So I tweeted:
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
So I tweeted:
That gave me pause in itself, because in most news stories, elderly couples are the victims.
But my heart absolutely sank as I read the story and learned that a lawyer, the sole practitioner of a small guardianship practice, and his wife, a legal assistant and the office manager, have been indicted by a grand jury for conspiring to steal more than $2 million dollars from mentally incompetent veterans.
According to the Texas Attorney General's office, Joe Phillips, a 71-year old attorney and former employee of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, was the legal guardian for these veterans, responsible for maintaining their financial affairs. He was supposed "to operate and maintain the bank accounts of the veterans to receive payments from the VA and SSA for ordinary and customary living expenses."
Instead, Phillips and his wife, Dorothy, 70, are accused of transferring the veterans' funds into his personal account over a five-year period from 2003 through 2008.
They are also accused of lying to the veterans about how much money they had in their accounts and failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax receipts.
The U.S. Attorney's Office news release ends with the statement, "Joe Phillips no longer serves as a fiduciary for any of his former military veteran clients."
The Phillips have yet to have their day in court. But it will be a sad one if the final verdict is that two legal professionals took advantage of the most vulnerable of prey, the mentally incompetent.
Sources: U.S. Attorney's Office - Southern District of Texas; myfoxhouston.com
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Employer: K&L Gates LLP, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
Years of Paralegal Experience: Since 1982 – 28 years this summer
Specialty Areas: Commercial Real Estate
Career Highlight: Receiving the 2010 Distinguished Paralegal Award from the North Carolina Bar Association Paralegal Division
Paralegal Practice Tips:
- Find and USE a mentor who is a consummate professional with wonderful leadership qualities. Try hard to emulate that person. Even better – find several mentors.
- Never stop learning. Attend Continuing Paralegal Education events but also learn on your own by reading magazines, newspapers, books, etc., whatever is available to you.
Favorite Internet Resource: This is a hard question as I use so many web sites for different reasons. I guess I would have to say NETR Public Records Online Directory (http://publicrecords.netronline.com/).
Favorite Legal Software: Net Deed Plotter – a map drawing software for real estate professionals (http://www.deedplot.com/)
Do you use social media resources, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or blogs, for career and/or case development? I use LinkedIn for career contact information and to find people with whom I have lost track. I also use the North Carolina Bar Association Real Property Section list-serv. I’m not sure if the latter is considered “social media”, but it is most certainly a wonderful resource.
Fun Fact: I entered a typing contest in high school – took first place at my school, first place at the county level, and third place at the state level – 125 words per minute with 1 error – on a manual typewriter no less! Wish I could consistently do that now.
Favorite Quotes: It varies from time to time and subject to subject, but at the moment they would be:
- "Take that first step in faith . . . you may not see the whole staircase, but take that first step." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap . . . but by the seeds you plant!" - Robert Louis Stevenson
Professional Link: http://www.linkedin.com/in/virginiaburrows
I've had the pleasure of getting to know Virginia while serving with her on the North Carolina Bar Association Paralegal Division Council. I'm in awe of her intellect and her generous service to the paralegal profession over many years. (I'm pretty sure she's forgotten more than I'll ever know.) Therefore, I was thrilled to be sitting right beside her at the reception when she was given the 2010 Distinguished Paralegal Award by NCBA PD. If you're looking for a paralegal to emulate, Virginia is an outstanding choice.
At the annual Florida Bar Convention in Boca Raton this past week, attorneys from around the State were asked to be “The One” to give something back to their communities with pro bono legal services. They were asked to imagine the impact attorneys could make if every attorney took just one pro bono case. That single contribution could drastically reduce the enormous backlog of pro bono cases and significantly improve access to justice for all Florida residents.
- The National Pro Bono Volunteer Opportunities Guide
- Directory of Pro Bono Children's Law Programs
- The National Domestic Violence Pro Bono Directory
- CASA State and Local GAL programs
The American Bar Association also has a terrific online resource, "How to Utilize Legal Assistants in Pro Bono Publico Programs."
