Monday, February 28, 2011

Today's Quote: That Bottle of Dom Perignon from the Court Reporter Is Taxable, Dude

As a marketing ploy, some court reporting firms give staff of law firms $25, $50 and even $200 if you set a deposition with that firm. There are "gifts" of trips, Dom Perignon, and one firm I know of gives $50 to any paralegal, legal secretary, assistant who takes a deposition off of one court reporting firm's calendar to put it on their own. Obviously, the dollars can add up quickly. The question becomes: Who is going to pay the taxes for this practice? The law firm? The individual accepting the money? ~ From "Attorneys Beware! IRS Tax Consequences for Law Firms Accepting 'Gifts' From Court Reporting Firms," published by Kramm Court Reporting (JDSupra).
This lovely gift set can be yours for $189.95.

Legal Assistant and Blogger Is a Thorn in Mayor's Side

Like me, Florida legal assistant Stephanie Kienzle is a passionate blogger, only her specialty is local politics. Since August 2010, she has bluntly voiced her opinions about North Miami Beach politics at Her LinkedIn profile states her interests are "helping to shape the political landscape by actively campaigning for candidates I feel are best suited for the job and closely monitoring those currently in office."

One candidate Kienzle did not endorse is current North Miami Beach Mayor Myron Rosner. She and several other local activists and outspoken critics of the mayor now contend that Rosner abused his position to get payback, by reporting them to various state and local agencies for possible building code violations.

Paralegal Graduate from ABA Approved Program Still Seeking Work

Even earning a degree from an ABA approved paralegal program is no guarantee there will be a legal job waiting upon graduation. Joan Freeman, a December 2010 graduate of Phoenix College's Paralegal Studies Program, approved by the ABA since 1989, has submitted 100 applications without success.

The Arizona Republic reports that Freeman, like many paralegal students, hoped a paralegal degree would open doors to an exciting new job in the legal field:

You Say, Is One Paralegal Gonna Be Enough?

I know it's not Friday, but you probably need a good laugh more on Monday morning than you do on Friday afternoon, when you're happily turning off your computer for the weekend, and maybe if the week's been extra challenging, singing the refrain to this song (quietly under your breath). And paralegal students, isn't there always that one classmate who goes way overboard with the flash cards?

P.S. Good clean fun, but NSFW if anyone takes offense to the f-word. Tell your boss it's the GW Law Revue 2011 and therefore quite possibly work-related.

Full-time Paralegal Is Also a Successful Screenwriter

The first question most people ask me is, "How do you find time to work full-time and blog?" But blogging is small potatoes compared to the writing that Pennsylvania paralegal, Rick Hansberry, employed full-time by CGA Law Firm in York, does in his spare time. He is a successful, award-winning screenwriter and owner of a movie production company, Oscar's Trailer LLC. (In his spare spare time, he's also a DJ.)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Practical Paralegalism's Recommended Reading This Week

I blog for paralegals, legal assistants, legal secretaries, legal staffers, paralegal students and instructors - and the attorneys who want to get to know us better. I try to share information they might find useful for professional development, or a much needed laugh during a hectic week working for lawyers. Once a week (or every other week when Life happens) I share links to a half dozen or so articles focusing on legal news and humor, practice tips and professionalism, and technology. I also share links of interest at Practical Paralegalism's Facebook page, and via my Twitter stream (@ExpertParalegal).

This week's links:

This is so cool. I have no idea why it's Tastefully Offensive.

Friday, February 25, 2011

TGIF: Who Can't Relate to Kibble Dancing?

Laugh all you want, but I do this same dance inside when I really like what we're having for dinner.

I'm owned and bossed around by a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Hope ya'll get some great kibble this weekend ;)

Paralegal Graduate Joins Lawsuit Against Daymar College

What are your options if you choose a paralegal program because you're assured your course credits will be accepted by other institutions and you'll receive assistance to find a job - and you find out neither representation is true?

Norma Coan, who received her paralegal degree from Daymar College in Louisville, Kentucky (the school has multiple campuses in several states) feels her only option is to join a lawsuit against the school - together with almost 170 other students from the Paduca and Louisville campuses. WHAS11 reports:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Paralegal Do-Over: Is It Date Night, Or Just Another Court Date for Lindsay?

