The World is Temporarily Closed: Communication, Onsite Work and Pandemic Productivity

Pandemic1The following is one attorney's view of how the pandemic has affected his work. Not everyone is having the same experience. There are some very scary stories out there, lots of successes, too many halls of shame and finally, acceptance. Here is Ted Wells, litigation attorney in Los Angeles.

 

Communication with Colleagues and Support Staff
 
I miss popping into my colleagues’ offices to chat or to hear their thoughts about how to handle this or that problem or motion. I miss impromptu coffee runs. But what I’ve lost in that sort of thing I’ve gained in group chats and Zoom happy hours. Now, instead of popping into a colleague’s office to get their take on an idea, I do so over the group chat. I miss the face to face, but this works. Much the same is true for communicating with support staff. E-mails continue to serve the same purpose as they did when everyone was in the office, and for those conversations where in pre-pandemic days I would walk over to my secretary and talk, I simply call. On that point, the pandemic made me do something I never thought I would, which is get a landline. My cell service is too bad at home to do business, so I got a landline at home that I use primarily for that purpose. It has really worked out and I recommend it.
 
Onsite Work
 
I don’t know of any firms that ask attorneys or support staff to work onsite, and given the ease of communication apparent from the last 10 months (has it really been that long?), I don’t see a good reason to do this. Opposing counsel in every one of my cases seems to have call forwarding from their office lines and some kind of work from home arrangement. Between cloud computing services, Microsoft Remote Desktop, and call forwarding, I see no reason to ask people to come into the office until we’re all vaccinated. There is real value in coming into the office, and it’s not just the impromptu coffees and chats with colleagues I mentioned earlier. However, these days, the risks of the virus pretty clearly outweigh the benefits of coming into the office.
 
Pandemic Productivity
 
I no longer have a commute. That saves me about an hour and a half a day. This has allowed me to dedicate more time to running, which is the primary way I blow off steam and deal with the stress that seems to be coming from every angle these days. As a litigator, I welcome the increased personal time, which is precious. If anything, my productivity has increased since I began working from home. I think this is the result of the increased personal time and consequent decrease in stress, but also simply not commuting has benefits of its own. It turns out that it is less stressful to not sit on the 101 twice a day, than to do so. I don’t look forward to traffic ramping back up once this is all over, but I do look forward to seeing colleagues once again. Here’s hoping that’s sometime soon.
 
Do you have a pandemic story you would like to share? Send it to chere@estrinlegalstaffing.com
 
TWells Teded Wells is an experienced Los Angeles litigator with Romero Law, an employment law civil litigation and trial firm located in Pasadena that specializes in representing whistleblowers and employees in harassment, retaliation, and discrimination matters. Ted had five published opinions by the 5th year of practice. His firm has been the subject of recent international press coverage with respect to ongoing high-profile litigation.
 
 
Estrin.2020Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a top national and international staffing organization and MediSums, medical records summarizing. She is the Co-Founding Member and Vice-President of the Organization of Legal Professionals. Chere has written 10 books on legal careers, hundreds of articles and has been written up in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Trib, Newsweek, Entrepreneur and others. Chere is a recipient of the Los Angeles/Century City Women of Achievement Award and a finalist for the Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award and a Los Angeles Paralegal Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient She is a former administrator at an AmLaw 100 firm and Sr. Vice President in a $5 billion company. She can be reached on Sundays from 3am-5am. Reach out at: chere@estrinlegalstaffing.com.
 

Informative Articles, Interesting Blogs.....

Our guest blogger today is Celia Elwell - back with another useful column of Informative Articles and Interesting Blogs:

Legal Articles & Blogs:

2011 a transformative year” for workplace
class action litigation
, by Ashley Post, InsideCounsel
http://bit.ly/wE1eT1

D.C. Judge Orders Deloitte To Court In Subpoena Dispute,
posted by Mike Scarcella, The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times
http://bit.ly/ydRSeL

Piggybacking on Students' Free LEXIS Access by Practitioners: "No
can do" says Utah State Bar
, Law Librarian Blog
http://bit.ly/wWMHeF

Stop Online Piracy Act Wants Biglaw Support; Biglaw Says, Aw,
Hell No’
by Christopher Danzig, Above the Law Blog
http://bit.ly/zlOlXZ

What Employers and Employees Should Understand About Conducting
Background Checks
, by Jason Shinn, Michigan Employment Law
Advisor
http://bit.ly/xDCynq

