January 27th, 2014
Wondering if it’s worth going to law school? A study of the economic value of a law degree answer that with an unequivocal ‘Yes.’ Even in these times of downsized legal practices, a law degree is worth hundreds of thousands more more than a bachelor’s.
Two professors, one from Seton Hall Law School, the other a business and economics professor at Rutgers, used data from the Census Bureau’s Read the rest of this entry »
January 13th, 2014
Chere Estrin’s newest “The Estrin Report” on effective client communication starts with a great quote from George Bernard Shaw, “”The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Paralegals are often asked (or expected) to handle calls from clients. This is truer in smaller offices, but even at large firms, when a client’s billables don’t even warrant the time of an associate, answering a client’s questions and updating them on the status of their case often falls to a paralegal. The essence of client communication is understanding that it is not enough that the client hears or reads the communication. Understanding the communication is the key. Consider also these five tips:
1. Let clients speak for themselves.
2. Try to take a no-blame approach. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge mistakes.
3. Show respect.
4. Don’t volunteer others. Speak only for yourself.
5. Use every opportunity for learning, connection and insight.
The Empowered Paralegal
December 13th, 2013
The recession years may not have been good for the mega-law firms, but smaller firms are enjoying the kind of profit margins typically being reported by tech companies. In the last 12 months, privately held law firms have average a 20.2% margin, with sales rising 8.8%. According to Sageworks, a firm that analyzes the finances of private helf firms, the average law office employee generated nearly $41,000 in profit during the 12 months ending in October. That’s a 20% increase from the 2012 fiscal year. of the nation’s law firms, 70% have fewer than 20 employees. Sageworks
October 29th, 2013
There’s an old joke about the work of a first year associate being the equal of a highly paid proofreader. There’s just enough truth in it to be funny, so long as you’re not the first year associate in question. But the work itself is no laughing matter, as one firm discovered when an appellate court reversed its award of fees because “ambiguities in the offer prevent its enforceability.” The ambiguities? Misplaced apostrophes. Proofreading matters, says Kathy Sieckman, a paralegal and marketing director of NALS, the professional association for paralegals and legal secretaries. theNALSdocket
October 4th, 2013
Playing fantasy football can make you a better paralegal. What?, you say. Seriously? Rob Schwartz, Jr., thinks so. He hopes to one day be a lawyer. In the meantime, though, the parallels he draws between putting together a fantasy team and constructing a brief are nothing if not original. Writing before the start of the regular NFL season, Schwartz explains, “Throughout the last few weeks, I spent countless hours going over expert opinions on players and draft strategies. This is no different than reading case law or a judge’s opinion involving a court ruling. I had to sift out the opinions I found valid and create a logical reasoning for my plan of attack come draft day. This sounds similar to how paralegals and attorneys prepare evidence and precedent in order to develop a plan of attack for a big case or trial.” The Paralegal Society
September 29th, 2013
Taking a cue from the Six Word Festival on Twitter, Marquette University’s Law School faculty blog challenged students and professors alike to tell a law school or law related story in six words. The submissions started rolling in, and not only from Marquette, but elsewhere. Soon, other law schools and the ABA Journal jumped on the bandwagon, with their own six word law challenges. Some submissions spoke of their passion, such as this one: “Tirelessly devoted to representing the underdog.” Others, were humorous commentaries on law professors, “Legal writer, for sale, bores family.” And more than a few commented on the job market, “Don’t outsource, let our lawyers work.”
July 24th, 2013
The hiring outlook for paralegals is good and getting better, as the biggest firms are again adding staff, while smaller firms are discovering that an experienced paralegal can be more valuable than a green associate fresh out of school. But for entry-level paralegals, the job hunt can be as tough as ever.
Carl Morrison, a senior certified paralegal with Rhodes, Hieronymus, Jones, Tucker & Gable, says, “Besides networking and professional deportment recommendations, I always recommend those ‘beginners,’ seek out temporary employment.” Read the rest of this entry »
June 23rd, 2013
If you’ve eve been stuck looking for just the right word for an article, or help trying to figure out whether it’s “its” or “it’s” you’ve probably discovered there’s no shortage of sites offering help. Googling “grammar” or “thesaurus” turns up tens of thousands of results. But when you need help of a different sort — a colorful phrase, a specific statistic, or how to attract a bigger audience for your blog — finding it can be harder. Fortunately, there’s a handy one page list of resources for writers — amateur, business, and professional. Here you will find lists of sites organized by the kind of help they provide. The list is billed as “150 Resources to Help You Write Better, Faster, and More Persuasively.” Open Education Database
May 21st, 2013
You have a small law office or a solo practice. To keep expenses down, you do most everything yourself. Technology and outsourced services take care of the phones, scheduling, billing and collections, and the like. Sooner or later, as the practice grows, you’ll need to hire support staff. The question is: Do you hire an administrative assistant with legal experience, or a paralegal who can also help with the office work?
“Take an honest and objective look at the actual daily rate of productivity and production output from your law practice,” advises Prof. Annie G. Reed. A lawyer, she taught in a paralegal program at a junior college in Los Angeles. Read the rest of this entry »
April 28th, 2013
One of the most common — maybe even universal — skills requested of paralegals and law office administrative assistants is “excellent communication skills.” That’s probably true as well for admin staff in every occupation, but attorney Bryan Garner says the need is so much greater in law offices because, he explains, his colleagues suffer from Dunning-Kruger. Neither a disease nor a genetic disorder, it’s the notion among unskillful or unknowledgeable people that they believe themselves to be so much better than they really are. “Lawyers on the whole don’t write well,” says Garner, “and have no clue that they don’t write well.” Now you know why law office managers spend so much energy looking for support staff who know why “herein” should be struck from nearly every document they review. ABAJournal