I really wanted this post title to read, "Lindsay Wears Cleavage to Court," but it was already taken by the Huffington Post. Last time Lindsay went to court, I asked you to pretend you're the indispensable paralegal working for her criminal lawyer, and that she asked you what to wear to court before she did her strange impression of Pure As The Driven Snow.

Again, I'm gonna let you grab Lindsay before she leaves for court today, and tactfully tell her what you think of her latest attempt to please the court:

Where'd ya get th' necklace?

Other than, "I'm pretty sure Chanel makes gorgeous silk scarves, too," what would you say about this ensemble - estimated to cost between $8,000 - $11,560?

10 Email Etiquette Tips for Paralegals

I figure what's good for the large firm lawyer is good for the any-size firm paralegal, too. Plus, I'm pretty sure I send more email during the day than anybody on my team, in no small part because I hate to talk on the phone, voice mail message systems with more than two numerical choices make me crazy, and I like to have evidence for future motions documentation of my communications.

Here's my take on TechnoLawyer Blog's article "BigLaw: Top 10 Email Etiquette Tips for Large Firm Lawyers":

How Do You Feel About Miracle Whip?

This question is so too related to paralegals, legal assistants, and legal support staff in general. We eat a lot of sandwiches at our desk.

 Plus, it's been a long week, and I figure Pauly D's hair is good for a belly laugh.

For the record, I loathe, loathe, loathe Miracle Whip, and have thrown sandwiches in the trash upon tasting Miracle Whip. I was thrilled to vote against Miracle Whip at but am clearly in the minority.

How can you eat that stuff?!?

Source:  Mashable

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Whine, Or Stuff to Try Saying Instead of Spectacularly Burning Your Bridges

Thank God you don't need a prescription for these.
Yes, you read that right. I'm formally whining. I admit it, I've got nothin' left at the end of this day. We've had a series of both fortunate and unfortunate events at work, resulting in our little law firm being over-litigated and under-staffed. It happens, and it won't be forever, but I find myself a little less optimistic lately (no rainbows or unicorns here, Paralegal Hell).

I even found myself wondering what I'd tell someone who contacted me for career advice (it's happened) and really needed some tips to help prevent one of those mega-meltdowns you can't take back. In other words, you absolutely can't shriek, "I QUIT!" and flounce out the door like the fabulous unappreciated diva you are.

'Cause your kids and four-leggeds like to eat. Oh. Wait. So do you.

Here's my suggestion for handling those days. Buy a huge jumbo bag of M&Ms and eat them all by yourself. Chase them with your favorite wine. (But wait until you get home to drink the wine.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Were You Off Work for Presidents' Day?

If So, I Hate You.

Not really.

Plus, no one told the postage meter that the mail-person wasn't coming. Until. Tuesday.

Northeast Florida Paralegal Association Learns We Have Zero Privacy

I wish I'd gotten to hear private investigator and former New York City Investigative Sergeant Sean Mulholland, owner of Mulholland Forensics, speak to the Northeast Florida Paralegal Association earlier this month.

Even though Mulholland's presentation might have exacerbated paranoia in anyone already prone to it, he was honest about the lack of privacy we have in today's electronic and virtual society, and how easy it is for private investigators to observe our activities. For those squirrely readers already starting to look over their shoulders a little more frequently, Mulholland did confirm there is a difference between stalking and surveillance.

Whew. I feel better....not really.

5 Ways Paralegals Can Network Online Using Social Media

by Charles Sipe

Building an extensive and diverse network can be very beneficial in terms of career growth and finding the ideal job position with a law firm, company, or the government. Since there is a large “shadow” job market of open positions that are not published online, knowing the right people can help you learn about these unadvertised positions. It can also lead to introductions to hiring managers that can turn into interviews. Online tools such as LinkedIn, blogs, and Twitter have greatly facilitated the activity of networking and have created new opportunities that can help paralegals build a great network.

Paralegal Profile: Tina Johnson

Job Title: Paralegal

Employer: Gray Plant Mooty Mooty & Bennett, P.A., Minneapolis, MN

Years of Paralegal Experience: 11

Education/Degrees: 1) Bachelor of Science in Sociology at Minnesota State University - Mankato, 1995; 2) Associate of Applied Science Degree - Legal Administrative Assistant at South Central Technical College/Minnesota State University, 1999; and 3) Associate of Science Degree - Paralegal (ABA-approved program) at Inver Hills Community College, 2002.