The Best of the Best of the Best - The 2011 ABA Journal Blawg
100
, by Jason Shinn, Michigan Employment Law Advisor
http://bit.ly/vQHd3k


Litigation Tips & Techniques:

Did Mark
Cuban's Attorney Just File Greatest Legal Scoreboard Ever in Ross Perot Jr.
Case?,
by Robert Wilonsky, The Dallas Observer Blog
http://bit.ly/lvHt1h

His First Jury Trial, by
Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips
http://bit.ly/oXf6U9

Plaintiff “Entitled” to Search Non-Party’s Personal Hard
Drive Pursuant to Modified Subpoena
, by K&L Gates Electronic Discovery
Law Blog
http://bit.ly/wKq3TM

Local Rules, Forms and Guidelines of United States District
Courts Addressing E-Discovery Issues
, by K&L Gates Electronic Discovery
Law Blog
http://bit.ly/wCsiY8

Current Listing of States That Have Enacted E-Discovery
Rules
, by K&L Gates Electronic Discovery Law Blog
http://bit.ly/wpBvYI

Examining Witnesses: Tips from Pace Law Library, by Evan
Schaeffer, The Trial Practice Tips Blog
http://bit.ly/AD81yU

Legal Writing and Research:

Competitive Intelligence - A Selective
Resource Guide - Completely Updated - December 2011
, by Sabrina I.
Pacifici, LLRX.com
(Extremely comprehensive - a “must” bookmark)
http://www.llrx.com/features/ciguide.htm

Locating the Law - A Handbook for Non-Law Librarians,
by Southern California Association of Law Libraries (with hat tip to Bill
Statsky!)
http://bit.ly/x1Cfic

Writing Clear and Effective Legal Prose - When to Use the Passive
Voice
, by George P. Gopen, ABA Law Practice (with hat tip to Raymond
Ward, the (new) legal writer!)
http://bit.ly/vpFHH9

Your Honor, could you repeat that . . . in plain language?,
Writing Matters, by E-Write’s Leslie O’Flahavan
http://bit.ly/zPmgh9


Website Explores the Evolution of Law and Language at Supreme
Court
, by Marcia Coyle, Law Technology News
http://bit.ly/zYikCr

Exemplary Legal Writing - 2011 Honorees, by the Green Bag
Almanac & Reader
http://www.greenbag.org/green_bag_press/almanacs/almanacs.html

CEOExpress (great one-stop site to find all types of handy
links for research, travel, news, etc.)
http://www.ceoexpress.com/default.asp

LawyerExpress (Like CEOExpress above, but with legal slant. See
“user manual” link at bottom of page to maximize use.)
http://www.ceoexpress.com/default.asp

Technology Tips and Tricks:

Review: iPad at Work by David Sparks -
excellent book for attorneys using an iPad
, by iPhone J.D.
http://bit.ly/yNUzug

Ten Essential Classes of Websites for Lawyers, by Jim
Calloway’s Law Practice Tips Blog
(Another “must” bookmark!)
http://bit.ly/vQ7x7F

Six Tips to Safeguard Your Mobile Devices, by Albert
Barsocchini, Law Technology News
http://bit.ly/xwKPfo

TRUSTe's 2011 Website Privacy Index, by Law Librarian Blog
(with hat tip to Sabrina I. Pacifici!)
http://bit.ly/wDYr82

Law Office Management & Ethics:

Social Media Networking For Lawyers: A
Practical Guide to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Blogging
, by Simon
Chester and Daniel Del Gobbo, ABA’s Law Practice
http://bit.ly/v4qApW

Social Media Management Tools, by Jim Calloway and Catherine
Sanders Reach, ABA’s GP Solo
http://bit.ly/zlOlXZ


UNITIZATION: The Process of Separating Logical Boundaries from Physical Boundaries

IStock_000013570059Small Bob Sweat, a talented writer and eDiscovery expert is back today with another guest blog.  Bob, as most of you know, hails from the Great State of Texas where everything there is bigger - even the cases.

In the previous issue, I wrote about scanning as most cases still include a paper component; lots of it in some cases. As these two subjects (scanning and unitization) intertwine so closely it would be a good idea to tuck these guidelines on unitization away for future use with last issue’s article on scanning.

