Sunday, April 24, 2011

Where Am I?

No, there's no door prize if you guess right. I'm not even sure I know the answer, after driving home from a wonderful weekend at the beach, doing three loads of laundry, washing two dogs, and trying to obliterate that horrific odor in the kitchen sink from a dinner long past. (Okay, really only last Thursday, but it smelled like what I'm pretty sure things long dead smell like. A Teen kindly left something I have no recollection of eating in the kitchen sink, in lieu of turning on the garbage disposal. I didn't catch a whiff before our short vacay, because my awesome hubby packed the car and picked me up from work on Friday.)

If you don't hear from me for a bit, or if the posts don't seem as frequent, I'm taking a little digital break, but still focusing on the paralegal profession, polishing up a new ethics CLE I'm scheduled to give for the first time later this week and then several more times over the next few months, "Old-Fashioned Ethics in a Newfangled World," and brushing up (and in some cases acquiring new) technology skills I need to grow as a legal professional and a paralegal blogger. (And maybe doing some fierce house-cleaning because I haven't looked under The Teens' beds in a long time.)

Gizmo the Cairn Terrier chillaxin' at the beach pre-bath.

I do have only one piece of recommended reading this week, in part because this post is so full of terrific information and links to explore that it will keep you busy for a while:  "The Best of ABA TECHSHOW 2011" via the wonderful Beverly Michaelis at Oregon Law Practice Management.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Paralegal Career Dressing: Score a Boatneck Top for $11

Stripes are in this season, and I want a striped boatneck blouse soooooo much, only I'm soooooo cheap. Plus, like Goldilocks, there's something not quite right with all the boatnecks I've seen so far. They've been too stiff, too matronly, too wide, too stripy, etc. (Yeah, stripes can be too stripy).

But today when I made a dash into Sears for something totally boring and non-fashionable, I saw this new line of clothing, UK Style by French Connection, that was well, darned stylish. Featuring my dream boatneck top. Who knew the road to power tools was paved with boatnecks? Only none in my size. Very :(  Things got very :) when I checked online, and there was my size, on sale for $10.99! (I'm pretty sure this means I can get a black non-striped one, too.)

Sears' catalog images are the devil to capture, but heck, this is either Claudia Schiffer, or her doppelganger.
What's good enough for Claudia Schiffer's doppleganger is good enough for me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Today's Quote: Looking for a Lawyer? 'Ware the Shirt and Tie Scam!

"He walked around wearing a shirt and tie … and identified himself as a lawyer, I'm sure others may have fallen for his scam," said Broward Sheriff's Office Economic Crimes Detective John Calabro. Excerpt from "North Lauderdale man arrested on charge of impersonating lawyer" (Orlando Sentinel)

But I think the "sophisticated" touch that "impressed" even the detective was the business card identifying the alleged thief and impersonator as "Dr." - as well as "Ph.D., E. JD Attorney at Law."

Okay, I'll confess my ignorance. I had to look up EJD, which I think stands for Executive Juris Doctor, or worse...

(You might want to stop reading here, because the rest of the post, which was just supposed to contain the one quote, is about the addictive nature of Google and the many virtual roads you can choose to travel if you can't just walk away from your computer at 11 p.m.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Worst Collection Letter Written by a Paralegal Ever

At first, Hernando Today's story, "Complaint against lawyer goes to high court," seems to be another regrettably familiar tale of embezzlement, involving a Florida lawyer, his paralegal, and the loss of over $200,000 belonging to a client.

After a 2010 grievance committee review found probable cause, The Florida Bar filed a complaint against Buck, alleging he improperly supervised his former paralegal and office manager, Elizabeth Chichester, and mishandled a client's funds, which were loaned to two area business owners for real estate investments.

What makes this case unusual is that according to the bar's complaint, Chichester held the client's power of attorney, arranged for the failed investment of the client's funds, and then documented her actions in writing:

Legal Assistant Wins a Half Million Dollars in Georgia Lottery

Cassandra "Candy" Reynolds, a legal assistant from Jackson County, Georgia, has done something most of us will only dream about (constantly and obsessively). She won $500,000 in the Georgia Lottery, with a Jumbo Bucks ticket purchased at a convenience store.

Way to go, Candy!  


Reynolds is going to pay bills, save for her two children's education, and take a vacation.

