HELP LINE

Have a question or comment? Is there a particular topic you want to learn more about? Are you in need of a paralegal mentor? There is no such thing as a stupid question, with the exception of the one not asked. Please feel free to post a question below or contact one of our mentors through our “Meet the Mentors” page.

We would love to hear from you!

201 thoughts on “HELP LINE”

  1. I recently started a new career as a structured settlement broker. However, I want to provide the best service to my clients that extends beyond how-to-get-quick-cash. I have learned that most professionals in this industry have a background in insurance or personal injury law. In the 90s, I worked for a worker’s compensation company as an administrative assistant. But, I want to go back to school and get a BS degree in paralegal studies with an emphasis on personal injury. Any comments or suggestions?

    Danita Dyess – ddyess1774@consultant.com

    • Waran Vaithilingam said:

      I would like to become a Paralegal, my question is : I am a tax consultant , if I become a paralegal , will I be able to practice Tax law as paralegal in Canada ?

  2. Hi Danita. Help is on the way! I have asked a few of the ladies in our group that are well-versed in the areas of schools and education to check out your question and give you some advice.

    I think it’s fantastic that you want to continue your education. I am doing the same thing right now to obtain my BA in Business Management. I work in the personal injury realm and I love it. If you ever have any questions about the PI world, please don’t hesistate to e-mail me at jamietheparalegal@yahoo.com. I’d be happy to help you!

    It is definitely important to heavily weigh your educational choices. There are a lot of paralegals out there right now who spent significant money to earn certificates or degrees from schools that are not reputable and as a result, their certificates and/or degrees aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. You definitely want to weight your options carefully. You should hear from on of our fabulous ladies in the near future.

    I’m glad you reached out to us.That’s what we’re here for! Help is on the way!
    ~ Jamie

    • Alison Fine said:

      I’m glad that I read this comment. I currently am a paralegal and have been for 7 years now. But I feel like I am at a stand still, and sometimes question the education I received to obtain my certificate. I’ve strongly considered going back to school to either get more classes or get my certificate all over again. My best friend went to school in San Francisco for paralegal work and she seems way more knowledgeable. Have you run into anyone in our profession that has found themselves needing additional education or feeling the education they got was.. sub-par compared to their colleagues??.

      Thank you!

  3. I am seeking ideas to suggest to the attorney I work for pertaining to pro bono work for family members. I have thought that instead of continually doing cases for free (for the same few family members) maybe require the family/clients to pay a nominal fee maybe even on a weekly basis. Perhaps $5.00 a week for a few months to try to instill appreciation for the work and to encourage them not to take the service granted. Any suggestions or others experiences would be greatly appreciated.

  4. Paula, where do these pro-bono family clients come from? Are they referred by your local Bar or State Bar? Is your attorney signed up for pro-bono for family law? You refer to the “same few family members” continually getting their family law cases taken care of for free. Is it that the attorney has taken on these few family members as his pro-bono work and the issues they continue to return for are just continuation of the initial case? In short, I think we all need more information. Please elaborate, more details and I am sure TPS mentors will be able to give you some guidance in the right direction.

  5. Family members of the attorney are the pro-bono cases but they are for traffic tickets, criminal, and family court cases. He just can’t say no which is fine but because they are being helped free of charge they don’t seem to be a value to the service. So I thought if they had to pay a nominal fee for the service it might encourage them to appreciate the amount of work that is being done on their behalf. I hope this clarifys the issue.

  6. Paula, I think this is a bit of a slippery slope. First off, I know your heart is in the right place. However, if your supervising attorney has not formally asked you for this advice (or hinted that he would be open to it), it could create some backlash or issues for you if you bring it up. Trust me, we’ve all been there. It comes standard with the territory (some just take advantage more than others). This happens and it can be difficult to deal with as a member of the firm’s staff. However, at the end of the day, it’s really the attorney’s decision how much (or how little) pro bono work he wants to do for friends, family members, and strangers.

    I think it also depends whether he acts like he’s completely okay with performing this work or if he’s made comments to you that would lead you to believe that he’s growing tired of it or feels like he’s being taken advantage of.

