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March 2007
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May 2007

"States Take Aim at 'Bully Bosses'"

Condolences if you work for a bully, but this article in The National Law Journal holds out some hope. I thought the survey results reported by the employer group, Employment Law Alliance (see list below), were startling:

"Abusive bosses who bully employees could breed a new crop of employment litigation, warn employment attorneys, who say there's a growing movement across the country to make workplace bullying illegal.

"Currently, 11 states are considering legislation that would give victims of abuse like taunting and yelling the right to sue for damages. They are Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington.

[snip]

"The alliance released the poll last month that found that 64 percent of workers believe an abused worker should have the right to sue to recover damages.

"The poll, based on a recent telephone survey of 1,000 American adults, also found that:

• 44 percent of employees have worked for a supervisor or employer who they consider abusive;

• 59 percent have experienced or witnessed bosses criticizing employee performance in front of co-workers.

• 50 percent have been personally insulted by bosses, or have witnessed such insults in the workplace.

• Southern workers are less likely to have experience with an abusive boss (34 percent) than are their Northeastern (56 percent) and Midwestern (48 percent) counterparts."

BTW, Monster has some helpful articles: Expert Answers on Workplace Bullying & Ten Warning Signs of a Toxic Boss.


"Male Paralegals: Is There Really a Glass Elevator?"

Very interesting question raised on LawCrossing. Diversity in the workplace is good, right?

"It is not uncommon these days to see more men doing traditionally female jobs such as teaching preschool and kindergarten and working as librarians, legal assistants or paralegals, bank tellers, speech pathologists, secretaries, data-entry workers, nurses, or even maids. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2005, 13.7% of paralegals were men. In 2004, the percentage was barely 11%.

"Experts who study the labor market have hypothesized that an unstable job market may lead more males to seek employment in alternative careers. And does that come as a surprise? Women who cross into traditionally male-dominated professions often do so for financial reasons and end up earning bigger paychecks than they would in traditionally female jobs.

"Men who do the reverse may not be rewarded with larger salaries, but they may find more job security. Additionally, men are frequently able to advance further and faster in traditionally female jobs than their female counterparts. This is what is sometimes known as the glass-elevator [or escalator] effect [PDF].

"Howard Lee is a legal assistant at law firm Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen in Richmond, VA. He said that he feels being a man in a traditionally female profession has its benefits.

"'I feel [male] paralegals have great chances of securing final interviews and, ultimately, job placement,' said Lee. 'Many HR departments are trying to get more diversity in the paralegal workforce.'"


Paralegal Now Lit Support Company Project Manager

News of staff additions at TDCI (Technology Concepts and Design, Inc), shows how to use paralegal skills to advance into a different kind of job:

"TCDI®, a market leader in Litigation Technology, announces the addition of five new employees. These additions help TCDI focus on further improving the quality of services provided to clients and highlight the continued development of TCDI in large-scale electronic discovery and litigation case management solutions.

[snip]

"Melissa Sorrell joins TCDI as a Project Manager where she is responsible for day-to-day management, reporting, and coordination for several TCDI projects. She previously worked for Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, P.L.L.C. in Winston-Salem as a Litigation Paralegal. Sorrell received her B.S., magna cum laude, from East Carolina University."


"Deleting embarrassing e-mails isn't easy, experts say"

So, you think those embarrassing emails sent to the computer's trash can are truly deleted, right? Uh, no:

"If Karl Rove or other White House staffers tried to delete sensitive e-mails from their computers, experts said, investigators usually could recover all or most of them.

"The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating whether the White House or the Republican National Committee erased 'a large volume of e-mails' that may be related to the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.

[snip]

"Deleting a document or e-mail doesn't remove the file from a computer's hard drive or a backup server. The only thing that's erased is the address - known as a 'pointer' - indicating where the file is stored.

"It's like 'removing an index card in a library,' said Robert Guinaugh, a senior partner at CyberControls LLC, a data forensic-support company in Barrington, Ill. 'You take the card out, but the book is still on the shelf.'"