The purpose of unitization (logical document determination or LDD) is to locate and identify where each logical, self-standing document starts and ends.  Self-standing documents include letters, memos, reports, books, photographs, drawings, graphs, charts, or other compilations.  A self-standing individual document is determined by looking at its format and bibliographic information.  Bibliographic information refers to items that reside outside of the text (main body) of a document and include one or more of the following:

 Author:                    Person and /or Organization that produced or approved the document

Recipient:                Person and /or Organization that received the document

Copyee:                   Person and /or Organization that received a copy of the document

Title:                         Heading, subject or RE line of the document

Date:                        Date the document was originally produced  

In a typical paper collection, documents are found stapled, clipped or otherwise bound together.  For example, a fax cover, a letter and a report may be stapled together, but each is clearly an individual document considering each one has its own unique format and associated bibliographic data. The same principles apply to a group of images that have not been split into unique documents. It is important to get the logical documents determined for later use in databases, depositions, and trial.

Each paper or imaged collection is reviewed to find the beginning point and the ending point of each individual document.  A letter begins with the salutation and ends with the signature.  A report begins at the title page and includes all pages following thereafter in consecutive order including indexes, until the end of the report or last page included is located.

 Physical Attachments:

Physical attachments to a document should be considered a separate document from the parent (lead) document, if the document can stand on its own.  For example, a fax cover, stapled with a letter and report.  Each document can stand on its own, i.e., has its own bibliographic data that may be different from the attachment. You end up with three distinct logical documents for later coding purposes.

For example, you have a stapled group consisting of a fax cover, followed by a letter, followed by a report.  If you code them together, you may only get the information from the first document. If you code the information from all three, it can become confusing and laborious at search time.  If you use a vendor, they will code only the information from the first document as they cannot code information from all three for the price of one.  In the above case, if the fax is from Dick to Jane, the letter from Jack to Jill, and the report is about falling down the hill, then the information from the second and third document is lost and will not be found in a search.

 EXCEPTIONS:     Attachments to a contract are usually not separated (especially exhibits) and you should include appendices. In the case of Exhibits – these are typically kept together though they may include more than one document.  Data capture is typically performed on only the first document.  Addendums can be coded separate or together depending on the needs of the legal team.

Multiple Documents on One Page:

Some pages may have more than one document to a page. (For example: a photocopy of three different checks appears on one page.  Each check is considered a document, unless otherwise specified).  Each check may have the same author, but likely has different dates and payees (recipients).

Multiple Documents as One Document:

If a document has page numbers running consecutively, it is an excellent indication that all of the pages are part of the same document, even if the document contains other imbedded documents that would otherwise stand alone based on bibliographic information. This is particularly true with faxes where the fax line clearly shows the number of pages. Be careful as not all the pages may be there.

Duplicate Documents:

Duplicate documents are separate documents even if they follow each other in a group of pages.  (Documents that look alike may have minor differences in information that will affect the review or coding process).  In today’s world, exact copies of electronic duplicates may be deleted by matching their Hash Values.  Paper documents on the other hand can only be noted as potential duplicates from coded information or software programs that look at the document format fingerprint.  In the software case, you will get a percentage of confidence that a document is duplicative of another and have to hand compare.  Many times these end up being near duplicates.  None-the-less it is a technique that can help the reviewer determine whether scanned images are a match.

Distribution Lists:

Distribution lists should not be separated from the document they distribute.

Table of Contents:

A table of contents, when combined with the sections that follow make up one document.  The trailing sections or documents that follow the table should be examined as to whether the documents/sections that follow the table are actually part of the table of contents.  If the pages are consecutively numbered, that is an excellent indication it is one document.  If the pages are not consecutively numbered, the contents of the trailing documents must be examined to see if they logically match the subjects or topics listed in the table, and if so, consider it one document.

 Appendix:

An appendix or an index is not a table of contents. In most cases, a list of documents to follow is not enough of an indicator to group all the documents on the list as one document.

 A Word of Caution:         Care must be taken when reviewing reports, patents and other documents where the pages are typically text followed by drawings, pictures, or graphic representations then back to text.  These documents are not typically split up just because the format changes.  Pagination is a good way to determine the beginning and ending of these types of documents.

About our guest blogger:
Author of numerous articles, Bob remains a popular speaker and presenter of CLE webinars and seminars. He works currently as a Project Manager and Partner at Open Door Solutions, LLP, Dallas, Texas.  He is best known for his down to earth explanations and approaches to complex matters.  Bob holds a place on the Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP) Advisory Council.

Bob holds a Paralegal Certificate in Civil Litigation with Computer Emphasis, a major in Business and minor in Economics, several certificates from studies at Purdue University and has worked both as a paralegal and paralegal placement manager.  Bob has 20 plus years experience working with local and national firms on complex litigations and document management matters, especially as they relate to discovery, review and production. Email your questions or call: bsweat@opendoorsolutions.com (214) 643-0000.