    I would carefully weigh these factors before saying anything. If, after thinking it through, you feel “safe” bringing it up, then perhaps you could just ask him “have you ever considered…” in a very nonchalant tone at a time when it seems appropriate. I hope this helps! ~ Jamie

  7. Thanks for the warning but again my questions is has anybody ever in the practice that they work been aware of any steps to curb repeat freebie customers. Maybe I am not making myself clear but I thought I had. I am not trying to prevent the attorney from taking the case I would like to suggest some options to the attorney for the young irresponsible family members to learn responsibility. I once heard something about a civil lawsuit where the $1 had to be paid monthly to the family of the victim so that it was never forgotten about.
    This is not a slippery slope for me to suggest some sort of mechanism to the attorney. I just thought that there would be some ideas out there that I hadn’t thought of.
    I am sure that there are more than one attorney that does work for family members and maybe someone has implemented some sort of policy so as not to simply be a doormat.

  8. Okay, I understand, Paula. It sounds like the attorney would be open to your suggestions. Just wanted to make sure you weren’t potentially setting yourself up for a major issue you didn’t see coming (it doesn’t sound like that’s the case). I think perhaps what you propose is the best idea, but I do not know how effective that really would be. There is a big difference between someone who commits a crime that should feel guilty about it (even if they don’t) writing a check versus a family member who is taking advantage of another’s time without any regard for it. Now, if they don’t realize that they’re taking advantage, then it’s possible it may help. On the flip side (and more likely), they may be fully aware of it and just not care. You could also consider proposing a revolving retainer from the family members, like you put $50 in each year and I’ll use it for expenses, etc. You could also recommend that the attorney start charging for only his travel time and mileage – that would add up really quickly – and perhaps they would realize how expensive it would really be if they were actually paying for his actual legal services and not just mileage. Good luck!

  9. I was interested in information/tips on downstream merger involving Delaware companies. Please post articles on best practices for such merger.

  10. Thanks for the suggestion, Tom! We’ll see if our corporate paralegals would like to shed some light on that particular topic in the future! They obviously can’t give legal advice, but could probably help to explain the reasoning behind much of it. Thanks for stopping by TPS. ~ Jamie

  11. A civil case – What is the limit on the number of document requests?

  12. Jeanne, I would suggest that you take a look at the trial rules in your area (or the federal rules, depending on what type of case you’re in, i.e, state or federal court). If your trial rules are closely patterned off of the federal rules, take a look at Rules 33 and 34 to see what you can find! Good luck!

  13. Hi TPS!

    I posted a link to TPS blog on the San Diego Paralegal Association’s LinkedIn page and got good feedback. I am hoping that one of the Mentors would be willing to contribute an article to our associaton’s newsletter regarding the importance of resources such as these for our community. Our next newsletter deadline is April 15 for the May/June 2012 edition. Copy should be submitted to newsletter@sdparalegals.org. Thank you for your time and consideration. And a big thank you for providing this blog.

    Please feel free to contact me at president@sdparalegals.org.

    ~Kristine Custodio, ACP
    President, San Diego Paralegal Association

  14. Hi Kristine,

    Thanks for reaching out! I’d be happy to put together an article for your upcoming newsletter. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the TPS blog so far. I’ll be in touch soon.

    p.s.
    We’re thrilled to have friends in San Diego!

    ~ Jamie

  15. Where do you find a good paralegal in Ionia mi or just a good paralegal for help someone in need

  16. Lydia Vanderhorst said:

    I have question. I am a student with just about a year left for school. Is there anything I can or should get involved in as a hands on learning experiance? I ask because I am a little nervouse to dive in head first. I was thinking of seeking employment in a court house first before looking to work in a law firm, if that even makes sense. I don’t have anyone to talk to about this. I have many questions but for now I am wondering how and where do I start. What will look good on my resume?

    • Mariana Fradman said:

      Dear Lydia,

      I would recommend contacting your local paralegal association. They may assist you with giving your more information about probono and internship clinics they host in your area. What is your primary interest? Litigation? Immigration? Depending where you want to go, you should look for your experience. You can also contact me at mentor@nyc-pa.org.

