Explaining your job to your kids - A new book for paralegals

Cover.Mommy3Here's a good question for you:  How do you explain to your child what you do during the day at work? It's hard enough to explain the paralegal career to adults.

According to parenting.com, until the child is about three years old, "Mommy is going to work" is about all they can understand.  However, after that, when they're asking "Why is the sky blue, why is the grass green?" it starts to get a bit complicated.  Work is hard to visualize and a position where you aren't exactly physically making a product you can bring home to show them is even harder.

Bringing a child to work is one way of showing what you do. However, letting a 4 year-old wander around the office is not always a great idea - particularly when they want to touch and feel everything, play with the stapler and hide in the bankers boxes.

Enter "My Mommy is a Paralegal" by Loni Morganelli.  This charming, 26 page book is an appealing story about a little girl who explains what her mother does everyday after the little girl is kissed and dropped at school. The delightful illustrations explain what an office looks like, the kinds of things mommy does when she is at her desk and who she works with.  It's the kind of book that causes you to cozy up to your kids and share precious bonding time.  Don't let the shortness of dialogue fool you: there's plenty of descriptive information that connects perfectly with the illustrations to give kids a good idea of what goes on during mom's day.  The book does not neglect to highlight how important the child is to the mother and how special the relationship is - work does not get in the way parenting.  It's a good "take-away" feeling that leaves you with a warm glow and actually renews your faith in what you do.

Suggested ages:  3 - 7
Available in soft cover and via internet only
$21.95 plus shipping
Makes a great holiday gift 
You can purchase the book at lulu.com.


Legal Project Management - The Next New Area for Paralegals to Conquer?

 MP900446464[1] It seems that suddenly, law firms have woken to the fact that the corporate world has a whole new technique out there to manage projects.  Simply called Project Management, the area is booming.  And, as always, the legal field tends to be the last to get in on the bandwagon.  But for argument's sake, let's just say it arrived.

Legal Project Management by Steven B. Levy (DayPack Books), is a study in how to manage your case, control costs, meet schedules, manage risks, and maintain sanity.  It's a process by which you can take control of your project.  Prior to the concept of Legal Project Management, there were no standardized methods to manage a case.  However, Project Management, in and of itself, has been around for years in the corporate arena.

Here is a great way for paralegals to pick up yet another useful skill and turn it into a top job.  Project Managers are team leaders who can size up a case, establish a budget for doing so, create the work flow chart and see the project through to the end. 

Levy's book gives you the tools to approach the job.  Since this emerging field offers a powerful new approach to managing a case, it is not an alien discipline, full of jargon and process overhead.  Rather, it's designed for the specific world of legal professionals.  It respects the way attorneys and paralegal work, enhancing their success by playing to their strengths. 

The book is easy to read dispersed throughout with quotes from Shakespeare.  While Levy attempts to explain why those quotes are in the book, it remains a mystery exactly why although it does lend for interesting reading.  Levy explains budgeting, analysis,work flow, execution information radiators, metrics and learning.  It's a whole new world out there in terms of what happens when that new case comes in over the transom.

If you are looking to expand your position, it's time to explore the world of Project Management.  The Organization of Legal Professionals is offering an 8 week on line, interactive, live class on Project Management starting December 15th.  (www.theolp.org).  Here is the perfect way to ensure your value to your firm, learn the skills of the hottest area right now and probably put more dollars in your pocket as a result.

Do remember the history of paralegals:  No one sat down one day and said, "This is a paralegal job description.  Now, let's go get some paralegals."  That's not what happened.  What happened was the position emerged from another position (legal secretary) when attorneys figured out that 1) secretaries could perform higher level tasks and 2) you could bill the client for someone called a paralegal but you couldn't bill for a secretary.  Now, between eDiscovery Paralegals and Project Management Paralegals, the field is creating its own career path.  More power to it.


eDiscovery for Techies & Geeks Starts Aug. 31st

J0400219 eDiscovery for Techies & Geeks starts on August 31, 2010. Interact with other students & instructor. Learn from seasoned pros. 3 courses offered including: Lit Support 101A; Advanced LitSupport; Project Management for Litigation Support Professionals. Contact chere.estrin@theolp.org. Thanks!

