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Nov 30 2017

Role of a paralegal #role #of #a #paralegal


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Posted in Professionalism

My last post passed on a gentle rebuke from a federal judge that included a video by Scott Greenfield. Today the judge had a new post with a link to an article by Greenfield that elaborates on the point. Greenfield states, The primary enablers are academics, who have given away their classrooms to their special little snowflakes. My undergrads seem to have little problem coping with the studying the realities of life that legal professionals must confront as part of their career. Maybe it s just that their lives have contained more of those realities than those of students at high end law school?

What do you practicing paralegals think? Does Greenfield have a point, do the students have the better point, or is the answer somewhere in between?

The judge in question is a federal district court judge whose blog is entitled, Hercules and the Umpire . His rebuke was directed at Columbia University law students. The point made by the judge and by Scott Greenfield in the video at the end of the judge s post is also applicable to paralegals. Law and paralegal students should take the time to read the post and watch the video. Practicing paralegals will appreciate the points made in both and likely recall instances where they had to set aside personal trauma and do their job. The judge starts:

Dear Columbia Law Students,

I mean this in the kindest way possible: If you postponed your exams because the Garner and Brown cases “traumatized” your psyche, there is a distinct possibility that you are unfit to practice law. If you are one of those who claimed “trauma,” and you still want to practice law, you must toughen up before you agree to take on a client. The practice of law is not about you.

The reset, including Greenfield s video is here. You can go directly to the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FW8D8xIiKBw#t=61

The January 28, 2014, post on The Estrin Report is a guest post by Terese Cannon, J.D. entitled, The Future of Paralegals: Why Waiting for the Future to Arrive is a Career Buster . It is a very good post that summarizes the current state of flux for the legal profession in general and paralegals in particular, including synopsis of recent publications on the topic. This is of particular interest to me as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for Paralegal Education. At our meeting later this week I plan to propose creation of an AAfPE task force on this topic. Here s the first couple of paragraphs which set the matter up quite well:

We are entering a era of major, perhaps even revolutionary, shifts in law practice, legal education, and the role of both lawyers and nonlawyers who deliver legal services. Already in motion but accelerated by the economic meltdown five years ago, these shifts have already resulted in significant downsizing and reorganization in large law firms, decreased demand for legal services affecting large and small firms alike, and high under- and unemployment of lawyers.

Roles for paralegals are changing, requiring a re-envisioning of what paralegals can and should do and a concomitant rethinking of paralegal education. The idea of nonlawyer practice has reemerged as a compelling subject of discussion within the ABA and the influential State Bar of California, and is ever closer to becoming a reality in the state of Washington. This renewed interest is related to the disruption of models for delivery of legal services and has spurred serious nationwide discussions about how to reform legal education and requirements for entry into the legal profession. This cluster of concerns together with the continuing challenge of providing access to legal services for low- and middle-income Americans has commanded the attention of legal commentators, educators and the bar.

The rest of the post is well worth reading. The remaining posts in the series will, I suspect, also be.

In general, the winds of change for the paralegal profession and the paralegal education profession are blowing hard. If these professions do not catch that wind they will find themselves blown about or left adrift in the horse latitudes. As a member of one of those professions I intend to do what I can to see that it takes the right tact.

I don t normally so blatantly based the title of my post on the title of another person s article, but this time it seems appropriate. Mianne on the NFPA LinkedIn discussion board posted a link to an article on law.com from the Legal Technology News page on law. com entitled, We May Not Be Lawyers, But We Are Professionals by Jeffrey Brandt.

I m going to sign-on to most of what Jeffry says and suggest you read the entire post. Here are two parts that I found particularly well stated,

But last time I looked, in addition to the lawyers, law firms required technologists, Help Desk staff, library specialists and researchers, litigation support teams, marketing personnel, financial experts, paralegals, secretaries, human resource staff, and other administrative experts in order to run. Merriam-Webster defines nonprofessional as being such only for recreation or lacking or showing a lack of expert skill. It offers up synonyms of amateur and unskilled. It goes on to define professional as relating to a job that requires special education, training, or skill.

So here s a cheer for all the dedicated professionals that work with lawyers day in and day out to ensure their needs are met and that their clients have the best experience possible. We may not be lawyers, but we are professionals.

Of course since paralegals are professionals, the must act as professionals, which is the point of this blog and The Empowered Paralegal series of books.

My last post keyed off an article on common grammar mistakes I found by following a link in Paralegal Gateway LinkedIn discussion post by Barbara Liss. Today s post keys off an article by Daphne Drescher, CP, on the Paralegal Society website I found by following a link in Paralegal Gateway LinkedIn discussion post by Barbara Liss. With Barbara as a resource, I may get away with no original thought at all for a couple of weeks!

The article is A Little Primer on Citation . As you might suspect based on the title, the article does a good job of setting out the basics of legal citation setting out a quick anatomy of a case citation lesson. Citations are part of legal writing. Like grammar, spelling, and punctuation, getting the citations right is an important part of any writing assignment completed by a legal professional. As Daphne states, because if their citations aren’t uniform, they look…well…unprofessional. So take a few minutes to follow the link and read the article. While there take a few more minutes to look around the Paralegal Society s website. It ll be worth the time.

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