      Sincerely,
      Mariana

  17. Maryanne Picco-Gunning said:

    I am a New York State Real Estate Paralegal. I am looking for a mentor to guide me through title and survey review and commercial transactions. I am located in midtown manhattan and would greatly appreciate any kind of one on one assistance I can get. Prehaps there is a title company that has a relationship with the Paralegal Association that I would be able to call upon. Really would appreciate a quick response.

    Thank you
    Maryanne

  18. Mariana Fradman said:

    Dear Maryanne,

    I am in Midtown as well and a corporate real estate paralegal. Please get in touch with me at mentor@nyc-pa.org and I will do my best to assist you.

    Sincerely,
    Mariana Fradman

    • Maryanne E. Picco-Gunning said:

      Mariana, yes,

      I would love to speak with you. I will be attending the Real Estate Boot Camp (happy to say I was a really strong advocate of it!) Why should litigation have all the fun. Please contact me. mpicco59@yahoo.com or 914-755-9320. I would also like to brainstorm ideas as to my present career direction.

      Best,
      Maryanne

  19. I am a driven individual looking to break into the paralegal field. I am presently working on my Bachelor’s of Arts, concentrating in English. I have experience as an Executive Assistant to a Vice President of a mortgage company. I reside in West Central Florida (Citrus county). I am looking for a mentor to guide me into the right direction. I would like to start with pro bono work or volunteering at my county court house. How can I get my foot in the door working for a law office without a paralegal education? Please assist! I would greatly appreciate all responses. Thank you for your time. I may be contacted at Tammylrooks@gmail.com

    Respectfully,
    Tammy

  20. Hello my name is Kathrine, I am in Northern California and I need help in dealing with CPS regarding my Grandson six months old I need some guidance?

  21. New worker’s compensation paralegal needing advice on how to get organized in handling my caseload. Starting caseload is 40 and I am having a hard time keeping track of each file’s status. Advice would be so appreciated. I need to get organized fast.

    • Christy, It’s a fast moving world out there, isn’t it? Some days I’m not sure how we manage to keep it all together, but we do! Please feel free to reach out to any of us privately by utilizing our e-mails on the “Meet the Mentors” page. We’d be happy to bounce ideas with you, and provide any guidance we can.

  22. Hello there!

    First off I’d like to say that I think this website is amazing and so helpful. I’m seventeen and I was thinking about becoming a Paralegal, though I can’t start a course until later on in the year. I want to read up on becoming a paralegal first to see if I’m really interested in being one. Any tips on what to look up, do, or read would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time.

  23. Chetekia Rice said:

    Hello,
    My name is Tika, and i am looking to pursue a career as a paralegal.
    I live in New Jersey and i have my GED, and i love law. I recently researched a school named Horizon Institute of Paralegal studies. Now they offer a course to become a certified Paralegal. My question is will this be a good start for me to become a Paralegal? As to attending a college to receive my Associates in Paralegal.
    Thank you Kindly for any advise you are able to give.

    • Chetekia, Be sure to look long and hard at the schools in your area. A paralegal certificate or degree can be a great thing, but it depends on the QUALITY of the school and certificate/degree you earn. Competition for newbies is fierce. It can be difficult to get your foot in the door without experience, so you want to be sure to select a program that will set you on the right track. We would recommend looking for a program that is ABA approved. It will cost a bit more, but is typically viewed in a better light by potential employers.

      Please feel free to reach out to any of us individually via the e-mails on the “Meet the Mentors” page! That’s what we’re here for.

