Finally Here


It’s been a very very very long time since I have posted here.  I am pretty sure it was something I did but for over a year I was not able to find the blog.  I’m not sure what I did but I most likely clicked when I should have kept myself from clicking ….. the blog went missing.  I kept seeing your comments and your questions but I was not able to interact.  I’m so sorry.

Again…. not sure what I did today but here I am.  I have regained access to the blog and I am ready to go.

So……… without dwelling in the past and trying to figure out what happened, I want to concentrate on the future and figure out where to go from here.  I know I want to post more about what it is that we, as paralegals do.  I want to help you navigate the career development maze and help you learn from my mistakes so that hopefully it won’t take you as long as it has taken me to get ahead.  Most of all, I want to work with you and be here for you.  Please continue to send me your emails and your thoughts and your requests.  I am sincerely happy to be back and I can’t wait to have a cup of coffee and a chat.

Ana

Paralegals are your greatest asset


Ok, so this is just my humble opinion but it’s based on facts which as a paralegal, I am trained to do.  So what are the fact?  Why are paralegals your greatest asset?

What are the facts?

Fact – Paralegals cannot represent clients in court.  Yes, that is true.  We cannot go to court with the client and represent them by ourselves, that is.  I have been to plenty of courts with my attorneys and sat right next to them through the entire proceeding.  We can and do assist during a trial by providing research on the spot and since most of the time we know the file inside and out we can pull out discovery while the attorney is on his feet and make his/her life easier by having all the documents marked and ready for review by the witness.  Makes the attorney’s life so much easier.  At least that’s what I’m told.  Another fact, we do all this at a lesser cost than a first year associate.  That is welcomed news for the client.  Imagine, having a helping hand in court who is knowledgeable about court proceedings and the file for half the cost, most of the time.  Trained properly a paralegal can provide more help than a first year associate when she/he sits next to the attorney in court.

Myth – Paralegals can be more costly because I’ll still have to use a lawyer to sign the paperwork prepared by the paralegal – You’re right, an attorney has to supervise the activities of the paralegal.  However, the paralegal prepares the documents.  I’ve prepared complaints, answers to complaints, requests for productions, motions of all kinds, trial notices, subpoenas, briefs……you name it, I’ve prepared it.  Some of this documents can take hours and sometimes days to prepare and are billed out at a paralegal rate…. again, half of what the first year associate’s rate.  The attorney will then take an hour to review and sign and the rest is history.  The paralegal prepares the cover letter, makes the copies files the documents away and all this has taken an hour of the attorney time.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other things the attorney can busy himself/herself with.  Paralegals are never going to take the place of the lawyer and we don’t want to, let’s just be clear here.  Most of us do not …. let me repeat that…. DO NOT want to be attorneys.  We are perfectly happy being paralegals.  Can you imagine getting to the end of the month and sending your client a bill for half of what it would have cost him if you didn’t have a paralegal working on the file?  Yeah, I’ll give you a little bit of time to think about that. Let me illustrate:

Bill to client for an initial meeting and filing a complaint in Superior Court in New Jersey:

Lawyer only bill $600 per hour:

Phone call  or meeting with client 1 hour billed at $600

Draft Complaint 3 hours $600 X 3 = $1,800

Cost for filing the complaint $200

Grand total = $2,600


 

Lawyer with one paralegal, lawyer billed at $600 and paralegal billed at $300

Phone call or meeting with client for initial intake 1 hour Paralegal Time – $300

Draft Complaint 4 hours (let’s say it takes the paralegal longer) $1,200

Attorney review and sign complaint 30 minutes $300

Cost for filing the complaint $200.00

Grand Total = $2,000

So, as you can see you have saved your client $600 and in the process you, the lawyer, have been able to do something else while your paralegal is taking care of the work in the office.  Instead of spending 5 or 6 hours handling this case, it has taken you only 30 minutes to review the complaint, give your paralegal instructions for filing the complaint and the client has saved $600, which to me looks like a happy ending.

