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What is this world coming too?  I know attorneys get upset, disgusted and irritated with another attorney at times, but stabbing them?  Come on!!!

schmuhls

Alecia and Andrew Schmuhl

I read an article in the ABA Journal that the suspects Alecia Schmuhl, 30, and Andrew Schmuhl, 31, of Springfield, Virginia, knocked on the door of the home of the victims, Leo and and Sue Fisher, both 61 years of age and stabbed them. The Schmuhls are charged with abduction and malicious wounding, and they remain in custody in Fairfax County.

It seems that Alecia Schmuhl worked for Leo Fisher’s firm beginning in 2013 and recently left the firm. Andrew Schmuhl was a former judge advocate in the U.S. Army.  You can read the ABA Journal article here.

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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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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. lexi (1)

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!

 

 

 

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Category: Family Law, Personal  Tags: , , , , ,  Comments off

A lawsuit was filed last August charging Deutch with engaging in “a heartless scheme that swindled people with tax problems,” according to then-Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr.  “She promises to significantly reduce their IRS tax debts, but instead preys on their vulnerability, taking large up-front payments but providing little or no help in lowering their tax bills.”  Ads claim Deutch’s success rate in dealing with the IRS is as high as 99 percent, but the percentage of clients whose tax bills Deutch actually reduces is a mere 10 percent.

California’s new Attorney General, Kamala D. Harris, filed an application in Superior Court asking that Deutch, an attorney, be held in contempt, charging that she has repeatedly violated the court’s orders.

“Deutch is an officer of this Court and a member of the Bar, which only serves to magnify the seriousness of Deutch’s violations of the Court’s orders. If anyone can be expected to respect and follow this Court’s orders, it should be those licensed to practice as attorneys before the Court. The harm caused by Deutch’s contempt is worthy of the most severe sanction,” Harris said in her court filing.

It seems immediately after Deutch had been ordered to “take reasonable steps to preserve every document” that might have a bearing in the case said Harris, “the very next day after the [court issued the order], Deutch conducted a purge of law firm documents that resulted in the shredding of nearly 2,000 pounds of the firm’s documents, or about 200,000 pages.”  Harris is asking the court to fine Deutch $1,000 and imprison her for five days for “each and every separate contempt” — $1,000 and five days in jail for each of the millions of pages of documents destroyed and each refund not issued.

Deutch also ignored a preliminary injunction that requires her to return all unearned fees to clients within 60 days and admitted that she has over $400,000 in refund requests that are older than 60 days, Harris said.

 

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McDivitt Law Firm of Colorado has done this for four years, and given away about 4,000 cab rides.  New Year’s Eve revelers will again have the option of a safe and free cab ride home, thanks to the McDivitt law office.

The Safe and Sober program is for adults who have been drinking or who don’t have a safe way home. Rides will be available in Colorado Springs (inside the city limits) from 10 p.m. on Friday, December 31, through 4 a.m., Saturday, January 1.

And just to be clear, the rides are provided to the rider’s residence, not to another drinking establishment.  So, if you are in Colorado Springs and need a safe and free ride home, call Yellow Cab of Colorado Springs and say thank you to the McDivitt Law Firm.

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Who says lawyers don’t have hearts?  In the Florida Times Union yesterday there was an article about a law firm who will give away 750 gallons of gasoline on Wednesday afternoon as members of the law firm and community leaders pump up to 10 gallons per vehicle.

The Chestnut Firm, based in Gainesville and with an office in Jacksonville, will sponsor the giveaway beginning at 4:30 at the Shell station at 2197 Kings Road in Northwest Jacksonville.

The law firm, headed by Chris Chestnut, said in a release that the second annual gas giveaway is a way to give back to the community, especially in a time when many people are struggling.

I have no affiliation with this firm and I don’t know anyone who works for them but I think this is a great community spirited thing to do.  So, I would like to say thank you to the Chestnut Firm and Merry Christmas too!

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In Ontario, Canada, paralegals are licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada, giving paralegals an independent status in this jurisdiction and are licensed and regulated the same way that lawyers are.  The Province of Ontario, Canada, recently became the first jurisdiction in North America to provide for the licensing of independent paralegals. This change now allows paralegals to act as legal agents who have the ability to represent on many matters, including all Provincial Offences, work for Provincial Tribunals and Boards, as well as Summary Criminal Cases. They are not “law clerks” in the province of Ontario, Canada but rather are considered officers of the court, a formal part of the legal system.

In researching this, I found that paralegals can represent clients in the Ontario Small Claims Court, Landlord and Tenant Board, Worker’s Safety and Insurance Board and for Summary Criminal Cases.  There is of course, a licensing procedure before a paralegal can represent a client.  To read more about paralegal licensing and regulations, click here.

In California, paralegals can represent clients in Workers Compensation (California Bar Committee on Professional Responsibility formal opinion 1988-103) but only a law firm can allow its paralegals to represent clients at workers compensation hearings if there is supervision and the client consents to nonlawyer representation.

Part of the opinion states that a lawyer or law firm contemplating entering into such an arrangement should remember that an attorney stands in a fiduciary relationship with the client. (Krusesky v. Baugh (1982) 138 Cal.App.3d 562, 567.) When acting as a fiduciary, the law imposes upon a member the strictest duty of prudent conduct as well as an obligation to perform his or her duties to the best of the attorney’s ability. (Clark v. State Bar (1952) 39 Cal.2d 161, 167; and cf. Bus. & Prof. Code, sec. 6067; Rule of Professional Conduct 6-101(A).)  However, an attorney does not have to bear the entire burden of attending to every detail of the practice, but may be justified in relying to some extent on non-attorney employees. (Moore v. State Bar (1964) 62 Cal.2d 74, 80; Vaughn v. State Bar (1972) 6 Cal.3d 847, 857.)

The attorney who delegates responsibilities to his or her employees must keep in mind that he or she, as the attorney, has the duty to adequately supervise the employee. In fact, the attorney will be subject to discipline if the lawyer fails to adequately supervise the employee. (Chefsky v. State Bar (1984) 36 Cal.3d 116, 123; Palomo v. State Bar (1984) 36 Cal.3d 785, 795; Gassman v. State Bar (1976) 18 Cal.3d 125.)

Paralegals may represent clients before the Labor Board (California Labor Code, sections 5501, 5700) California Labor Code section 5501 states that nonlawyer representation is allowed but the appeals board must be notified in writing that the representative is not an attorney licensed by the State Bar of California.

Paralegals can also represent clients before California Unemployment Appeals Board (California Unemployment Insurance Code § 1957 (1956)  The codes states that a nonlawyer may represent any individual claiming benefits in any proceedings before the Appeals Board.  No agent or counsel shall charge or receive for such services more than an amount approved by the appeals board.  Violations for this provision shall be fined no less than $50 and no more than $1,000 or be imprisoned not more than six months or both.
As a paralegal looking to branch out, I am considering the options above.  I would love to hear from other paralegals, in California and elsewhere, on the types of representations they have done and why they loved it or would never do again.  I would also love to hear from paralegals who are also considering branching out into representing clients in some way.  


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