Are you doing all you can taking a witness statement?

One of our favorite guest bloggers is back!
Barbara Haubrich-Hass, ACP/CAS on:

WITNESS STATEMENTS 

HaubrichBarbara

It is important to memorialize the sequence of events in any given incident.  One way to accomplish this is to obtain statements from the percipient witnesses.  Nailing down a witness’ version of how an incident occurred early in a case can be one of the most important components of a thorough investigation.  A paralegal should not determine which witness to statementize; that is a decision for the attorney to make.   It is also up to the attorney to decide who conducts the interview with the witness.  It is best if the attorney conducts the witness statement so that the attorney understands the facts of the case, obtains all of the information needed from the witness, and can evaluate the overall credibility of the witness. 

However, some attorneys have their paralegal conduct the witness statements, while other attorneys hire investigators to conduct the witness statements.  At a minimum, paralegals play a big role in locating the witnesses, setting up the interviews, and obtaining the physical evidence for the attorney to use to conduct the interviews.

In the pre-litigation stage of a case, an attorney cannot compel a witness to give a statement.  When a witness refuses to provide a statement, then the statement will have to wait until litigation has commenced.  The witness can then be compelled to testify at a deposition through the use of a deposition subpoena.

Interview A.         Preparing for the Interview

Knowing what information you want to obtain from the witness is the first step in preparing for the interview.  Prior to the interview, review the evidentiary documentation in the file so that you have an understanding of the dynamics of the case, and how the witness fits in with the case scenario.  It may be necessary to obtain additional documentary evidence before the witness statement is obtained.

B.         Types of Statements

Witness statements can be written or recorded.  A written statement is obtained in person as the questions and answers are written down by the interviewer.  When the statement is concluded, the statement is either provided in handwritten form to the witness to review and sign; or the statement is typed and then provided to the witness to review and sign.  Either way, before the witness dates and signs the statement, it is important to ask the witness to review the statement for any corrections. 

A recorded statement is obtained either in person, over the telephone, or by other audio or video means.  This method is particularly helpful in obtaining long distance witness statements that you otherwise may not be able to secure.  At the beginning and end of every recorded statement, it is extremely important for the interviewer to have the witness acknowledge that he or she understands that the statement is being recorded and to grant permission for the statement to be recorded. 

In order to lessen the likelihood that a witness statement may be discoverable in litigation, it is good practice to insert a sentence at the end of the written or recorded statement, as follows:

This witness statement was taken by an attorney.  It contains the responses of the witness to questions formulated by the attorney based upon the attorney’s legal analysis, and reflects the impressions, conclusions, opinions, legal research, and theories of the attorney. This document is protected by the attorney work product doctrine.

Types of Witnesses

For purposes of this article, an attorney is interested in obtaining statements from percipient witnesses (aka eye witnesses).  However, there are other types of witnesses, such as character witnesses, lay witnesses, and expert witnesses that will not be discussed in this article as those witnesses do not fundamentally fit the criteria of this article.

Within the scope of percipient witnesses, there are “friendly” witnesses and “hostile” witnesses.  A friendly witness is someone who is favorable to your side of the case and is a cooperative witness.  In contrast, a hostile witness is someone who is against your side of the case and is adverse to your client’s interests.  Generally, attorneys do not want to statementize hostile witnesses.

 Stayed tuned!  Tomorrow:  Comprehensive Interviewing Techniques

PS:  Don't forget to take the OLP Litigation Support Salary & Utilization Survey.  This highly sophisticated survey is full of valuable information for paralegals who are doing any kind of case management and using any kind of litigation support software such as Concordance, Summation, Relativity, Nuix, Trial Director, Sanction, CaseMap and more!

Find out information that usually, only your manager has access to.  It's free for those who participate and it takes 14 minutes to fill out.  Don't wait.  Get the results and make informed decisions about your career!  Use invitation code 2200.


Going On's.....This 'n Thats.....


Fighting computers
Tough week?  Take a few moments to enjoy our guest blogger, Celia Elwell, RP and senior paralegal, who sends us interesting links and articles.  Enjoy!