Source: Jacksonville Daily Record
Monday, June 28, 2010
- Watching the clock
- Unwilling to be accountable for mistakes
- Failing to ask questions
- Dragging your feet when it comes to returning phone calls
- Regularly belly-aching (as opposed to constructive venting)
- Staying silent when you should speak up
Jay's article is a good read, and an excellent reminder that even if we have loads of experience and top-notch legal skills, the failure to be a strong, honest and accountable team player could cost us a job.
Source: JD Supra
Related Post: Introducing the Bankruptcy Paralegal Forum
How'd you get into being a judicial clerk?
Well, I went to college and my first job out of college was as a legal secretary for a law firm in Battle Creek, and that was over 20 years ago and I've just stayed in that field ever since then. I started here in July of 2009 working for Judge Kingsley, and previous to that I had worked for a family law attorney for over 20 years. I thought that when I applied for the job, I thought it'd be pretty challenging and rewarding working for a judge. It's interesting to see how having worked at an attorney's office -- where you would see how the paper flow starts and how the clients come in and discuss the cases with their attorneys -- and then now to see the other end where cases are finalized and how the whole process works.
Penny Shaw, a judicial clerk for Circuit Court Judge James C. Kingley of the 37th Judicial Circuit Court in Battle Creek, Michigan, gives a very informative interview to the Battle Creek Enquirer about her job duties. You can tell that Shaw really loves her job, and she speaks for many legal support staff members when she says, "...it's very rewarding, but it can be stressful at times when..." [Readers, you can fill in the blank].
Source: Battle Creek Enquirer
Related Post: What Else Can You Do with a Paralegal Degree?
- Regulation/Disciplinary Proceedings
- The Unauthorized Practice of Law
- Confidentiality and Privilege
- Conflicts of Interest
- Ethics Rules for Litigation
- Ethics and Technology
Vicki is an amazing speaker and an experienced paralegal educator. This is an incredible opportunity to hear the latest in ethics issues from the comfort of your own office or home.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
"Universal adoption of smart phones, voice mail and e-mail enables (and requires) lawyers to be more self-sufficient” and reduces the need for support staff, the law firm said.
Danielle DelPercio, who lives in Conway, was shot in the head, allegedly by a 14-year old boy who has been charged with attempted murder and carjacking with great bodily injury. He is in custody and on suicide watch. DelPercio still has the bullet lodged in her skull, has no health insurance and is unable to work.
According to DelPercio's MySpace page, she has an associate degree in paralegal studies from Horry Georgetown Tech College and a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies from Coastal Carolina University. She worked as a legal assistant and office manager for attorney Ralph Wilson in Conway for approximately nine years, and was most recently employed as a legal assistant for the Irvin Law Firm in Conway.
In today's column "After fight for life, a long road ahead" in the Myrtle Beach Sun News, journalist Issac Bailey writes of DelPercio:
She's the one who spent three decades of her life "standing up for the underdog, even in school," as her mother remembers it.
She's the one who has spent years as a paralegal in criminal defense cases, maybe even making too many excuses for the lives led by some of the clients she helped.
She's the one who will have to determine just how high she will put up her guard to the new world and how far she's willing to walk away from the carefree woman she was, one trusting enough to pick up a strange boy at night.
I can't imagine how DelPercio and her family must feel. I know they are beyond grateful that she is alive and on the road to recovery, but also struggling to deal with the consequences of DelPercio's fateful decision to help a teenage boy who appeared to be vulnerable, but instead took advantage of her vulnerability.
This incident reminds me of a hot summer day about ten years ago when I was stopped at an intersection, and a young woman with an infant suddenly opened my unlocked passenger door, slid into my car, and asked for a ride home because she had missed her bus. It was 95 degrees that day, and you could fry eggs on the sidewalk. I couldn't say no.
I drove her to an area of town well known for drug-dealing and violence, and let her out in front of a rundown apartment building. Several males in their late teens walked in front of my car and stood there so that I couldn't drive away. In that few minutes, I wondered if I had made the biggest mistake of my life by giving the young woman a ride. Finally, they slowly stepped aside while still staring at me, and I drove away - thinking I would never leave my car doors unlocked again.