The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client Book Review


I don't know what it was that I expected when I picked up a copy of Robert Mongue's latest book, "The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client" but that wasn't as important as the fact that I just couldn't put it down.

This is a book for everyone. While it is written specifically for paralegals, just substitute any position and you have a book that teaches you how to deal, motivate and learn from the older generations.   This publication is not only for paralegals, it can be read by lawyers, administrators, legal secretaries - practically anyone who works in any capacity in a law firm environment.  Why?  Because for the first time that I can remember, someone is teaching how to handle the characteristics, traits, mental capacity and appropriateness of actions to age of clients and colleagues.

Mongue's book does not cover the ho and the hum of regular "how-to" paralegal books.  In fact, what he covers should be taught in every school regardless of specialty, profession or even age.  Here, Mongue deals with our feelings about aging and the myths, stereotypes, cultural prejudices and extrapolations to the general population based upon personal experience.  He draws you in as he explains behavior and the aging proces and teaches you how to react as a result. As it turns out,  much of what we think about the elderly is wrong, wrong, wrong.

With the millions of Baby Boomers about to set siege in the swamplands of Florida; the sunbelt of the Southwest and the hot, hot, hot but dry desert weather in Palm Springs, many firms and paralegals recognize that acting as counsel and paralegals for the senior generation will be much different than how the younger set thinks, acts and reacts. For the first time, Mongue tells you why so that you are better equipped for a smoother meeting, deposition, will writing, client meeting or other important event in your client's space.

Mongue goes into great detail describing the professionalism and protocol you need in order to get the best possible information, client relationship, witness testimony and cooperation from an aging society.  It's simply fascinating.  One chapter is devoted to death, dying and the end of life planning while another explains simply how to understand the differences in cultures such as generalities and diversity; Moslem, Jews, Catholics, Christians, Native Americans, Latinos/Hispanics, African Americans and others in what they want as they wind up the last quarter of their lives.

The book gives great tips on how to best communicate with someone in their later years.  It teaches you how to talk to a senior citizen; how to best safe-proof their homes for optimum safety as the body changes and much more.

For any paralegal working with elderly clients, this book is a must-read.  Even if you are working with graying baby boomers who are your colleagues, this book will clarify much of the "how-to's" and answer the why's:  Why is the boomer thinking that way; why is last to embrace certain things but so much further ahead in accepting other concepts? Why doesn't she understand me?  The publication is artful in describing chronological, sociological, biological and psychological aging in a style that immediately captivates the reader.  The book is so good,  that you can substitute any part of the paralegal's role throughout the book with another position entirely and still learn a brand new skill.

The chapter on Estate Planning and the Perils of Intestancy  is excellent.  The book covers "how-to" of estate planning such as a) explaining basic concepts  b) writing forms c)  the estate  d) clarifying confusing basic estate plans e) basic estate planning.

The rich voice and highly expressive tone of the book plus the sharing of some of Mongue's personal stories makes this book a great learning tool for paralegals of any level and any specialty.  I highly recommend it to experienced paralegals, students, attorneys, legal assistants and anyone, anywhere who simply wants to be able to get their message across to those who have crossed over into eligibility for the early blue plate special at Tony's Trattoria down the street.  

Ranking:   *****  5 stars out of 5 stars
Publisher: Carolina Academic Press, Durham, North Carolina
Pages:  328 pages


The Florida Paralegal by Wm Statsky, Robert Diotalevi and Pam McCoy Linquist

Man carrying documents They send me books.  Lots and lots of books. Who??? you're asking?  The publishers, that's who.  They seem to think that we're going to review every book that's come our way.  I haven't gotten to Ludicrous Laws & Mindless Misdemeanors yet.  The Inspiration Factor was uninspiring and Fame 101 was content -free.  What the heck did they expect me to do with The Florida Paralegal, I ask you.

Turns out that The Florida Paralegal, a resource guide written by William P. Statsky, Robert N. Diotalevi and Pam McCoy Linquist could be a very good textbook.  I would prefer that the layout and design made more sense.  The book serves as a reference containing a great deal of information that is essential for paralegals. It is Internet-rich with resources that will help paralegals in many aspects of their day-to-day classes and jobs.  Even if you're not in Florida, you'll find this book helpful when dealing with cases out-of-state.

Statsky, of course, is the prom writer of paralegal text books.  Hardly anyone these days goes through a paralegal course without running into at least one Statsky book.  I remember meeting Bill at a Los Angeles Paralegal Meeting some years ago that took place in the Marina del Rey.  When I finally realized who was speaking, I was blown away.  Here was a good-looking guy wearing tight jeans, a camel color sports jacket and boots  He had the bluest eyes I had ever seen.  Addressing the audience, he took command and showed up as a real leader. Because he had written so many books at that time, I was expecting someone else entirely.  Someone well, scholarly perhaps.  Tweed jacket with leather elbows, that sort of thing.  Ever since that meeting, he and I have kept up via e-mail.  Flash forward and now, I have a picture of him with his grandkids.  I'm not sure where the time has gone - except I still see that good-looking guy with the sports jacket and jeans, blond hair rippling in the wind, blue eyes twinkling.....wait! Snap out of it, Estrin!  But I digress here.

The book is a good resource for paralegals in every state.  It is Internet-rich with resources that will help paralegals in many aspects of their day-to-day responsibilities.  Some key features:

  • Introduces the reader to the paralegal career in Florida
  • Provides a comprehensive legal dictionary
  • Provides ethical opinions governing paralegals
  • Covers the unauthorized practice of law in the state
  • Explains the judicial, legislative and executive structure of Florida government
  • Provides time lines for typical civil and criminal cases in Florida courts
  • Provides examples of local citation rules

It is a text book.  However, if you are a practicing paralegal, you're going to want to have this book on your desk in arm's reach.  It can help you shine as a paralegal and serves as a mecca of information for those searching to get the assignment absolutely, positively correct.

Delmar Cengage
ISBN 13 978-1-4180-1292-2.
560 pages
Purchase: www,ichapters.com

The Empowered Paralegal - A New Book for New Paralegals

Cover.Empowered Paralegals

For those of us who are "old" hands at this, the information presented in a new book by Robert E. Mongue, The Empowered Paralegal, may seem pretty obvious.  However, when I think back to when I was brand new on the job, (and very, very young), my first day was very powerful.  The lesson I learned - remembered for a lifetime - was just how much I didn't learn in school. Like, for example, how to properly answer the phones; fill out a time sheet; organize a litigation file correctly and the all-time show stopper:  understanding the attorney's understanding of the paralegal.

In The Empowered Paralegal, Effective, Efficient and Professional, Robert Mongue answers all these questions and more. Identifying job tasks unique to the paralegal, Mongue undertakes to explain the mysteries of handling and preparing clients, file management, managing your attorney, office policies, meeting deadlines, managing your litigation and more.  The book explains the nuances and subtleties necessary to ensure your career is very successful right from the beginning.

Read this practical, easy-to-read guide even if you have a couple of years of experience.  It's the stuff of superstars who somehow innately know how to make their job seem effortless and smooth, much to amazement of others mired down in chaos.  This book is a useful adjunct to any course, especially "Introduction to Paralegalism" and is effectively designed for the student in an internship seminar or those entering the field.