  24. Hi my question is this? Must a paralegal have a degree or does 20+ year “on job training/experience” qualify. I too live in NJ and have been a “Legal Assistant/Paralegal” since 1988 but without all the classroom experience. [I do however, have an Associates in Business Administration.] There seems to be a dispute about my ability to be called a Paralegal. I specialize in PI and Civil Litigation. Please share your thoughts and I thank you in advance

    • Laurie, it can honestly depend on a lot of factors: your location within the U.S., the size of the firms you apply to, attorney preference, previous background, references, etc. There are plenty of Paralegals that rose through the ranks to earn their titles and positions without formal education — myself included (although I now have a degree and am working on a second one). Experience seems to trump education in a lot of circles, so don’t count yourself out! Do some market research, check out the want ads to see what they’re looking for, network, join LinkedIn (if you haven’t already — and especially our TPS group on LinkedIn), and do anything and everything you can to line yourself up for that Paralegal position, if that’s what you truly want. You have to make a decision, and be willing to go after it — full fury.

      Good luck!

  25. I have been a legal asst for 9 years at my current job [city attorney’s office]. I have 21 years total exp. as LA. I have just been promoted to Paralegal I after giving 150% to my job. I am so grateful for the recognition! But they do want me to get a paralegal cert of any kind before they make me a Paralegal II. My work will be municipal law which is sooo varied, but wont include lots of ‘typical’ paralegal training (estate or PI for example). I’ll need to do online /nights/weekends since I will be working fulltime. They don’t need ABA cert. Any suggestions on a program? It feels like a program designed around muni-type subjects would be most useful…but I am seeing one-size-fits-all programs instead. And of course muni work is pretty specialized, but includies contract,.water law, real estate and civil tort litigation. Most general programs make sense for paras who don’t know where they will be working, but not my current situation. Ideas?

    • Mary, I know this may seem like an obvious question, but have you checked out all of the options in your area?

      Also, I would want to know if they simply want you to obtain a “certificate” or want you to become a “certified” paralegal (by earning your CP designation through NALA or perhaps the RP — Registered Paralegal designation through NFPA). The second options involve studying for, and passing a test. Would they consider them both to be viable options? If so, you could look at all of the options and decide which one lines up best with your schedule/finances/goals.

      We’re here if you have any questions. You can reach out to us individually via the e-mails listed on the “Meet the Mentors” page!

  26. Gary Smmons said:

    Hello all,
    I would like some information as to how one becomes a member please.
    Thanks.
    G. Simmons

  27. G., You can follow our blog by becoming a subscriber. You will then receive a post each time we post one (this is typically 2 times per week).

    You can also become actively involved by joining our “Social Club” group on LinkedIn. Just search for “The Paralegal Society” and submit a request to join. It’s a really fun, interactive group of legal minds. We post lots of helpful articles and participate in some really interesting discussions. Our members are a whole different breed of warm, friendly and inspiring. You’d really enjoy it.

    We hope to see you “around!”

  28. Christine said:

    Hello. I am hoping to become a paralegal and have signed up at Chesapeake College in MD to earn my Associates in Paralegal Studies. The admissions site for the program states that it follows “specific guidelines recommended by the American Bar Association,” but is not ABA approved. The nearest ABA approved college is well over an hour away and does not mesh with my full time job and my ability to live virtually rent free while I complete my education.
    The common opinion seems to be that any degree or certificate that is not from an ABA approved college is virtually useless when it comes to getting a job, and that is more than a little intimidating.
    I already have my BA in English and am more than willing to take the necessary exams to become a CP. Do you have any recommendations?

    • Christine,

      While most working in the legal field will typically recommend the ABA programs, many other programs have a similar curriculum and/or are reputable. The ABA schools do cost more, as the costs are passed along to the student. It depends greatly what area of the U.S. you live in as far as what the market tends to seek. In other words, in the bigger cities like New York or D.C., the ABA approved schools would be a far bigger deal than it may be in other areas of the country (for example, more rural areas) or smaller cities. I would do what seems right for you, given the circumstances.

      I believe your BA in English will definitely be helpful. Attorneys are always seeking paralegal who write well to work for them. Definitely play that up on your resume and in your interviews. I would also consider attempting to enter an area of law that will require more writing — I work in personal injury law and write demand letters constantly.

      I think sitting for a designation sounds like a great option for you. That may help you to get around the whole ABA issue as best as you can.

      I wish you all the best in your future endeavors!

      Thanks for stopping by TPS.