"CHOOSING THE RIGHT LAW FIRM FOR YOU"

This chart & accompanying list [PDF] -- "Choosing The Right Law Firm For You" & "Considerations For Evaluating A Job Offer" -- come from the NYU School of Law.

Obviously intended for law school grads, I think this set of tools would also help paralegals & other legal staff in making career decisions.

Found this gem in a post on the Counsel to Counsel blog; worth a look for more than just this info!


Entertainment paralegal with autistic son makes film

Documentaries focus on insiders' view of autism [registration req'd], including a film made by a paralegal:

"When Taylor Cross was 14, he told his mother he wanted to earn money to pay for the Christmas gifts they planned to give a needy family.

"Keri Bowers was moved by her son's display of empathy. Cross was diagnosed with high-functioning autism at age 6 and struggles with social skills. Bowers suggested household chores he could do to earn the money.

"No way, he said. He wanted to make a movie and sell it.

"No way, she said. As a paralegal in the entertainment industry in California, she feared the venture would flop.

"In the end, the mother and son collaborated on Normal People Scare Me, a documentary on people with autism. Its success led to a second documentary, Sandwich Kids, for siblings of people with disabilities."


"How to Command Respect through Body Language"

Really long list -- 101 bullets! -- of sometimes obvious, but mostly helpful, tips for improving how people respond to you:

"Some people are the center of attention wherever they go. They’re not glamorous movie stars, just ordinary people with excellent command over their body language. Here are some pointers to help you emulate these confident people and command respect from those around you.

[snip]

"1. Stand tall, even if you’re the shortest person in the room. Keeping your shoulders pushed back will lend you an air of confidence.

[snip]

"14. If you wear glasses, don’t look over the rim. It makes you look condescending.

[snip]

"32. Be sure to nod your head so the person you're speaking with knows you're listening and interested.

[snip]

"58. Don’t tap your fingers on a table or arms of a chair; you'll seem anxious.

[snip]

"79. Don’t huddle into a corner with your mobile phone while in a crowd of people. Get out and mingle instead. Keep your private conversations for a time when you’re alone."

Some readers who commented on this article thought it was helpful; others not so much. Perhaps half of the points struck me as worthwhile!


ALM Event: Trial Tactics & Technology

Hey, the name alone, T3, makes me want to attend this ALM event. An then there's that ediscovery mock trial:

"The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel and Law Technology News, together with ALM Events, present T3: Trial Tactics & Technology.

"T3 will be held in Chicago on May 31, 2007. Due to high demand, it will also be presented in London and New York City in November 2007."


New Closing Manager (& Paralegal) on Board

Yes, another career path opens up to paralegals with specific experience:

"Linda Craft and Team has announced the hiring of Christina Mastascusa as Buyer Closing Manager. In her new position, recently open as a result of internal promotions, Christina will work closely with attorneys and title and insurance companies to ensure smooth closings for Linda Craft clients.

"Christina is a real estate paralegal and has extensive knowledge of all aspects of home buying. Formerly with Fonville Morisey, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the team."


"Hutchens, Senter & Britton Announces Certified Paralegals"

Well, isn't this encouraging news? Law firm sends out press release praising its paralegals!

"Fayetteville, North Carolina-based law firm Hutchens, Senter & Britton, P.A., which specializes in foreclosure and civil litigation, announced that employees Lesley Cavenaugh, Dianne Dunn, and Aileen Gibson have qualified as North Carolina state bar certified paralegals. All three support the firm's bankruptcy group.

“'We congratulate Lesley, Dianne, and Aileen on this important achievement,' said Terry Hutchens, managing partner of Hutchens, Senter & Britton. 'Individually, each one's dedication to the profession is to be commended; collectively, they bring a concentration of expertise and talent to our Bankruptcy Group, which is a significant asset for the firm.'”

Too bad the firm doesn't (yet) post paralegal profiles...