It's a tough world when trying to be kind could end up costing so much.
I hope that Danielle DelPercio recovers fully from this tragic act of violence, physically and mentally, and is still able to be that person who stands up for the underdog - even though she'll likely never fully trust the underdog again.
If you'd like to donate to the Danielle DelPercio Fund, here is the link: http://www.danielledelperciofund.com/Danielle_DelPercio_Fund/Donation_Page.html
Sources: The Horry Independent; Myrtle Beach Sun News
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I know you guys can feel her pain.
So can The Percolatin' Paralegal.
A couple of weeks ago, a random scruffy guy wandered into my office and announced, "I'm gonna fire one off."
By the time I found just the right word, "WUT?" - he clarified, "The fire alarm, ma'am. The fire alarm."
A New Jersey legal assistant suffering from a painful medical condition so debilitating that she can't work or drive right now learned that she won a week's stay at a beautiful beach - while she was being transported by ambulance to a hospital.
While I know all of you are too good at your jobs to ever consider giving anything less than excellent customer service, who hasn't fantasized about doing this in the middle of a difficult telephone conversation?
I like one commenter's quip, "Leave your message after the meow."
At one point during the contest, a guest performer was introduced by a band as "paralegal - 12th floor." The Washington Post article doesn't identify the band or the 12th floor employee, but I'm wondering if it was paralegal Amanda Hubert, who joined the winning band, Sutherland Comfort, as a back-up singer during "Crazy in Love." Other legal staffers who joined the band included Rachel Saltzman, a recruiting assistant, and Christopher Lewis.
Sutherland Comfort is comprised entirely of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP lawyers and employees from its DC office. According to its website, the firm has seven major practice areas, corporate, energy and environmental, financial services, intellectual property, litigation, real estate and tax. According to LinkedIn, Hubert is a financial services paralegal and has a masters degree in public policy from George Mason University.
As part of its efforts to win this year's competition, the firm pulled out all the stops, including re-naming its band after hosting a firm-wide contest. Supporting a rock-and-roll competition, whether it's being part of the band, donating money, volunteering to deliver donations, or wearing "Sutherland Comfort" t-shirts in the audience sounds like a great way to bring a large law firm together and help the community.
In addition to allowing legal professionals to be rock stars for a night, the event raised more than $130,000 for Gifts for the Homeless. According to its website, 100% of the proceeds will be used to help the homeless in the DC metro area.
Sources: BLT; Washington Post; Sutherland
Wilson plans to teach viewers to make things out of items they probably already have at home, such as cloth diapers made from towels and children's clothes made from old T-shirts.
"It's a tough economy," she said. "People are whipping out that old sewing machine and starting to make stuff. And there's nothing better than a hand-made gift."
Thursday, June 24, 2010
...I’ve seen the power that law has to change people’s lives in a very real and meaningful way. And I knew that lawyers had the ability to help turn words on a page into justice in the world –- to keep a neighborhood safe; to keep a family in their home; to leave our children a world that is a little more equal and a little more just.
And I know to be here, taking pay cuts as many of you do, you’ve got to be doing it because of passion because all of you all would be at a firm somewhere if it didn’t mean something to you.
But that’s true whether you’re an attorney, a paralegal, a librarian, a support staffer — truly, the dedication that you’ve all shown is extraordinary. And I’m proud — very proud — of the work that you’ve done, and I’m extremely grateful for what you’re doing every day.
And it’s important for us to share those values with the next generation. We need to replace you all. We need to start working on the next generation of staffers and attorneys and librarians and paralegals who are going to fill these seats in decades to come. And they’re going to do that because of the work that they see you doing. They’re going to do that because of the pride that you take in your work. We are the role models for the next generation.
"I thought I was going crazy," said Karen Carroll, a legal assistant employed by attorney James Wagner.
Missy Rhine, a legal assistant at Spaulding and Kitzler on Main Street, thought she had the "caffeine shakes."
And legal secretary, Megan Tahmalwash, employed by the Harper Law Office, thought at first that the wind was shaking her chair.
