio's suspension) and an affidavit. Further, D'Ambrosio stated that he had an exhibit from the original complaint, which he had to include with the amended complaint.

D’Ambrosio’s argument to the Florida Bar that he didn’t practice law in Illinois “because one does not need to be a licensed attorney to research law on the internet; paralegals and untrained people engage in such research every day” fell on deaf ears.

Of course, untrained people perform legal research everyday. It’s not the unauthorized practice of law if they aren’t using their research to give others legal advice. The same goes for paralegals working under the supervision of attorneys in good standing with their state bars. The fact that D’Ambrosio, who was not in good standing with the Florida Bar, was using his Internet research and a paralegal to help a friend pursue a court case supports the Florida Bar’s finding of “egregious conduct.”

A word to the wise freelance paralegal: If you’re offered the opportunity to work for an attorney, make sure that attorney is licensed and is in good standing with the applicable state bar.

Source: Leagle, Inc.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Practical Paralegalism’s Recommended Reading This Week

One of the many reasons that I blog for paralegals is to share information relevant to our profession. There are hundreds of new articles posted every week on the Internet, but once a week I will try to break them down into a half dozen or so “don’t miss” articles focusing on legal news, practice tips and technology – and a good laugh or two.

Here’s this week’s recommended reading:

“The Ethics of Social Media” from Oregon Law Practice Management. This is critical reading for any legal professional who utilizes any aspect of social media, from your personal Facebook account to twittering to leaving comments on others’ blogs. Share this post with your co-workers, friends – and your clients.

“7 Ways to Get More Out of LinkedIn” from Mashable. Simply having a bare bones profile with your name, current employer and job title isn’t an effective use of LinkedIn. Not having a LinkedIn profile at all, whether you’re a working paralegal or a student, is something you need to remedy as soon as you finish reading this post!

“Does Cloud Computing Compromise Clients?” from Nicole Black at Practicing Law in the 21st Century – A Law & Technology Blog. If Nicole says cloud computing is the “wave of the future” – then it is. Read as much as you can about it and be ready when the issue inevitably arises during your career.

“Dropbox: A Computer-User’s Best Friend” from Social Media Law Student. If you’re the type who never thinks about backing up your files until your laptop inconsiderately crashes, Dropbox might be an option for quickly and conveniently preserving your files.

“Moving a Paperless Office is a Breeze” from Randall Ryder at Lawyerist. My favorite sentence in this post is, “There should be maybe one box of client files containing original signatures, but that’s it.” One box. That’s it. (Have I mentioned how much I hate paper?)

Twitter can be a little intimidating, especially for newbies, so Neal Wiser at TwiTip helpfully advises “When Not to Tweet”. I’m completely with him on not tweeting while driving or while visiting the loo.

Finally, my guiltiest pleasure is giggling over those associate photo captions posted by Litination, which makes me worry that I might not be a nice person - and very glad that I’m never going to be an associate. I bet if this fellow's mom saw this post, she'd be mad. (Click on the pic for the full post.)





Some technology and gadgets to check out, thanks to Laurie Mapp at Halo Secretarial Services, Monica Bay at the Common Scold and Tim Clodfelter at the Winston-Salem Journal:

Did you read an article this week that you think paralegals should see? I’d love it if you would share the link with us.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Legal Assistant Job Posting: Mary Poppins Wannabes Apply Here

Above the Law got this horrid job posting first (dang it, do I have to add law school job boards to my Craigslist ad searches?) and bills it as "the most depressing job posting ever" for law students.

Elie, it's the most depressing job posting ever for real legal assistants, too.

We're actually kind of fortunate the employer thinks law students are the only ones smart enough to photo-copy, fax, run errands, schedule appointments and change diapers - simultaneously.

You can check out the ATL post for the gory details, but basically, an Austin immigration law firm wants a nanny that can double as a legal assistant. No, a nanny with a college degree who really wants to be a lawyer when she's done being a nanny.

I find it hard enough to do my job, without adding a 4-month old infant to the mix.

Somehow the ATL post brings to mind that classic Mary Poppins' song, "A Spoonful of Sugar" (sing along if you know it, with your best Julie Andrews imitation):


In ev'ry job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job's a game

And ev'ry task you undertake
Becomes a piece of cake
A lark! A spree! It's very clear to see that

A Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
The medicine go down-wown
The medicine go down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way


I don't think a spoonful of sugar's gonna make these job duties go down in anywhere close to a delightful way. The students at UT Law certainly aren't seeing the "element of fun."

Dirty diaper, anyone?