Fact – Training paralegals is less expensive in the long run than training lawyers how so, you may be asking.  Well, it’s normal for a first year associate to be looking to make partner at some point.  What does this mean?  it means that the associate eventually will be making almost as much per hour as you are billing him/her out.  Adding partners to your practice can be costly and if you decide that you are not going to make them partner they will go and find that partnership somewhere else.  This means that you have spent time and resources training that first year associate only to watch him/her leave your firm and go somewhere else with the knowledge you have given them.  Paralegals?  We don’t want to be partners.  It’s a fact that most of us stay at our jobs longer than attorneys do.  As long as the work is challenging and we are treated well we will stay and continue to provide you with 100% of our dedication.  The longer we stay and the more time you invest in us the better we become and those 4 hours that it took us to draft that complaint up there…. eventually it will only take us 2 or 3 hours.  We are resourceful and our goal is to make you look good.  Training a paralegal to be the best she can be can only benefit you.  We also develop great relationships with your/our clients.  If you notice, we are the ones on the phone with them most often, more often than not we get to know their families, medical histories and we become the first people they call when they feel they need a lawyer.  It costs them less money to speak with us so why not? So what’s a client going to do when they need a lawyer?  They are going to call someone they know and trust and most of the time it’s your paralegal whom they have gotten to know and trust.

So, have I given you enough reasons to hire a paralegal or more in your practice?  I can tell you that you should have one or two paralegals per lawyer in your office and if you do that you would come out on top. A well set up paralegal department, even if it’s only two paralegal with a well organized and divided work load can be the….. actually will be the greatest investment you can make today in your firm and set yourself up for the future.  Don’t take my word for it…… work out the figures yourself or if you prefer, contact me for more information.

Ana

 

 

 

 

 

 

RedactIt Software


Last month I received an email from, Jessica, a representative of Burk & Company LLC, asking me if I would do a review of a software application called RedactIt.  At the time I was getting ready to go on vacation so I asked that she contact me after vacation and I would look into it.  As promised, Jessica emailed me when I got back and we scheduled a meeting with a representative of RedactIt.  The meeting took place over another application called GoToMeeting, and because I work a full-time job and cannot be available during the day while I’m at work (I don’t think the boss would appreciate it) we scheduled it for Good Friday.  I know, I know, not very christian of me.  But one’s gotta do what one’s gotta do.

I want to thank all that were present at the meeting for taking the time on a holiday weekend to walk me through the application, which I have to say; looks amazing.

For about one hour I was able to see and experience a small sample of what the software is capable of and came away not regretting my decision to agree to do the review.  So why have I not done a review yet?  I still have not had the time to download the application onto my computer.  I am hoping to do that this weekend and then test it for 15 days.  Jessica did mention that if I needed more time I could just call and they would allow me more time on my trial period.  I intend on taking full advantage of the application and provide you with a thorough review of it. Just give me a few weeks.

My initial thoughts?  Well, during the meeting I was advised that the software is not Mac compatible and although I can download Parallels on my Mac, I do not want to go that route.  In this house we are Mac people and the only PC I currently own is a notepad that I absolutely hate.  I stressed that this is a very important upgrade for me and if it is important to me, some of my readers may feel the same way.  Despite this Mac compatibility problem my first impression of the application is good and I am looking forward to testing it on my own.

So, what’s been going on?


It feels like forever since I’ve been here.  There has been so much going on which should not be an excuse but…. since this is my blog I’ll make it an excuse just so I can feel better about not being here :).

I want to thank all of you who have stuck around waiting for the next post and I promise that this time it will be coming very shortly.  I’m working on doing some software reviews and will be doing some reviews of Apps on the iPad.  I may even review some fun apps just because I can.