Specialty Areas: Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Administration, Tax Law

Today's Quote: How Dirty Is This Paralegal Willing to Get?

Producers have hired Guillermo Diaz to play one of the principal supporting characters. He'll play a paralegal working in the main character's firm that doubles as an expect hacker. He's fiercely loyal and willing to get his hands dirty whenever his boss asks. Mixing things up was never a problem for his character on Weeds, so I definitely buy this casting.~ Weeds' Guillermo Diaz Joins Kerry Washington in Shonda Rhimes Pilot (Cinema Blend)

Looks like the fictional paralegal in this yet to be titled ABC series will provide plenty of fodder for ethics classes.

Too good-looking to be bothered by ethics?

With television representation like this, no wonder the public doesn't trust legal professionals.

Source: Cinema Blend

Monday, February 21, 2011

Today's Quote: Somebody Has to Ask the Hard Questions

Okay, this is more than one quote, but these real Courtroom Quotations recorded for posterity (yay for us, not so much for the lawyers) from Things People Said make me feel better about some of the times I've opened my mouth and inserted my foot:

Lawyer: "You were there until the time you left, is that true?"

[Not giving up.]

Lawyer: "So you were gone until you returned?"

Attorney and Paralegal's Valentine's Day Activities Lead to Marijuana Bust

It's been a while since I had to post a story about a paralegal whose alleged activities during the work day do not reflect well on the profession, but news happens, whether I like it or not.

An unnamed 49-year old paralegal (I include her age to demonstrate she's old enough to know better) was in the car with a well-known Jacksonville, Florida civil rights attorney when police decided to take a closer look at the vehicle.

City Paralegal Promoted to Risk Manager Position Causes Brouhaha

No one disputes that Susan Barber, a litigation paralegal employed by the City of Taunton, Massachusetts, isn't well-liked or good at her job. But when the City Solicitor Jane Estey and Mayor Charles Crowley  re-organized the legal department following the previous risk manager's retirement last November, and added those duties to Barber's, some City Council members were not pleased.

The fact that Barber's ability to perform the risk management duties saves the City about $50,000 a year didn't stop some council members from complaining about being left out of the hiring loop.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

NCPA Supports NC Highway Patrol Teddy Bear Drive

The North Carolina Paralegal Association (NCPA) is collecting teddy bears for the North Carolina Highway Patrol's Teddy Bear Drive. The bears will be donated to children staying at battered women's shelters. Teddy bears can be any size, and be new or gently used. NCPA will have a box to collect bears at its Annual Meeting & Seminar in Raleigh on March 24 - March 26, 2011.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol has also collected teddy bears for needy children at Christmas, and to give to children who are victims of motor vehicle collisions and other traumatic events.

I've seen a number of paralegal and bar associations organize collection drives to take place simultaneously with meetings and CLEs. Items collected have ranged from winter coats for needy children, canned food for community food pantries, and books for area reading programs. These are great ideas for paralegal service projects that can be successfully undertaken by most groups, regardless of size or budget.

For more information about NCPA, go to

Practical Paralegalism's Recommended Reading This Week

I blog for paralegals, legal assistants, legal secretaries, legal staffers, paralegal students and instructors - and the attorneys who want to get to know us better. I try to share information they might find helpful for professional development, or a much needed laugh during a hectic week working for lawyers. Once a week (or every other week when Life happens) I share links to a half dozen or so articles focusing on legal news and humor, practice tips and professionalism, and technology. I also share links of interest at Practical Paralegalism's Facebook page, and via my Twitter stream (@ExpertParalegal).

This week's links:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday LOL: Avoid Medical Malpractice, Perform Your Own Gastric Bypass

Recently, Mom-alegal shared one of the downsides of specializing in medical malpractice, which is pretty much fearing all interactions with the medical community and convincing yourself that the worst medical mistakes will happen to you. Let's not even talk about premises liability cases. After I worked on a case that had a successful outcome about a decade ago, the towering shelves at retail superstores scared the bejeebies out of me for years afterward.

So when I saw that Amazon sells (or sold) a Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass Kit, I had to wonder who's buying this stuff  'sides licensed physicians. Buyer beware, you can't sue yourself for medical malpractice, 'specially if you don't survive the procedure.

