Paralegal in Fiji Fights Corruption

Because the field is so relatively new compared to the practice of law in America - 35 yrs. vs. 225+ years - we rarely look around to see what's going on with paralegal in other countries.  Yep.  They're out there.  Take this fellow Albert Lau, a corruption fighter in Fiji. 

Here is a guy making a difference in society.

Born and bred in Hong Kong, Albert is a retired chief investigator with the Independent Commission Against Corruption in Hong Kong where he worked for 31 years to control corruption and build a better nation. He wanted to become a lot of things when he was young but along with his parents, Albert had very little opportunities.

His father was a cook while his mother was an amah both working for expatriate families and they earned only $150 a month in the 1960s "I attended government primary school where the fee was $5 Hong Kong currency which is equivalent to 30 times more today.

I was born after the Second World War and the country was poor. After high school, I decided to work and saved enough to pay for my own private study." He graduated with a degree in Business Administration from the Open College of the Macau University which was the only open university for adults in the 70s.

According to Albert, most people believed in a Chinese philosophy where a way out of poverty was to receive a good education and be well equipped. This made him even more determined to work hard and persevere in life.

He applied for a position with ICAC Hong Kong in 1974 when the organisation was established. "I applied and was assigned to the lowest rank of Assistant Investigator. Basically the organisation was set up to investigate corruption offences committed by any person and the job was mostly detective work.

"However, there are certain areas of crime being investigated apart from corruption offences like dangerous drugs, smuggling and white collar crimes, such as commercial fraud, tax evasion, illegal immigrants, which are related to corruption offences.

"It is very challenging being an investigator especially when dealing with corruption. Back in the old days in Hong Kong, corruption was widespread because at the time new comers did not know much about the law."  From 1974 until retirement in 2005, Albert spent 31 years working as an investigator for ICAC Hong Kong."

Climbing up the investigator ranks over the years, Albert spent most of his life leading, managing and supervising investigation teams. He was also responsible for providing investigative training as well as offering advice. On a positive note, Albert has dedicated his working life to controlling corruption. While politicians, historians and learned individuals know the definition of corruption, it is hard to put a lid on how a corruption investigator works.

"Common sense prevails. Corruption in general is difficult to detect because there is no victim of crime especially when both parties involved are satisfied.

"Some are reluctant to give evidence. There needs to be certain kinds of internal control and we cannot afford failure.

"The duration and work of investigators depend on the complexity of the case and sometimes the most difficult can be syndicate corruption involving a lot of people.

"Investigations can be time consuming but investigators have to get evidence." After retirement, Albert joined a law firm in Hong Kong as a paralegal. He provides litigation support to lawyers.

His investigative skills and experience help find evidence to support a case and if there is one word that describes Albert, it is his unending desire to see justice served and corruption controlled.

"I feel I need to contribute to society. I like to see a government to be a clean one where everyone can enjoy a fair field to play. If corruption exists, some rights of people will be intruded on. But being an investigator is a meaningful task.

"For me to share my experiences and knowledge with FICAC investigators is great. The motives behind FICAC is a great one and you can see the political willingness of the government really wants this country to be a corruption-free society." Albert is married with two children and believes family support and understanding are the backbone of his profession as a corruption fighter.

Highlighting this man's achievements is not so much a political, social or economical motive but a straightforward notion that achievement and success is possible if one is determined, steadfast and honest.


Paralegals miss out on 15% Christmas bonus

Not expecting much holiday cheer at this firm's year-end parties!

"Paralegals and professional support lawyers at Slaughter and May will receive a bonus this year of just 3%, despite the rest of the lawyers at the firm pocketing a 15% boost under the firm’s recently introduced scheme.

"Slaughters’ new system will see a flat-rate bonus of 15% of salary paid to all fee-earners; however, paralegals and professional support lawyers are not included in this category. The magic circle firm confirmed they will receive just a fifth of this amount, taking home just 3%."

Click here to explore what this London firm (founded 1889) looks for in paralegals. Just don't expect much of a bonus...


Editorial: 'Lawyers will regulate paralegals'

Another strong opinion about regulating Canadian paralegals:

"Ontario has passed a law that will regulate paralegals. This is good news. Until now, what has it taken to be a paralegal? Call yourself one. That's it. No training required. No liability insurance. No minimum standards. No discipline for bad ones.

"I've seen some good paralegals. I've seen some bloody awful ones too. Of course, the skeptics will say the same about lawyers. At least lawyers have certain minimum training, have passed competency exams, pay liability insurance in case they screw up, and they can get booted out of the profession if they are unethical. Until now, there was virtually nothing you could do about a bad paralegal.

[snip]

"With the Law Society in charge [PDF link], it will have to strike a balance that protects the public and preserves the roles of both paralegals and lawyers. I'm hoping that it will find the right balance.

"I don't consider paralegals to be competition for me in my practice. We are simply not going after the same work. On the other hand, there are paralegals doing some things that are way out of their league.

"In my view, paralegals should never be doing separation agreements or family law. They should not be doing wills and estate planning. They should not be doing real estate transactions. These are areas of law where the amateurs think that it is just filling in the blanks on a 'standard' form. It isn't."