"This wasn't bad though," she said, "I used to live in California."
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Shannon Payne, a paralegal, says she always loved running, but her Pomeranian Chihuahua mix, Sammie, was "too wild" when she tried to take him with her. He barked and growled at every passing dog so she ended up leaving him home then felt guilty exercising without him so stopped working out entirely.
Payne credits her 7.30 a.m. Burbank boot camp class for making Sammy comfortable around other dogs, giving him an outlet for releasing pent-up energy and making her feel safe enough to be able to leave him at home alone all day, sleeping.
"The class is just as good, if not better, than weight training classes I've taken at gyms, but with this one, I get to be with my Sammie," Payne said.
I love happy endings.
Employer: Slack & Davis, LLP, Austin, Texas
Years of Paralegal Experience: 8
Specialty Areas: Commercial Litigation, Aviation
Career Highlight: Taking a firm from WordPerfect to Word and then paperless. It was invigorating.
Paralegal Practice Tip: Learn Excel. Excel does so much more than crunch numbers for you. Indexing production, working on time lines, putting together important facts, creating charts and graphs – it’s all so easy in Excel. Learn it, use it, love it.
Favorite Internet Resource: I cannot tell you how often I use PDFmyURL.com day to day. It’s wonderful and extremely easy. http://www.pdfmyurl.com/
Also, I really do love http://www.dictionary.com/.
Favorite Legal Software: KDocs. Hands down. https://www.kdocs.net/Logon.asp
Do you use social media resources, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or blogs, for career and/or case development?
- LinkedIn: I am on LinkedIn, but I have never found great success with it as far as career development is concerned. It has been good for staying in touch, even loosely, to former colleagues.
- Twitter: I'm @HaleyOdom on Twitter, and am a big fan of Twitter! Not only has it been a perfect medium for me to get general information on any topic I could come up with, it has been a facilitator of excellent relationships. How else would I have come across @ExpertParalegal! Twitter has also been helpful in some of my cases, which is nice.
- Blogs: I also have a blog, Haley Lobs Law Bomb (http://haleyodom.wordpress.com/). My blog has been great for me personally. My writing is getting better, and I’m getting more comfortable putting my thoughts in writing.
Fun Fact: I turned down a scholarship in engineering to get a degree in English. English is harder than chemistry.
Favorite Quote: “If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn.” ~ Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
Awww, Haley, thanks for the Twitter mention. It's how I met you - and a lot of other terrific legal professionals nationwide. And I love Dictionary.com and Ray Bradbury, too.
Readers, I hope you'll add Haley's blog to that RSS feed reader I know you've set up by now. Also, if any of you would be willing to do a professional profile and share a little about what you do, as well as a few of your favorite professional tools and tips, please email me at email@example.com.
Monday, June 21, 2010
One of the most time-consuming and tedious job duties I frequently perform as a paralegal working on serious injury cases is redacting health insurance and payment information – by hand - from voluminous medical records and bills. Like many solos and small firms, my firm does not currently have any redaction software. As many of my readers know too well, manual redaction requires making duplicate work copies, and then choosing your weapon of choice, such as a Sharpie, Paper Mate Liquid Paper Dryline and/or Post-It Cover Up Tape (in three different sizes). In a case involving complex injuries, extensive medical treatment and hundreds of pages of records, this exhaustive process can take hours – longer if you run out of supplies (including the ones you raid from your co-workers’ desks).
Therefore, I was unusually excited when the opportunity arose to review Redact-It® Desktop from Information Graphics (IGC) (http://www.redact-it.com/redactit_desktop.htm), a “simple desktop tool” which “intelligently remove[s] sensitive content and privacy information from documents.” I had just completed a lengthy redaction project that took over half a day of my time, plus a ream of paper and several rolls of cover up tape. One of the attorneys in our firm had recently spent a late night redacting a last-minute project by hand. Another paralegal had just finished a discovery project where she had to redact – by hand – confidential information from thousands of pages of financial documents. We were more than ready to try an economically feasible software package like Redact-It®Desktop ($195 per user license or desktop), to see if we could use our redaction time more efficiently – and significantly decrease the number of staff hours which would be better used doing more substantive work, as well as the cost of expensive office supplies.