Friday, February 18, 2011

TGIF: Donuts Make a Meeting, Even If You Have to Bring Them Yourself

This is for Grumpy over at A Paralegal's Life, who is not a fan o' the meeting.

You might also enjoy, "Things To Do in an Office Meeting" - my fave is lapse into a staring coma and drool. But mainly because I've done that before in a meeting...

Hope your weekend has donuts and no meetings.

Source:  This Is Why Bosses Do it So Much... (Fail Blog)

Paralegal Career Dressing: Can You Get Jiggy with Jeggings at Work?

Easy Answer: NO. No way. Nada. Oh, Hells to the NO.

A legal assistant wrote The News York Times Fashion & Style column Social Q's with the following scenario:

My friend and I work as legal assistants at the same law firm. We both bought jeggings, and wore them to work with long tops. Her boss didn't say anything, but mine told me they were inappropriate for the office, and that I shouldn't wear them again. I don't think that's fair. What do you think? ~ Colleen, New York

Paralegal Specialist Re-ups with the Fishes

"This represents a very important milestone in my life and I wanted the ceremony to be unique. What better way to highlight my experience as a soldier living and working on Okinawa than to re-enlist at a depth of 30 feet." ~ Sgt. Juanita Tompkins, Paralegal Specialist with Staff Judge Advocate, 10th Support Group at Torii Station.

Leave it to a paralegal to do something as cool as re-enlisting underwater. Check out the photos taken during the ceremony, but I had to swipe this one to share Sgt. Tompkins' gorgeous smile:

Congratulations, Sgt. Tompkins!

For more on the story, see the 10th Support Group's site:

Source:  Stars and Stripes

Legal Secretary Takes Online Shopping to a Whole New Level

"When I first met Toby I thought, 'Wow!' He is 6ft 5in, dark-haired and blue-eyed with lovely broad muscular shoulders. He looked even better than he did in his photos. We hugged and looked at each other for a while. I was quite overwhelmed and when he kissed me it felt very right." ~ UK legal secretary Frances Benning describes her first meeting with the baby daddy she picked out online.

All I've ever had delivered from online sites are clothes and electronic gadgets. Benning's pending delivery of her baby girl comes via a website that matches would-be moms with sperm donors.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Paralegal Career Dressing: $10 Buys A Lot of Necklace at Forever 21

So you'd think as a paralegal blogger, I'd be fending off questions about how I find my killer cutting-edge law-related content, "Like, dweeb, what are your top 67 technology sites?" or "Do you know of any blogs that cover trademark infringement, it's my life!"

So you'd think.

Not so much. Lately, I get emails, reader comments, and direct messages on Twitter asking what fashion blogs I read.

New CLE: 10 Ways to Prepare Top Civil Injury Settlement Demands

The Paralegal Mentor
On Tuesday, March 1, 2011, at 1:00 p.m. EST, my Paralegal Voice co-host, as well as the one and only Paralegal Mentor, Vicki Voisin, and I are teaming up to present a new online CLE course, "10 Ways to Prepare Top Civil Injury Settlement Demands". You can earn 1.5 hours of CLE credit without leaving the comfort of your desk at work, or your home office.

We'll talk about how to make the most of your client's civil injury claim from the day your firm accepts the case until you finalize the settlement demand that establishes your firm's experience and credibility, and provides the evidence the insurance adjuster needs to evaluate the damages. There's much more to an effective settlement demand package than simply gathering medical records and bills, and a knowledgeable paralegal can be indispensable to a successful outcome.

The course is designed to help you be that indispensable paralegal. You will learn:
  • How to manage civil injury cases from A-Z
  • How to avoid common mistakes that can decrease the value of a claim
  • The Practical or Percolatin' Paralegal
  • The extra steps to take in the development of a case that may mean the difference between an unsatisfactory outcome, and a fair and reasonable resolution.
This 90-minute webinar will also include:
  • How to obtain evidence to show negligence and causation
  • The best way to document all damages
  • Tips for guiding clients through the process
  • How to prioritize statutory liens
  • Actions to take so you don't miss medical damages
  • Tips for assisting with the firm's case valuation
  • How to write demand letters that work
  • How to submit a well-done settlement package
  • Key resources
Register here to learn the 10 Ways to Prepare Top Civil Injury Settlement Demands.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What IS Jefferson Parish's Required Certification To Do Paralegal Work?

