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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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Family Law attorney Judith Soley, 65, and her client were gunned down at a Bass Lake restaurant Feb. 16 by the client’s husband, who later turned the gun on himself.  Ms. Soley and Sandra Williamson, 65, her client, were leaving a restaurant during a break in court proceedings when Williamson’s estranged husband, James, began beating Soley, who was in her van at that time, and then shot her in the head.  He chased his wife into the kitchen of the restaurant, where he shot her in the head, before fleeing in a pickup.  Officers later found Williamson in his home, where he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Ms. Soley was the first woman president of the Fresno County Bar Association, and was active in both legal and community circles and was one of the first women to be certified as a family law specialist by the State Bar.  Ms. Soley became a lawyer when women didn’t frequently join the profession and she built a successful practice and, as a single mother, raised her daughter, who became her law partner.

Judith Soley, Esq.

Ms. Soley used a wheelchair all her life, but traveled the world, including visits to the Great Wall of China, Russia, England and Hawaii, as well as stints in Italy and Mexico to perfect her language skills. She graduated from UCLA and received her law degree from Boalt Hall, beginning her practice in 1971.

Ms. Williamson was a labor and delivery coach for 15 years and Mr. Williamson was a retired Los Angeles firefighter.  Friends of the couple said that Mr. Williamson was manic depressive and refused to take his medication, per reports to them by Ms. Williamson several years ago.  The parties’ divorce was an on again, off again action for the last seven years.  The initial divorce was filed in 2004 and the couple reconciled only to separate in 2007 when Ms. Williamson obtained a restraining order for domestic violence.  In 2010, she tried to have the restraining order renewed but was unable to locate the whereabouts of Mr. Williamson and was unable to have it served.

Sandra Williamson

There was also a civil action between the parties in which Mr. Williamson obtained a loan after he forged his wife’s signature on a deed to gain sole possession of the family home.  Ms. Williamson later had the deed voided in court — but not before Williamson took out a $942,000 bank loan based on the forged deed and transferred the money to a joint account he had with a nephew.  The civil suit was still pending at the time of the divorce proceeding.  This was by no means a simple divorce.  You can read the trial brief here prepared by Ms. Soley, which details the many alleged actions of Mr. Williamson.

Family Law can sometimes become very volatile when dealing with very emotional issues and those of us in family law are aware of the dangers that sometimes occur in divorce and custody matters.  If you talk to a Family Law attorney, you will no doubt hear of some opposing party who has become angry with the soon to be ex’s attorney, and has made some threatening comment or threatened some action against that attorney.

Working in family law, I have witnessed many times when this has occurred and have had to call in police assistance to escort the opposing party out of the law office during heated moments.  One former attorney I worked for has had to be escorted along with the client, from the courthouse to their vehicles by the bailiff, after being threatened in the hallway during negotiations with the opposing party, his counsel and the client.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Soley’s family and staff and Ms. Williamson’s family and co-workers.

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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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A former Herzing University student who was allegedly kicked out of its paralegal program is seeking $2 million in damages, claiming in part that he now suffers from unreasonable irritability.

Acting as his own attorney, De Rome A. Seals filed suit against Herzing Inc. Aug. 30 in federal court in New Orleans.  Seals accuses Herzing of failing to exercise due process in violation of his civil rights, cruel and unusual punishment, negligent infliction of mental and emotional distress, libel, defamation of character and extortion attempt.

He is asking for the monetary award for mental and emotional anguish, embarrassment, humiliation, aggravation of pre-existing illnesses, undue stress, homicidal/suicidal ideations, undue anxiety and heightened, unreasonable irritability.

The University claims that Seals obtained loans and grants improperly and that they had to repay the loans, therefore dropping him from classes and the Paralegal program.

Seals states he enrolled in the program in April 2009 and provided Herzing University copies of his academic transcripts, including copies of his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He says he was awarded Pell grants and student loans for the paralegal program.  Will be interesting to see where this goes, if anywhere.

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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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I am honored to be named one of the Top 50 Criminal Justice Blogs for the content on my site!  There are several other Paralegals honored as well,  Practical Paralegalism, The Paralegal Mentor, The Empowered Paralegal, Paralegal Gateway Blog, Patti’s Paralegal Page, Paralegal How To, Paralegal Pie and The Estrin Report.  Be sure to check these blogs out if you haven’t already.

You can learn more about the Criminal Justice Degree School here.  

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Paralegal Badge

Image via Wikipedia

Why is it important for California paralegals to keep a compliance log of their continuing legal education?

B & P § 6450 requires a paralegal every two years to certify completion of four hours of mandatory continuing legal education in legal ethics, and four hours of mandatory continuing legal education ineither general law or in an area of specialized law.

The courts are cracking down on attorneys who do not require their paralegals to meet the requirements of B&P § 6450.  There are a number of court cases where paralegal fees were denied or disallowed by the court because the paralegal failed to meet the requirements of § 6450.

The amendment to CRC Rule 7.703 clarifies that paralegals performing services for counsel for fiduciaries in decedents’ estates, conservatorships, and guardianships must satisfy the qualification and continuing education requirements of B&P 6450 for counsel to be eligible for compensation for paralegal services from the estate of decedents for the estate’s extraordinary legal services.


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relationship advice
Image by mugley via Flickr

I love my friends, don’t get me wrong and my best friend, well there is nothing I wouldn’t do for her.  Ok, maybe there are a couple things I wouldn’t do, like give legal advice or put out a hit, but other than that, I can’t think of too much I wouldn’t do when she asks for my help.  No matter how many times I tell my friends I can’t give legal advice, they will call with a question asking “what would you do!”

Take last week, my friend called telling me about a co-worker she has whose new boyfriend was having problems with his old girlfriend. Seems she was following him around town and was even going to his teenage daughter’s workplace causing scenes.  One in particular involved screaming at him when he walked in and accusing him of “giving her a disease!”  So, my friend wanted to know what her co-worker’s boyfriend could do about it.  Sighhhh.  My response was, “I can’t give legal advice.”  As much as I wanted to say something and common sense tells you what a person might be able to do to stop this woman from doing what she is doing, I couldn’t give legal advice.

So, what to do, what to do, ughh.   Don’t you hate when this happens?  You want to just tell them, don’t you?  But you know you can’t and this is where it gets many paralegals in trouble.  I have heard many new paralegals and even seasoned paralegals tell their friends or even clients what they should do, thinking they are only giving them common sense advice in a given situation.  Wrong!  When you are a paralegal, giving advice, even common sense advice, is giving legal advice and it is not allowed at any time, unless your supervising attorney has authorized you to pass on their advice to the client and you must tell them the advice is coming from the attorney, not you.

What I did was tell my friend who the “new boyfriend” could call for advice, like an attorney or the police and ask their advice.   So, I wasn’t giving legal advice, just pointing them in the direction of where to get the legal advice needed. After all, this is who I would contact if I wasn’t a paralegal.   My friend later called me to tell me when the co-worker’s “new boyfriend” contacted the police they immediately issued an EPO (Emergency Protective Order) which immediately stopped the problem, hopefully it will work for the 3 days the EPO is in effect.  We will see what happens when the 3 days are up, but I will not, I repeat, will not, give any legal advice when the EPO runs its course and my friend calls telling me the next saga to this story.  I am sure there will be more to this story, there always is.

So, all of you veteran paralegals, how do you handle this situation when friends or family ask for your “advice.”  I would love to hear and share with our newer paralegals as this is one of the problems we paralegals continually run into on an almost daily basis.

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