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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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Shreds

Image by MadMup via Flickr

In a recent article written by Vicki Voisin, regarding a paralegal who donated the firm’s used paper to her child’s school which had client information on it, it reminded me how we can get busy and take for granted the information we have in our care for our clients. You can read her article, Oops! Paralegal Donates Firms Used Paper to School, here.

We just hired a new receptionist for our office who will also be assisting with paralegal duties in the very near future.  Reading the article by Vicki reminded me that I need to go over the confidentiality of our clients information with the receptionist and to take a look at our offices practice of what documents are shredded or not, and what documents are being put in the recycle box.

I believe it is important to ensure that our client’s information is kept confidential, from not leaving the client files laying out for other clients to see when they come in for an appointment to redacting account numbers for bank accounts and credit card accounts, and especially keeping the client’s social security information and even their address confidential when submitting documents to the opposing counsel or the court.

Our attorneys are considered liable for any negligence of their employees, (we the paralegals and anyone else in the office) so this might be a good time for all of us to take a look at what measures we are taking to ensure that the client information is secure within our respective offices.  After all, I don’t want my personal information floating around for anyone to see, so I treat the client’s information as if it was my own, shouldn’t you do the same?

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The Northern District of California recovered $346,983,000.30 in civil and criminal cases during fiscal year 2011, according to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. Of that amount, $309,685,106.50 was collected in criminal actions and $37,297,893.80 was collected in civil actions, Haag’s office reported.

Nationwide, the U.S. Attorneys’ offices collected $6.5 billion in criminal and civil actions during fiscal year 2011, surpassing $6 billion for the second consecutive year.

The $6.5 billion represents more than three times the appropriated budget of the combined 94 offices for fiscal year 2011.

“During this time of economic recovery, these collections are more important than ever,” U.S. Attorney Haag said. “The hard work of the attorneys and staff has helped return millions of dollars to the U.S. treasury and victims of crimes, while ensuring that the criminals who wrongfully took the funds were put behind bars.”

To read more about the monies collected, see the article with the Lake County News, here.

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