About the author:  Robert E. Mongue is an assistant professor of legal studies at the University of Mississippi.  He has over thirty years of experience as a trial and appellate attorney. His practice emphasized representation of individuals, small businesses and major U.S. and foreign corporations. He is the developer of The Empowered Paralegal workshops, seminars and custom in-house training.  He is also a member of the Advisory Council of The Organization of Legal Professionals (The OLP) www.theolp.org.

I also highly recommend his excellent blog:  The Empowered Paralegal as the best blog for paralegals that's out there in cyberland.


Price: $20.00
Available through Carolina Academic Press www.cap-press.com Tel: 919.489.7486 cap@cap-press.com

"My Mommy is a Paralegal" - New Book for the Kids

My Mommy The question of what is a paralegal has been around since the career started.  Explaining it to an adult is one thing, but try explaining it to a child who has never seen a court room, judge or even an office building.  What does mommy do all day long, anyway?  The concept can be hard to grasp for a small child.

Loni Morganelli and I came up with a concept for a book for the 3-8 year old children of paralegals.  "My Mommy is a Paralegal" has delightful illustrations by Jessica Maturo.  Written by Loni Morganelli, the book explains in charming pictures and words, a day-in-the-life of a paralegal from the child's point of view.  We had a fun time putting it together and hope that kids and their parents love it as well.

For those who are dads, hang on....we're coming up with one for you too.  And, we've also published "My Mommy is a Lawyer" because we didn't want anyone to feel left out.

The softcover book is 24 pages long.  It's available at www.knowparalegal.com

"45 ways we torpedo our careers"

Very helpful, if sometimes painful, career guidance in a new book:

"Read a few pages of Anita Bruzzese's book and you probably will see yourself.

"And, you're almost guaranteed not to like the picture you see.

"'We hear all the time that people aren't happy in their jobs because of the boss, or because of the company, or because of something else,' said Bruzzese, author of the book 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy (Perigee Trade, $14) 'Never once have I heard from someone who blamed their troubles at work on themselves.

"'I just got to thinking that can't be right. Some people do create their own problems.'"

New book about the Supremes

Jeffrey Rosen, author of "The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America," made a funny appearance on The Daily Show tonight:

His book also sounded very funny. Of course, that could have mostly been Jon Stewart....

"In this compelling work of character-driven history, Jeffrey Rosen recounts the history of the Court through the personal and philosophical rivalries on the bench that transformed the law — and by extension, our lives. The story begins with the great Chief Justice John Marshall and President Thomas Jefferson, cousins from the Virginia elite whose differing visions of America set the tone for the Court's first hundred years. The tale continues after the Civil War with Justices John Marshall Harlan and Oliver Wendell Holmes, who clashed over the limits of majority rule. Rosen then examines the Warren Court era through the lens of the liberal icons Hugo Black and William O. Douglas, for whom personality loomed larger than ideology. He concludes with a pairing from our own era, the conservatives William H. Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia, only one of whom was able to build majorities in support of his views." [Publisher's description]

"Help, I’m Surrounded by Jerks"

If you're this unlucky, so sorry!, but help might be found in the books described below:

"CERTAIN mortals have the power to sink hearts and sour moods with lightning speed. The hysterical colleague. The meddlesome neighbor. The crazy in-law. The explosive boss. A mélange of cantankerous individuals, they are united by a single achievement: They make life miserable.

"You call them jerks, dolts and nitwits. Psychologists call them 'difficult people.' In fact they are difficult in so many ways that they have been classified into species like the Complainer, the Whiner and the Sniper, to name but three.


"Two decades ago there were only a handful of books offering advice on how to defang the dears. Today there are scores of seminars, workbooks and multimedia tools to help people co-exist with those they wish did not exist.

"In the spring, Career Press is to publish 151 Quick Ideas to Deal With Difficult People by Carrie Mason-Draffen. But numerous resources are already on the market, including the succinctly titled Since Strangling Isn’t an Option by Sandra A. Crowe."

More books dealing with the "jerk problem" follow...