This popular post first appeared in The Estrin Report in 2013.
I started my paralegal career back in 1984 by cutting my teeth on the AT&T v. MCI Telecommunications anti-trust case. This is the case that broke up AT&T ("Ma-Bell") and allowed the world to go on and have all of the new telecommunication devices we now enjoy. I was on the "Damages Team" and we were able to prove damages caused by AT&T against all other competitors who were trying to enter the telecommunications market.
At that time, I was also attending Golden Gate University where I graduated summa cum laude in Political Science and Business Administration. Once I graduated and the case was over, I was hired by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher (a major law firm) and eventually became the Senior Paralegal of the firm. I brought Gibson what was then the new frontier of digital technology. The term "Litigation Support" was not a term-of-art at that time. The firm just did not know what to call me, so we used the term "Technical Paralegal".
Around 1989-1990, I introduced Gibson to scanning and coding documents. We used the first version of Concordance to keep track of a very large securities case for a very large client. The documents ranged in the hundreds of thousands of documents resulting in a few million pages.
One of the highlights of my life was when I was invited to have lunch with President Reagan up at his office in Century City (California). This was back in 1993. While I was at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, I was the paralegal who assisted with the building permits of the Reagan Library and secured the permits for his burial there. He wanted to meet and thank me personally.
Several years later, I was recruited by Chere Estrin for a case that took me to another law firm. I landed in the island of Guam where I sharpened my technology skills. I was exposed and embraced the world of Trial Technology. I learned the popular software program, Trial Director, when it was in its separate component format. There I was, supporting a construction defect case trial on the Island of Guam that lasted 366 days.
Not only did I run the trial but ran the servers, acted as the Help Desk for work stations at all of the attorney desktops and staff computers. While in Guam, I managed the network and VPN. I also managed an ongoing coding project that involved approximately a dozen paralegals in our Los Angeles office. This was a big challenge and a great case. Our firm won a very substantial sum of money for our client.
I have had the honor to work on or successfully manage some of the largest litigation matters in our country's history and work alongside of some of the most well-known and respected attorneys. It has been challenging but I have always learned new methods and have been able to test and prove my own metal in the heat of litigation wars. It has been rewarding on many different levels including job satisfaction, challenges and yes, financially.
I have embraced litigation support tools and applications and am certified in many different applications. When asked by students what is my single most important key to success (besides skills), I tell them that I leveraged my experience and knowledge. I had to. The legal world is moving very rapidly and staying ahead of the game is vital to your career. I am now in the process of getting my eDiscovery certification from OLP! I have found OLP to be one of the best online training organizations for the advancement of your career.
I love this career but it does have the same unlawful circumstances as all others. At a recent position, I found myself in the terrible situation of age discrimination. I was basically led out the door. My supervisor remarked to me on two separate occasions that I may be "too old" for the type of work I was doing. At the time he said this, I had reached the age of 54. The supervisor was 46.
A few weeks after the second “you’re too old” remark, I was let go - even though my reviews were excellent. In California, you can be let go for a reason or for no reason. You cannot be let go for illegal reasons. I have yet to be informed why I was dismissed but I don’t think it takes a brainard to figure it out.
After that potentially career-busting experience came the interviews. I was pretty discouraged because I was not receiving the type of offers I am accustomed to, even with a pretty extensive work history. Although the average age of entry-level paralegal is 36-38, unfortunately, it has been my experience that age does matter.
After being let-go and experiencing several rejections for jobs, I refused to let myself sit around. I gave myself another opportunity by opening my own shingle called "Encore Litigation and Trial Technology Services".
Not only can I consult and manage databases, oversee processing and transfer of data into usable databases such as Concordance and Relativity but I also consult and instruct with attorneys and paralegals on effective and efficient ways to work with these applications. Thus far, it has been great! In the past four months, I have already successfully completed three trials and consulted with two different law firms on various software and databases.
Going solo as a hired gun can be scary but with a little smart marketing, leveraging of your background and skill set, remaining competitive in pricing and rates, you just never know where you can end up. Recently, I have been retained by a large court reporting agency for a very large international client. I am their "go to" guy for everything involving trial technology and litigation support.
Ageism is definitely out there - even in firms where people ought to know how to adhere to the law. The struggle against it remains. You won't win this battle by yourself, it takes a community. However, I have found that life can be good on the other side. You just have to believe in yourself and try.
Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP ) is offering a new online certificate program in Legal Project Management. If you are a seasoned vet or are seeking to enter this hot field, you can benefit from this online, interactive program taught and designed by top experts. For more info: www.theolp.org.
This business of licensing paralegals is a hot topic. I wrote about this some time ago and interestingly, received a number of comments but not to The Estrin Report. The e-mails came to my business address. Why?
It may be a touchy area for some paralegals who don't want their colleagues knowing how they feel about licensing. It's a bit like like letting your workplace know whether you are Democrat or Republican. It affects your business relationships.
I have always maintained that this still relatively new field (about 40 years old) did not go about establishing itself correctly. It's been piecemeal, guessing or improvising at best. Why? Originally, no formal training was required and in most states, still isn't. The position originated from the legal secretary until administrators and attorneys finally figured out that there were secretarial duties that could be billed. The problem was, clients would not pay for secretarial duties and the assignments evolving were more sophisticated than the typical secretarial job. Although there were some pretty fine educational institutions that developed, basically anyone who wanted to could call themselves a paralegal - and did - in all 50 states. This went on for years and years - and still goes on in the majority of states.
It is only in the past 10 years or so that some states such as California, set up mandatory undergrad and continuing legal education requirements. Several other states followed but only in the past 2-4 years. There are about 13 states now requiring some form of mandatory education for paralegals. This means over 75% of 50 states employing approximately 300,000 paralegals or paralegal type positions allow anyone who wants to call themselves a paralegal. We haven't even mentioned document processors or folks who deliver legal services directly to the public.
Recently, licensing paralegals came about in Ontario, Canada and created a new set of standards for paralegals. Washington state has come face-to-face with it and California has it under consideration. However, most licensing considerations in the states involve those who provide services directly to the public and are no longer considered paralegals. They have brand new names such as legal technician or Legal Document Assistants. (Definitely a topic for another post.)
Maybe it's because I've gotten older that I've also gotten more patient. The field needs to take one step back before states can jump into the river and demand licensing. Given the paralegal field is getting a late start with entry requirements, licensing should wait. It doesn't seem to be able to fit into most states structures somehow set in concrete.
California, for example, considered licensing paralegals some years ago but the agency that would oversee the licenses was to be the California Department of Consumer Affairs. That agency licenses dogs, cosmeticians, morticians and others except, of course, attorneys. Before anxious paralegals start crowding into testing rooms demanding to be licensed, why wouldn't the field make sure that first, paralegals were evenly and equally trained and that certain admission standards are set in place to become a paralegal? Isn't licensing putting the cart before the horse?
Generally, to be a lawyer, a candidate must complete eight years of education before getting a license. That's the accepted standard throughout the US. A nurse must complete certain educational requirements before obtaining a license. How can paralegals obtain a license with inadequate training or education? Just because they pass one test? That hardly looks at the whole picture of what a paralegal is about.
True, Florida now has a certain number of CLEs required per year for paralegals but when did that start? A few years ago? So, let me think........Hmmm.......if a state such as California demands four CLE units every two years that means in the past 4 years, a paralegal would have 8 hours of training. (One day in four years.) That training could consist of one hour webinars, CLE approved, that quite possibly were overviews of generalized topics given by a vendor whose underlying purpose is really selling software. Not a comforting thought.
Sure, you might say. But the paralegal has on-the-job training. Not so fast, here. The biggest negative about on-the-job training is degenerative training. Most paralegals are in firms that do not have a formal training program or, they are included in the firm's in-house attorney CLEs that do not address the paralegal assignment. In fact, very few firms have training programs. The big training dollars are usually spent on associates who will eventually make big revenue generating partners - not on paralegals nor staff. Let's explain degenerative training:
A seasoned paralegal who may have a lot of knowledge but is not trained as a qualified teacher is given the task of training a new paralegal. The seasoned paralegal says, "Well, I'm a 10, you're a 10 - everyone in the room is a 10. I don't really need a 10 to do this job." So the 10 hires and trains a 9. Time goes on. The 9 is now given the task to hire and train someone and says, "I'm a 10, you're a 10, everyone in the room is a 10. I don't really need to train someone as a 10." So the 9 hires and trains an 8." The 8 says.......and hires and trains a 7. You get the picture. Pretty soon you walk into a room full of 4's and you don't know what hit you.