I have a question for my readers who live in New Orleans, because frankly, I'm making myself a little more nuts than usual trying to google the answer.  I've followed and covered the situation in the Jefferson Parish Attorney's Office, where last year several paralegals, including a paralegal supervisor, were terminated due to lack of certification required for the position.

No one actually said what the required "paralegal certification" is. Even Robert Mongue over at The Empowered Paralegal wondered "what would be 'the required certification' to hold the position given the lack of any uniformity within the paralegal profession..."


So now I learn that in January of this year, three more paralegals were let go by the new Parish Attorney, Deborah Forshee, because they "lacked certification for their jobs..." reports:

World's Tallest Model Keeps Legal Career as a Plan B

It wasn't easy to find a SFW image.
The last time I blogged about Amazon Eve she was kicking butt. Really. As a dominatrix. Or a wrestler. Or something bad ass.

No, I don't know her real name. She says that's taken.

But now she's ascending to loftier heights. Which is easy to do when you're 6' 8" tall.

She's about to be named as the Guinness World Records' tallest model.

But she's not resting on her super-sized laurels. If she can't be a reality star, she'll settle for being a lawyer.

Legal Secretary Saved from Choking - and Jury Duty

The "Best. Valentine's Day Gift. Ever. Bronx woman saved from choking by boyfriend's Heimlich maneuver" article in yesterday's New York Daily News has all the requisites for coverage at Practical Paralegalism: A romantic man with mad life-saving skills. A legal staffer in a jury pool. Godiva chocolates.

New York legal secretary Debbie Florio-Costa's Valentine's Day might have been her last if it hadn't been for her boyfriend Louis D'Amici's romantic streak - and his CPR training. He joined her on her lunch break on Monday, bearing Godiva chocolates.

County Offers to Reinstate Paralegal Who Filed Sexual Harassment Suit

Three weeks ago, Theresa Farmer, a former paralegal with the Floyd County Attorney's Office in Charles City, Iowa, filed a lawsuit against the County, alleging she was sexually harassed and wrongfully terminated by former Floyd County Attorney Jesse Marzen. The Mason City Globe Gazette reports that the County has now offered to rehire Farmer, who was fired by Marzen in 2009.

The County's attorney, Beth Hansen, thinks this is the perfect time for Farmer to return to work, because "Mr. Marzen is no longer the county attorney." Hansen discussed two options available to Farmer:

Paralegal Student Question: How Do I Get an Internship in Labor Law?

Email: I love the new challenge of learning a new field but am getting nervous. I've reached out to several labor and employment law firms in town, thinking they would jump at the chance to have some free help, but I've not heard back from anyone. 

Do you have any suggestions to help push this process along or any alternative ideas so that I can stay in the labor and employment law or workers' compensation specialty areas?  My program requires an internship so that I can get my certificate at the end of this term. I'm really scared I won't locate an internship in time. I'm also really nervous about reaching out to people. ~ Florida Paralegal Student 

Practical Paralegalism's response:

Today's Quote: Maybe We Shouldn't Fight Our Inner Werewolves

According to the lunar calendar, a full moon is scheduled to rise on Feb. 18. The legal assistants who answer the State Bar’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) phones don’t need to consult a calendar to find out when a full moon is approaching. They know because calls become more frequent, more urgent, and slightly more bizarre. ~ The "I" in LRIS (Wisconsin Lawyer)

English actor William Kempe said, "I think we all have to fight the werewolf within us somehow."

Maybe legal assistants, paralegals and other legal professionals who handle intake calls in volume should stop fighting their inner werewolves and let them pick their vacation days instead.

Source:  Wisconsin Lawyer

Legal Secretary Extraordinaire Leaves Generous Legacy

Evelyn A. Sanguinetti (1905 - 2009)
In August 2009, Evelyn A. Sanguinetti of Stockton, California, died at 104 years of age, after spending 79 years of her life working as a legal secretary with an encyclopedic knowledge of probate matters. Always generous with her knowledge, she was even more generous with her estate, leaving $250,000 to St. Mary's Interfaith Community Services dining room, and more than $150,000 each to 15 other charities.

