From the Paralegal Convention

Today, as most of you know, I attended the New Jersey Paralegal Convention. The convention is an annual event and this year it was held at the Renaissance Convention Center in Islin, New Jersey. The venue has been reserved for next year as well. The Center was great. Very nice open area with lots of vendors. There were vendors that would have interested any type of paralegal professional. There were court reporters, process servers, global document filing and retrieval, this last one being really popular with everyone trying to go green but still having to keep in compliance with document retention policies. There was a lot to keep you busy as well as a lot of little “toys” that they all brought along. I got a baseball bat (a miniature one), the obligatory pens (lots of those), letter openers, note pads, can never have enough of those around and the coolest thing ever…. a bag that turns folds onto itself into the size of a golf ball (will be great for my commute).

Needless to say it was a great day spent to lots of people that do what I do and a great chance to network. If you ask me, and this is just my humble opinion, every paralegal should belong to a paralegal organization. There is no better way to stay abreast of the industry and learn what others are doing.

I was going to try to film some video but I was told I was not sure if it would be ok with the venue and the organization since I had not cleared it with them before the event. Therefore I have only a very short video which I will post right here.

In addition, I used my iPad throughout the entire event. I used an application called NotesPlus and recorded the sessions at the same time as I was taking notes. I will be reviewing this application once I have the chance to see how it performed under pressure. Obviously, you will all the first ones to know how it performed.

The day was great.  Lots of learning, lots of networking and lots of great ideas for future goals and directions to take.  Can’t wait to get started.

Pages on the iPad

It’s Tuesday, and as such, I’m going to talk to you about my iPad. Have I told you how much I love it? I guess in a way there is a love hate relationship. I love it because I’m never without something to do and I hate also because I’m never without something to do.

In my efforts to go green I currently download all my documents to my iPad. All the large regulations that I need to be analyzed (these go into Goodreader) all the articles that need to be read and organized, my email (these go into Evernote) my books and now with Pages and Keynote I have created additional ways to stay busy.

Today I’m going to tell you about Pages.

I’m sitting on the train, typing this article in Pages. Before the iPad, I would either have to carry my laptop or wait until I got home to write my articles. Now, that’s no longer an excuse. I have convinced myself that I have one hour of uninterrupted time to write. When I get home I insert pictures and links on the post (eventually, WordPress will figure out how to allow me to do this from the iPad). So that’s the reason for the love hate relationship. I no longer have to carry the laptop in order to feel productive but I also no longer have the excuse that I don’t have the laptop and therefore I don’t have to be productive. It’s a daily battle of wits with myself.

Pages is Apple’s word processing software and it has been formatted to work perfectly well with all the mobile devices. Since the iOS 5 it’s now on all my devices, the iPhone, the iPad and on my MacBook Pro. I can do everything on the iPad the same way i can on the computer. It’s intuitive and works very smoothly with the touch screen systems. I have not tried it on the iPhone and I’m not sure I will have a need to do that. However, I have looked up documents that I’ve created on the iPad on the iPhone and they look the same, only smaller, which is the reason I don’t draft or edit on the iPhone. I think I’d go blind trying to do that.

One of the best things about the application is that the documents can be emailed as Word documents to another computer. So if I’m doing something for work, such as a statement of facts or correspondence, I can do it while on the train and then email the document to myself at the office as a word document and finish working on it at the office. The only issue I have encountered with this are the fonts. We all know that Apple’s fonts do not match Microsoft’s fonts, so if the document is created with one of Apple’s fonts, it does not convert properly when you open it on a PC. Nothing you can’t fix, just have to play with the document a little and format it for the PC. But, in my opinion it’s still better than having to do everything from your desk at the office.

The other great feature of Pages on the iPad is that the document saves up in the cloud as you type. You never have to worry about saving as you go. This is great because normally, I’m still typing by the time I reach my destination. However, knowing that the document has been saving in real time I don’t have to worry about losing any of my work and I can just close the iPad and know it will be there when I open it again. Not only that, but because it is saved up in the cloud I can pick up any of my other devices and continue working on them. So for instance, let’s say this article is not finished before I get home tonight, I can just pick up my MacBook Pro and put the finishing touch on that and upload it. Very convenient right? Now do you understand the love hate relationship? There are no excuses.

