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Ouch!  That has to hurt!  Running for a judicial seat and then sanctioned and reported to the State Bar.  This just happened to attorney Judy Conard, who practices in Lake County, California.

The First Appellate Court found the appeal to be frivolous and not only sanctioned Ms. Conard $6,000, but issued $15,000 in sanctions against her client as well.

Last October, Theodore Parfet, who lives in Michigan, appealed an order that he pay the attorney fees for Amy Tucker, the Respondent in the Family Law case, incurred while she opposed his motions to modify child custody, visitation and child support, according to the decision, which can be read here.

Ms. Conard said they appealed the amount of attorneys’ fees, which at nearly $80,000 were in excess of what the interim fees were to be.  The three appellate justices found “the degree of objective frivolousness and delay is extremely high,” and that “pursuing a meritless appeal of an attorney fee award under the circumstances of this case flies in the face of the very purpose of the Family Code attorney fees statutes.”  Further, they found that Conard had a professional responsibility not to pursue a frivolous appeal just because her client instructed her to do so, the justices said Conard violated her duties by facilitating the appeal “and by advancing arguments which exceed the bounds of both common sense and sound advocacy.”

The justices also stated “We join other courts in recognizing that the respondent is not theonly party damaged by a frivolous appeal.” ‘Others with bona fide disputes, as well as the taxpayers, are prejudiced by the wasteful diversion of an appellate court’s limited resources.’  The handling of this appeal has imposed a burden on this court.”

 To add insult to injury, Ms. Conard and the court clerk were each ordered to forward a copy of this opinion to the State Bar upon return of the remittitur.  Whether charges will be filed by the bar against Ms. Conard has yet to be seen.  The lesson here for attorneys?  Beware of filing an appeal just because your client wants you to, be sure that there is merit to the appeal, it could cost you, not only monetarily but professionally.
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Sometimes judges can be funny, (ok, maybe this was not that funny, but I got a chuckle out of it) as evidenced by Judge Lucy Koh last week when she stated, “I mean come on. 75 pages! 75 pages! You want me to do an order on 75 pages, (and) unless you’re smoking crack, you know these witnesses aren’t going to be called when you have less than four hours.”

I don’t think attorney Bill Lee thought Judge Koh was funny when he replied, “Your honor, I can assure you, I’m not smoking crack.”

You can read more of this article here.

 

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In an article at Law.Com this past week, undocumented immigrant, Sergio Garcia, is challenging the California Supreme Court for his right to become an attorney.  Garcia’s application for a green card has been pending for 18 years, when his father applied for him when he was 17.  Seems a mighty long time to wait for a green card.

Garcia enrolled in community college and later transferred to California State University, Chico, where he had to pay out-of-state tuition rates because of his undocumented status.  After taking four years of night classes, Garcia received his J.D. from Cal Northern School of Law in Chico in May 2009. He passed the bar exam on his first try two months later.

Garcia said he never worried that his immigration status would stop him from becoming a lawyer. Prior to 2008 the bar didn’t ask applicants about their residency, a spokeswoman confirmed.  But when Garcia applied for his moral character review in late 2009 he got the question. He wrote in the answer “pending.” Months went by with no response.

“Everybody told me, ‘Sergio, you sound like a nice guy, but it’s nothing we want to get involved in. It’s a personal struggle,'” he said. “At that point I started googling State Bar law firms.”  That’s when he found the husband-and-wife legal team of Jerome Fishkin and Lindsay Slatter, whose three-attorney Walnut Creek firm specializes in cases involving applications and disciplinary cases pending before the State Bar.

Last fall, the Committee on Bar Examiners forwarded its recommendation that Garcia be admitted to the bar to the state Supreme Court. Fishkin said he and Slatter figured the case would be settled one way or the other, in private, with a minute order. But then in May, the court publicly asked for briefing in the case.

The Committee of Bar Examiners, as well as attorney general Kamala Harris, has argued that Garcia should be admitted to the bar because law licensure is the purview of the state Supreme Court, not the federal government.

Even though the Obama administration has opposed his bid to join the State Bar, Garcia has spent recent days helping young adults apply for so-called deferred action, the new federal program that will protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, at least temporarily. Garcia is four years too old to qualify for the deferral. He said he’s not bitter.

Garcia is keenly aware that his story reads like a made-for-the-big-screen tale. That’s why the ambitious 35-year-old is writing his autobiography. Publishers and producers are already calling, he said.

“It’s on hold for now,” Garcia said in a recent interview. “I’m waiting for the happy ending.”

Another California case worth watching.  What are your thoughts on Mr. Garcia’s case?

 

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In case you were out this week and missed the new fee increases,  (lucky you if you are), I am attaching the new Statewide Fee Schedule for your reading pleasure.   Of course, you should check with your county to make sure when the fees increase there, I know they did in the county in which I work effective July 2nd.

In reviewing the new fees for my county, I was shocked to learn that the fees for the filing for a Complaint and an Answer in Civil, a Petition for Dissolution or Legal Separation or First Paper Fee in Family, and Petitions in Probate all increased from $395 to $435.

Be sure to check out the other increases, such as filing motions, delivery of a will to the court, court reporter fees and child custody evaluations.  Also, don’t forget that your local rules may have changed effective July 1st as well.

Stay safe and have a wonderful Fourth of July!

 

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics published their new handbook in March 2012 regarding Paralegal and Legal Assistants wages along with the anticipated growth in jobs from 2010-2020.  For a quick summary I have attached their quick facts summary below.

