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.


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?



Image from

How to Get a Paralegal Job – True Story

I am often asked about getting a paralegal job or breaking in to the paralegal field.  It’s no secret that the economy has made fading a job, be it as a paralegal or as anything else, very difficult, to say the least.  These days a resume must stand out or it will just be viewed as one of the many.  Credentials are important (where you went to school, GPA, Extra curricular activities, etc.) however, you are one of a million candidates who will have the same type of credentials, if not better than, the ones you bring to the table.


This is where networking becomes your secret weapon.  Don’t discard that friend who may be working at Starbucks or a clothing store.  They deal with the public on a daily basis and, what do you know…. sometimes the public happens to be an attorney who needs a paralegal for a special project.  If you discard that friend you will never know that.

As most of you know I have been working in the compliance world. I have been itching to get into the legal department again.  I really miss being in the midst of the legal world.  I wasn’t looking for a new position but, as I always advise my friends, you don’t have to be looking for a new job to keep your eyes opened.  Sometimes opportunities come your way and the only way you will be ready to take them is if you have your eyes opened and cease the opportunity as if you were actually chasing it.

A few months ago, a friend of mine was speaking with an attorney who was thinking of posting a position for a paralegal with the exact same qualifications I have.  My friend immediately mentioned my name and made the introductions.  I me with the attorney even before the position was completely available and before anyone else knew about it.

I still don’t have the position.  It just recently posted (was advertised) but I am almost certain that I will get it.  Had I not developed a good network of friends I would have never heard of this job.

Networking is not something you do when you are looking for a job.

Photo from 

Happy Hour – Happy Friday – Fourth of July Cocktails

Photo from
Photo from


What could be more patriotic than sitting on my deck enjoying a red, white and blue drink?  Here is the recipe.  I will let you know how it goes.

Have a great Independence Day everyone.


1 1/2 ounce vodka
1/2 ounce triple sec
1/2 ounce sweet & sour
1/2 ounce blue curacao
1 dash grenadine
Mix all ingredients, except grenadine, in a shaker and chill. Serve in a martini glass. Add grenadine.

I work from home — Yes, operative word…. WORK.



AS A MATTER OF FACT……… I AM……….  Just because I get up later than normal and have time to actually sit at the kitchen table (ohhh yeah look at that!!! we have one of those) catching up on social networks, newspapers, magazines while enjoying a cup of coffee still wearing a tank top and a pair or shorts and have no make up on does not mean that I’m going to sit here and slack all day.  Just because the day is beautiful outside and the pool seems so inviting does not mean that I’m going to run upstairs after my cup of coffee and get ready for a swim.  What it means is:

I am more Productive

Normally I get up at 5:00 a.m. to get ready for work.  Run into the closet and just put on the outfit I picked out the night before.  I cannot give myself the luxury of changing my mind.  All my minutes are counted.  I run to the bathroom and brush my teeth (shower was accomplished the night before), wash my face and run back outside of the bathroom for the makeup.  I sit at my vanity and apply foundation (these days CC cream) and a quick swipe of eyeliner and mascara.  I’m done…. can’t fuss with anything else or I’ll be late.  Run back into the bathroom, brush my hair and put it up in a pony tail (everyday hairstyle).  Run downstairs to the kitchen and our some coffee into my travel mug while at the same time I say good-bye to Adele (the poodle) and promise to be home soon to play with her.  I must be out the door by 5:30 or I will miss my buss (5:50 a.m. bus).  I have learned to be very precise in all my moves.  There isn’t one spare minute in the morning routine.

When I work from home, I get up around 6:00 or 6:30 a.m. and go downstairs still in my tank top and shorts, feed the dog and pour a cup of coffee.  I take my coffee and my iPad and go outside on the deck or sit at the kitchen table and read the morning news or my email while I actually savor the coffee.  Yum!!!!.  I have time to talk to my husband and actually find out what time he will be home.  I don’t have to text him later.  Once he’s out the door I go upstairs and start my morning routine.  I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to wear, although I do not hang around in my PJs all day.  I brush my teeth, wash my face, put my hair in a pony tail and go into my office to turn the computer on and log on to the office.

