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In an article in the ABA Journal, it is reported that a former law student at the Massachusetts School of Law claims in a lawsuit that he received an unfair D grade in contracts.

The suit by Martin Odemena says the D grade resulted in a suspension and made it impossible for him to transfer to another law school, the National Law Journal reports. He is seeking more than $100,000 in damages for the lost legal career. The suit, filed Friday in Massachusetts federal court, claims violations of state consumer protection laws.D grade

Martin Odemena claims that he earned a D in his contracts class because professor Joseph Devlin counted the results of several quizzes—initially presented as optional—into his final grade.

Odemena filed a pro se suit on Friday in U.S. District Court for Massachusetts naming both Devlin and the law school as defendants. He seeks upwards of $100,000 in compensatory damages for not currently having a legal career, plus attorney fees and a declaration that the quiz results do not count toward his grade.

After receiving his low grade, Odemena was suspended and given a letter declaring that he was not in good standing with the law school. That letter, in turn, made it impossible for Odemena to transfer to another law school, according to the complaint.

“Plaintiff has tried all possible means to resolve this matter with the defendants without success, and the plaintiff has spent a lot of money retaining counsel in numerous attempts to resolve this matter with defendants,” the complaint reads. “Furthermore, since the defendants gave the plaintiff a not-good-standing letter because of the D grade in the contracts class, the plaintiff has suffered actual harm. Plaintiff could not get into any other law school with a not-good-standing letter, and his legal career is for all practical purposes over.”

This could be interesting, but I highly doubt it will survive the Motion to Dismiss that Peter Malaguti, who acts as the school’s general counsel, intends to file.  

In a case in Pennsylvania in 2013, student Megan Thode wasn’t happy about the C-plus she received for one class, saying the mediocre grade kept her from getting her desired degree and becoming a licensed therapist — and, as a result, cost her $1.3 million in lost earnings.

A Northampton County judge rejected the claims of Ms. Thode, the former Lehigh University graduate, a verdict that upheld the school’s insistence that she earned the mark she got.

After four days of testimony in a civil trial last year, Judge Emil Giordano decided that the Bethlehem university neither breached a contract with nor sexually discriminated against Megan Thode.

Seems it might be tough to prove that you did not get the grade you feel you deserve, so I guess we will stay tuned to see what happens with Mr. Odemena’s case.

 

 

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A longtime secretary, paralegal and office manager for a since-disbarred California lawyer has been sentenced to two years and three months in federal prison for embezzling $327,000 from the firm and its clients.

The attorney she worked for, Brian Ching, was disbarred in 2012 for his failure to supervise Reyes adequately and other violations of legal ethics rules. An  ABA Journal article provides further details.

This case is a reminder to attorneys that they need to supervise their staff, no matter how much they trust them and a reminder to paralegals that they are not above the law.

 

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Category: Family Law  Comments off

I am sure there are times that attorneys and judges want to go at each other physically, but I never thought we would see it on camera.

Warning, there is profanity in the video.

http://Judge, attorney fight after argument in court

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In an article I posted at my Family Law blog, California Family Law Paralegal, I discussed violence against attorneys, not only by their own clients, but by an opposing party.

The American Bar Association did a poll of attorneys in the mid-90′s and posted the results in an article titled “Lawyers in Harm’s Way.”  This poll revealed that that 60 percent of family lawyers had been threatened by opposing parties, and 17 percent had been threatened by their own clients.

As violence has continued to increase in our nation, I find it interesting that the American Bar Association has not updated this poll of attorneys regarding threats or actual violence towards them.  I am conducting my own poll and ask that you take a moment and answer it, so we as legal professionals can see for ourselves if threats of or actual violence towards attorneys (including paralegals and other staff members) is increasing.

 

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The following post was written by Vicki Voisin, also known as The Paralegal Mentor, who publishes the bi-weekly ezine ’Strategies for Paralegals Seeking Excellence’ where she offers tips for paralegals and others who want to create lasting success in their personal and professional lives. Get tips and information at no cost at www.paralegalmentor.com .

I could not have said this better myself, so why re-invent the wheel?  Vicki Voisin offers awesome advice for paralegals, so be sure to check out her website and sign up for her weekly ezine.