Seriously, though.  I have been really busy at the office and even though I probably could have found the time to post here, I have to admit that I am so tired by the time I get home that I am not able to think of anything to talk to you about.  We have had a few paralegals leave to pursue other opportunities and for a while there we were trying to hire as well as keep up with the influx of work.  It looks like we’re ok now and my head is finally above water.

It has been a really busy couple of months in the financial industry.  1) a lot of the laws that were passed due to the financial “fiasco” have come to fruition this year, so we are being bombarded with regulations and audits; 2) Because the economy is bound to get better (keeping my fingers crossed) we are positioning ourselves to take advantage of the upturn as soon as it happens and this leads me to why the past 4 months have been feeling like I was run over by a Mac Truck.

An opportunity presented itself for me to take on a new type of work.  Currently, along with being the paralegal supervisor and the lead paralegal on all regulatory matters I have also developed a new role as a corporate and foreign registration compliance paralegal.  The position never existed at the firm and I have been lucky enough to make it into what I want.  Although I’m having a really good time with it and learning a lot, I am exhausted by the time I get home.  There are a lot of things to learn and plans to put into practice.  I am hoping to be able to write a couple of posts about it but still don’t know exactly how to do that.

Anyway, I just really wanted to say hello to all of you and thank you for sticking around.  Please feel free to come by and kick my tired butt so I get on here, Facebook and Twitter more often.  After all, I really do enjoy talking to you all and should make the time to do it.

For now, I’m going to have some dinner and I will try to work on a post for next time.

Ana

Add a paralegal to your team


From Judicialsupport.com

The trial notice just arrived.  You found it on your desk along with a whole lot of other notices you can’t even begin to think about until you finish your first cup of coffee. Ok, go on, finish your cup of coffee but you have to promise me that you will come back here. You can’t afford not to. I have an idea… No, a solution to keep you organized and on track.

Well, welcome back. Now that you’re more awake let’s discuss what your paralegal can do for you. What? You haven’t hired a paralegal?  Well that’s the first order of business. Your business is growing and you cannot be the only one handling everything. Hiring a paralegal does not mean you’re going to lose control of your practice. Hiring a paralegal is going to give you more control of your practice.  Let me explain how.

That notice or notices which are currently staring you in the face? They all need to be entered on your calendar. Yes, I know your secretary did that. I see it, it’s there.  The trial starts in 3 months. That’s not much time. Surely during life of the case you have taken depositions, collected medical records, interviewed witnesses, propounded and responded to interrogatories and, I’m sure there were a fees motions in between. All of these are now in the file or would I be more correct if I said FILES. Chances are that the file has grown into a drawer or two of a whole lot of stuff which was compiled with this end in sight.

In the next three months you will have to review all those files and put them in some type of order so you can represent your client as only you can. All those depositions you took?  Yeah, the ones that the court reporters send to you all bound and pretty?  They need to be reviewed and indexed and, a good paralegal can even summarize them for you and highlight the most important parts. That way all you need to do is turn to the page indicated and know what to concentrate on at trial or during trial prep.

Ohh and that’s not all. What about all the things that have to be done prior to the trial starting?  Prep the witnesses, meet with experts, serve your witness list on the adversaries, prep the client and keep the client calm. All these things take time. All these are things that paralegals have been trained to handle and can take away from your plate so you can concentrate on facts, strategy, being the best litigator you can be and wow everyone in court just like you always dreamed of in law school.

Best of all? You don’t even have to have the paralegal in your office. Have you heard of virtual paralegals? No? Hmm well … Call me, we can talk.

Associate or Paralegal


when you graduated law school and hung that proverbial shingle outside of your small office you hoped against all hopes that one day you would find yourself in the situation you are in today. There was a very small chance that your practice would grow so much that you had to face the decision of hiring some help.

Yes, you have a secretary. She’s great. You really lucked out when you hired her. You have a great relationship with her. You hear the horror stories about some secretaries and thank your lucky starts that yours is professional and always willing to help. However, there are things that she just can’t do. Not because she’s not intelligent enough to do them but that’s not what’ she’s been trained to do. Draft motions, review discovery, research and write memos, all the things you did before this huge client hired you to represent him. You really hit the jack-pot this time. You have arrived.