Easy and Speedy
First and foremost, it is very simple to start using Redact-It right away. The program includes “Getting Started with Redact-It” which shows users the various program features in short, clear and easy to follow steps. It only took a few minutes to review the how-tos, and I was ready to start my usual redaction project, redacting variable payment and insurance information from medical documents. I simply clicked “Open” to access the already scanned documents (no making duplicate copies), clicked the “Redact” button, and started dragging the box to highlight the many areas I needed to redact. Suddenly, I was the Super Woman of Redaction, redacting documents faster than a speeding bullet.
One immediate benefit of using Redact-It is how quickly I can redact data from just a few characters to almost an entire page of a document, without having to decide which size black marker or cover up tape to use. I simply clicked and dragged the redact button to immediately block out the desired information. I was amazed at how fast I was able to whip through a large stack of medical bills from different providers, almost instantaneously – and neatly – redacting documents that used to take me as much as five or ten minutes a page, depending on how many separate areas needed to be redacted (sometimes dozens per page on itemized statements).
Each time I redacted an area, I was offered the opportunity log it and to fill in the reason for the redaction. Redacting became almost fun instead of tedious and inconvenient – and much less messy, without little pieces of cover up tape sticking to my fingers and in my hair. Plus, I could still see the content underneath the redacted areas prior to finalizing the project. This allows users to easily and instantly “un-redact” mistakes - a much more painstaking project if you used pens or white-out and can no longer see the redacted information.
Once I finished making my proposed redactions, I used the “Verify” feature to double-check my work and manually review my redactions. The last “Finalize” step saved the redacted document in a new file type of my choice (PDF or TIFF), without modifying or overwriting the original PDF document (unlike Acrobat). Users also have the option of saving a draft version for other reviewers to see the proposed redactions and the content underneath – prior to finalizing. A project that normally would have taken at least three or four hours was completed in well under an hour, simply viewing and marking the documents on my computer screen (much kinder on my eyes). The final redacted product is much more attractive and professional-looking than hand-redacted documents.
While most of my redaction projects require manual review of each page because of the variable data involved with billing, insurance and payment information, Redact-It offers many auto-search features for any kind of data, including a “Redact Privacy Info” feature which will automatically find and redact Social Security numbers, phone numbers, email addresses, date of birth and names from a variety of documents, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, e-mail messages and searchable PDF files. I used this feature to redact dozens of instances of privacy information from several documents in literally seconds.
Redact-it also allows users to search for other commonly redacted information, like account and reference numbers, addresses, race or state, as well as create custom searches, such as finding a specific term like “25 million". The “Find & Redact” tool allows users to create custom and “wild card” text searches which are automatically redacted when found. In addition to searching by text, Redact-It® Desktop also offers the ability to search by pattern, macros, templates and even by re-runable scripts which can be used repeatedly. Users can also do a bulk manual redaction to process documents with the same layouts. IGC provides plenty of examples to show users how to set up their own scripts and templates.
Redact-It also allows users to easily stamp documents with preset stamps like “draft,” “completed,” and “confidential.” Users can create custom stamps and water marks as well – and Bates-number documents. The software also removes metadata and allows users to create IGC Content Sealed Format (CSF) files with added security controls to prevent altering. Recipients use a free Brava viewer to access the CSF files.
No More Cover Up Tape or Sharpies
Redact-It is designed to redact documents quickly and painlessly, and to take as much human error out of the process as possible. For legal professionals who frequently redact a significant number of documents as part of their regular job duties, it is the ideal software solution. Legal technology experts with much more software savvy than me have weighed in (see reviews below), and given this terrific software high marks for doing the main task it was designed for, offering a variety of ways to auto-redact documents and create redacted and secure new documents, while leaving the original files “as is.”
From this newbie’s perspective (remember mine is the hand with cover up tape still stuck to it), the main toolbar is wonderfully simple and user-friendly, making it easy to start redacting documents right away, even for users who are a little leery of new technology. Redact-It offers a free 15-day trial (http://www.redact-it.com/download.htm), a great no-risk opportunity to see the many advantages this application has over hand redaction.
