What Are Your Real Values?

It’s so easy to get caught up in life, in work, in everything we think we “have” to do or get done. We live in the fast lane nowadays and every year seems to go by a little (okay, a lot) faster. (Has anyone else noticed it’s May already?) How can 2011 be almost half over? If you asked an elderly person for the best advice they could give, it would probably be along the lines of, “Life goes by too fast. Take the time now to enjoy what truly matters in life, while you can.” And us, in our busy, get-to-work lives consider this advice with half-interest, already thinking about the next petition, the next agreement, the next trial.  Depending on your area(s) of practice, working in the legal field can be living in the fast lane. And, someday, we’ll realize how true and how good the advice was … Continue reading

So What Can A Paralegal Do For You?

The post, “Paralegal Do’s and Don’ts: What can (and can’t) a paralegal do for you,” highlighted what paralegals do to support their attorneys and provided an overview of those things paralegals cannot do.  In answering the question, “what can a paralegal do for you,” we maintained a broad focus by considering the definition of a paralegal.  In relevant part, a paralegal performs substantive legal work under the direction and supervision of an attorney; essentially, all the tasks an attorney performs, short of those considered unauthorized practice of law under the relevant jurisdiction. Because legal work can vary significantly across areas of law, a good way to determine what tasks might be delegated to a paralegal is to consider the tasks you, as an attorney, carry out during the day.  Still, sometimes it’s nice to see specific examples, so I’ve prepared a brief list that, albeit generalized, will hopefully start you … Continue reading

How Paralegals Increase Value

If you read the post, “The Paralegal Profession: [Almost] everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask,” you may already be familiar with the American Bar Association’s definition of a paralegal: A legal assistant or paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible. What does this mean to you as an attorney? It means you’re not alone. With the proper education, training, or experience, a paralegal can complete for you pretty much any task you would generally perform as long as he or she does not directly practice law. [While state laws vary in their definition of unauthorized practice of law (UPL), they generally agree that a paralegal cannot give legal advice, represent a client … Continue reading

When Working With a Freelance Paralegal Raises Concerns

So you found a freelance paralegal you’re interested in working with.  Hopefully, you followed the suggestions outlined in the post, “Finding a Freelance Paralegal That’s Right for You” and know exactly what you are (and aren’t) looking for in retaining paralegal services.  Communicating this information to the freelance paralegal you’re talking with will help pave the way for successful communication – and a successful partnership.  But what if, in talking with this person, something bothers you and you begin thinking maybe paralegal services aren’t right for you?  What do you do?  Write it off and never again make contact with the person you found? [Hint: Your answer, hopefully, is “no.”  Besides losing a chance to get the support you need, if your initial communications are positive and your response to follow-up is non-response, it could also affect your reputation and business.  How?  Paralegals, especially freelance, are often asked for attorney … Continue reading

Ethics Focus: Signing Documents and Pleadings

You may recall from past posts what paralegals can and can’t do for their attorneys and what, in general, constitutes unauthorized practice of law (UPL)  — those things that a paralegal cannot do for you.  Today it is my honor to share with you a guest article from Vicki Voisin, ACP, that closely considers one of those responsibilities that cannot be delegated to your paralegal — signing.  Written for the paralegal audience, this article will still drive home the point and provide attorneys with valuable suggestions for alternative solutions in sticky situations. The Ethics of Signing Documents and Pleadings By Vicki Voisin, ACP Consider this scenario: You have been employed as a paralegal for the same attorney for several years. He happens to be out of town taking depositions. A deadline looms…a document absolutely has to be filed with the Court by 5:00 o’clock. No problem, you think. Your boss … Continue reading

Is Going “Virtual” the Future of Law?

This question is posed time and again.  In conversation.  In group discussions.  In articles.  In passing.  In all seriousness.  The increasing interest in virtual practice has given rise to a host of concerns and a quest for answers.  It’s a question that can be (and has been) addressed from many vantage points.  I don’t suggest an answer to this question.  However, I do suggest that consideration of the history and evolution of law practice might shed light on the direction of its future. Traditional law practice How many of you remember what it was like to practice law 25 years ago?  Letters typed on a typewriter, with carbon paper, eloquently worded with the utmost courtesy and professionalism.  Beautifully articulated handwritten notes.  Boxes upon boxes of documents in the war room.  Color-coded files in the file room.  Even then, legal work wasn’t exactly a nine-to-five job. It was actually quite easy … Continue reading