Paralegals need to come together to accomplish a standard of training and education first before licensing is even considered. While licensing may accomplish a seemingly higher standard, you can't get anywhere in this world today without comprehensive training. The paralegal field is no exception. These are not the days when the duties of a paralegal are Bates stamping 1,000 documents and arranging them in chronological order. Responsibilities for many now include assignments previously performed by first and second year associates.
It's a whole different world out there. Putting things in order is one of the basic duties for paralegals. Let's clean our own house first before we go on to others. Education first, regulation second, licensing later - maybe.
Join the discussion! Come to the "Meet UP!" on April 22nd. This teleconference is hosted by the Paralegal Internet Association (www.paralegalinternet.com), a new association with over 700 paralegals worldwide. Get heard and get known. It's the best career move you can make.
LOS ANGELES – The Organization of Legal Professionals, an industry group that includes some of the most respected legal technology thought leaders in the field, announced today that it has finalized preparations for its Litigation Support Certification Exam. The exam, developed in conjunction with Pearson Learning Solutions, a $7 billion company that specializes in certification examinations for a wide variety of industries, incorporates content created by OLP members including eDiscovery and legal technology lawyers, consultants and experts. OLP is the first organization to offer a Litigation Support Certification Exam.
OLP’s two-hour certification exam covers five primary areas in Litigation Support. Professionals wishing to sit for the exam may apply by going to the website and downloading the Candidate Handbook at www.theolp.org.
Over 32 high-profile attorneys, law professors, litigation support managers, consultants, and Ph.D.s have contributed to the development of the content of OLP's Certification Exam. The process took over 18 months of development.
OLP’s goal in developing and administering a Litigation Support Certification Examination is to establish a standard that can be immediately recognized as a symbol of excellence and signify that an individual has demonstrated the knowledge and skills required to perform competently in today's complex legal technology. The CLSP or Certified Litigation Support Professional designation will be awarded after the candidate passes a rigorous test, has their backgrounds and work experience checked and submits an extensive application.
The CLSP is also available through the Paralegal Knowledge Institute, an excellent continuing legal education organization created specifically for experienced paralegals (www.paralegalknowledge.com).
About The Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP)
The OLP drives education and best practices and provides certification for those involved in complex litigation support. Through its programs, the OLP ensures the requisite level of competency in complicated disciplines -- including trial support, eDiscovery and legal technology -- is met. It is the only organization whose members represent all sectors of the legal profession: attorneys, paralegals, technical support staff, litigation support professionals, consultants, legal service providers, software developers and the judiciary.
Here's a terrific way to push your career forward and get the recognition you deserve for your expertise. Litigation Support Managers can make salaries of $150,000 or more. This is an exciting and forward-thinking action you can take to move up an otherwise limited climb up the paralegal career ladder.
Sign-up for the Certification Exam today! Become a charter member of certified CLSP®’s! www.theolp.org
Paralegal Knowledge Institute is offering the first Litigation Support Certification Exam in the country! This sophisticated exam was designed by 32 OLP technology experts and two Ph.D.s together with Pearson, a $7 billion company that specializes in certification exams such as GMAT, GMRE, LSAT and more. Here's a great way to demonstrate to your firm and clients that you have the expertise required to do an outstanding job. A great career booster as well. For more info go to www.paralegalknowledge.com .
The story of Cinderella is familiar to most of us. Nice girl, horrible living conditions, probably violation of child-labor laws, happy ending. When we are children, we believe this story and for some of us, it sets our expectations for the future. And then, real life happens.
When we think of what the bad things are that happen to good legal professionals, it’s generally an event, incident, illness or other occurrence that was not within the control of that person. Here are two real-life stories:
#1: When I heard the following story, I wanted to explore what occurs when bad things happen to good professionals. Were bad things a result of a higher power? Did we bring these events on ourselves? Or, was this just the way of life and the end result was how we chose to deal with our set of circumstances?
Jim was all set and poised for a positive future. A firefighter, happily married and living in Fresno, California, this young, well-liked man was expertly advancing his career when tragedy struck. His young wife was unexpectedly diagnosed with a brain tumor. Within 90 days, she died.