If your firm is currently redacting voluminous documents by hand and has a tight budget, you could make a sound argument that over a short period of time Redact-It will offer a substantial savings in attorney and staff time, as well as the cost of paper and redaction supplies.
Now that I’ve used Redact-It® Desktop, there’s no way I’m going back to Sharpies and cover up tape.
Additional Redact-It Reviews:
Legal Technology, http://legaltech.law.com/my_weblog/redact-it-with-redactit.html
"We knew there wasn't anyone offering this kind of service," Poole said. "We think it's a growth industry. We were looking to be unique."So Poole, along with partners, Janice Bunselmeyer and Lisa Carillo, founded AccuCheQ (http://www.accucheq.com/), located in Granite City, Illinois, a new company which will provide background checks for job applicants, as well as help sort applications and recruit suitable applicants. The Belleville News Democrat reports the company already has several major clients, including the Chicago Police Department.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
So I really got a kick out of Veterinary Pet Insurance's 2010 list of unusual names for cats and dogs.
My favorite dog name from this year's contenders? It was hard to choose amongst names like "Molly McBoozeHound," "Bettie Poops," and "Hon. Mr. Jack Jack," but Practical Paralegalism fell hardest for this cutie:
"Bam-Bam Noodle Butt."Source: msnbc.omc
Related Posts: Why Every Legal Professional Needs a Dog; Introducing the Staff of Practical Paralegalism
"I think the only thing crazy about her was it was crazy that she thought she wasn’t going to get caught." ~ Assistant District Attorney John Walko is seeking at least a three-year prison sentence for Kathleen "Kathy" Foer-Morse, a former paralegal who admitted to stealing over $100,000 from a Norristown law firm.The Norristown Times Herald is reporting that Foer-Morse's defense attorney may present evidence of her "deteriorating emotional condition" as an argument for leniency, but Walko does not appear to be sympathetic. He stated to the court, "She was in a fiduciary position as a paralegal and abused her clients' trusts."
Source: Norristown Times Herald
Related Post: Jailed Paralegal Admits Theft and Awaits Sentencing
Tice, along with her friend, Jane Small of St. Louis, climbed Mt. Shasta in California to honor breast cancer survivors. At 14,179 feet, Mt. Shasta is the second highest peak in the Cascades.
They joined a team of 24 breast cancer survivors and supporters for the "Climb Against the Odds," as a fund-raising effort for the Breast Cancer Fund. Together, Tice and Small raised over $20,000 in pledges.
...This was the second climb the women made for breast cancer. In May they climbed Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. To make Tuesday’s climb, they trained almost every weekend since November, occasionally in below-freezing temperatures.
Congratulations to both Tice and Small for undertaking their incredible adventure to fight breast cancer.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Mrs. Howard began her career as a legal secretary at 17, working for [the late Fletcher] Clark on the second floor of what are now town offices in the Bank Building at the corner of South Main and Center streets. She continued with the law firm after Mr. Clark's death, climbing the stairs to the law offices each day for 63 years.
Born on January 10, 1906, this means Howard's legal secretarial career spanned the years from approximately 1923 to 1986.
Here's a picture of an early No. 4 or No. 5 Underwood typewriter, made anytime from 1923 to 1931:
I bet Howard has some wonderful tales to share from her many years in the legal profession, including witnessing the evolution of office technology from manual typewriters to the introduction of MS-DOS and WordPerfect 1.0 in the early 80s.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I've heard every single requirement on the "Perfect Boss Wish List" come out of many legal staffers' mouths at some point over my 20-plus year career.
Check them out for yourself, but here's my favorite five:
- You must not be a lunatic.
- You must actually know what is going on in your own cases.
- You must not continually screw up your own cases, and then expect me to magically fix the problems or blame me when things go wrong as a result of your errors.
- You must be willing to pay me on a regular basis for my services (just a reminder). I do not accept food, liquor or drugs as payment. Payment must be made in valid, U.S. currency and must be a reasonable wage for a person of my skill set.
