Archive for » August, 2010 «

The Ohio attorney general’s office filed the lawsuit against Andrea L. West and George W. West, accusing them of misrepresenting themselves as paralegals, or as I like to call them, Paralegal Posers.  About a half-dozen people have filed complaints about the Wests or their business, but the number of victims and money collected by the couple is not known, said Kim Kowalski, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office.

Operating as Estate Planning Paralegal Services, the couple collected as much as $5,000 from some people without performing any services, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit asks the court to order restitution, impose civil penalties and enjoin the Wests from continuing to operate the program.  The Wests now live in Truth or Consequences, N.M.  Does anyone else get the irony of where they reside now or is it just me?

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Bengals Cheerleaders.
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Yes, you heard right, $11 million is the amount that an NFL cheerleader thought she had won in a defamation judgment against a gossip website.  The result may be nullified because her lawyers sued the wrong company, politico.com reported Thursday.

Sarah Jones, a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader and Kentucky teacher, meant to sue TheDirty.com after comments on the site in December suggested she had an affair with a player and also contracted two venereal diseases. The site is run by Scottsdale-based Dirty World LLC.  But due to a clerical error, the lawsuit was filed against TheDirt.com.

On Wednesday U.S. District Court judge William O. Bertelsman ordered Los Angeles-based Dirty World Entertainment Recordings to pay $1 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages for failing to respond to the lawsuit filed in February.

This would be a paralegal’s nightmare, entering the wrong name and it not being caught until after the judgment is entered by default.  Ughhh, I will be sure to triple check every document that I prepare now.

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The Marin County Civic Center
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In case you missed this notice sent out on August 13, 2010:
MARIN COURT REDUCES PUBLIC BUSINESS HOURS
IN CLERK’S OFFICES ROOMS 113 AND C-10
CIVIC CENTER HALL OF JUSTICE
Beginning September 1, 2010, the Court will shorten public business hours in the Clerk’s Offices. In Room C-10, the Clerk’s Office for criminal and minor offense/traffic case processing, the new public hours will be 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM daily. In Room 113, the Clerk’s Office for civil, family law, probate, juvenile and small claims filing, the new public hours will be 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM daily. As required by California Rules of Court, a drop box will be located in Court
Administration in Room 116 to collect documents and other court transactions between 3:00 and 4:00 each court business day. All deposits in the drop box up to and including 4:00 each day will be deemed to have been delivered or filed on that day. Staff in Court Administration will accept documents but will not be able to answer questions about cases, citations or other court business.
As a result of the severe, permanent cuts to the judicial branch budget, the Marin County Superior Court has decreased its staff by more than 20% since 2008. These workforce reductions necessitate the early closure of Clerk’s Offices, to allow staff time to process filed documents in compliance with legal requirements as well as handling other transactions in a timely manner.
Court Executive Officer Kim Turner lamented the reduction in public business hours. She said, “Closing these offices early is contrary to our philosophy that the courts should be open to the people we serve, but we must take these measures to ensure that we have sufficient resources to process the cases before the court. We look forward to the day when critical funding is restored to the California judicial system so that we can resume our fundamental goal of
increasing public access to the courts. We hope that this necessary reduction in public business hours is short-lived and that the Court will soon be in a position to return to full staffing and enhanced public service.”
For additional information regarding this press release, contact
Kim Turner, Court Executive Officer at (415) 444-7020.
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Paralegal Badge
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I had to write about the articles that keep popping up in my Google alerts regarding home study paralegals.  Today I received notice of an article written claiming Paralegal Home Study Advantages.  Two paragraphs in particular caught my eye, they read:

“In the present day, there has been a raise in the demand of the paralegal profession. The rise in demand of such courses has led to the introduction of the paralegal home study course.”  Really, where?  Today I read that another large firm in San Francisco laid off dozens of attorneys and paralegals.  This does not say there is a raise in the demand of the paralegal profession to me.

“The reasons behind not being able to physically attend the classes can range from the simple fact that they are far from their school of choice or they work during the day and would like to study in a homely environment in the evening. That is the only difference between home study and school study of paralegal course. One may think that the home study course is very disadvantageous but the fact is that it has advantages of its own.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to study in a “homely” environment, lol.  I love my home and I would resent it being called homely.  Now, my neighborhood maybe, but not my home!  This same paragraph infers that the only difference between home study and school study is that you don’t have to travel to school and that home study has many advantages.  It goes on to name the advantages, which, in my opinion are ridiculous.  While I admit when I went to the ABA approved college program that I graduated from, that it was tough working a 40-50 hour a week full-time job and going to school in the evenings and on weekends.  I had no life for 18 long months, but I loved every minute of going to school and interacting with others who felt as passionate as I did about what I had chosen to make my lifelong career.  I also had a family to care for and a home and a yard, which I managed to keep running quite well by myself, thank you very much.  (Could be why I am single now, I found out I can do it by myself and love it!)  Sorry, got off track, back to where I was going with this.

What this article and many others like it fail to say, is that taking a home study course does not prepare you for being a paralegal and I don’t know any attorneys (well, competent attorneys) who hire home study paralegals.  Actually, I did meet an attorney earlier this year who did hire a home study course paralegal (to save a few bucks) and while he was the nicest man, this “paralegal” had no clue what he was doing.  He wasn’t required to intern in a law office for the home study course, (I had to do 90 hours of internship and have an evaluation to get credit for that internship), he had no idea how to put documents together to go to court,  he didn’t know how to do an intake, didn’t know how to question a potential client, didn’t know how to, well, you get my drift.  This attorney eventually had to let this “paralegal” go due to a costly mistake made by this same nice man.

With the economy the way it is and many paralegals and attorneys being laid off, it irks me to read these articles about how great it can be taking the paralegal home study course.  These people are making money from people who have no clue how tough it is getting a job in the legal field right now.

Many paralegals with years of experience are struggling to find a decent paying job (friends and family of mine) and are being slapped in the face every day with employment adds offering only $12-$15 an hour for experienced paralegals here in California.  If you know California and our high cost of living, you know that this kind of money won’t even pay your rent, let alone put food on the table if you have a family.  So, if you know anyone who is thinking about taking one of these paralegal home study courses, please tell them to research online, talk to paralegals and attorneys about how tough it is right now to find work and help prevent them from throwing their money away on programs that don’t even guarantee that they will be hired.

If any of you reading this are working paralegals who took a home study course, I would love to hear from you, good or bad.  I always welcome comments, after all, I am a paralegal and I love a good discussion!

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The California Courts YouTubeChannel will offer news and information covering areas from self-help and local court news to courthouse construction projects and actions and news from the Judicial Council of California – the policy making body of California’s courts.

The Twitter feed will receive tweets on announcements of opinions from the Supreme Court, news releases and updates on new content and resources on the California Court’s Website

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State Bar of California
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At its July 22 – 24, 2010 meeting, the Board of Governors considered a Commission request that the Board adopt all of the Commission’s proposed new and amended rules. Board consideration of this request followed the conclusion of a comprehensive public comment distribution of all of the Commission’s proposed rules that ended on June 15, 2010.   The Commission requested Board adoption of sixty-eight proposed rules.  Of these sixty-eight proposed rules, sixty were adopted and one proposed rule, Rule 8.3 (re reporting misconduct), was not adopted.  For the remaining seven rules, the Board authorized an additional 30-day public comment period to seek input on changes made to those rules after the comment period that ended on June 15, 2010.  The comments are due on August 23, 2010.  You can see the seven rules for review and how to comment here.

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