Struggling with grief, Jim went back to work. A short time later, he met an amazing woman in a golf chat room of all places and a couple of years later they married. Back on track, he thought he had it all until he was injured on the job. Four surgeries in one year put an end to Jim's chances to live out his career as a firefighter. Devastated, he believed there were few job options for a guy like him. He did not have a college degree and firefighting hardly prepared him for other positions.
“I had always been interested in the law,” he says, “so I thought I would give paralegal school a shot. I won Student of the Year and after graduation, I became the head Civil Litigation Paralegal for a small firm where the managing partner was head of the Central California Trial Lawyers Association.
Motivated and enthused by the possibility of even bigger challenges, he went on to law school. “I graduated and passed the California Bar on the first try,” he says. "I actually surprised myself."
Here's a guy who twice in his life had two serious choices. With either one, he could go through life as a victim or he could set himself up as a winner. Fortunately, he chose the winning road. I was curious. What strengths do you need and what pursuits do you take to overcome overwhelming obstacles? Why do some people survive, changed for the better and why do some fold, melt and shut down?
In the 2004 controversial fiction and documentary film, “What the Bleep Do We Know”, a connection is made between science and spirituality. At the core, are provocative questions about how we participate, unconsciously or not, in an unfolding reality. What was of particular interest was the theory about the brain.
The simplest way to explain it is if we think a certain way for long enough, those connections between brain cells are strengthened and we automatically default to that way of thinking. We make decisions about what events mean and what should be done. We are not required to make a new decision with each new circumstance because with repeated experiences, our brain forms associations. Thus, if we accept limited power for long enough, we begin to automatically go through life as a victim.
#2 Phill is a seasoned veteran of the paralegal field. A seminary student bound for the priesthood, he was told point blank by the headmaster that he just wasn't cut out to be a priest. How on earth do you deal with that? After a great deal of obvious angst, he changed his career direction to become, what else? A paralegal. With over 20 years of litigation experience, he is now a Senior Paralegal at a high-profile prestigious firm earning significant dollars and enjoying the perks. Added to his long list of credentials is author of a well-selling book for litigation paralegals and teacher in a paralegal studies program.
Married for over 30 years, his life had been relatively peaceful. That is, until the fateful day his wife learned she had breast cancer. “I was devastated,” says Phill. “I had trouble comprehending the magnitude of the situation. Until now, we had faced a relatively uncomplicated marriage. I was scared, very scared."
The next six months were filled with his wife’s treatments: partial mastectomy, and chemotherapy followed by radiation. “I missed a lot of work,” he recalls. “Being able to work from home, I was able to cover.” His supervisors were extremely supportive, making it easier much easier to erase his fears of losing his job.
What got Phill through? “Resolve,” he says. “There was not a damn thing I could do to medically improve my wife’s condition. I resolved to do whatever I could to help so she could concentrate on fighting cancer.”
Looking back, Phill’s attitude puts things in perspective. “It’s a bend in the road,” he says. While that may sound too casual for a life changing event, this is not a laid-back mind-set. It’s a reflection of staying optimistic and maintaining control over what he could control – his outlook. His wife’s illness changed his point of view about life and career. “I think work moved work farther down on the importance scale,” he says. Strengthened by his wife’s upbeat attitude, the couple recently celebrated two years of remission.
By thinking positively and staying the course, Phill and Jim were able to break free from victimization and experience happy outcomes. They reprogrammed so that positive thinking was the direction they defaulted. That’s not to say that positive thinking will cure an illness or get your job back. By positive thinking, we are able to choose how we live out a dreadful experience, no matter how long or how short our actual lives. By choosing fresh, creative responses, we begin to experience a more positive, powerful life.
In a bad experience, how does someone go from feeling wretched to absolutely rocking with self confidence? The answer is quite simple really. You make a decision.
There’s a thin line between “fake it ‘til you make it” and behaving your way to success. Jim and Phill are remarkable examples of legal professionals who, against the odds, took a positive approach to bad things happening - so much so that success was inevitable.
Although I can’t really say that I am a huge fan of Anthony Robbins (simply because I haven’t invested time in his work), I did run across a great quote. ““The only way to change your life is to make a real decision. A real decision means that you cut off any other possibility than the one you’ve decided to make a reality.”
