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I just read a great blog at The Estrin Report, written by fellow paralegal, Chere Estrin, called “Still Thinking about Licensing Paralegals? Hogwash.  Old School Thinking.”

I am still on the fence about licensing paralegals.  There are many good reasons to do so but there are almost as many bad reasons.  In Ms. Estrin’s blog, (you can read the entire blog here) she makes the point that: “Licensing may establish minimum qualifications, but that won’t necessarily help you land the job. Attorneys will still rely on your resume to identify specific skills and work experience when they’re considering you for a position.”

Ms. Estrin believes the paralegal field will “follow similar suit to nursing practitioners and physician assistants, as shown below:

  • The Attorney Practitioner: BA/BS degree; graduate school; 1 or 2 years of law school; able to perform previous attorney assignments: perhaps take a deposition; assess a case; prepare certain documents; appear in front of a judge;  (in King County, Seattle, this has been done with paralegals for years on default judgments and more).
  • The Certified Paralegal: BA/BS; paralegal certificate; required number of years in the field; plus sits for certification exam.
  • The Paralegal: BA/BS degree plus paralegal certificate.
  • The Paralegal Assistant: An AA degree plus paralegal certificate.
  • The Paralegal Clerk: Either an AA degree, no paralegal certificate or paralegal certificate and no college degree. Cannot move up unless an AA degree and paralegal certificate are reached.”

She further believes the “field will stratify according to entry requirements, education, years of experience and expertise which will in turn limit the types of duties a paralegal of certain ranks will be allowed to do. Right now, there is only entry-level, mid-level, senior level and paralegal manager in most firms. Paralegals are paid according to years in the field, modeled after the associate program. They are not paid for performance. Right now, a 10 year paralegal can be performing at the two-year level but paid at the 10 year market level.” I don’t entirely agree with this last sentence, but I do agree that the majority of paralegals are paid based on their years of experience, (but in the area I work in, their knowledge is also considered for their salary.)

I do agree that paralegals should be required to attain more education, sophisticated assignments and years in the field before they can even be considered for certification, let alone licensing.

So, to license or not license paralegals. Who will pay for this licensing, the paralegal or the attorney they work with/for and who will monitor the licensing?  The State Bar? I wonder how my fellow paralegals and even the attorneys we work for feel about licensing paralegals.  Please let me know by completing the quick survey below.  It will only take a second or two and then back to work you go!  Many thanks.

 

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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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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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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

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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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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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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