Change is in the air! Whether it’s the advent of Spring or the current political campaign, it seems like everyone is talking about change. Change is always good, any time of the year. In fact, I believe that once you stop changing you’re just done…there will be no more personal growth in your life. Now, I’m not necessarily talking about drastic changes like a quitting your job, leaving your spouse, or moving to Peru. I am talking about making small changes that will keep you fresh and content with your current job and your career.

Do you feel like you’ve painted yourself into a corner? Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut? Well, nothing happens to the rut you’re stuck in unless you make the changes necessary to get out. If you continue to do the same thing in the same way, you’ll get the same results. It’s time to make a few small changes that will get you out of that rut. Here are some tips:

Clear the decks! Or, rather, clear your desk! Piles of papers and gobs of Post-It notes keep you from doing your best work. With all the clutter on your desk, you waste time looking for files and memos. Throw away what you can and then file the rest. Working in a clear, organized space will make you feel better instantly.

Set goals! Decide what you want to do and where you want to go. Then figure out the steps you need to take to get there. You would never eat a 12″ sub sandwich in one gulp, but bite by bite that sandwich will disappear. Setting short term goals to reach your long term goal is the only way to make sure you keep yourself on track. Put those goals on your calendar so that you will make time to do them. I have another example. Say you want to see ‘Wicked’ this coming August 2nd. But you say to yourself, “I don’t know if I can do that.What if something else comes up?” So you do nothing. Guess what…August 2nd will come and go and you will not have seen ‘Wicked.’ If you had put that event on your calendar, purchased your tickets and made travel plans, you would be in for a terrific experience on August 2nd. If not, you’ll be at home watching ‘I Love Lucy’ re-runs.

Challenge yourself! Think of something challenging that you want to do before you wake up on the wrong side of the grass. This should be something that is out of your normal routine…something that is a stretch for you. Would that be sky diving? A trip to Morocco? Learning Italian? Once you’ve chosen your challenge, plan the steps you must take to make it happen. You simply cannot learn Italian overnight. Also, forget the excuses. Never say, “I can’t do that. It will take too long and I’ll be (you insert the number that’s holding you back) years old before I’m finished!” I have news for you, you will (hopefully!) be 30…40…50…60…or whatever number you’re thinking. You might as well reach the age and have completed your challenge as get there and have regrets because you didn’t. Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it and plan the steps you must take to climb your mountain.
Ask for what you want! I’ll let you in on a little secret…I didn’t have a reserved seat for the Richlin v Chertoff oral arguments. It would have been very easy to just wring my hands and decide to stay home because I wasn’t even sure I would get in the building. Instead, I stood in line for two hours on a chilly March morning and slowly inched toward the door. The oral arguments were to begin at 10:00 a.m. As that time approached, I could see I wasn’t going to get in. Instead, I was given the opportunity to move to the line of people who could watch for just five minutes. That was better than nothing (even though I was calculating that for five minutes in the court room, the trip would cost me about $300 per minute!) so I moved and was with the first group inside. When I sat down, I was totally awed by the Court and the voices of the Justices, but I couldn’t see them very well. Then I noticed one empty seat just across from me. The Marshalls were patrolling the room and looked like they’d throw me out if I even crossed my eyes. But when one walked by me I asked (very quietly!) if I could move to the empty seat. His response? ”If you move to that seat, you have to stay for the whole hour!” Yes! I asked for what I wanted and I got it.Never hesitate to ask for what you want. What do you have to lose? You’ll be surprised how often it works.
Look for the good in people! It’s very easy to see other’s faults, but it’s healthier to see the good things. Every person has a story. Every person has something interesting to offer. Acknowledge at least one positive quality in everyone you meet during a day. The negatives will slip away and you will find more joy in your day.
Exercise! Golly, how many times have you heard that? But it’s true! You need to exercise not only to keep your body strong, but also to keep your mind healthy. You will do your best thinking and problem solving while you take a brisk walk. Try to make exercise a priority.
Have you noticed a recurring theme here? Each of these changes requires that you work on yourself and your way of thinking. It is so important that you maintain your sense of humor, that you have fun, and that you always be learning something new. Taking a risk once in a while is mandatory. Work on those goals, make some long-term plans, smile at your neighbor, and I’ll bet you will find you’re no longer stuck in your rut. That said, I have one more point to make.
Evaluate your situation! In the beginning, I said I was not advocating any drastic changes. But think about this: You probably have an idea where you want your career to go. Think where you were five years ago and then where you want to be in five years. Are things going as you had hoped? Are you on a path that will get you to where you want to be in five years? Are you earning what you deserve? Hopefully your answers will be ‘Yes.’ If not, you may need to make more than a few small changes.
Your Assignment: Take ten minutes to assess that rut you think you may be stuck in and make a list of five things you would like to do by the end of the year. Then determine what steps you have to take to reach those goals, to make those things a reality. Next, schedule the steps on your calendar. By the end of the year, you’ll not only be out of your rut, but you’ll be marching down the road singing a happy tune.
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English: New Year's Day postcard mailed in 190...