Everyday we are given the opportunity to make decisions. Decide how you want to live your life and run your career and set about with complete certainty to create it. When bad things happen to good legal professionals, it takes a decision – go down with the event or rise from it – and turn your life around. Bad things happening are not ever really good. Deciding how you’ll handle it can be the best life decision you’ll ever make.
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Have you ever considered that those extra pounds that sneaked up when you were just “having an extra bite” might be holding your career back?
Some years ago when I worked for a major Los Angeles law firm, the Director of Administration asked me to lunch. Since this was rarely done for non-attorneys in those days, I was delighted. He took me to the Yorkshire Grill where he insisted that I have the pastrami sandwich piled high on rye bread along with a generous helping of potato salad. Who can refuse their boss? Career buster for sure.
After lunch, he hit me with “You’re doing a great job here.” Wow. I liked that. “However,” he proceeded, “if you’re going to succeed, you’ll have to lose weight.” To this day, I could tell you exactly where we were standing, what I was wearing and the time he gave me the news.
What many employees fail to recognize is that this is a new workplace. We are, rightly or wrongly, visually judged everywhere: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. Then there are the constant pictures from iphones, iPads, emails, websites, videos and more. We’re no longer a society floating in a world of the anonymous. We are judged not only by who we are but unfortunately, how we look.
In fact, according to one source, there is a proposal in the UK that puts forth that obese claimants could see their benefits reduced or increased according to how often they attempt to work out.
Robin Thompson, Chairperson of the Association of Litigation Support Professionals, knows first -hand about weight discrimination. She’s lost 200 pounds. “As a thin person,” she says, “I am greeted with much more friendliness and taken more seriously. I have even had people comment that people who are overweight cannot control some aspect of their life and that it’s a reflection on how they would perform in a professional situation.”
You don’t have to be 100 pounds overweight to be discriminated against. “Chunkies” might take a look at the progression of their career over “thinnies”. Have those around you advanced while you remain at the same level? Sure, maybe they are more qualified but truthfully, are they thinner? Does a glass ceiling exist at your workplace because of weight? Is there anyone really heavy in upper management? Of course, there’s an exception or two but it’s really that – an exception.
While many victims of weight bias have suspected their appearance has been hurting their careers, two past studies analyzing decades' worth of research showed just how pervasive the problem is. The bulk of research has shown that the bias tends to be felt most by overweight white women, who are battling both the glass ceiling and the stigma of being heavy.
A 2004 study by Cornell University Associate Professor John Cawley found that when the average white woman puts on an additional 64 pounds, her wages drop 9%. (Some studies have shown that overweight white women are evaluated more harshly than overweight African American women and that African Americans tend to be more accepting of large body types.)
In 2004, Charles Baum, of Middle Tennessee State University, reported in the journal Health Economics that obesity could lower a woman's annual earnings by as much as 6.2% and a man's by as much as 2.3%.
“Fat, lazy and unproductive” might be some of the stereotypes that ring true to employers who reject an obese applicant despite a stellar resume. Published last month in the International Journal of Obesity, a new study examined the role anti-fat prejudice plays in workplace hiring practices.
A group of 95 reviewers acting in the role of employers were shown a group of resumes with an attached photo. To avoid biased results, the true reason for the study was concealed from participants, said lead researcher Kerry O'Brien of Monash University in Australia. Asked to determine the likelihood of selecting a potential candidate and her starting salary, the “employers” were shown a group of resumes with equivalent skills, experience and education.
What the reviewers did not know was that the pictures clipped to the resumes were of the same six women before and after weight loss surgery. The study results showed that obese women received more negative responses on leadership potential, predicted success, likelihood to select, salary, total employment rating and rank order of preference relative to other candidates.
Employers today want to keep healthcare costs down. The heavier you are, studies show, the more days off you take and the more vulnerable you are to certain illnesses. While your work may be excellent, chances of promotion may be slim. (Pardon the pun, please.) Have you been in the same position for 20 years while being told that you are an excellent attorney, paralegal, manager, etc.? Surely there must be somewhere upwards you could travel. If it hasn’t happened and your work is terrific, ask yourself, why, why, why?
Fat is one of the last bastions of discrimination with very little done to curb prejudice or intolerance. Being overweight does not mean a person is unmotivated or lazy. Chances are if you made it into in a law firm environment, you are smart, good at your job and ambitious. In fact, because of excess weight, people may even be more driven than others.