Source:  Access North Georgia; Georgia Lottery

Legal Assistant Paid to Meet People She Wouldn't Otherwise Meet

Before you read the rest of this online dating story and think I'm going for the seamy underside of civilian journalism, the title of this post is straight from the horse's legal assistant's mouth.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Christin Thomas, a 24-year old legal assistant and law school hopeful from Washington, D.C., is one of the "attractive" people available for paid dates via the dating site, WhatsYourPrice.com, billed as the "online dating marketplace to buy and sell first dates."  (The people bidding $100 or more for dates aren't billed as "unattractive" but rather "fun" and "generous".)

Before you decide to check out who the heck qualifies as "attractive" from your work computer, don't. Wait until you get home, and then proceed only if you're an avid lingerie fan.

Thomas told The Review-Journal that she's not into paid dating as an extra source of income.

A Fine Reason to Dunk a Lawyer

I love this photo of paralegal Jennifer Persinger, employed by LeClairRyan in Roanoke, Virginia, gearing up for her attempt to dunk a lawyer last Friday.

Jennifer's enthusiasm is evident!  


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Practical Paralegalism's Recommended Reading This Week

Here's this week's recommended reading list. Many thanks to Robert Mongue for stating in a recent post that if I say read it, he eventually does, but this is only a list of suggestions (or maybe even only a list of shiny objects that caught my eye while whittling my Google Reader from 1,000-plus posts to only 34).

There are some awesome geeky gadgets out there especially suited for Easter gift giving, but for the paralegal who can't boil an egg (not naming names, but you're right, who am I foolin'?), this one is a winner. (Thanks, Dvice!)

BeepEgg sings a different tune to announce soft, medium or hard-boiled. (Firebox.com)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How to Remove Your Spokeo.com Listing

Spokeo's adorable and cunning mascot.
Is it just me, or does Spokeo.com remind you of your friendly neighborhood stalker? Yesterday, I was researching a business owner in a civil case, and he popped right up on Spokeo, with all kinds of rather personal information breezily displayed, including his home address, a photo of his residence, its value, and his alleged hobbies. I immediately wigged out and checked to see if a picture of my house is on Spokeo. No. Not yet.

Then I checked to see if one of my supervising attorneys, a fellow social media enthusiast, was listed on Spokeo, and she isn't. She said she blocked it. I thought it was no big deal, but then after 24 hours of experiencing repeated cold chills (PTSMD or Post Traumatic Social Media Disorder) about the freaky Spokeo profile, I decided to take action. Sure, a little digital digging can land you a photo of any mortgage holder's digs via Google Earth, but to have all that personal information publicly delivered in one handy-dandy dossier any stalker would envy is a little on the overkill side.

Several sites list instructions for removing your Spokeo listing, but I used the simple instructions shared by Refractor:

Today's Quote: No Talking to the Press About Your Litigation Includes Tweeting

Any attorney — hell, any paralegal or legal secretary — will tell you not to talk to the media when you’ve got a pending case. Always let your lawyer handle all publicity requests — or decline them — during the entire period between filing a suit or petition and a decision coming down. ~ Excerpt from "Winklevoss Tweets His and Ceglia's Facebook Gripes" (All Facebook)

Everybody knows that a federal appeals court ruled Monday that Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss are stuck with their $65 million Facebook settlement. (Color me jealous, but it's hard to feel sorry for anyone who got stuck with a $65 million dollar settlement.)
 
All Facebook reported on February 12 that Tyler Winklevoss tweeted "line by line, the entire contents of yesterday's ruling that the $65 million settlement will have to stick." Intrigued, I checked his public Twitter stream, @tylerwinklevoss, but if he did tweet the entire ruling, some attorney, paralegal or legal secretary must have strongly conveyed that it was a craptastic course of action. Currently, there are only two tweets, on April 11 and 12, about the twins' and Paul Ceglia's litigation. One is a link to their appellate attorney's statement that he'll file a Petition for Rehearing En Banc.