Judge Throws Out RICO Claims Against Johnson & Johnson, by Shannon P. Duffy, The Legal Intelligencer
http://www.law.com/jsp/pa/PubArticlePA.jsp?id=1202504306265

Federal Judge Dismisses BP Oil Spill Fraud Lawsuit, by Maureen Cosgrove, JURIST
http://bit.ly/odVde4

Jury Awards $900 Thousand In Age Discrimination Case, by Ellen Simon, Employee’s Rights Post Blog
http://bit.ly/r7kUkO

Third Circuit Okays Collection of DNA from Criminal Suspects, by Nathan Koppel, Wall Street Journal Law Blog
http://on.wsj.com/mQC5sq

Preparing Americans for Death Lets Hospices Neglect End of Life, by Peter Waldman, Bloomberg
http://bloom.bg/qL6P6N

LegalZoom Sued by Alabama Bar Group for Unauthorized Practice, by Stephanie Rabiner, Strategist, The Findlaw Law Firm Business Blog
http://bit.ly/nBb9LF

The Grey Area of Unauthorized Legal Practice, Law Librarian Blog
http://bit.ly/oDq22g

Handle Loaded E-Discovery Tools With Care, by Sean Doherty, Law Technology News
http://bit.ly/pVg1KW

Are Student Cell Phone Records Discoverable?, by Joshua A. Engel, Law Technology News
http://bit.ly/pk7clJ

Conn. High Court Dismisses Criminal Case for Discovery Abuse, by Christian Nolan, LTN Law Technology News, Law.com
http://bit.ly/nyp7KZ

Writing to Persuade, Legal Writing Prof Blog
http://bit.ly/n3mhTR

So Your Screwed up That Research Memo to the Partner, Now What?, Legal Skills Professor Blog
http://bit.ly/oansmQ

Typography for Lawyers - the book, by Raymond Ward, the (new) legal writer
http://bit.ly/etBTsq

The Importance of Printing it Out, by Raymond Ward, the (new) legal writer)
http://bit.ly/p33PeT

In a Field of Reason, Lawyers Woo Luck Too, by Benjamin Wieser, The New York Times
http://nyti.ms/qoY5P4

10 Reasons Why Most Lawyer Blogs Are Boring, by Cordell Parvin LLC, JD Supra Blog
http://bit.ly/osOfeE

Why Facebook's Facial Recognition is Creepy, by Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, PCWorld
http://bit.ly/oT2Dhb

Spies Like You?, by Josh Hyatt, CFO Magazine
http://www.cfo.com/article.cfm/14586837

5 Tips for Selecting PPC Keywords, by Jason Tabeling, Search Engine Watch
http://bit.ly/mUz34k

Gmail’s New Features: A First Look, by Eric Mack, PC World
http://bit.ly/oaX2kP

Google Plus for Lawyers, Legal Skills Professor Blog
http://bit.ly/nO4iUl

Online CLE Session: 60 iPhone and iPad Apps in 60 Minutes for Lawyers, iPhone J.D.
http://bit.ly/qmSl8F

MoreLaw Lexapedia (includes Verdicts and Decision, Recent Case Law Updates, and other valuable links)
http://www.morelaw.com/

Plain Language (a federal government website - check out Tips and Tools)
http://www.plainlanguage.gov/

Asset Search Blog published by Fred L. Abrams, Attorney
http://www.assetsearchblog.com/

Municode (free access to most municipal codes)
http://www.municode.com/


LitSupport Salary Survey: Do Paralegals With Tech Skills Earn More?

339055g26uicqq4[1] OLP invites you to participate in the first Litigation Support Salary & Utilization Survey to provide legal professionals with unparalleled insight into salary and career performance information.  We’re committed to helping people make the most of their careers, so we will provide a free salary survey to give you inside information about your market value, directly from your peers.  
              

  This same set of data is used to help legal professionals make more informed career decisions.

           Most employees don’t have the information they need to make informed career decisions.  While there are plenty of opinions, anecdotes, and generic statistics, there hasn’t been a place to turn for personalized career information based on data and facts.

                OLP’s goal is empower people to make the most of their careers by providing personalized career information, giving them better insight into the implications of their decisions. 

“In this field, you can get more information on a book to read, a car to buy or food you eat than you can on the very career that pays for everything you have or do.”
               
               
For example, the survey will replace generic statistics such as “people with paralegal certificates earn, on average, 20% more over their careers than those with Bachelors degrees” with smart  comparisons  (based on your education, experience, career goals, work ethic, and more) earn, on average, 34% more over their careers by attending a top 25 paralegal school, feel 42% more satisfied with their career, work 26 hours more per week, and feel 14% more stressed.” 

                Companies are using data to earn larger profits, sports teams are using data to build better teams, and now it’s time for legal professionals to start using data to make the most of their careers.