I did very little in terms of losing weight. Oh, I was up, I was down, I was going to lose those “last few pounds” but frankly, despite a very satisfying career, I never really did see the light. Until recently, that is, when I took Draconian-like steps to cure a lifetime of ridicule and bias. Sure, people want to be accepted “just the way they are and for whom they are” despite any well documented health risks and concerns - as so they should be. But that’s not the reality. Excess weight can kill you. It can be a social and career barrier and despite anyone’s sincere efforts to change the world, this kind of discrimination probably isn’t going stop anytime soon. Fair? Absolutely not. Make you want to rebel? You betcha. But consider this: the world has changed. It’s visual now. And, being in shape can bring nothing but good things. That’s the reality.
By the way, while I’m on my soapbox, please beware of those of us who are on weight loss programs. These "just saw the light and you can too" folks can be righteous and annoying; they will preach, lecture and moralize – all the while (for those who succeed) advancing their careers just splendidly. Along those lines, I'm pleased to announce that I have just lost over 115 pounds. But that remains another story meant for another day.
We are entering a era of major, perhaps even revolutionary, shifts in law practice, legal education, and the role of both lawyers and nonlawyers who deliver legal services. Already in motion but accelerated by the economic meltdown five years ago, these shifts have already resulted in significant downsizing and reorganization in large law firms, decreased demand for legal services affecting large and small firms alike, and high under- and unemployment of lawyers.
Roles for paralegals are changing, requiring a re-envisioning of what paralegals can and should do and a concomitant rethinking of paralegal education. The idea of nonlawyer practice has reemerged as a compelling subject of discussion within the ABA and the influential State Bar of California, and is ever closer to becoming a reality in the state of Washington. This renewed interest is related to the disruption of models for delivery of legal services and has spurred serious nationwide discussions about how to reform legal education and requirements for entry into the legal profession. This cluster of concerns together with the continuing challenge of providing access to legal services for low- and middle-income Americans has commanded the attention of legal commentators, educators and the bar.
Several important books have been written on the need to reform legal education and to restructure law practice. Richard Susskind’s The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services explains that technology and the commoditization of legal services demand a new way to practice law, one which calls for streamlined law firms and new roles for both lawyers and nonlawyers (Oxford University Press, 2008). In his most recent book directed to aspiring and new lawyers, he starts by saying, “Tomorrow’s legal world … bears little resemblance to that of the past. Legal institutions and lawyers are at a crossroads, … and are poised to change more radically than they have over the last two centuries.” He predicts that we will have virtual courts and law firms, global legal businesses, extensive legal process outsourcing, and web-based simulated practice. (Tomorrow’s Lawyers, Oxford University Press, 2013)
On the law school front, a compelling book, Failing Law Schools, by law professor Brian Tamanaha has brought a clear voice and strong evidence for the idea that the American legal education model needs radical reform. Tamanaha systematically addresses the high cost of legal education, unacceptable levels of student debt, a decreased return on a student’s educational investment and blames an antiquated educational model, curriculum, and instructional practices that, among other things, fail to prepare law students for practice. (University of Chicago Press, 2012)
The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education has been charged to study the “key challenges facing the delivery of legal services and the provision of legal education” including the rising cost of legal education, declining employment prospects, practical skills training, and the changing nature of legal work. One of its subcommittees has issued a preliminary call for states to create a common framework for licensing nonlawyers to provide a limited range of legal services and for law schools to provide the requisite educational programs, which the ABA would then accredit.
In California, the State Bar Board has adopted the resolution of its Limited Licensing Working Group to “study and develop a proposed limited license to practice law….” And the state of Washington has already adopted a Legal Technician licensing scheme that hold promise to increase access to legal services in high-need specialties like family law.
In a series of columns, we will address these emerging issues, give examples of changes we are already seeing, and discuss how this rapidly shifting environment is affecting paralegals. To be sure, we are already seeing new kinds of jobs appear in the legal landscape up every day. As an example, after we decided to write on this topic, the ABA Journal published a list of new and expected jobs, among them: legal risk manager, legal knowledge engineer, expert trusted adviser, consumer financial protection bureau compliance officer, internal investigations lawyer, client teams specialist, and law firm integration coach, wellness expert, and protocol expert.
First in a series from Terri Cannon, Stacey Hunt and Nancy Heller.
If you want to be ready for the here and now and increase your chances for success in the future, get yourself the best continuing legal education as possible! Go to the Paralegal Knowledge Institute (www.paralegalknowledge.com) and get current in Litigation Support, eDiscovery, Information Governance, and other topics that are greatly affecting your career. Don't get left behind!
As the world grows closer, so does the paralegal field.
It had to happen. With millions of paralegals around the world, a new association needed to be formed to bring paralegals together for one common purpose. I thought. "What if there were an association where paralegals could share information; develop best practices; raise the awareness of the field; increase utilization; network with paralegals they never thought would be possible; learn from each other; all through the Internet?" It was one of those work-related epiphanies as I began to meet and learn from paralegals across the world.
As I developed six LinkedIn Groups including KNOW, Paralegal Group, Paralegal Managers, Virtual Paralegal, Legal Vendors, OLP, the numbers grew substantially. KNOW has over 8,000 paralegals - Paralegal Group has over 6,000 members. Where are they from? What are their stories? It became apparent to me that there are times when we isolate - when we only know our own space. The world isn't like that anymore. Paralegals are global. It's just that no one has attempted to bring them together in a world that changed practically overnight. No longer are paralegals stuck in a slow, lumbering legal field. The world has changed - and paralegals with it.
Forming the Paralegal Internet Association has been one of the most exciting experiences of my career. In the first week, we had over 300 paralegals from around the world respond - from the U.S., Scotland, Canada, London, Saipan, Nigeria, Brussells, Israel, France, Italy and more. Paralegals who have a strong desire to exchange information, meet one another, learn from each other. That was the first week.
We held our first meeting a few weeks ago and laid out some goals. Among them was to set up a Steering and other committees such as Membership, Events, Education, Newsletter, Business Partners, Strategic Alliances, Conference and more. We sent out a survey asking what we should call ourselves, who should join, what is our purpose and mission, what impact do we want to make on the paralegal field?
The results so far have been thought-provoking, motivating and interesting. Names range from International Paralegal Association, Internet Paralegal Association, Association of Internet Paralegals, Paralegal Internet Association and others. There's a wide, wide range of educational topics including international law, eDiscovery, information governance, litigation support, corporate, employment law. There were concerns that we would only present American law and therefore limit opportunities for paralegals from other countries. The ideas and suggestions were endless.
There's a website you can go to: www.paralegalinternet.com. It lists a whole host of terrific benefits the organization will be able to provide including: education, webinars, webcasts, white papers, ezines, newsletters, discussion forums, recorded sessions and more. Our online resource library will include dozens of professional practice statements, sample documents, articles and more designed to help you get things done. There are surveys to be created, resources, advocacy and most of all, convenience. There can be local chapters that meet locally, Skyping to bring others in - virtual job fairs - the ideas are endless. Here's an opportunity to get in on the ground floor and have a hand in developing and shaping an influencial organization.
While it would be nice to be free, a small membership fee of $50 has been set until January 1 when survey candidates felt that $95 USD would be appropriate individual dues. Here at the Paralegal Knowledge Institute, we will provide a paid staff to administer the organization and guide it along with the input from all committees and members. It is a place to be heard, a place to empower paralegals with a new kind of association - one that is frankly, riding the direction the horse is going.
If you would like more information or join this unique, progressive and creative organization, visit www.paralegalinternet.com. Be sure to give us your feedback as we value your input. Join and take the survey to give us comprehensive information about the meaningful and valuable contribution the association can make to the paralegal field.
Paralegal Career Guide 4th Edition By Chere Estrin If you've ever had those middle of the night terrors wondering if you've made a mistake by choosing a paralegal career, pick up The Paralegal Career Guide.
This book packs a lot of information about career pathways and is chock full of information covering trends, career options, creating value, salary negotiations, getting along with co-workers, and other career resources.
There is practical advice such as how to get higher level assignments where you are now or how you can leverage your experience.
One comes away from the book with a sense of what's possible.
Caution: Reading this book will make you giddy with enthusiasm
The Successful Paralegal Job Search Guide An absolute must for anyone interested in Paralegal employment, this book covers it all. Gain knowledge of the profession and marketplace as well as providing the "how-tos" on resume writing, Internet searches, follow-up letters and managing the first 100 days of the new job. This guide will assist paralegals in their goals for achieving success in their paralegal job search.