In the News This Week


Hello, it’s me again. This week has been pretty slow reading week. Besides trying to get done with the book that I’ve been reading and getting my yard ready for the fall, I have barely had the time to read much else. There were, however, a few articles that caught my eye….

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So, if you don’t know already, I have don’t watch much television. Actually throughout the day, if and when I’m home the television doesn’t even get turned on…. If it does it’s the news or some mindless home show. If I’m going to sit in front of the television, it’s normally to watch a documentary or my guilty pleasure (of which I don’t feel guilty at all), The Big Bang Theory. So on Monday, you better believe I was parked in front of the television to watch the double episode of the Big Bang Theory…. I love nerds. Which leads me to another show which I may start watching. New this season it’s called Scorpions and it comes on right after the Big Bang Theory….. why not. I’m in front of the television already.

Anyway, I much prefer reading, if I have time to kill (I don’t have much of that these days).

If you follow me on Twitter, and if you don’t you should, you probably saw when I tweeted the article from thelegalinteligencer.com, Why I Became a Paralegal in the Diverse Area of Corporate Law. Sometimes we need to take on things which may at first blush sound and look boring to us. You never know what can happen. I never thought I’d be so happy doing regulatory work at a bank but I am truly having a lot of “fun” at work….. don’t get me wrong, it’s still a job and I still get frustrated, but it is a great area to be in these days. Go ahead, take a look at the article and tell me what you think.

The Corporate Counsel also had a great article about titles. I don’t know about you, but I don’t get hung up on titles. As long as I’m doing what I like to do, I don’t really care what you call me. I know that the title usually dictates what is budgeted for raises and other compensation. However, I believe that if you are doing a good job and your manager is happy with you, he/she will find a way to circumvent the title thing. I would hate to have a title just for the sake of having one and be totally miserable every day. No thank you!!!!

I’m not really sure how I came upon this blog, A dude With a Blog, but one of the articles really caught my attention. Have you ever wondered if the people you meet on line are really what they claim to be? Apparently, in Amsterdam, this student found how how easy it is to “fool” everyone online. Sometimes the people we “know” are really not the people we know. We can be anything we want online. Zilla Van Dan Born, the student mentioned above, pretended to be traveling all through Asia and was able to lie to her entire family about it. She was not being mean at all, so don’t all start hating her. This was a project she was doing for school…… No harm was done to anyone and I’m sure they are now having a good laugh about it. Take a look at the article. I found it very interesting.

As you can see, I did not spend a lot of time reading this week. I have a lot of catching up to do. What have you been reading this week? Send it over, don’t just keep it to yourself.

Hope to see you soon and while you’re here, go check out my other blog The Paralegal At Home. See you there?

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Paralegals On Wall Street? Who knew?????


If you had told me a few years ago that I would be working at a bank I would have told you were crazy.  After all, was I not the kid who hated every single one her math classes?  Was I not the kid who cried while doing math homework?  I don’t remember anything from any of my algebra classes…. heck I even have trouble figuring out percentages.  Yeah, I truly am a math hater.  I fully understand the interest others have with numbers as well as how great it would be if I could understand them myself.  Alas, numbers and I are not friends.  I would even venture to say we are mortal enemies.

Today, after suffering through high school math and algebra and trying to avoid as many number related classes in college, I am a paralegal at a bank.  Really, there are quite a few of us and we have our plates so full these days, we barely have time to breath.

Admittedly, my days are totally different from yours (if you are working at a law firm).  First of all, I don’t have to bill my time.  Although I was never one who dreaded the end of the month.  I was able to figure out a process where I could keep myself organized and have all my time entered and correct by the time the end of the month came up.  See this article I wrote a few years back, in fact, I trained the new paralegals on how to enter time and how to stay organized.  These days this is not an issue at all.  That goes for all the paralegals who work in house.

These days I’m not preparing for trial or preparing or summarizing depositions or even reading medical records.  These days I busy myself with regulatory research and meetings with other lawyers.  Yes, when I put it this way it sounds sort of boring doesn’t it?  I can hear you guys saying “regulatory research” and what do you do with it?  Well, let me tell you.

So remember a few years back when our financial world took a nose dive?  When there was so much uncertainty as to whether or not our money would still be in the bank when we woke up the next mooring?  Well, the regulators – these are the people who make the laws for the various industries – were also worried and therefore started making new rules/regulations as well as tightening up existing rules.  There are so many new rules and regulations coming out that at times it’s hard to keep up.  So my days go something like this……

  1. Find new laws and analyze them for impact on the particular area of service (the industry term is line of business) that I cover;
  2. Have some coffee;
  3. Summarize and present at monthly meeting with the business;
  4. Have more coffee;
  5. Track changes to existing laws and advise business and risk about these changes;
  6. Attend meetings and have some coffee;
  7. Ensure that policies and procedures are in place (working with compliance); and
  8. Have some more coffee;

So the above are just things that I do on a day to day except for number 2 that one happens on a monthly basis but I still prepare for it on every day.  Meetings in the corporate world are packed with power point presentations (the business doesn’t want to or have to the time to have to learn a law) power point presentations make it easier to understand what legal is saying.  They couldn’t be bothered with us….. the business is there to make money and they feel we are there to stop them……. It’s actually fun to be a part of this.