     OLP has partnered with CareerNumbers.com, an innovative company providing sophisticated salary surveys to the community.  CareerNumbers partners with leading organizations that want to provide their members with free data-driven career and salary information. Employees appreciate that surveys are simple and easy.  The surveys also provide powerful multi-dimensional reporting tools that puts the full-value of the information back into the hands of the people and partners that helped us obtain it.

               OLP’s goal is to help people make the most of their careers by empowering them to better understand themselves and the types of opportunities that are available to them. 
               
                The best way to achieve this is by providing deeper and more meaningful career data. You probably haven’t struggled to access valuable and relevant information for other decisions such as buying a car or even a book. However, when it comes to one of the most important components of your life, your career,there is a consistent struggle to find the information you need to make informed decisions. OLP wants to help solve this  problem for legal professionals because there’s no reason that, as a society, we should have more valuable information about the books we’re buying than the careers we’re living.

Participate in the survey today.   Survey data is free to participants.  It’s anonymous and confidential. Don’t get left out!

Go directly to the survey:    www.theolp.org.  Use invitation code:  Estblog.


Oops! Firm hires contract attnys & gets sued for allegedly producing privileged docs. Would paralegals make the same mistake?

 According to a post today in Ryley Carlton's blog, J-M Manufacturing Company, Inc. ("JM") alleges that the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery ("MWE") breached its fiduciary duty and committed legal malpractice by failing to sufficiently supervise a document review, and more specifically failing to adequately review documents for privilege prior to production.

JM's allegations claim that MWE represenJ0285144ted JM in connection with a series of subpoenas issued to JM from the United States. MWE allegedly worked with JM to identify approximately 160 custodians of information and hired a third-party vendor, Stratify, to run a keyword search. Following an initial keyword search, the United States government found a significant amount of privileged documents and asked MWE, as counsel for JM, to redo its production. JM alleges that MWE then employed contract attorneys to run a second keyword search, aimed at privilege, and categorized the documents into responsive and privileged categories. According to JM, aside from limited spot-checking, the firm did not thoroughly review the categorization or conduct any further privilege review.

Allegedly, 3,900 privileged documents were inadvertently produced based upon the contract attorneys' assessment of responsiveness and privilege and the then real-party-in-interest, the "Relator" refused to return the privileged material.

    "The general reputation is that it is a low-paying, dull, go-nowhere  job."

Here's the question:  Five - ten years ago, only paralegals were doing document productions and privilege reviews.  Attorneys just wouldn't be caught dead doing that "lower level" type of assignment.  What happened?  Do paralegals pay more attention to detail?  Do contract attorneys think that working on document productions is so far beneath them that they don't care?  The document review attorney position has been generally categorized as a low-paying, dull, go-nowhere job.  Sitting in a windowless room, confined to a 3 x 6 foot fold-out table with padded bridge chair days on end while staring at document after document can possibly drive you insane. 

Did paralegals get tighter supervision because they were paralegals?  Is there an assumption that attorneys know the difference between privilege and non-privilege and don't have to be carefully supervised but in reality just might need a little more guidance? (Particularly, if they're right out of law school with no experience.)

How about the decision making process?  Are attorneys more liberal whereas a paralegal, if in doubt, will hold that document back and ask a supervisor?  Would an attorney be too embarrassed to ask?  Are there simply too many documents these days that it's impossible to supervise everything?  What is happening?

Readers, what is your opinion?  Should law firms return the job of document production back to paralegals where it probably should have stayed to begin with?  Thoughts?


OLP eDiscovery Certification Exam & Courses - More Information

Innovation2 The Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP), a non-profit organization, will roll out its eDiscovery certification exam the second week in July. This certification exam has been in development for 18 months. It is a combined effort with some of the top eDiscovery experts throughout the U.S, Canada, U.K. and Taiwan.

OLP has partnered with Pearson  VU, a $7 billion global education corporation with a highly sophisticated division dedicated to certification exams. We have a team of Ph.D.s from Pearson on board who apply the science of psychometrics - balancing the exam so that it is fair, unbiased and properly given. There are no affiliations with vendors, law firms or other entities. OLP provides the content, Pearson provides the Ph.D. team applying the science of psychometrics and the technology. 

The Pearson Ph.D.s on our team were responsible for developing the LSAT, GRE and other well-known exams. This is not a situation where you go to a two day seminar at a vendor's facility and afterwards you are tested on what you learned in the past couple of days and pronounced "certified".  The purpose of a certification exam is not to qualify someone as an expert.  Rather, it is to test on an individual's core competencies.  For example, once a person graduates law school and passes the bar, there is no guarantee that person is an expert in law.  The passing of the bar indicates that this person understands and has the core competencies necessary to practice in the field.

The exam meets with strict standards from the National Association of Certifying Associations. It will be given in over 1000 secured environments around the world.

Who takes the certification exam?  Attorneys, paralegals, litigation support professionals, case managers, consultants and vendors. The test is tough. You must have at least 3 years of hands-on ediscovery experience, 40 CLE units in the past five years or 5 years of hands-on eDiscovery experience. You must submit a resume that will be verified.

OLP also offers comprehensive, indepth programs offering a certificate of completion. These online, interactive courses (you can see and talk with instructors and other students) are anywhere from 3 weeks to 8 weeks long. You are given homework assignments and quizzes. The courses are taught by active practitioners and are highly rated. Instructors take months develop a course in order to bring students the very best education possible.

Since OLP is a non-profit organization, people are not involved with it for the reason of driving revenue. (Of course, non-profits can and should be profitable.) The purpose of a non-profit is to get as much quality education to as many people as possible, not as much revenue to the bottom line as possible.  Therefore, the passing rate is tough.  It serves no purpose for a non-profit to pass as many people as possible.  With that attitude, the purpose of the certification exam then becomes meaningless.

While law firms do look at relevant experience, firms also look seriously at a person's education. On the job training has a lot of drawbacks - if that's all that you have. Combine on the job training with highly rated education and you will always have a winning combination.

For more information, please go to www.theolp.org. Thanks for your continued support. Because of it, OLP is able to grant a number of scholarships to well deserving students!


Successful on Purpose: Keith Slyter and His Mobile War Room Command Center

Cover.Know March 2011

 

 

 

 

 

Hard work is not new to Keith Slyter, a litigation paralegal living in Dallas, Texas. A native of Minnesota, Slyter grew up on a dairy farm in a small town called Rose Creek, somewhere near the Mayo Clinic. If it weren’t for the bitter winters and exhausting cold weather, he may still be there today.
     Sylter’s childhood sounds like something right out of the idyllic American dream. This 43 year-old, easy-going guy with good core family values learned first-hand that if you want to reach your goals, you’re going to have to depend on yourself.
     Moving to Texas and becoming a paralegal, Sylter moved through the usual litigation paralegal jobs until last year, he struck out on his own to open the first Mobile Paralegal Services business.  An interesting and useful concept that I expect will turn out wildly successful.
    As Slyter sought avenues to expand his career, a plan began to take shape.  "What if I started a business for small and midsize firms to offer the services of a full-time paralegal without having to pay for a full-time paralegal?" says Slyter. 
      "As the plan developed, I came across a common problem of smaller firms:  Where do you physically put the employees and how do you put them on the network? What if you had a mobile litigation command war room at trial? This could be a huge benefit.
     Normally, you lease a war room. Wouldn’t it be great to have a mobile command center so you can get as close as you possibly can to the courthouse? A war room could normally be in a hotel maybe five blocks away. Now, I’m in the command center as close as we can get to the trial. I have a high speed copier , computer and office equipment. The work is right there."
     Starting his business, Slyter has been an instant hit with obtaining much more work than he anticipated.  "When the attorney is going back in to trial, you can be filing whatever documents you need. It saves time and money in getting the documents filed.”
     Today, his growing business is steadily adding clients. His fees are all inclusive. There are no extra charges for copies, scanning or whatever else needs to be done. Up to 12 people can fit into in the mobile command center that is usually 40 feet long, 8 feet wide with the pop-up. Realistically, Sylter can comfortably hold six people on laptops. They can tie into the main server or operate off the network.
     “I hire senior level paralegals with heavy litigation experience. It’s more than a contractor/temp agency because we’re offering the benefit of state-of-the-art technology,” he says.
     Is he worried about competition? Not particularly. “I will out service them,” Slyter says confidently. “My service is where I will shine – on demand. The competition can under price us but in these situations, it’s all about service,” he says. 
     His
entrepreneurial lifestyle has improved his family life. Married with two boys, 4 and 7, Slyter now gets more quality time with them. “After the boys go to bed, I can wake up at 2:00 am, get up and type it out. I’m there to pick up my boys in the afternoons. This whole scene has had such a positive effect on my family life that I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner,” Slyter says.
|     As for the inevitable question of where do you want to be in five years? “I have to be working towards putting units into major markets, working with entrepreneurs and setting them up,” says Slyter. 
     For those thinking of making a transition to entrepreneur, Slyter has some words of wisdom. “Over plan,” he says. “Try to overfund it as much as possible with lots of reserves. Talk with a lot of your potential customers to see what the honest-to-goodness target market is. You need to get at least 5- 10 people you know who will tell you the truth. Ask for the business. Even before you start.”