However, there is a great example of what else you shouldn't do on Twitter:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Paranoid Facebook Security Checkup

It's hard for me to resist a paranoid's guide to anything, especially when it's labeled Security Alert. But using "The Paranoid's Guide to Facebook" (PCWorld, Feb 2011), I took a few minutes to make my Facebook account more secure from prying eyes and apps by:

  • Disabling Facebook Places (I call all location features Hello, Robbers!):  Account tab > Privacy Settings > Customize settings > Things others share > Friends can check me in to Places > Edit settings > Select One > Disabled > Okay
  • Hiding My Game and App Activity (I don't have any after I had to join a support group to break away from Li'l Green Patch but this is just in case I fall off the wagon into the compost pile again):  Account tab > Privacy Settings > Edit your settings under Apps and Websites > Game and app activity > Customize > Only Me
  • Disabling Facebook Apps (Take that, Big Brother App):  Account tab > Privacy Settings > Edit your settings under Apps and Websites > Turn off all platform apps under Apps you use > Select all > Turn off Platform. (Then I changed my mind and edited each app individually, removing many but keeping a few I like, like Twitter. I wondered what I was drinking thinking when I deleted other strange apps, like which Rocky Horror Picture Show character I am. Magenta. Duh.)
  • Revising What My Friends Can Reveal: Account tab > Privacy Settings > Edit your settings under Apps and Websites > Edit settings under Info accessible through your friends > uncheck what you don't want friends to share. This seemed redundant but I deselected Places I check in to. PCWorld recommends deselecting everything for full privacy, but if you just can't do it, consider at least deselecting photos and videos.
PCWorld also recommends deleting your Facebook account completely to ensure privacy and online security, but I can't do it. It's the best way to keep up with friends and family nationwide - and I never know when I'll want to dig virtual dirt.

Professional Profile: Shon Hopwood, Legal Brief Writer & Co-Owner, Precedential Paralegal

Shon in front of the Supreme Court in March 2011
Job Title:  Consultant/Legal Brief Writer

Employer:  Cockle Law Brief Printing Company, Precedential Paralegal LLC (co-owner); Omaha, NE

Years of Paralegal Experience:  11

Education/Degrees:  Will receive B.S. Legal Studies from Bellevue University in June of this year, and then will be a J.D. candidate at the University of Washington School of Law

Specialty Areas:  Appellate Advocacy, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law (To understand my background, check out this New York Times article, www.nytimes/2010/02/09/us/09bar.html)

Career Highlight: Had the U.S. Supreme Court grant two petitions I had prepared

Future Professional Goal: Work as an appellate attorney

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Paralegal Career Dressing: Baby Middle-Aged Fashion Blogger Steps

Homemade flower brooch added to my belt.
So I've been talking the talk about paralegal career dressing for a while now, and even walking the walk with posts sharing ideas and tips learned from people who specialize in career-dressing blogs for real women (none of whom seem to be over 30), but I haven't been snapping the pics. Well, I have a few times, but I was all like, "Whoa, girl, you are fluff-EEEE in photos!" 

Then I even checked to see if there was already a Real Women Have Wrinkles career-dressing blog (there's not), and then I said to my husband, The Absent-Minded but Awesome Professor, "Just take the freakin' picture so they can see what a real paralegal looks like at the end of the day."

So I'm going to take baby steps and start sharing a few pictures (once in a while) of Things I Would Have Never Worn If I Hadn't Started Reading Career-Dressing Blogs.

Monday, April 11, 2011

UK Paralegal Needs a Horse for 2012 Paralympics

Ruth MacCarthy, Para-Equestrian
Paralegal Ruth MacCarthy, employed by Wright Hassall in Leamington, UK, overcame severe lower back and pelvic injuries after a horse fell on her in 2004. She credits her medical providers with saving her life and giving her the mobility she has today, even though she suffers from chronic pain and often walks with a stick.

MacCarthy didn't let her accident scare her away from the horses she loves. She literally got back in the saddle to become one of Britain's top paralympic dressage riders, but her plan to compete in the 2012 Paralympics in London is missing a key player: a horse.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Practical Paralegalism's Recommended Reading This Week

Cinch wrap belt of my dreams! (elizabethkelly Etsy shop ~ $45)
You guys know the drill. I blog for paralegals, and everyone interested in getting to know us better. I've been making myself crazy trying to finish my new CLE manuscript, "Old-Fashioned Ethics in a Newfangled World," but who ever really finishes a manuscript about technology? On the plus side, ethics and technology is a completely fascinating subject matter, and writing the paper made me organize many of the online articles and resources I've gathered over the last couple of years (yay, Zotero!)

On the down side, who ever really finishes a manuscript about technology? I have a feeling this baby is going to grow and grow and grow - but it gives me a place to organize my thoughts and make checklists. As a paralegal, I am very fond o' the checklists.