My days don’t end with that.  In between getting all that done I work with compliance – compliance is there to ensure that the business is actually doing what legal has advised them to do.  At the end of the day my job ends when I the business as been advised of what the law is saying.  I am not responsible for the steps they take to accomplish that.  That is the job of compliance and risk together.  Those two groups measure the risk associated with a particular part of the business and they decide how to comply with the law.

Think of the particular businesses within a bank as my clients.  The difference is, my clients don’t walk in from the street.  They walk the same hallways I do, eat in the same cafeteria (yes, the food is actually very good there) and sometimes are even colleagues with whom I go out for drinks or coffee.  Like you, I am not responsible for what my client is doing after they walk out of my office.  However, I have to be prepared to defend my client even if he does not follow my advice…. Does that make sense?

I hope this helped you understand a little bit about what goes on in the legal department of a bank.  Let me know what you think.  I would love to hear from you.

Let’s all Save the Economy


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We often hear how much the paralegal profession has changed.  True, it has.  We have come a long way from when no one knew exactly what we did or what we were capable of doing to, in most law firms and legal departments being an indispensable part of the legal process.  This does not come without a cost.

These days, because so many more attorneys are aware of what we can do and how efficiently we can turn out work product we find ourselves completely overworked.  However, this is not a bad thing at all.  Don’t get me wrong….. I feel your pain.  I know how much it hurts to have to put in that insane amount of hours, but think of this.  The fact that so many of us are getting buried under a pile spreadsheets and power point presentations and research, medical records, business records, filings, and …. you name it, means that we have the opportunity to open doors to other fellow paralegals.

How about we all bring up the possibility of hiring more paralegals to the hiring manager at our office?  No, I don’t mean replace attorneys, but how about you bring up to your boss that by hiring paralegals they are getting more work done and saving money at the same time.  What lawyer doesn’t want to hear that?  Not just that… how about also letting your employer know that if they hire more paralegals they can bill more hours and have the time find more clients?  the amount of time they spend doing paper work can be spent entertaining future clients or going to court or doing all the things they went to law school for.  Hiring more paralegals is what is right for the firm and what is right for the economy.

Let your boss know that they can be just what the economy needs.  When the paralegal ratio is increased in a law firm the lawyer ratio usually goes up as well because once that happens the managing partners can be rainmakers and bring in more business which causes the law firm to get busier and in turn causes more work for the lawyers and paralegals.

Wow, more paralegals equals a better economy!!!!!!!!!!  Just a thought!!!!!!!!

Ana

 

 

And in the News – Funny and Not so Funny News


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Judge Judge Carl Barbier issued an order against BP lawyers and remanded them to file a new brief and this time limit the brief to 35 double spaced pages. Over and over again we hear jokes about how difficult it is for lawyers to be succinct  Now, it appears, BP lawyers have proven that to be true. I suggest they give the job to a paralegal and call it a day. We can summarize anything.

So, I’m not really sure what to think of this article from Above The Law (great blog by the way). Apparently a lawyer dressed up as Thomas Jefferson at his Own Disciplinary Hearing. Have they all lost their minds? What’s that about?

In New Jersey, Governor Christie signed a bill into law that will completely change the way alimony is awarded. According to this new law, if a marriage lasts less than 20 years, the alimony will not exceed the length of the marriage, except in exceptional circumstances. What do you think? A good or bad thing?

The NYCLU is scheduled to go to court next month to defend itself against charges that it has been providing inadequate staff and money for constitutionally required defense lawyers. I can’t wait to read that decision.

Photo credit goes to http://www.clipartpanda.com

Announcement – Some Good Changes


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Once again, I’m sure you have noticed, there are a lot of changes going on here at The Paralegal.  I have recently decided to simplify this blog by taking the nonprofessional articles and publishing them on another blog — The Paralegal at Home.  There you will find all the fashion, home decoration and renovation, etc., basically all the stuff I do and get involved in when I’m not working….. Yeah, I know, we sometimes have time to have a life too.

By creating a blog dedicated to outside interests, albeit still paralegal related, – – Yeah, I’m still a paralegal, even if it’s the weekend – – I have gone back to the original purpose of this blog which was to bring you profession related articles, legal news and events and from time to time some miscellaneous type information all related to what you need in order to better do your job.

So, what exactly is the plan for this blog “The Paralegal”?