For more information, visit
www.litigationparalegals. net or send an e-mail to
kslyter@litigationparalegals.net.



 

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Paralegal: The Only Legal Job Creating Its Own Positions & Making Lots of Mula

J0401003 The paralegal profession was created out of whole cloth.  Sometime about 30 years ago, someone (I don't know who) had an idea to title a person who was moving out of the legal secretary position but not quite into the associate position, a paralegal.  On top of that, whoever this person was, figured out that the paralegal could get paid more dollars and -wait! wait! don't tell me! - could also get billed out handsomely to the client but not so handsomely as to scare the client away.

Fast forward to the present, and the paralegal does it again.  Only this time, it's called......(drum roll, please) - an eDiscovery Paralegal.  Hot, hot, hot, folks.  The field cannot get enough people for these positions.  Literally.  It's very hard to find a person who doesn't need to be lawyer but does need a thorough understanding of the law and who doesn't need to be a computer programmer but does need to be techie savvy. Kind of a techie/quasi-lawyer hybrid.

Is there such a person?  There sure is if you are a paralegal well-versed in eDiscovery and technology.  Here is a sample of a job posting for just such a person:

"eDiscovery professional with a Paralegal background.  Lead eDiscovery efforts within the company’s Corporate Legal Department.  Support document retention and electronic discovery (eDiscovery) in multiple locations throughout the world. Manage the tracking and storage of voluminous corporate documents worldwide.

Develop and implement processes related to document retention. Interface with in-house and outside counsel to manage electronic discovery (eDiscovery) collections and productions as part of the litigation discovery process.  Collect electronically stored information for production in litigation matters.

Knowledge of: EDRM, the Sedona Principles, ESI, Sanctions, Triggering Events, latest technology, the discovery process, New Federal Rules, collection procedures, processing & review procedures. Must be able to work well with legal service providers.  Must be familiar with: Documentum, Symantec Enterprise Vault, EnCase, ARMA, Information Risk Management; IPRO, 
Relativity, iConect, Concordance, Summation, FYI and other programs."

Salaries are excellent ranging anywhere from $60,000 to over $100,000 depending upon several factors (plus overtime in many instances.)  You can work for a law firm, in-house legal department or a vendor.  The position has upward mobility opportunities.  You are not locked in as a paralegal with only a junior or senior level designation for the rest of your career.  You don't hit a hard salary ceiling because you'll never make partner.  You actually get off a sticky floor.

In fact, if you are a paralegal and have the skills and given that eDiscovery is a) here to stay b) exploding as each minute ticks; and, c) crying out for someone with your background, why wouldn't an enterprising paralegal jump for an opportunity like this?

Probably because the eDiscovery field is so new that there are no real standarized job descriptions, titles or, for that matter, formalized training.  Aha! I say.  That's changing.  And, yes, I'm bringing to your attention The Organization of Legal Professionals (www.theolp.org) because this non-profit is offering a new, online, interactive 8 week course that is going to give you the right formal training to put to use and skills to create a position within your firm or other entity.

That's what paralegals do. The history of Paralegals is consistent: get the training and then figure out that they can create positions because........law firms need them and law firms will buy what they need. The paralegal position is the only job within the legal field that is flexible enough to allow creativity to develop positions directly in line with current trends.  Think about it: legal background, technology, team player, non-attorney, essential to the overall operation and profit of a law firm.  You simply take your background and roll it into the ever-changing needs of a firm, giving yourself a new title and moving up an otherwise invisible career ladder.

Paralegals did this with case managers; litigation support positions (most lit support managers came up through paralegal); the paralegal administrator; trial specialist and other positions.  And now, the eDiscovery Paralegal.

Take the Advanced eDiscovery (Next Level) course with The OLP.  It starts on Tuesday.  It meets twice a week for 8 weeks, is taught by very seasoned pros and gives you a solid understanding of eDiscovery past the basics.  Paralegals have done it before and will do it again:  taking skills, knowledge and know-how and meeting the needs of the firm and the client in previously undefined but necessary jobs. It's power - sure as shootin', it's power.