You need to find someone to do all those things. Otherwise you will be in the office 24 hours a day with no hope of ever seeing day light again and, worst of all, not being able to drum up business and keep the momentum going. There are business meetings to attend, conferences to prepare for and travel to and … horror of horrors, there’s that trial starting in a few weeks that may take a month or more in court. What will you do then? How will you work on your other cases? You have, after all, more than one client. Shhhhh don’t tell that one client. He/she doesn’t know that yet.

So now you have two choices. You can hire a first year associate and bill him/her out at $300. The clients will think it’s a bargain. After all, it’s less than what they are currently paying you. Sounds good doesn’t it? You’ll have to hire someone right out of school because you can’t pay them that much and after all, you’re running a business and the goal is to have more money coming in the door with both of you billing. Or you can hire a paralegal. You can’t bill her as high as you would a first year associate and you will have to supervise her work and still spend some time at the office. However, you can hire an experienced paralegal because paralegals make less than attorneys and with your budget you can pay a pretty competitive rate. You can then bill her out at $200, and all you have to do is review her work and supervise her activities in the office and with the rest of your time you can drum up more business.

Recently, while you were sitting in court you heard someone talk about the paralegals in their office. Even the guy down the street has one first year associate and two paralegals working for him. He seems to be doing well and his practice seems to be growing at a much faster pace than you. He also seems to have more time to go to seminars and meet with clients. You’ve always wondered how he did that.

Paralegals That’s how he did that.

Let me put into perspective for you. Let’s compare what you can do in both scenarios.

Remember when you first graduated law school? How many motions had you filed? Did you know how to navigate the court system? What clerks to call? Response schedules? Filing dates? You know, all the procedural stuff that you learned while working at that other law firm for the first two years of your career? Yeah, that’s what you’re going to get when you hire a first year associate. You will have to fully train that person. When you hire an experienced paralegal you don’t have to spend your time doing that. The paralegal already knows how to navigate the system, which motion to file when, what documents to sent with which motion, how to e-file and even, at times, which clerks are easier to work with.

Has your choice become easier now? How about this? The paralegal can prepare all the pleadings you need, reach out to clients and interview witnesses, draft your memos, organize your medical files, have all your discovery ready and organize before you come back from court at the end of the day. The beauty of that is that you will be paying this individual, with experience, probably half of what that first year associate would be asking.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that eventually you will and should hire that first year associate. Next year you can hire the associate and the paralegal can train him/her and the office will never miss a step.

Now, to develop a program where a paralegal can thrive? That’ll be my next post. Stay tuned.

Here to help you


I love to write and at times writing for the sake of writing can be very therapeutic to me.  I get to put all my feelings and at times frustrations on paper and for some reason after all is said and done I feel better about whatever the issue may have been at the beginning of the post.  Sometimes, as I write I come up with a solution to whatever the problem was.  This is all good but it’s all about me.

The problem now is this:  When I set out to create the blog I was not interested in it being about me.  My main focus was you, the paralegal who may be just starting out and trying to figure our her/his way around the office. The paralegal who has been in the business for a while but wants a new perspective or a new solution to some everyday issue.  The attorney who may be interested in developing a paralegal program or, the attorney who may be hiring a paralegal for the first time.  I need to get back to the original idea.  This blog is here to help you and in the process to help me.

From time to time I will be putting up a few polls to help me figure out where the needs are.  I will be asking you to please interact more with me on this blog on Twitter my Facebook page.  I’d love to hear from all of you.  If I promise to always respond, will you promise to stay in touch?

Stay tuned for the first poll dedicated to the paralegals…. Don’t worry lawyers, yours is coming soon too.  I would never forget you.

Thank you so much for taking the time.

TheParalegal