  1. Mondays – The plan for Mondays is to publish a recap of the previous week.  A Week in the Life – – I want to give you a flavor for what happens on a day to day in this paralegal’s life which may present challenges, how I overcome those challenges any tips I may have come across that may help make your life easier.
  2. Thursdays – One of the things I plan to bring to you on a weekly basis is a rundown of legal news.  And in the News – I’m still not sure how this is going to turn out and it will be a work in progress.  For now the plan is to publish a weekly post, I’m thinking on Thursdays.  I will be honest with you, the reason I picked Thursdays is because that schedule will give me almost an entire week to write the articles.  I want to be consistent but as we all know, consistency is not a luxury paralegals have a lot of.  Some days I may not be able to get out of the office until late and with a two hour commute I won’t have the energy to sit in front of the computer…… Don’t worry I still love you all.  I just won’t do the blog any justice if I try to force myself to write anything.  Trust me, you would not be interested in seeing it.
  3. Sundays – I’m still going to dedicate Sundays to my Paralegal Humor.  I really enjoy looking for those little cartoons/commits around the internet.  I’m thinking I may even include some humor from other sources such as Pinterest (and you can go and follow me there), Facebook (you can friend me there as well).

I hope this schedule works for you.  I think I can commit to this schedule and if there are some surprise posts then the better for all of us.  I have a few things I’m planning to do but since I’m not sure how to get those done I won’t discuss them for now.  Just keep checking here for more updates.

And…. What is the Plan for the other blog “The Paralegal At Home”?

I know you will be interested in checking out the other blog, The Paralegal at Home….. It’s a baby, go there and give it some love.

There, you will see fashion articles; things like, what to wear to the office, what not to wear to the office, some weekend wear and accessories.  There will be articles for the home or about the home.  As most of you know, the husband (this is what I will call him throughout) and I have recently bought a house which needs a lot of love & care so you will see some decorating ideas, wish lists, cleaning and home-keeping, organization, and some stuff that we will be doing to renovate or make it our own.  There will be articles related to make up, nail polish, skin care….everything related to the vanity/makeup table.  Last but not least, there will be some information about what I do in my spare time…. the lifestyle section.  Here the plan is to have some stuff about where I’m going, day trips I go on, information about things I find out such as a good place to eat or a great book I’m reading.  I think this is where I’m going to publish those articles which don’t really fit anywhere else on the blog…. Again, all this is a work in progress so things may change.

Now for the schedule over there……. Ready?

  1. Mondays, Wednesday & Fridays – – There will be a post called “In Every Budget”  This is something I actually thought about yesterday and because it doesn’t involve a lot of writing I think I will be ready to pull it together quickly and able to publish it three times per week.  What does that title mean, I’m sure you’re asking – – Well, I thought I would pick one thing (it can be clothing, accessories, shoes, make-up, skin-care) and find a similar product for three different budges.  So I thought of aligning it with a law firm.  Here are the budges I came up with
  • Managing Director/Partner
  • Executive Director/Associate
  • Paralegal
  1. Tuesdays – – Weekly favorites.  Every week I will pick out 5 things that stood out as my favorites for the previous week.  These can be anything (clothing, shoes, makeup, tea, coffee, books, articles I read).

I hope this schedule works with all of us.  I will keep you posted as to how I’m doing and if it’s something I can live with.

In addition there may also be changes to look of the blog.  Since I will no longer be publishing articles about anything other than professional issues, there is no reason to have the same menu.  I am thinking of making things a little easier and freshen it up a bit.  So that may happen sooner rather than later….. I’m sure you will notice when that happens.

I want to thank you all of you for sticking with me even when articles were not so regular.  You never stopped checking in and send emails.  I truly appreciate it.  It kept me going even when I thought I no longer wanted to be a paralegal.  I am committed to making this a great community.

Please, don’t be shy (I know you’re not) give me your thoughts, comments and criticism.  Let me know what you would like to see on the blogs.  I will and have taken all your comments seriously  and here is the proof.

Now, it’s time to get to work.  Have a great day and I’ll see you all soon.

XoXo

Ana

The image was borrowed from ngonapoom.wordpress.com 

The iPad – Using it at work


The iPad, what an amazing invention…. ok, perhaps not so much an inventions when it was released by Apple.  I guess it was genius marketing.  At the time it came out there were already other gadgets on the market that probably would have done the same thing but none of them ever took off like the iPad did.  Even when the competitors came on, and there were quite a few, the iPad remained the one table everyone wanted.

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I had the original iPad and then the iPad 2.  when the Mini came out I swore I would not get it.  After all, why would I want a smaller tablet?  Would I be able to read anything on the screen?  Well, it didn’t take a lot of convincing.  One visit to the Apple store and one look at the cute little table, I had to have it.  I got the regular WiFi only version, at times it’s annoying, but I’m surviving and I love it.