The Stockton Record reports that while Sanguinetti left no heirs, she was well-loved by her colleagues at the same firm, now Mazzera, Snyder & DeMartini, where she worked her entire career, starting in 1923. A co-worker since 1973 said Sanguinetti was the go-to resource in probate matters - even for attorneys who didn't work there:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

This Paralegal's Boss Liked Her, But Still Fired Her

Last week I wrote about a paralegal whose prickly office interactions, and possibly less-than-winning personality, may have cost her a job. This week's career dilemma comes from a paralegal whose boss seemed to like her a lot - but still let her go.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune published the paralegal's career question in "Liked by boss, and yet fired without warning". The paralegal was caught completely off guard after receiving specialized training in a new area, contracts administration, as well as positive feedback from her boss. She may have gotten the impression that her boss was as invested in her success as she was.

Paralegal Profile: Debbie Oaks

Job Title:  Paralegal

Employer: NGP Energy Capital Management, LLC, Irving, Texas

Years of Paralegal Experience: 20

Education/Degrees: Attended North Central Texas College and University of North Texas

Specialty Areas:  Corporate/Transactional

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine's Day How To

I'm not single, but I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day. As much as I like chocolate, that seems strange even to me. But for those of you who don't want to hear another co-worker shrieking with joy over the third vase of roses delivered to her desk (there's always that one fool who goes over the top and ruins it for everybody else), this video is for you:

I've got the "You will need a box of chocolates" part down pat. I totally did not know the average American man spends $156 on Valentine's Day, but a 90-minute massage sounds like the perfect way for a paralegal to unwind. [Insert strong hint to SO here.]

Hope your Valentine's Day rocks.

Legal Assistant Publicizes Train Station Snow Shoveler's Chivalry

A blizzard for the record books doesn't stop true love.
How many of you feel well-loved when your significant other shovels the path to your front door or scrapes the ice off your car in bad weather? To me, that's better than breakfast in bed. But think how well-loved Sylvia Tookes of Markham, Illnois, must feel when she found out her fiance, Charles Pryor, had shoveled the sidewalk in front of Chicago's Harvey Metra train station so that she would have a clear path after work.

Tookes might never have known how chivalrous - and humble - Pryor is if not for the efforts of a legal assistant.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Practical Paralegalism's Recommended Reading This Week

I blog for paralegals, legal assistants, legal secretaries, legal staffers, paralegal students and instructors - and the attorneys who want to get to know us better. I try to share information they might find helpful for professional development, or a much needed laugh during a hectic week working for lawyers. Once a week (or every other week when Life happens) I share links to a half dozen or so articles focusing on legal news and humor, practice tips and professionalism, and technology.

Here's this week's list:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Paralegal Do-Over: What Would You Tell Lindsay to Wear to Court?

I'm psyched that I get to get my celebrity blog on (just a little) and link to TMZ. Booyah!

So here's the scenario. You're the indispensable paralegal working for Lindsay Lohan's criminal lawyer, and in the fantasy world of woulda-coulda-shoulda do-overs, Lindsay calls you the day before her court appearance to face a charge of felony grand theft, and asks you what she should wear. (Assume your boss knows it's Lindsay calling, and has instructed you to tell her that he's indisposed due to a sudden flare-up of his hiatal hernia, which is actually the truth because he knows it's Lindsay calling.)

Truths for Mature Paralegals

When I stumbled upon "Truths For Mature Humans" at, I thought the author had to be a paralegal - or married to one. Here are the five truths that most hit home with me (and make me think whoever created this list is stalking me or sitting in my driveway stealing my WiFi. That's an inside joke at my house 'cause my dad turns his off when he's not using it, which makes the rest of us crazy.)
  1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
  2. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

Friday, February 11, 2011

TGIF: Save the Deer

It's been awhile since I posted a Twitter parody, and this one has it all. Bambees. Vampires. Crab apples. Yup.

Drive safely, and keep your celebrities straight.

Paralegal Career Dressing: Not Your Kids' Crocs

I enjoy the blog for "modern working women," Jane Has a Job, but my mouth dropped open when I saw the shoes featured in "Wear to Work: Crocs?" See for yourself. Those pumps are pretty. Pretty orange. Seriously, the design is lovely, but what do you think would happen if you wore bright orange pumps to the ol' law firm...or to court? (Guys or gals feel free to jump in here. I'm feeling contrite after writing that every paralegal needs a black pencil skirt. Here, there's even a pair of orange suede shoes for the boys to imagine wearing to the office, on sale for $539.00!)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

SPENT Makes You Walk in Your Poor Clients' Shoes

Urban Ministries of Durham, North Carolina, has created an online game, SPENT, that forces players to make the same hard choices that the working poor and the homeless have to make every day.

It's not as much a game as it is a simulation exercise in poverty that every legal professional who represents the working poor, the underemployed, and the unemployed should try. (Heck, maybe even legal professionals who don't represent them should play it, for an empathy check.) Maybe that client who calls every day asking about his disability check, who shows up at your office wearing clothes the GoodWill wouldn't accept, or who asks you for a ride or bus fare to court will seem more real, and less like someone you can never imagine yourself being.

I accepted SPENT's challenge to make it through the month (which is sometimes hard even with a regular paycheck), and was told to do something that I know many of my readers, especially new paralegal graduates, are trying to do right now: find a job.

Today's Quote: I'm Not Talking to Myself in the Car - I'm Talking to the GPS

"I've never said anything mean to her. Once, I just got a bit annoyed when she told me to turn left — into a cement wall." ~ Debi Tinsley, a legal secretary and actress/singer from Van Nuys, California, doesn't verbally abuse her GPS even after it tried to kill her. (Los Angeles Times)

But apparently some people do. What's your GPS style? Are you a screamer? A blind follower? Or have you bought yours gifts like that Jared Jewelry guy?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Today's Quote: Does the Legal Assistant Have Charms to Soothe a Savage Breast?

The responsibility for building a sound working relationship between a woman lawyer and a woman assistant rests mainly with the assistant. The assistant must earn the lawyer's trust, and this requires a keen sensitivity to the lawyer's particular needs and apprehensions. It also calls for setting one's own ego aside and demonstrating unqualified loyalty. ~ The Assistant-at-Law (

I bet some of you just crowed in triumph, "It's BEAST, you idiot!"

College of DuPage Paralegal Program Has a Terrific Blog

The ABA-approved College of DuPage (COD) Paralegal Program in Glyn Ellyn, Illinois, has a new blog, Paralegal Blog. At least it's fairly new to me; the blog has been up and running since October 2010. This is the kind of project that I would love to see more paralegal programs take on.

I don't know which individuals are responsible for the consistent, informative posts, but I'm going to take a guess that it's various members of the College of DuPage Paralegal Club (CDPC). The club has its own website and its own Facebook page, which I hope you'll like as a show of support for the group's outstanding efforts. (I hope you'll like Practical Paralegalism's Facebook page, too, if you haven't already done so. We unpaid bloggers get excited about reader support.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Snowpocalypse 2011: Go to Work or Stay Home with the Kids?

Reading about Indiana legal assistant Eldred Coleman-Jones' weather-generated dilemma last week, i.e. go to work or stay home with her eight children, ages 6 months to 17 years, took me back to the days when I was a single mom and my oldest daughter got the chicken pox. My daycare said she couldn't return for 7-10 days.

Paralegal Profile: Jenna Trojanowski

Job Title: Paralegal

Employer: Porter Scott, Sacramento, CA

Years of Paralegal Experience: 6

Education/Degrees:  AA in Paralegal Studies from MTI College in Sacramento, CA

Specialty Areas: Civil litigation defense

Monday, February 7, 2011

Did Her Workplace Personality Cost This Paralegal a Job?

Or, It's Not Me, It's You

Margie, a paralegal, wrote career columnists "JT & Dale Talk Jobs" after she complained to HR about a "hostile, rude co-worker." She'd noted what she felt to be a "major lack of courtesy, decorum and professionalism" in the workplace, but was completely surprised when the HR director terminated her a week later, not because of her job performance, but because she wasn't "a good fit" for the firm. She asked J.T. and Dale for some "wise guidance."