Here's this week's links: 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Law Practice Management Guest Column: Prevent PAL Attrition - Give Your Staff Cash

Penny has proudly used this head shot for 27 years.
By Penny Louise Pullham, PPP

This is an example of SEO (Super Efficacious Ovaltine. Google assigns top page rankings to anything related to chocolate milk, booyah!) in a blog post title that really works. 

Almost 5,067.24 over-caffeinated and sneaky office slackers - but definitely potential clients - have clicked on this post in the last three minutes and stayed on the site more than 168 seconds each, trying in vain to find the money.

Most of them already work for law firms, and never paid their last two divorce lawyers, but probably will definitely need another lawyer some day. #gome (What’s gome? Puh-leeze. Go. Me. High-five the Twitter hashish tag master.)

Anyhoo, is your perkalicous Gal Friday, or to be politically correct in case that damn EEOC investigator calls again, Pal Friday, that treasured jackette of all trades whose first and last name you can’t remember - your legal secretary/paralegal/courier/ghostwriter/eye candy/barista/maid/personal shopper/babysitter/mimeograph technician/auto mechanic/kitty litter changer/golf caddy/personal masseuse sitting outside your office, slamming the keys to her IBM II Selectric typewriter so hard that your Billy Bob Thornton bobble head fell off your desk and broke? 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Paralegal Profile: Ashley Hatton

Ashley Hatton
Job Title:  Paralegal

Employer:  Staff Counsel Office, Allstate Insurance Company; Indianapolis, IN

Years of Paralegal Experience:  6

Education/Degrees:  Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies, International Business College, Indianapolis

Specialty Areas:  Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, Workers' Comp, Family Law

Career Highlight:  Getting the chance to travel for my job and help out other Staff Counsel Offices

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Paralegal Takes Extreme Couponing to New Reality Show

Would you call a paralegal who uses coupons at the cash register to reduce the cost of four carts of goods from $1,900 to $103, extreme? I like focused, talented, well-organized, or quite frankly, astonishing.

J'aime aka the Extreme Coupon Diva
I'm extremely impressed by Maryland paralegal J'aime Kirlew, and so is TLC's new reality show Extreme Couponing, which includes her coupon virtuosity in its premiere episode, airing tomorrow. In a Reuters article about the show, Kirlew says she's donated 100% of her time and talent to couponing, and uses a "cache of meticulously cataloged coupons."

You know a paralegal has to have a killer organizational system. You can get a glimpse of J'aime in action here - in a transaction so intense the cash register seizes up.

A little Googling turns up J'aime's blog, Extreme Coupon Diva, where she shares some of the secrets to her savings success in her bio:

10 Great Websites for Paralegals

PCWorld's editors shared 46 of their recommended "Web's Best Sites" in the February 2011 issue. (If you consider yourself a non-techie, get a subscription. You will not understand the first three to six issues, but then suddenly your geek-speak vocabulary will explode, and no one will want to sit with you at lunch).

Here are the top 10 websites from the article that I use frequently - or will be:

MA Paralegal Remembered for Fiery Spirit

Kathy Enos
Kathryn "Kathy" Enos, of Hyannis, Massachusetts, died earlier this year, but she's still remembered for the many lives she touched as a paralegal working with the poor and underprivileged for Massachusetts Law Reform Institute in Boston, and Legal Services on Cape Cod.

Her obituary describes both her passion for justice and her compassion for those suffering from injustice:

Kathy was always prepared to face injustice head on with her fiery spirit. She had a generous heart and a determined presence when it came to those she loved and the causes she fought. She will remain forever in the hearts of family, friends, and those she served. The contributions she made to the many lives she touched will not be forgotten nor the difference she made because of who she dared to be.

I don't think you can say anything nicer about a paralegal. Many of us entered the paralegal profession because we want to help others navigate the legal system. Enos embodied what is best about using our paralegal education and training to make a difference in the lives of the people we work with every day.

Source: SouthCoastToday.com

Monday, April 4, 2011

Philly Paralegal's Real Estate Scam Lands Him in Jail

I hate sharing these kinds of stories, in part because I always want to know why the alleged culprit is described as a paralegal. Most of the time, the news media doesn't address the paralegal's training or qualifications - or if there are even any to address. But it's not like these credentials are public record.