By Ian Johncox, a partner with the Mason Bennett Johncox law firm in Whitby, Ontario.


Ontario regulates paralegals, 'puts lawyers in charge'

This news is not a surprise, but it does sound like the battle continues:

"Ontario became the first province in Canada to regulate paralegals Thursday, but many in the profession worry they could be forced out of business because they will be regulated by lawyers - the very people they compete against for most of their work.

"The Liberal government had to use its majority to out-vote the Conservatives and New Democrats, who stood in opposition to the Access to Justice Act - a new law that puts the Law Society of Upper Canada in charge of regulating paralegals [PDF link].

"For the first time, paralegals will be required to receive training, carry liability insurance and report to a public body that can investigate complaints.

"'We are really witnessing the birth of a new profession,' said Attorney General Michael Bryant. 'Paralegals are joining the ranks of doctors, lawyers and teachers as a regulated and respected profession in Ontario.'

"But the Paralegal Society of Ontario is fearful the Law Society will stop paralegals from providing a low-cost alternative to lawyers for civil cases, incorporations, wills, divorces and other family law disputes.

"'This legislation is going to hurt the public, as they're going to be limited in choice because it's going to go back to just being lawyers,' warned spokeswoman Susan Koprich.'"


Paralegal regulation in Canada 'on cusp of becoming law'

Regulation up north has definitely been a hard-fought battle:

"Last month, the Ontario Bar Association managed to lobby successfully for further clarity of the portion of bill 14 that amends the Law Society Act, after it made submissions to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy.

"As a result, the legislation now refers to paralegals as 'paralegal members' rather than 'persons licensed to provide legal services.''

[snip]

"After bill 14 passes, the Law Society of Upper Canada [PDF link] will be responsible for drafting the bylaws to create the rules and guidelines that will govern the paralegal profession, based on its 2004 report proposing its approach to paralegal regulation.

[snip]

"According to Steven Rosenhek, chairman of the Ontario Bar Association's paralegal task force, 'the great benefit of the bill is that it sets out a comprehensive scheme for regulation of paralegals in Ontario, which encompasses all of the kinds of things that we at the OBA have advocated for years, including mandatory educational requirements, discipline measures, requirements to carry insurance — all of the things that will protect the public from incompetent or unscrupulous paralegals.'"

Click here & here for the paralegal point of view; also see the Paralegal Society of Ontario.


Interested in Paralegal Job in Brussels?

If so, here's where the details:

"Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is an international law firm with offices in New York, Washington, Paris, Brussels, London, Frankfurt, Cologne, Rome, Milan, Moscow, Hong Kong and Beijing. Worldwide, the firm has more than 800 lawyers and 1,300 employees.

"A position with Cleary Gottlieb provides a challenging and rewarding career for resourceful individuals. We offer a competitive compensation package and regular working hours.

"The Brussels office currently has an opening for a Legal Assistant/Paralegal who seeks a challenging job that offers variety, international exposure and the opportunity to use his/her legal skills."

Read the whole piece for a complete job description.


"Legal process outsourcing: 79,000 jobs on offer!"

Number of outsourced legal jobs expected to grow:

"Except for fighting court cases in New York or London for law firms there, Indian lawyers are doing everything else for their western counterparts - litigation support, contract review, patent writing and paralegal services.

"Legal process outsourcing as it is being called, has very high growth potential, and according to latest estimates, it can fetch 79,000 jobs in India by 2015.

"According to Nasscom [National Association of Software & Service Companies], estimates of current addressable market potential for legal services that can be outsourced from the US alone are pegged at $3-4 billion. It is estimated that only 2-3 per cent of the potential market has been tapped so far.

"'At present there are just a handful of companies which are into legal outsourcing. But the field has lot of potential... it needs time to grow,' says Kaviraj Singh, of Trustman Group, which is into legal outsourcing."


"Demographic Shifts Transform Law Office Management"

Excellent article describing trends in the legal profession:

"Demographic shifts, globalization and increased corporate governance are three key factors changing the way law offices operate, according to a just-released white paper from Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing service specializing in attorneys, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. The paper is titled The Changing Face of the Legal Industry and is part of the company's continuing Future Law Office project. The research also highlights how legal employers are responding to the needs and priorities of an increasingly diverse, multigenerational workforce in order to recruit and retain top talent, and remain competitive.

"For its annual Future Law Office project, Robert Half Legal commissions surveys of attorneys, interviews leading experts and conducts research to determine how law offices will operate in the coming years. The results are available here."


1-800-Translate now supports foreign discovery translation

Well, this sounds like good news for lots of firms:

"'With the internationalization of the practice of law and the growing importance of e-discovery, our clients in law firms and corporate legal departments face escalating demands for translation of foreign language data,' said Ken Clark, chief operations officer at 1-800-Translate. 'We've answered this challenge by developing a proprietary system that combines E-Discovery best practices with the best machine translation solutions available. Highly accurate machine translation enables attorneys to quickly access multilingual evidence at a fraction of the cost and time of the traditional foreign- language indexing, coding, and translation practices.'"