On a day I have to commute I’m at the office at 7:30 (yes 1.5 hour commute) but it really depends on the traffic.  Sometimes it could be closer to 8:00 a.m., on my way from the bus to the office I stop to grab some more coffee and some breakfast so by the time I get in it’s probably a little before 8:00 a.m and I’m already stressed out because the bagel guy took too long……. ugh!!!! on the days that I am working from home, I walk into my office around 7:45 a.m. and start reading my email.  I respond to what I need to respond and then take a few minutes to go outside with the dog so she leaves me alone during my conference calls.

By the time 8:30 rolls around I am sitting at my computer working.  I am able to do everything I do at the office.  I log on remotely and it’s like I’m sitting at my desk in the office.  Because I have done things at my own pace and was not rushing to get anywhere I am relaxed and I can start working immediately.

I work straight through until about 12:00 p.m. at which time …. OMG I’m starving.  I’m not sure how people can wait until 1:00 to eat.  by 12 I’m ready to eat my arm.  So I run downstairs and grab something to eat.  I take the dog outside and within 10 minutes I’m back inside.  Because there is no one to talk to I come right back up stairs and sit at my computer with my food.  I don’t mind eating at my desk when I’m home.  I continue working through the afternoon only taking one or two breaks to get water and take the dog out again.

When I work in the office there are always people stopping by my desk.  My day is constantly being interrupted by a variety of distractions, I tend to get hungry in the middle of the afternoon, which does not happen when I’m home….. There’s no snack time when I’m home.

I have set up my office at home in a way that I can see outside but am not distracted by the comings and goings of the neighbors, I have a comfortable desk and a great large monitor on my computer.  This week, while I’m on vacation I’m going to set up a double screen so I can run my reports the same way I do at the office.  I have a printer, a scanner, paper, pens and all the things I have at work.  My phone calls, I take them on my cell phone while wearing headphones so it’s no different than being in the office.

I can work until 7 or 8 sometimes and not be distracted.  I can continue to work until wee hours of the night if that’s what’s required …. thank God it hasn’t been in a long long long time.

I would say that if you are going to work from home you must make sure that it suits your lifestyle.  I don’t have children so they are not going to be making noise and wanting me to go play when I should be on a conference call.  If you have children it’s probably a good idea to get a nanny to entertain the kids while you work.  You have to be disciplined.  Because you’re at home and there are so many other things that need to be done sometimes you have to fight the urge of going to wash the dishes or start dusting to get a leg up on the weekend… or start doing the laundry so you don’t have to be stuck inside on Saturday or Sunday…. You know, there are a million things that need to get done when I work from home that are not getting done because I am WORKING from home.

I suggest you get a space that is dedicated for work related matters.  I only work and pay bills in my office.  There is no television, no radio (except the computer sometimes) and no other distractions.  There is a door I can shut. So if it happens to be a day when my husband stays home I can close the door and I am not disturbed by him.

It’s easy to over compensate.  In the beginning I felt that I needed to offer an explanation as to why I was working from home and how hard I was working.  You don’t owe anyone an explanation and if your boss is ok with the arrangement then it’s no one else’s business.  Do not feel like you have to work more or longer than anyone else.  Make sure your work is done well and that your boss is satisfied with the arrangement.

Tell me, would you consider working from home?  Why or why not?




Paralegal Reading List – What am I reading?

Photo and quote from
Photo and quote from


When I came upon the above quote I had to have it for this article.  Some of you may be aware that I am being interviewed for a legal publication, this is all I will say about for now.  Anyway…… a lot of the questions related to what I believe to be some of the most important skills a paralegal should possess.  I don’t think I make this a secret at all.  As most of you already know I believe reading is one of the most important skills a paralegal must develop.  Believe me, you will be reading a lot of stuff.  Some stuff is interesting, some stuff…… well, not so much.  However, you will have to read it.

Usually what I tell my paralegals is that they should get into the habit of reading and making sure they comprehend what they are reading.  I always ask that they read, at least, one newspaper per day.  I like to recommend books but I realize that sometimes time is short and many people don’t like to read books.  Newspapers are important though….. Make sure you read those.

One of the things I do, when I read an article is to try to summarize it in as few words as possible.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t do this every day….. I’m not that much of a nerd but I do it often.  So, I sit down and read an article and then I try to summarize it.  Let’s say there is someone who has not read the article and I pretend that I’m telling them what it’s about.  You can do that movies or even music.  Try to summarize it both verbally and written.  See how much shorter you can make it and still have it make perfect sense.

The above quote is right on point with what I am trying to do when I summarize the articles or the movies or even the songs.  I believe that if I am not able to explain the issue to a third-party it means that I have not understood the article.  I go back and read it again until I can figure out what it means.  Am I always right?  Nope…. Sometimes my understand of the article is off.  That can also be fun.  Usually that leads my husband and I down the path of a discussion about the issue and eventually one of us will be able to persuade the other.

There I have no developed three skills…… reading…… writing and speaking.

Now, let me share some of the things I have been reading lately.

As far as blogs I have really been enjoying The Bloggess.  Her real name is Lisa Belkin and she is funny and some would say loud.  She blogs about everything from funny conversations with her husband to grocery shopping.  Sometimes I feel like there’s nothing she won’t blog about.  Her posts have a great attraction factor to me and I feel like she’s sitting right there talking to me. Her personality comes through loud and clear.  If you haven’t already checked out her blog, please take a moment….. I’ll wait…….. ………………… …………………… you back?  What did you think?

If you happen to be a lawyer reading my blog…. first of all thank you for your support and second here is something you may be interested in.  This was something I found on the ABA website about how paralegals can help your practice.

Like any woman… Sorry don’t mean to generalize…. but most women, I am a fan of fashion.  Do not be surprised if some posts are about makeup, perfume and fashion. As far as I am concerned these are female necessities, sometimes almost as important as water and food.  One article I read this month in Harper’s Bazaar was about Queen Letizia of Spain.  I’m Portuguese and as such I am a fan of anything taking place in the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain).  She’s become such a fashion icon.  Here is the article for those of you that didn’t see it.  The first pants suit is to die for.

As far as magazines.  I am a fan of Town & Country.  I know, most find it to be a little stuffy and I admit that sometimes it is.  However, when it’s not, you can actually see the reason why it one of my favorite magazines to read.  The writing is on point and so clever.  Have you ever been at a dinner party when you suddenly hear the strangest comments?  Here, this article made me laugh.  About the things you should never say at a dinner party.

Last but certainly not least.  I hope you have all taken the time to read The Estrin Report.  A blog created for paralegals, about paralegals and anyone who deals with paralegals.  Chere Estrin is a great advocate for the profession and I count her among my many mentors and role models.  I read her blog as often as I can and it’s definitely on my Feedly.

Ok, this should be enough for now.  I must go and start enjoying my weekend with my husband.  We finally have the house to ourselves and we’re both very excited about it.  The sun is amazingly hot around here and it’s time to go float around in the pool with my watermelon cocktail.

I hope you all have an amazing weekend.  What have you been reading lately.  Let me know.  Always ready to discover new places.



Readers’ Questions – Should I get a Paralegal Certificate?

I currently hold my MBA; however, I am interested in obtaining a paralegal certificate. With your current expertise and experience, what could I do with the two????


I’m going to preface this response by saying that I am always going to be a strong proponent of education.  I think school is great and if you have the money and the time I can’t think of anything better than getting an education.  Having said that, I also believe that getting some times just because you hold certain degrees or certificates, you are not going to be guaranteed a position.  I don’t know where you live but I can tell you that in New Jersey and a few other states a paralegal certificate is not a requirement to get a paralegal job.  A college education, however, is required by most employers.

My suggestion to any paralegal who lives where a certificate is not a requirement and has a college degree is to go and find a position at a small law firm where you will be exposed to a variety of areas of the law.  When I started my career I worked in a two lawyer firm and did everything from legal secretary work to file clerk to paralegal.  I figured out pretty quickly what area of law I was interested and began improving those skills.  I would also recumbent that you read, read a lot and write a lot.  Start a blog, write short stories, summarize newspaper articles.  Once you are comfortable don’t be afraid to ask your attorney to let you get your feet wet in summarizing depositions for him or draft motions.  Learn what each of the documents looks like and start drafting your own.  Then ask your attorney to review them.  Impress the attorney and you will get to where you want to go.  Being a paralegal is hard work and you can never just sit still, keep moving.

The above reader also told me that, not only does she have an MBA but she already works at a bank.  So my advice in her case would be to look internally.  Apply for an internal position in the legal department and learn everything you can.  Since you already have your MBA why don’t you consider taking the Certified Paralegal Exam.