In this case, the criminal defendant told the court he's a paralegal, and tada, that's what he is to the world. The problem is that this self-described paralegal is accused of posing as a lawyer in a fraudulent real estate deal. Why can't we just call him a law firm employee with extremely poor judgment - at least until we have more information?

Maybe it's because in most parts of this country, without regulation or licensing, anyone can call himself a paralegal.

Paralegal Career Dressing: Score a Floral Pearl Necklace for Less - Much Less

ABS Floral Pearl Necklace
Floral pearl necklaces have been hot among the junior set for a couple of years (I know because I live and shop with them), but are now making an appearance in the workplace. They are a great way to inexpensively add this season's more romantic floral accents to basic dresses, blouses and tees you already own, and you don't have to break the bank to get one.

My Shop It To Me alert this week features an ABS Floral Pearl Necklace, originally $85, on sale for $51 at Neiman Marcus. That's still a bit on the steep side for this paralegal's accessory budget. (But remember I like to score necklaces and belts for $5 and under at Rugged Wearhouse.)

But you can get the look for less - and with more options for re-mixing because the floral pin is detachable, at Payless (which also has a pretty faux gray pearl necklace with small blue rosettes in our local store for $12.99).

Payless Necklace ~ $12.99





I love the this Payless necklace because it looks similar to a Forever 21 multi-chain necklace (no longer available) that Kendi at Kendi Everyday often wore in her 30 for 30 remix challenge earlier this year, and that I coveted in a manner that was not entirely reasonable.

But there's another inexpensive option for getting your hands on a floral necklace, especially if you already have several multi-chain or pearl necklaces. Simply buy or make a floral brooch, pin it on the necklace, and enjoy rocking this fresh look for spring.

Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas Seeks Paralegal Volunteers for Veterans' Clinics

Texas paralegals and legal secretaries looking for an opportunity to volunteer should contact Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas about its upcoming veterans' clinics in Big Spring on May 4 and in Midland on May 13. The clinics will provide free legal advice and counsel for veterans and are funded by a grant from a State Bar of Texas program, Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans.

My West Texas reports that paralegal and legal secretary volunteers are needed for the clinics. LANWT's volunteer page indicates they are needed for a variety of contributions:

Paralegals, Legal Assistants, and Legal Secretaries conduct intake eligibility screening at our community legal clinics, draft pleadings under the volunteer attorney’s supervision, conduct legal research and perform administrative functions.

I expect legal staffers that are also notaries will be especially welcome.

For more information about volunteering for LANWT and to complete a volunteer application online, here's the link: http://www.lanwt.org/volunteer_home.asp

Sources:  LANWT; My West Texas

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Practical Paralegalism's Recommended Reading This Week

Extra brain storage at http://www.evernote.com/
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).

Here's this week's links:

Most Curious April Fool's Quote: Porsche Adds Paralegal-Hybrid

Report: Porsche's lineup to be all hybrid in all carsOn the heals of their successful racing hybrids, Porsche recently announced they would be adding the spark that has been missing from Porsche vehicles all along: electricity. Finally, Porsche is fixing the one thing they' have been missing all this time all along by adding paralegal-hybrid systems to each one of their vehicles. ~ "Auto April Fools" (Jalopnik)
April Fool's Day passed me by this year. I was working from home on my CLE manuscript due next week, "Old-Fashioned Ethics in a Newfangled World."  As interesting as ethics and technology are to me, I am sincerely sorry that I didn't have time to write a post like last year's, when our firm got a dog. (Or at least I convinced a couple of y'all that we did.)

So this is all I've got, a day (or more) late, a dollar short, and no clue as to what a paralegal-hybrid Porsche would do, even as a joke, although I think it's nice that it purports to save the world.

Source: Jalopnik

NJ Paralegals Can Now Sign Nonsubstantive Correspondence

In an excellent feature article, "Paralegals Given Wider Latitude in Signing Business Correspondence," Law.com reports that the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics and the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law issued a joint opinion last month, allowing New Jersey paralegals to sign routine correspondence. Previously, they could only sign routine letters not addressed to clients, opposing lawyers or courts.

Opinion 720/46 (not yet available as of the date of this post at the Rutgers School of Law site) replaces the much more restrictive Opinion 611, in place since 1988, and allows paralegals, under the supervision of attorneys, to sign correspondence regarding the following types of matters to clients, courts and opposing parties: