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Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Small town paralegal in the city. Once ran a law office, now being run by one. Med mal defense litigation. I think it's growing on me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The iParalegal

I finally broke down and purchased an iPhone this weekend. Below I have provided a list of my favorite apps so far.

1. The Milebug Lite: I drive regularly for my job, and remembering to log my mileage when I make it back to the busy office is quite a chore. The Milebug allowed me to log my milege instantly. It also calculates the value of the trip automatically. Easy peasy!

2. Notes: okay so I know this app isn't anything special on the outside. However, one of my paralegal duties is to inspect the properties at HOAs that we manage. Until today, I would have had to remember to take paper and a pen with me. Since I only have a hundred things going on at the office at any given time, sometimes it is not easy to remember these small but necessary items. And even when I did remember these things, I still had to keep up with the list. Enter the Notes app, which actually comes installed on the magic phone. Now I can take notes directly to my phone then email them instantly to myself. Once again, easy peasy.

3. Words with Friends: Every busy professional needs a few mini-outlets each day. This app provides both a short break and interaction with friends. It is basically another version of the beloved game Scrabble. You play back and forth with a friend either all at once or throughout the day or week. My Boyfriend the Lawyer, who currently lives seven hours away from me, and I have been playing a game for the past two days. When I need a short break at work, I take my turn. When he takes a break, he takes his. Being busy people with demanding jobs, these breaks are few and far between; however, they are a welcome interaction at short intervals during my day.

4. BlogPressLite: This post exists because of this app. No longer do I have to strain to remember some blog idea after hours of waiting to get to my computer. If I have something to say, I get to say it right away. Like magic. My brain says thank you.

I am sure I will find even more useful apps as I go along, but these few have already changed my life. If you other iPhoners have any suggestions, let me know!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Legal Aid and Paralegals

As a young paralegal still feeling out the ethics, for a long time I did not understand the difference between legal information and legal advice. I believed that everything was legal advice, and that even the simplest procedural questions with the most concrete and consistent answers that had nothing to do with an individual situation had to be passed to the Boss. I did this out of a wariness and fear of inadvertently crossing into the no-man's-land of UPL.

As I have grown and developed as a paralegal, I have learned better ways to gauge where the line is. I've gathered examples of questions that can be answered without hassling the Boss. "What is a summary judgement?" "How long does a defendant have to file an answer after she has been served in small claims court?" "Where is your bathroom?"

However,, a local Oklahoma news source, is reporting that a Legal Aid Services paralegal will be meeting Thursday with Garfield County, OK seniors "who need information on a legal matter or have questions."

Jerry Clay, the paralegal speaking at the forum, is quoted as saying, "Many seniors and those with hearing impairments, prefer to discuss their problems in person, and meeting at NODA makes it easier to review legal documents."

While I am sure there is a way to hold such a forum without giving actual legal advice, it sounds like quite the challenge. In fact, reviewing legal documents with someone sounds exactly like providing legal counsel, unless the review is only for editing purposes. Or I suppose, unless the paralegal is gathering issues together to consult with an attorney before relaying any advice back to the seniors. The article, unfortunately, does not go any further in describing the services being rendered.

I do not know Oklahoma's UPL laws, but I have noticed in my personal research that in at least a few states, Legal Aid paralegals provide lawyer-type services to individuals without direct supervision or client contact by a licensed attorney. Oklahoma may be one of these states. Or perhaps it isn't, and the legal doc review and discussion of legal problems described in the article does not constitute the practice of law in Oklahoma. Whichever the case, I find the assistance described in the article to be a wonderful thing.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Politicking Paralegal

It may just be the season, but I have been noticing more and more paralegals entering the political arena in 2010.

In Arizona, paralegal Amanda Reeves has been chosen to replace Sam Crump, a lawmaker who just resigned his Legislative District 6 House seat to chase his other political dreams. She was chosen over two other candidates: a U.S. Army officer and a trauma surgeon. I would say she was in good company to begin with.

Meanwhile, a licensed paralegal in California is planning on challenging the incumbent public administrator for his position in June. This story comes with a twist. Colleen Callahan is trying to unseat her former boss. (There's one reason to always be nice to your staff, people.) Says Callahan, as quoted by the Orange County Register, “I know it’s a long shot, but it’s not right for him to be there,” Callahan said. “I’ve seen so many people hurt and great employees he pushed out. We’re there to service the public.”

As someone who likes to be involved in my community, I understand the desire to get out there and make a difference, whether small or big. I encourage any other paralegals out there contemplating a career in politics to jump right in! It can be as simple a move as joining your local planning and zoning commission (I volunteer on my town's, and it is veeery interesting) or as big as announcing a run for state congress. Either way, make the differences you can make, doing what you do. The important thing is to be involved in a positive way.

[2/21/10 Editor's Note: Thanks to Vicki Voisin for pointing out that despite the language of the article in the Orange County Register, no state currently licenses paralegals. I assume the correct language here is "certified," though I am basing that on a best guess. I do not personally know Callahan's certification status.]

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another Office Romance Gone Downhill

It's a tale as old as time - the intraoffice love affair. But it's one that can wreak havoc on your life. Literally.

In 1989, it ended the life of a newly wed legal assistant. Being dumped for a younger woman her husband had met at the office was too much for Elisabeth "Betty" Broderick, who shot and killed her nemesis and the ex while the two were in bed together one night.

There are several good reasons not to engage in a romantic relationship with someone in the office, especially if that someone can make or break your career and is also married. Until I read this story, though, it never occurred to me that one of those reasons is personal safety.

So beware, my paralegal brothers and sisters, when seeking love, try to avoid the married co-worker or boss. It might save both your reputation and your life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Glub Glub Glub

For those of you who do not watch that Grey's Anatomy of legal dramas The Deep End, I've decided to keep you posted on the wild and crazy (and completely unrealistic) antics of its as-yet-unrelateable characters.

In the third episode of the series, Addie and Beth are horrified to learn that they are representing the defendant in a sexual harrassment case. I suppose law school didn't teach them that even a defendant needs representation. Even if the defendant is completely guilty of doing exactly what he is accused of. Like speaking to women as if they are choice cuts of meat.

Meanwhile, our character with hero-issues, Dylan, tries his hardest to keep a pregnant woman from being sent back to China, based on the fact that her baby is an American citizen. Whether it's legally sound or not, his argument makes logical sense. The baby, he argues was conceived by at least one American, and the pregnancy has reached the state of viability. Therefore, since in criminal law, anyone who killed the baby at this stage would be tried for a homicide, the unborn yet viable child has a right to due process. I like it. If we ever have a similar case at our firm, I wonder if we can cite to the Deep End transcript?

Because Liam decided to get all wooey with Beth and Addie is having some weird love connection with Malcolm, there wasn't much room left in the script for more legal adventures. Stay tuned for next weeks rundown...