Originally, I was using my iPad more at home and occasionally to read some PDFs, read books, take some notes.   I never took it to the next level.

Recently I’ve discovered whole new world of Apps which make my life 100% more productive no matter where I am.  This could be a good or bad thing.  Considering that I’m always ready to pick up my iPad it means that my boss knows that no matter where I am I will always have everything available to have a discussion……. Use at your own risk.

Research:  There are two great apps for the iPad that I use quite often The CFR and The US Code.  The actual apps are free but you have to buy the titles.  The good thing about this is that you only need to buy the titles you need.  For instance, for me, in the Code of Federal Regulations, only needed to buy Title 12 (for now) I may at some point need to buy others but the price is not so bad.  I use these all the time when I just want to quickly look at the Reg or the Code.  I’ve used it mostly when I’m on the phone.

There is a Black’s Law Dictionary which would be a great addition to my iPad, but I have not purchased this one.  For now I’ve been using the dictionaries at the office or at times I can get away with free dictionaries on the internet.  You know how that is, when you’re on a paralegal salary…. Sometimes have to wait. I guess I’d say that this one is a “nice to have.”

Fastcase, is another app that I currently don’t use very often but have used from time to time.  It’s free and it provides you with information regarding case law.  It can be search using a citation or natural language.  Although not as comprehensive as a Lexis or a Westlaw, it’s good enough when you need a case in a hurry and have no access to either of the other two or don’t have subscription to the others.  I liked it and would recommend it.

Note Taking:

Note taking applications are various.  I have a tried a few and at the moment am sort of disappointed with all of the handwriting note taking applications.  So in order to protect the guilty I will refrain from reviewing or mentioning any of them until the time I actually find one I enjoy and works well.  I’m not very picky.  All I need is an app that recognizes handwriting and allows me to write lots and lots…. almost like having a notebook at my desk.

So, for now, I am taking my notes on the Apple Pages which is the equivalent of Word.  I bought a small keyboard for my iPad and carry it with me wherever I go.  I really like it.  I bought the Logitech Keyboard in white for the iPad Mini (my Mini is white).  It takes a little of getting used to, since the keyboard is so small but I’ve found that the typos can be corrected later and I’m getting faster at typing on it now.  So I don’t mind so much.  I still wish I could take notes by hand….. What can I say, old habits die hard.

Reading and Marking Up Documents

I have used two apps for reading and marking up documents.  I don’t know about you, but I love to write notes on the margins of the documents and draw arrows, highlight and doodle when I have nothing better to do.  Let’s just say my documents wind up being very colorful…. But neat…. I don’t like messy.  So for this purpose I have found two apps which do the trick.  Evernote and Goodreader.  Evernote is great because it syncs with all your other devices which can be a good thing.  However, I don’t often need that since my iPad is with me at all times.  Goodreader is my favorite for no particular reason other than there is more room on the margins to write and the way the pages turn is more user-friendly, in my opinion.  Goodreader also syncs with my Dropbox account so I can access my documents on my computer if I have to.  I find that downloading the PDFs to Goodreader is simple and if I want to keep a clean copy as well as a marked up copy, the app allows me to do that.

Legal News

Well, this one is all over the place.  So most of the time I get my news from the various blogs I read.  Where it comes to apps on the App store I sometimes read the ABA Journal.

appointments and Meetings

I used iCal for a very long time.  This year I was introduced to Sunrise and I have not looked back.  Sunrise syncs with iCal so I can go back and forth if I need to and because my husband and I have one shared calendar on our phones it’s a good thing that it does.  He still gets all my notices….. Sometimes he’s not so happy when I put “to do’s” on his calendar or schedule things for him to do.  But …. those are the breaks, right?  Sunrise is pretty to look at and because it syncs with iCal my color coding does not have to be updated or re-created. Once I set it up it just worked.

I no longer carry notebooks or pens and paper with me anywhere.  The days of having a notebook and a pen and shuffling through my purse or whatever other bag I happen to be carrying to find a pen so I could write a note are sooooooo over.  These days I take a note on my phone and within seconds I have that same note on my iPad and on the iPhone.  If I can’t write it, I sometimes even dictate it.  I have pens at my desk at home but those are mostly used to write on my calendar at home because I still can’t get used to not having a paper calendar.

I hope this helps a little bit.  Finding the right app to help you be as productive as you can be is a work in progress and I feel as if I have only scratched the surface.  I made a promise to myself that by the end of the year I would be close to being paper free.  So far, I’m doing really well.  Aside from some files which I still need to convert to the computer my desk has no papers on it.

If you know of any apps you think I’d like, please feel free to leave a comment.  I would love to try them out.  As I said, my road to a greener work life is still a work in progress.  What about you?

XoXo

Ana

Image from www.techradar.com