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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
I can’t believe it is 2013 and another year has flown by. This past year has been a busy one, personally and professionally. So much so, that it has kept me from blogging as often as I would like. I am going to change that, or at least give it my best ‘college try’ as they say, in this new year.
I became a great grandmother to a beautiful girl in March 2012, Lexi Jo. She brings laughter and happiness to all of our lives. I am blessed to have her in my life and enjoy watching her grow each day.
My family is healthy now, with my youngest son finally getting the insulin pump for his type 1 diabetes. Seems like we waited for this pump forever. This has helped to maintain his sugar levels and has prevented his having to be in intensive care on a monthly basis. I know he is happy about this and as his mother, I am thrilled that he no longer needs to be hospitalized frequently.
Professionally in 2012, the law office expanded by adding one more person to our cast of characters. She is young, smart and is a fast learner. She seems to be fitting in nicely with all of us. Our receptionist was promoted to assist me and begin using her paralegal skills. I know I am happy as can be with this change, and I know she is as well. I look forward to teaching her all I know and watching her grow in her new position. With these changes of course, come some challenges. Figuring out what job duties change and for whom, is one of the biggest challenges.
I hope that all of my paralegal friends are doing well in this new year and that 2013 brings us all happiness, not only personally, but professionally too. Happy New Year and I look forward to reconnecting with all of you and hopefully connecting with new paralegals as well!
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.”
In a recent article in Law.com’s Law Technology News section, Robert J. Ambroji discussed Social Media and Ethics for those of us in law.
Ethics and social media will be front and center at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting this month in its hometown, Chicago. The ABA’s House of Delegates — its governing body — will consider the recommendations of the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, which has proposed revisions to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to address changes in technology.
The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, reminds us that the same old ethical rules apply to Social Media.
Do not betray client confidence when you tweet or blog, even if you think you are being discreet. as Illinois assistant public defender Kristine Ann Peshek found out when her license was suspended for 60 days when she blogged about her clients. Peshek thought she was blogging anonymously but it was determined that she had provided enough specific information on her clients that they could be identified.
Do not give out legal advice, this could be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. For us paralegals, this could be practicing law without a license.
Do not solicit clients. Targeting a specific person to be a client is not allowed, but participating in an online forum of any kind is permitted.
ABA Model Rule 7.2 says, “A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services.” Does this mean you cannot provide an endorsement of a colleague on sites such as LinkedIn or Avvo? Absolutely not, provided nothing of value is exchanged. But can you promise to provide an endorsement if the other attorney promises to endorse you in return? That quid pro quo could be seen as an exchange of value.
As Mr. Ambroji says in his article, it all comes down to common sense. If you wouldn’t talk about your client’s case with strangers outside of your office, why would you post it online? If you wouldn’t give out legal advice at your neighbor’s party, why would you do it online?
To read more of the article written by Mr. Ambroji, you can find it here. I would love to hear my fellow paralegals thoughts on Ethics and Social Media too.
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.
Paralegals and legal assistants perform a variety of tasks to support their attorneys.
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!
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.
I have been reading the articles and comments on the recent case in which the rival lawyer Thomas Gooch accused Dmitry N. Feofanov of exploiting his assistant Daniella Atencia‘s assets to “draw the attention of the jury away from the relevant proceedings.” Seems Ms. Atencia is Mr. Feofanov’s wife and he is not happy with the opposing attorney’s comments and antics.
Dmitry Feofanov and Daniella Atencia
As a woman, the comments made by some are quite hurtful to Ms. Atencia. To think that a beautiful woman who happens to be a paralegal, should not assist her attorney in court, is simply ludicrous. Distracting to the jury? Really? How so? Simply because she has large breasts? There is no mention, in what I have read, that says that Ms. Atencia was wearing inappropriate clothing in the courtroom, in fact from the picture here, it looks as if she is professionally dressed. Does Mr. Gooch think that jurors are really going to be so distracted and enamored with Ms. Atencia’s large breasts that they will disregard the law and facts before them and issue a verdict in favor of Mr. Feofanov? I highly doubt it and I would think the jurors would be a bit upset with Mr. Gooch for thinking that they are so shallow and impressionable.
To make matters worse, Mr. Feofanov is getting requests for pictures of his wife’s cleavage.
As a paralegal, what do you think of the motion that Mr. Gooch has filed? I would be very interested to hear from my fellow paralegals, male and female on this one.