English: New Year’s Day postcard mailed in 1909. It reads: “A New Year’s Resolution / Jan. 1st / Good Resolution / Each resolution that I make / My conscience surely troubles / Because I find they always break / As easy as Soap bubbles” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2013 flew by so fast and I was so busy that I didn’t post anything for months.  Shame on me!  My New Year’s Resolution (I never make them, by the way) is to post more often and to post more articles for paralegals.  That is my goal, we will see if I can do it.

Perhaps someone will have to remind me to post or maybe as a paralegal I should calendar it and stop finding excuses for not posting!

Happy New Year and let’s make this year a better one than last year!

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Category: Family Law  Comments off

Assembly Member Dickinson has introduced AB 888, an act to amend Section 17206 of, and to add Sections 6126.6 and 6126.7 to, the Business and Professions Code, relating to the State Bar.

Existing law prohibits a person from practicing law in California, or from advertising or holding himself or herself out as practicing law, unless the person is an active member of the State Bar, or otherwise authorized, as specified, to practice law in this state. A violation of these provisions is a crime.

This bill would, for violations of the above-described provisions, require the State Bar to disclose, in confidence, the information in its investigation to the agency responsible for the criminal enforcement of these provisions or exchange that information with that agency. This bill would authorize the State Bar to request the Attorney General, a district attorney, or a city attorney acting as a local prosecutor, to bring an enforcement action or bring a civil action in its own name, as specified.

The bill would require the court, in a civil enforcement action by the State Bar for the unlawful practice of law, to impose a civil penalty not to exceed $2,500, to be paid to the State Bar.  The bill would also require the court to impose a civil penalty not to exceed $6,000 for the intentional violation of any injunction prohibiting the unlawful practice of law.

The bill would also require the court to consider, when applicable, additional relief provided under existing law and to award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, as specified.

Go here to read the complete analysis of this bill.  On July 2, 2013, the Senate ordered the bill to a third reading.

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Happy Mother’s Day to all!  I hope you all have a wonderful day!

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Category: Personal  Tags:  Comments off

In an article in the JD Journal a judge hearing the case regarding a McDonald’s in Dearborn has told an attorney to remove all references to the case from a Facebook page he created, according to The Detroit Free Press. The lawyer, Majed Moughni, has been barred from talking about a settlement reached last month with anyone who could be affected by it. The judge ordered that Moughni’s posts be replaced with copies of the settlement. He also has to forward the contact info and names of people who commented on the case or ‘Liked’ the post.

English: The mdonalds logo from the late 90s

English: The mdonalds logo from the late 90s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Attorneys who settled the suit with McDonald’s asked the judge to make sure the site was monitored so as to prevent false statements from getting to the public. The settlement was for $700,000 and it was between McDonald’s and multiple groups from the Dearborn Muslim community.

Moughni did not like the settlement, saying it was a backroom deal. He received at least 1,300 people in support of his claims and filed a legal complaint on January 25.

The complaint from Moughni was dismissed by Judge MacDonald on Thursday, saying that he took part in “deliberative and abusive conduct.” She said that copies of the settlement have to be “prominently placed on the Facebook page wall.” He complied and has not posted anything new on the site since posting the settlement copies.

You can read more on this at JD Journal here or at the Detroit Free Press here.

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Category: Family Law  Comments off

According to the salary guide released by Robert Half Legal, 2013 should see an increase in paralegal salaries by 3.1 to 3.9 %, depending on the size of the firm you work for.  You can get a copy of their salary guide here.

You can also use their salary calculator to obtain salaries in your local area as well and check out the hiring trends, not only in your area but nationwide and you can check out the fastest growing industries locally and nationwide as well.

legal positions 2013

 

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