I am not discrediting an education in paralegal studies.  However, I am saying that if you already have an MBA.  What you will get out of a paralegal course will be no more than what you will receive from on the job training.  I am a strong proponent of regulating the profession via a national certification and I will discuss this at a different time.

I encourage you to work with a law firm or in-house at the bank you are currently employed.  Get all the experience you can for a few years and then reassess if you still want to be out on your own.

Hope this helps.  Let me know what you decide.



What to Wear to the Office – Affordable Dresses and Pant Suits for the Office

You are not going to believe what I found.  Like any other woman I am always looking for something new to add to my work wardrobe.  I especially like dresses and tend to wear them a lot.  However, the problem with dresses is that you wear them once and everyone remembers them.  There is very little you can do to make it look like a different dress short of wearing different color jackets.  However, that can get a little expensive.

My solution to this issue is to look for dresses on sale.  Check out this one below.  I love the collar and I love the price.

If you have sworn dresses and skirts out of your life, there are also some very nice pant suits that fit the budget quite nicely.  These days, even the most conservative law firm does not frown on women wearing a nice pant suit.  In my constant search for professional looking clothes that won’t break the bank I came across these really great Evan Picone Black Label , pant suits and what’s even better is that you can get the jacket in red or yellow.

I’m also eyeing this other Evan Picone mono color suit which is a little bit more classic but still feminine and not black (shocking for me I know).  Then again, I always gravitate to the black, so on my list is this herringbone pant suit also by Evan Picone.


What to Wear to the Office – Enter the Pencil Skirt

Ok, this is a bit of wishful thinking but this, at least for this paralegal, is just an illustration on how the pencil skirt does not have to be a boring piece in your closet.

When I can’t figure out what to wear I always go with a pencil skirt.  Just keep in mind that there are many styles and lengths but for the office only the one that hits just at your knees or just above your knees is appropriate, at least in my opinion.

I tend to wear lots of black but in the Spring and Summer I feel the need to add some color to my office wear.  When I’m feeling a little more daring I would pair this skirt up with a yellow blouse.  When I don’t feel so daring, or when the occasion called for a more conservative outfit, a while silk blouse would look amazing when paired with a nice simple pair of pumps and maybe a yellow purse just to give the outfit a little bit more interest.

So, because we are paralegals and we all know that the price of this skirt is somewhat beyond our reach (at least for now, one can dream right?).  I have decided to go on the hunt for something similar that we can all wear to the office and make a statement.

This 5th & Mercer Pencil Skirt is bright and it comes in both this nice pink and a bright yellow.  If you pair it a white blouse you have an amazing outfit for the office.  If a pattern is what you are looking for, this one by Zero Maria Cornejo is another alternative.  A bit more pricey but we can all wait for a sale.  The good thing about pencil skirts is that they never go out of style. I still have some that I’ve had for 6 or 7 years.

If you are a paralegal just starting out and your budget doesn’t yet allow you to splurge on yourself as it will, I promise in a year or so…. I found this great Ellen Tracy pencil skirt that will make you look like you spent a million bucks.  It comes in a myriad of colors, all appropriate for the office.

Wearing office appropriate clothing does not have to be boring.  You can add color, an interesting scarf or a nice colorful cardigan (remember the office is going to be cold in the Summer…. a cardigan may not be a bad idea).

Hope this helps.



Shoes – What should I wear to the office?

I can’t tell you how many times I have worn the “wrong shoes” to the office. It’s true. They look amazing with my outfit. Ok, they MAKE my outfit. How good is that if by lunch time I feel like I need to go barefoot?

Sensible Shoes for Work
Naturalizer, Pour La Victoire, MICHAEL Michael Kors
Sensible Shoes for the Office #sensibleshoes #shoes

Here is what I do now to make sure my piggies are comfortable. Have you noticed that if your feet hurt you can’t concentrate on anything else?

Every night, when I pick out my outfit, I make sure I look at my calendar to see if there are meetings outside of the office, will I be on my feet for long periods of time? Will I be standing by a copy machine or at a conference room table organizing files? My calendar dictates what kind of shoes I will be wearing and most of the time my shoes will dictate what outfit I’m going to wear.

Above are a few shoes that will not kill your feet and will not break the bank either. So, as far as I’m concerned, that is a win win situation.