Suspended Lawyer Can Work as a Paralegal - But Not Talk to Clients

During the period of interim suspension, Respondent shall not (a) share in any legal fees arising from clients or cases referred by her to any other lawyer during the period of suspension, or (b) share in any legal fees earned for services by others during such period of suspension. Respondent also shall be prohibited from having any contact with clients or prospective clients or witnesses or prospective witnesses when acting as a paralegal, legal assistant, or law clerk under the supervision of a member of the Delaware Bar. ~ In the Matter of a Member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the State of Delaware; MARLEE JAMES BUCKSON, Respondent (No. 45,2011) (

I don't know what Buckson is accused of in regard to this case, but she appears to have a history with both the Oregon and Delaware state bars. The Oregon State Bar Bulletin (Aug/Sept 2007) reports she was "suspended in 2004 for non-payment of PLF and bar dues, and noncompliance with the MCLE rules." At the time of the bulletin she was working as a legal assistant for a Delaware law firm. Her Avvo profiles indicate her law license remains suspended in Oregon, but that in 2008 she was authorized to practice law in Delaware.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Practical Paralegalism's Recommended Reading this Week

My most recent mental vacation is watching The Office on Netflix straight through from season one. I've discovered I have two sets of friends - the ones who adore the show, and the ones who don't get it think it's funny at all. The gags are consistently successful - but never more successful than when Jim is pranking Dwight.

Friday, February 4, 2011

TGIF: Shake it like a Polaroid Picture

Or Like the Toner in that Stupid Copier

Outkast Charlie Brown Style to celebrate Friday:

See, nothing lasts forever, not even a seemingly interminable work week. I hope your weekend is awesome.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Paralegal Career Dressing 3 under $30 : The Black Pencil Skirt

I love What Not to Wear, and hang on Stacy London's every word, even when her hair reminds me of a sassy skunk, and my husband announces she is the cattiest woman on earth. (Maybe that's why I like her so much. He's also called Clinton the cattiest woman on earth.) So when Stacy recommends snagging a basic black pencil skirt as the ideal winter sale item, I listen up, and pass it on. Every female paralegal needs a flattering black pencil skirt (the guys can go with a well-tailored pair of black slacks).

Here's three under $30:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Five Career Steps Paralegal Students Should Take on the First Day of School

It takes practice to become a miracle worker.
If I could only give one piece of advice to brand new paralegal students on their first day of school, it would be to start preparing for their job search now - and not wait until graduation. Now is the time to start gaining the real-world experience most legal employers want - and to start building that crucial professional network.

Here are five steps new paralegal students can take on their first day of school to greatly enhance their chances of becoming employed in the legal field once they graduate:

1.  Search for Entry Level Jobs or Internships: No experience is the biggest hurdle that new graduates face when they enter today's extremely competitive job market. It is critical for students to form a plan to gain hands-on work experience before they graduate, especially in programs that do not require internships.

Paralegal by Day, Roller Derby Diva by Night

This team doesn't sell Hurl Scout cookies.
"Screw you and your grandmother's Chevy Celebrity!" ~ Bliss Cavender, Whip It (2009)

I'm fascinated by roller derby, and watch Whip It repeatedly. I also love to roller skate. The closest I've gotten to real roller derby is being knocked over by second graders during school-sponsored family skate nights.

But Montana paralegal, Lisa Pooler, known as Scarley Davidson when she skates in the Flathead Valley Roller Derby League, has been releasing her inner roller derby diva since 2009.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Paralegal Profile: Linda McGrath Cruz, ACP, FRP

Job Title: Paralegal

Employer: Arnstein & Lehr, LLP, Miami, Florida

Years of Paralegal Experience: 14

Education/Degrees: AA and BS in Paralegal Studies, ACP through NALA

Specialty Areas: Litigation

Career Highlight: Being asked to vice-chair the DCBA's brand new FRP committee.

Today's Quote: New Paralegal Graduates Should Migrate to Colder Climes

Q: I became certified as a paralegal, but my city seems to be awash in paralegals. I thought that paralegals were in great demand. Did I get that wrong? — K.K.

A: There’s no guarantee that because an occupation is in demand, it’s in demand where you live. College towns, for example, often are awash with jobless graduates who never moved away but who could find employment if they relocated to another community. Competition is almost always greater in warm places than cold, except skiing country. Need ideas? Browse for “alternative careers for paralegals.” 

This advice is courtesy of yesterday's career column published in the Worcester Telegram, which covers news in Central Massachusetts. I checked the area paralegal listings on, and despite the cold, the paralegal pickings seemed kind of slim, but that's probably because the skiing is good there. I'm wondering what my readers who live in the colder areas of the country think about the advice to relocate to your frigid neck of the woods. You're probably thinkin', "NO! No more competition for jobs up here needed, fly South! It's warm there, and you can live in your car year round, new paralegal graduates!"