Summary

Paralegals and legal assistants perform a variety of tasks to support their attorneys.
Quick Facts: Paralegals and Legal Assistants
2010 Median Pay $46,680 per year
$22.44 per hour
Entry-Level Education Associate’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2010 256,000
Job Outlook, 2010-20 18% (About as fast as average)
Employment Change, 2010-20 46,900

To see the Handbook, click here.

O’Net Information on Paralegals

O’Net shows a difference in the projected job openings during this same 10 year period  of almost  almost double.

National

Median wages (2011) $22.47 hourly, $46,730 annual
Employment (2010) 256,000 employees
Projected growth (2010-2020) Average (10% to 19%) Average (10% to 19%)
Projected job openings (2010-2020) 83,400
Top industries (2010)
In California, O’Net shows a projected increase of 18% in job openings from 2010-2020, from 28,300 jobs to 33,800.  The median wage in California for a paralegal now is $58,100 with a high wage of $90,100.
O’Net also has extensive information regarding the tasks that paralegals perform as well as the tools and technology paralegals use, the knowledge needed, the skills, abilities, work activities,  and work context.  To see more of O’Net’s information, click here.
According to both the Bureau of Labor Statistics and O’Net, the increase in jobs in the paralegal field is in the average range.  Good news for those who are considering the paralegal field!

 

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Karen Tynan, an employment law specialist who counts local wineries among her clients, represents Los Angeles-based porn stars, producers and talent agencies in their bid to make sexually explicit movies without using condoms.

Ms. Tynan is a Sonoma County attorney who flew out of Sonoma County to Las Vegas for the annual porn industry’s convention where she will be on a panel discussing workplace safety issues.

English: Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County

Image via Wikipedia

One might think this female attorney and mother of a teenage girl would never be caught working to assist the porn industry who are often accused of being sleazy and demeaning to women but she has no problem reminding people that porn is a legally protected form of expression. She also says that encouraging teenagers to practice safe sex and advising adult performers are two different things.

Ms. Tynan has plenty of support at home and counts people such as District Attorney Jill Ravitch as a friend. She’s a past leader of Sonoma County Women in Law.

Sounds to me like a very interesting woman with a very interesting practice.

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John Parker, a paralegal in Hempstead, NY, has been facing tough times since paid with a fraudulent check when he worked as a security guard for what he thought was a friend. This story caught my eye and I had to share it. 

John took a part-time job during the Summer of 2010 to help supplement his income as a paralegal when his new son was born. Seems the check he received was fraudulent, unbeknownst to him. He used the $4,600 paycheck earned over the summer to pay bills and school supplies for his daughter from another relationship.

The bank contacted him about the check but he was unable to pay it back right away and then the police showed up at his work to arrest him. His then employer helped him out by paying the money back to the bank and John paid semi-monthly payments to his boss to pay back the loan. John’s luck continued in a downward spiral and he eventually fell behind on his rent due to the high payments to his boss and eventually received an eviction notice. John managed to find another part-time job, but still was not able to catch up.

John eventually found F.E.G.S. Health and Human Services System, a beneficiary of UJA-Federation of New York, one of the seven agencies supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund. This agency, along with his annual bonus from his paralegal job, helped John catch up on his rent and paid of the loan to his boss and then his landlord raised his rent.

When John received a rent increase he moved to a cheaper apartment and he learned in September that he and two co-workers were going to be laid off. Despite all of this, with the determination of all of us in this legal profession, John is determined to care for his children during these tough challenges even it it means he goes without food so that they do not.

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I don’t know what paralegal Alexa Johzen Polar, 34, and elementary school teacher Robin Antonella Pabello, 33, were thinking when they decided to allegedly take a check written for $19,500 to Polar’s employer, change the amount to $285,000 and deposit it into their own account. Why they thought that they could charter a plane and fly some friends to New York City for a shopping spree and put a down payment on a $3.7 million dollar home in California and not get caught is puzzling.

What were they thinking? Of course, they have been charged with forgery, grand theft and grand theft by embezzlement and they each must post bail in the amount of $285,000, with the verification of funds.

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As some of you may remember, we recently hired a new receptionist at our firm.  She is in her mid 20’s and this week will be her fourth week with us. She is doing a great job and picking up our little quirks very quickly. We were all reminded a few days ago how things have changed with office equipment when the receptionist was given a project by one of the attorneys and was asked to type the document and return it.

The "QWERTY" layout of typewriter ke...

Image via Wikipedia

It seems that she has never seen a typewriter let alone used one! They don’t teach it in high school anymore and apparently don’t even explain what one is.

After a quick lesson the receptionist was off and typing and some of us (me) were reminded how long we have been doing this office work. (I actually learned to type on a manual typewriter, does that make me old?) I don’t think so, just well seasoned!

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Category: Legal News, Personal  Comments off

According to the November 30th USAtoday.com article, “Report: Strippers pose as legal aides at detention center”, strippers, as well as South American pole dancers have been posing as paralegals so as to visit rich drug lords at the maximum Federal Detention Center in Miami.

I don’t know about you, but this kind of pi***s me off!! I’ve worked hard (and still do) to get where I am at in my Paralegal Career.  When “women” do these things with the assistance of attorneys who should know better, it makes those of us in law who treasure what we do, look bad. Let’s face it, lawyers are the butt of many jokes and this act done by several attorneys in Miami doesn’t help the image. Yes, I am outraged, but really, working in law as long as I have, I am not really surprised.

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