Have I told you how much I love my iPad? Tell me how much you love yours.

New Jersey Paralegal Convention

This coming Friday, I will be attending the New Jersey Paralegal Convention, being presented by The Paralegal Association of New Jersey (PANJ) of which yours truly, me, was President and is currently a member.  If you are a paralegal in New Jersey you should make every effort to attend this event.  The event is being sponsored by DGR Subpoena Service, Hudson Court Reporting, Investigative Solutions and The Provident Bank.

The convention is a great time and place to network with other paralegals and other legal professionals.  It is open to members and non-members of the Paralegal Association of New Jersey it include vendors, whom I have to say, make our lives so much easier.  Ok…, ok, so you got me.  I think the vendors are really cool also because they have all the cool give-aways.

This is a great opportunity to brush up on your paralegal skills and obtain CLE credits for those of you that need them.  This year the topics being covered are:  Ethics, Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR), Consumer Fraud (I think this is very timely), Advanced Legal Writing, Where do I find that?, Preparation for Jury Trial, Bench Trial and Mediation, Sexual Harassment, A day in the Life (this one is always the favorite), The CLA Exam (you can bet you will find me in this one), and Stress Management.

Please come by and say hello.  We would love to have you and if you see me, please stop me and let’s chat.  I love to meet all my readers.

Here is the Registration Page.

Paralegals and the Economy

I recently twitted that I may be gone for a while.  I said that although I love being a paralegal, currently I do not enjoy the circumstances under which I am a paralegal.

The economy is taking a toll on all of us.  We are all overworked and understaffed and for a paralegal supervisor this has got to be one of the most stressful situations.  The work seems to be coming in at a heavier pace than before, but I cannot increase my paralegal staff nor can I approve overtime.  So in a land of “something’s gotta give” I think that was the day I stood on the edge of quitting.

I didn’t quit.  I truly enjoy being a paralegal and as in all things I take the good with the bad.  But the bad is really starting to piss me off, for lack of a better description.  I’m here and I’m still a paralegal supervisor for the firm I have been with the past 5 years.  However, this does not mean that I’m happy about it the current situation.

I am going to spend the next few weeks or maybe months trying to figure out how to make things work with my ever shrinking paralegal department and attorneys who do not want to give up their work in fear of not being seen as needed members of the law department.  I will continue to post and, actually, I am in the process of picking up on my YouTube Channel where I left off.  I have also promised a series of articles about different types of laws where paralegals make a big difference and am working on a few of those posts.

Please, don’t give up on me.  We all go through some touchy times and this was my time.

Look for me on my next post, like me on FaceBook and Follow me on Twitter…. Ohhhh yeah and now I have a Google+ account too.  I’m just all over the place.

What Makes a Good Paralegal????

Today I was asked a great question by one of my readers. “What makes a good paralegal?” Hmmm, simple question and yet I have no words to explain it. Imagine me at a loss for words.

I don’t want to leave this reader thinking that I am ignoring the question. So I kept thinking about this most of the night. So far this is what I have: in my humble opinion… Ok, not so humble. Being humble is not one of my best qualities. I can’t even fake it :). I’m a good paralegal, in fact, I have at times felt that I am a great paralegal. Why is that? Well, I think it’s because I know who I am and what I do. I take pride in my work and my biggest accomplishment is making my attorney look good. I don’t particularly care for the spotlight. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind it when it is on me. However, when I walk into the office my focus is how to make my attorneys’ life easier.

So how do I accomplish that? I work long hours. Not necessarily in the office. I often take work home and continue my research or file organization while sitting in front of the television. If I am tasked with finding a particular case on Lexis I will stop at nothing to find it. Sometimes it’s not there, but I don’t give up until I have exhausted all possibilities. I call Lexis, I ask questions. There is a free service for subscribers where a Lexis customer service representative, often an attorney, will help you find what you’re looking for. I use all that’s at my disposal. If, in fact, there is nothing, I often find other cases that may be helpful. I read all of them. I highlight important points for my attorney and then take the time to summarize them. I’m not always asked to do this but I understand that an attorney’s time is limited and anything I can do is appreciated.

