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As reported in the California Bar Journal this month, the California Supreme Court made history last month when it granted posthumous State Bar admission to Hong Yen Chang, who was denied a law license 125 years ago due to federal and state laws denying citizenship and employment to Chinese Americans.

Hong Yen Chang
Hong Yen Chang – Courtesy of the Ah Tye Family

Chang overcame numerous obstacles to become licensed to practice in New York in 1888, but when he moved to California two years later, the high court here rejected his application.

Hong Yen Chang, a native of China, came to this country in 1872 as part of an educational program to teach Chinese youth about the West.

Chang graduated from the Philips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1879 and earned his undergraduate degree at Yale.

He went on to graduate from Columbia Law School in 1886. He applied for admission to the New York Bar, but despite a “high marking” and unanimous recommendation from the bar examiners, he was turned down by the state supreme court in 1887 because he was not a citizen.

That same year, a New York judge issued Chang a certificate of naturalization.  After the New York Legislature passed a law allowing him to reapply for bar admission, Chang was admitted in 1888, becoming the only regularly admitted Chinese lawyer in this country.

Since then, the anti-Chinese exclusionary laws and policies that led to his rejection have been renounced.

“Even if we cannot undo history, we can acknowledge it and, in doing so, accord a full measure of recognition to Chang’s path-breaking efforts to become the first lawyer of Chinese descent in the United States,” the court wrote in its unanimous March 16 opinion.

Chang’s descendants and the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association at the University of California Davis School of Law spearheaded the effort to right the historic wrong.

The law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson, working pro bono, filed a petition with the court late last year.

“I thought it was important to start addressing a stain on California’s judicial history and make amends to the Chinese people,” Munger partner and former State Bar President Jeffrey Bleich told the Los Angeles Times.

The state Senate called for Chang’s admission to the bar via a unanimous resolution and the State Bar of California granted Chang honorary membership “in repudiation of the discrimination against Asians that unjustly formed the basis for barring his admission to the bar in 1890.”

UC Davis Law Professor Gabriel Chin told the San Francisco Chronicle, that the case showed both the rewards of a long fight for justice and the drawbacks of having to wait more than a century for it.

Chin also told the newspaper that it was fitting that Monday’s ruling came from “perhaps the most diverse state Supreme Court in the country.” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Justices Ming Chin and Goodwin Liu are of Asian descent and Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar was born in Mexico.

Rachelle Chong, Chang’s grandniece and one of four family members who’ve become California lawyers, told the  San Jose Mercury News the family is “thrilled” the state Supreme Court reversed its own 1890 ruling. She, along with a cousin working on a book about Chang, discovered the old Supreme Court ruling while in law school in the early 1990s. Chong was the first Asian-American to serve on the Federal Communications Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission.

“We feel we were the only family left to try to clear up this historic wrong,” she told the paper.

I was very pleased to read this and just had to share it.  Reading about Mr. Chang’s history was absolutely fascinating and I am awestruck by his tenacity.  His family tree of descendants is now filled with lawyers and this must make him proud; that all he went through in his lifetime paved the way for his family.

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As reported in an article by Julie A. Goren, Esq., there is a new Court holiday coming in 2015.  Ms. Goren’s article in part states:

“AB 1973 “an act to amend Section 6700 of the Government Code, relating to holidays” jumped out at me. What changed? As of January 1, 2015, the fourth Friday in September, known as “Native American Day,” is added to the list of “holidays in this state.”

This will mean those of us who calendar for our attorneys, and you know how fun that can be, need to make sure this holiday is put into our systems for calculation of service, etc.

For more on this new holiday, and how the drafter of the bill had no idea that Native American Day would be considered a Court Holiday, see the article posted by Ms. Goren here.

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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.

 

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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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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

Ouch!  That has to hurt!  Running for a judicial seat and then sanctioned and reported to the State Bar.  This just happened to attorney Judy Conard, who practices in Lake County, California.

The First Appellate Court found the appeal to be frivolous and not only sanctioned Ms. Conard $6,000, but issued $15,000 in sanctions against her client as well.

Last October, Theodore Parfet, who lives in Michigan, appealed an order that he pay the attorney fees for Amy Tucker, the Respondent in the Family Law case, incurred while she opposed his motions to modify child custody, visitation and child support, according to the decision, which can be read here.

Ms. Conard said they appealed the amount of attorneys’ fees, which at nearly $80,000 were in excess of what the interim fees were to be.  The three appellate justices found “the degree of objective frivolousness and delay is extremely high,” and that “pursuing a meritless appeal of an attorney fee award under the circumstances of this case flies in the face of the very purpose of the Family Code attorney fees statutes.”  Further, they found that Conard had a professional responsibility not to pursue a frivolous appeal just because her client instructed her to do so, the justices said Conard violated her duties by facilitating the appeal “and by advancing arguments which exceed the bounds of both common sense and sound advocacy.”

The justices also stated “We join other courts in recognizing that the respondent is not theonly party damaged by a frivolous appeal.” ‘Others with bona fide disputes, as well as the taxpayers, are prejudiced by the wasteful diversion of an appellate court’s limited resources.’  The handling of this appeal has imposed a burden on this court.”

 To add insult to injury, Ms. Conard and the court clerk were each ordered to forward a copy of this opinion to the State Bar upon return of the remittitur.  Whether charges will be filed by the bar against Ms. Conard has yet to be seen.  The lesson here for attorneys?  Beware of filing an appeal just because your client wants you to, be sure that there is merit to the appeal, it could cost you, not only monetarily but professionally.
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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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orange flowers

Image via Wikipedia

Tomorrow, April 27th is Administrative Professional’s Day!  Remember when it used to be called Secretary’s Day?  National Professional Secretaries Week and National Secretary’s Day was created  in 1952 through the work of Harry F. Klemfuss of Young and Rubicam.  Klemfuss recognized the importance and value of the position to a company or business, but his real reason was to get more women to become secretaries.  He did promote the value and importance of the job the secretary did and using his influence he created the “holiday” in recognition of secretaries.

In today’s world we rarely hear the term secretary, we now hear “Executive Administrator” or “Administrative Professionals.”  The two names mean added responsibilities and changes to the “secretary” position and can mean different things with different companies.  We no longer find just women in these positions either, there are more and more men entering these positions.

While it is great to recognize these wonderful women and men, and to have this special day for our professionals who do so much in keeping the offices running, we should remember to appreciate them every day and not just thank them once a year!

To all my Paralegal pals, don’t forget our special day is June 25, 2011, which coincides with the California Alliance of Paralegal Associations Conference being held in beautiful San Francisco at Fisherman’s Wharf!  For more information, you can check it out here.

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