- You must possess basic social skills.
I'm actually okay with my boss being "disastrously disorganized" because that just makes me more indispensable. (But in my reality, my boss has the cleanest desk in the office.)
The Craigslist poster says the ad is "most certainly not" a joke. (If it is a joke, it's a pretty good one.)
As a former co-worker used to say to certain intake callers with unreasonable expectations of any law firm's ability to undo a seriously hot mess (usually involving alcohol, homemade tranquilizers, or rude hand gestures at a former place of employment), "Good luck with that."
Ya'll got anything to add to the list? What do ya think - will this novel approach lead to a request for an interview by "Boss McDreamy"?
"I am (or was) a legal secretary with several years of experience (30+ years). … I have applied to jobs that are more than one-half less than what I was earning. I search for a job each and every day. … Where do people in my age bracket go? Too young not to work but too old to work?" ~ A woman from Warren County, New Jersey wrote to the Senate in an attempt to help get the jobs bill, H.R. 4213, passed.
The Washington Independent has published a thoughtful article about age discrimination as a serious obstacle for older workers that have been unemployed for an extended period of time, many part of a growing group called the "99ers" because their unemployment benefits have run out.
I've heard from a number of my readers in their 50s, down-sized from good legal jobs, and now unable to become re-employed in the legal field - or anywhere else. They do feel that their age is a hurdle. Some aren't getting interviews, and some are - but then never hear anything further, even after expressing their willingness to accept a lower salary.
I'm proud of the law firm that I work for, which values its older staffers, and has hired older workers to fill positions. But when I hear my older readers' tales of continuous rejection, I do wonder if age discrimination is a growing problem.
What has been your experience? Is age discrimination a disturbing fact - or are other factors keeping older workers from getting new jobs?
Source: The Washington Independent
The $100,000 was allegedly used to pay restitution in a New York case where she was accused of stealing $285,000 from another law firm. A recruiter's carelessness was blamed for her subsequent employment at High Swartz.
The Mercury is reporting that Foer-Morse pleaded guilty yesterday, not only to the theft from the Philadelphia law firm, but also for "lying about being sexually assaulted while in custody after her arrest."
Judge Steven T. O’Neill deferred sentencing Foer-Morse in the theft case so that court officials can complete a background investigative report about Foer-Morse and so Foer-Morse can undergo a psychiatric evaluation. The judge will use those evaluations to assist him in sentencing Foer-Morse later this year.
Foer-Morse, who faces a possible maximum sentence of 14-to-28-years in prison on the theft charges, remains in the county jail in lieu of $99,000 cash bail pending her sentencing hearing.
There was only one comment from a reader at the end of this sorry tale. "Emilystuff" wrote, "I guess those commercials [are] correct that state anyone can become a paralegal."
Without any current paralegal licensing or regulation required in the U.S., Emilystuff is correct that there are individuals working in law firms today, holding the title "paralegal," who have a variety of backgrounds, ranging from no experience or training, to years of experience combined with degrees from respected institutions, as well as state and national voluntary certifications.
I couldn't find any information about Foer-Morse's alleged qualifications to work as a paralegal, but a thorough background investigation, including a simple criminal record check, should have prevented her from becoming employed at High Swartz and gaining access to the firm's checking accounts.
Foer-Morse is not representative of the typical paralegal, but she's another example of one bad apple tainting the public's perception of the rest of the barrel. When hiring new paralegals, law firms should insist on evidence of training from reputable educational programs, and carefully check backgrounds and references.
Legal employers should also initiate extensive in-house ethics training for their staff, and/or send them to annual ethics CLEs to keep their ethics knowledge current, whether it applies to client interaction, accounting, or the latest ethics trap, social media. Lawyers should carefully supervise their staff and monitor their own business accounts, because they are ultimately responsible for mistakes and misdeeds which occur on their watch.
It's up to legal employers to insist on high standards for paralegals, and to show the public, including Emilystuff, that not just anyone can waltz into a law firm and become a paralegal entrusted with confidential information and large amounts of money.
Source: The Mercury