If I’m doing a document review or organizing a file, in my opinion these two tasks are often the most boring and mundane of a paralegal’s job, I take the time to learn every little bit of information. I take notes. You never know when you’re going to find something that had been overlooked when the documents first came in. My notes then go into a folder labeled “paralegal notes.” when the attorney gets the file for review my notes often are a summary of the case where I highlight important points. It may seem like a mundane task and unnecessary but it can be a time saver for the attorney. That is always the goal. Serving the client by ensuring that the lawyer has the time to concentrate on the law and not have to read every piece of pap are in the file.

I make calendar notes. Some people call this a tickler system. I have one for myself and one for my attorney. I have worked with attorneys who remember every date but I have also worked with attorneys who don’t even remember their names, at times. I don’t discriminate. I will remind both of all dates whether they like it or not. That is my job. I am the master of the file and the first line of defense for my attorney. Missing a filing date may not be the end of the case, but it will cost the client more money if the attorney has to file a motion of call the adversary for extensions.

So, to summarize, I think each one of us is different. However, I think there are a few things that every good paralegal shares:

Curiosity – an innate need to get to the bottom of things and tell a story.
Attention to detail – remember that sometimes good enough is not always good. Take a second look, even a third. I promise you, you can always improve.
Organized – being able to find every piece of information in a file that has grown to be three drawers full. Making sure pleadings are filed when they need to be and discovery is propounded or responded on time.
Self-starter – not waiting for someone to tell you what to do. Just do it.
Writing skills – ability to tell a story from the thousands bits of information in the file.
Reading skills – I can spend hours reading case law or, in my case, very boring financial documents.
Research skills – being able to find the proverbial needle in the haystack. Can be the most tedious as well as the most gratifying job.
Patience – dealing with different personalities and cases.

Can you think of others? I’m sure this is not an exhaustive list.

Today I Say Good Bye To Steve Jobs

From the Apple Website

For those of you who may not know me I am an Apple Geek.  I am proud to be an Apple Geek.  I started small, first came the iPod, then the iMac a few years later I got a Macbook and the husband got a Macbook Air, then the iPhones, there was the 1, 2 3, 3G, the husband got the 3GS and then both of us got the 4.  Then we both had to have the iPad and then instead of the iPhone 4S we decided to upgrade the iPads to the iPad2 (we’ll wait for the 5) and the most recent addition to the family was the Apple TV….. Yeah I am an Apple addict. No excuses, I love the product.  I love the way it looks, the way they work and how few problems we have.  Have there been problems? yes, sure.   The difference is, that with Apple, when we have had a problem, we go to the the nearest Apple Store and the problem gets resolved.  They have great customer service and if we can’t make it to the store we can even troubleshoot in chat with a representative (I’ve done that).

Today, I would like to take some time to dedicate a post to a man who has made a huge impact in the world.  At at time when there was so much “wrong” Apple did it all right.  The stock goes up the products are always reliable and the service is excellent.  Today, we lost a genius.  One in a million in our generation.

In a 2005 Steve Jobs was the commencement speaker at Stanford University and then he said “Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” He lived this saying.  He made his own path and lived it fully.  He believed in his dreams and he taught us all that believing in our dreams is ok.  Work hard, be true to who you are and dream high.

Today we say good bye to a man who made a difference.

Paralegal Poll Results

It looks like 40% of you are interested in learning more about the different practice areas. I am currently working getting a really cool interview, with an attorney who has a very interesting practice.  However, I’m not sure I can pull this one off so I rather not promise anything.  I will let you know if I can work some magic. In the meantime, I would love to ask our other paralegal bloggers if they would be interested in writing a guest article for The Paralegal where they talk about their experience in their practice areas.  That would be great.  I’m sure you are all sick of hearing from me.

Image from

How about that?  I would love to learn from all the other great paralegals out there.