Have you gone green?

These days you cannot open a newspaper or a magazine or even turn on the television without being told that you should go green.  I have to admit that I’m not there yet.  There are some things that I just need to have in my “hot little hands.”  There are a couple of things that I am, however, trying to do:  I am trying to read more on my iPhone (it’s not as small as you might think, it’s actually pretty easy to read); I have subscribed to paperless billing whenever it is available; I pay most of my bills on line, except for one which really annoys me because I don’t like writing checks; I never get a receipt at the MAC when I get cash, choosing instead to just enter the amount withdrawn on my electronic ledger on my iPhone.  So you see?  I am trying to do my part.

The two areas at which I am not so good are my research and the files in the my office that contain warranties and instructions on the various household appliances and electronics.  I have not figured out what to do about those things.

When I research I feel like I need to highlight and write notes on the margin.  I need to see it and touch it in order for it to feel real.  For some reason I get a sense of accomplishment when looking at the piles of paper that lay on top of my desk, sometimes so massive that I can barely see the desk.  Sometimes, I am embarassed to admit, they are so huge that I feel overwheled and wind up being less productive.  So, if I’m having so much trouble with going green why am I writing this post?  The answer is simple, I want to be rehabilitated.  I want to join the 21st century and be up with the times, I don’t want to have to purchase or change toners anymore, they are expensive and messy to deal with.  I want to ensure that my files are going to available when I need them and not mistakenly destroyed or misplaced.

Jim Calloway wrote a great article on July 28, 2010.  Why you need to switch to digital client files now. Although Mr. Calloway is writing about “client files” his points can be made about anything else.  After reading his article I am vowing to finally get rid of the paper files and transfer things to my computer files.  However, I need help.  Do you have any ideas on how I can ease myself into this?

Canada Ahead of the Curve ….

The Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) is responsible for the self-regulation of lawyers and paralegals in the Canadian province of Ontario, Canada. Founded in 1797, it is known in French as “Le Barreau du Haut-Canada”. The motto of the Society is “Let Right Prevail.”  Wikipedia and it appears that “Right is Prevailing”  The LSUC has accredited the paralegal program at one of the paralegal colleges.


My Argument for Certification or Registration of Paralegals

There has been a lot of discussion around paralegal certification/registration.  Although I am a bigger proponent of paralegal certification over the paralegal registration.  I think either would be better than what we currently have.  Certification/registration would serve to establish guidelines and standards for the profession.

In a recent podcast of two of my favorite paralegals, Lynne DeVenny and Vicky Voisin, there was a discussion around this same topic by two representatives of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). Suffice it to say that NFPA is in favor of registration.

Regulation of the Paralegal Profession Podcast

For the life of me I cannot figure out a good reason as to why anyone would be against regulation of the profession.  I have heard some arguments by opponents of registration:  1) registration would make it more expensive on employers to hire a paralegal because salaries would go up due to the fees incurred by registration.  This in turn would make services to the public more expensive.  2)  Billable hours for paralegals would go up also because of the fees incurred by registration; Most paralegals pay for their own education, CLE courses (the ones that actually attend them) and memberships to any organization they want to belong to.  All of the above have not been a factor in paralegal salaries and neither would registration.

In my opinion registration/certification is not about money.  It is about the natural evolutionary process of a profession.  It’s about providing the best service to and for the public.

Lawyers are too expensive….

Those were not my words.  The American Bar Association published an article entitled “Middle-Class Dilemma:  Can’t Afford Lawyers, Can’t Qualify for Legal Aid.”  As usual, it seems like the middle class is caught in the middle again.

After reading the article I did something I normally do not do.  I never read the comments posted to an article.  First of all because I think most of them are so incendiary and not worth my time and also because I don’t want others comments to cloud my thinking about the issue.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy talking to others about their opinions and I like to hear all views on a subject.  However, for some reason, people don’t feel like they have to be respectful when they are hiding behind a computer screen.  Anyway, I digress.  I read the comments on this article and, I am sure you will not be surprised to hear, none of the opinions mentioned the simplest solution to the problem.

The solution isn’t to make the court system easier to navigate, or filing fees less expensive, or even more pro-bono work for lawyers.  Don’t they also deserve to get paid for the hard work that they have put into their profession and their studies?  I think they deserve to get paid the fees they are charging.  So no, in my opinion lowering attorney’s fees is also not a solution to the problem.  The simplest way to remedy this situation and make all parties to the issue “happy” is to utilize the resources we already have.  Are you ready?????? Are you sure??????? Drum roll please………Utilize the paralegal professionals that have been standing in the background and raising their hand letting you all know that they can do the work.

I am not suggesting we do not need attorneys.  I think attorneys are very much necessary.  However, what I am saying is that there are plenty of legal services that are currently being performed by attorneys that need not be.  There is no reason why a lawyer needs to fill out every form, spend hours and hours doing legal research, interview witnesses, summarize depositions, read and review every medical record, draft every motion or pleadings, etc.  Most paralegal are perfectly capable of performing the above mentioned services and some can even do it with their eyes closed.  Ohhh and let’s not forget that the paralegal can perform the work for half the price.  Talk about a happy client!!!!!!!

Allowing the paralegal to do more of the legal work will free the attorney to do the attorney work.  The type of work the attorney went to school for… oh and this just dawned on me.  Maybe if the attorney allows him/herself the opportunity to do more attorney work and less paralegal work, we will have happier attorneys and happier clients and we all know that happier clients mean happier paralegals…. hmmmmm it all comes back to the paralegal.