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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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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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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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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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This report by CBS Evening News, which was reported in April 2012,  really opened my eyes.  While I knew that the new photocopiers had hard drives, it never occurred to me that it retained all of the information copied or scanned forever.  I will be asking when I get back to the office on Monday, if our copier company erases the hard drive before reselling the photocopier when they are returned to them.

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One of our fellow paralegals, Chere Estrin, recently posted an interesting article on your weight and how it could be sabotaging your career in the legal field.  It is a great article (which you can read in its entirety here) and I am sure that most of us (at least those of us who carry some extra pounds) have wondered about when we have applied for a job, interviewed and then were not hired, if it was because of our weight that lost us the job.

As quoted in Chere’s article:

  • “Fat, lazy and unproductive” might be some of the stereotypes that ring true to employers who reject an obese applicant despite a stellar resume. Published last month in the International Journal of Obesity, a new study examined the role anti-fat prejudice plays in workplace hiring practices.  The study results showed that obese women received more negative responses on leadership potential, predicted success, likelihood to select, salary, total employment rating and rank order of preference relative to other candidates.
  • Fat is one of the last bastions of discrimination with very little done to curb prejudice or  intolerance.  Being overweight does not mean a person is unmotivated or lazy.  Chances are if you made it into in a law firm environment, you are smart, good at your job and ambitious.  In fact, because of excess weight, people may even be more driven than others.

While I am not looking for a new job, I am very happy where I am, thank you very much, I am giving this article some great thought.  I am lucky to work for employers who did not discriminate when hiring me, despite my extra pounds.  I wonder how some of you feel about this article and if you have felt, or have been told outright, that you were not hired/promoted because of your weight.  Please feel free to share your thoughts on this.

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Wow!! What a crazy, busy week it was at the office!  We had two staff members out on the same day, one with a family member ill and the other with a raving toothache.  That left us down to two staff members, (me being one of them) to grab the phones, prepare one attorney for trial and the other attorney for mediation.  In between the preparation for both attorneys, there were of course other clients who needed assistance and a few opposing counsels with questions as well.  Did I mention that I have discovery responses to prepare for review too?  Oh yes, it made for a very fun week in this paralegals life.

It made for an interesting end of the week trying to catch up after the busy day too.  It’s days like these that I appreciate where I work and the people I work with, always willing to assist and no matter what the task, do it without a thought about how their workload is going to be affected!  I would like to give a big THANK YOU to MARY!  I could not have done it this week without you!  thank you

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, never!  I love what I do and I have said this a million times.  I wouldn’t trade it for any other career, but when you are in the craziness, and you feel like you are drowning in it, it can sometimes feel like it will never end.  It does end, it did end, (at least for this week, lol) and I am happy to have a day to sit back and reflect on the past week and get ready for the next one!

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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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