  29. Greetings. I’m an in-house attorney and we have a new part-time position with flexible hours for a paralegal. I’d love to find someone who’s just returning to work or otherwise could benefit from what we have to offer. Beyond the giant job sites, where can we go to get the word out?

    • Scott, I may be too late in replying, but will do so anyway, as this may help you in the future. I would recommend the paralegal groups on LinkedIn. There are a lot of paralegals actively on LinkedIn looking for jobs. The paralegal groups would be a great place to find your target audience with a FREE ad under the jobs tab of those groups. If you don’t want to join the groups yourself, you could ask another paralegal (perhaps one from your office) to join and post something for you.

  30. Hello! I wanted to let you know that your blog has just been featured on Special Counsel’s blog on our list of Top Blogs for Paralegals: http://bit.ly/11eGOBo. Thank you for the great information and service you provide the paralegal community.

  31. Aimee Lake said:

    Hi! Glad you feel there are no stupid questions…..one time you made a hilarious (one of many 🙂 comment in a blog about how you went to a “figure it out university” and I was wondering if you still had the blog…if it comes to mind, please let me know. Thank you for bringing humor to a world the can be pretty tough sometimes. I really appreciate it.

    • Aimee, Offhand, I have no idea, as I’ve written about that a time or two over the years. If you search on our blog for “school of learn or get fired,” you’ll probably find it.

      Good luck! (I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it!)

  32. Paralegal student seeking feedback this weekend from a paralegal for an assignment regarding the technology used in their law office.
    Questions of interest include: What computer software applications do you use in your office? What computer hardware do you use in your office? How long have you used the application or equipment? How did you learn to use your office’s technology? Are there any applications or equipment that you plan to add to the office in the near future? If yes, what are they? How do you keep up-to-date with the technology changes in the office? Based on your experience, what are the top five technology skills a paralegal needs today?

    Thank you so much for any feedback to broaden the perspective of this research!

  33. Hi. I’m asking on behalf of Dr. Nicola Davies, who is writing an article on the psychology behind litigation. It addresses the different emotional and mental states that people enter litigation with and how the paralegal should approach each situation. I was wondering if you could give some insight. For example: stubbornness and pride; lack of knowledge or understanding; extreme passion; lack of communication; greed; guilt and shame; grief or mourning; and anger and aggression.
    Thank you for your time

  34. Hello,

    I am the Assistant Newsletter Editor for the Dallas Area Paralegal Association and I would like to seek permission to republish an article I read, “So You Want to Be a Paralegal? Listen Up!” in our November 2013 edition. Can you assist me in getting to the right place to ask for permission, please? Thank you for your time and assistance.

  35. Veronique Cherry said:

    Hello everyone,
    I’ve been a paralegal for 4 months now leaving the medical field…. anyway. I have to do a pre- brief for a SS appeal. Has anyone ever done one. I need help!!!!

  36. I am a college graduate trying to get into legal support before going to law school. I don’t have any prior experience and I am applying to entry level opportunities but have not been successful in securing a job. I am in the New York area, is there anyone with info on what firms are hiring?

    • Candace, I’m not sure, but would highly recommend that you join the local paralegal groups in your area. I know the New York Paralegal Association is AWESOME!!! They may be able to provide some guidance on your job search — they would know the area best.

      Good luck!

  37. Mariana Fradman said:

    Candace,

    The entry level positions are rare and I can understand that you are having a hard time in securing a job. What area of law are you looking for? Are you looking to find a job in a big firm or a small law office? You may have more luck if you start from a small office. Would you like me to look at your resume? Please feel free to contact me at mentor@nyc-pa.org and I will try to assist you.

  38. Hi I am a new Paralegal and got this wonderful job as an Estate and Probate paralegal with the attorney training me along the way. I find that I have a lot of questions that he doesnt have the answers to (mostly administrative). An example, does the Inventory and Appraisal need to be served on the interested parties before it gets filed with the Court? I would really appreciate if I had someone I can contact with such questions. Any help is greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

    • Claudia, Unfortunately, this isn’t something we can help you with. I know it may not be ideal, but someone in your office would be the one best suited to help you with the work specific question. I hope you are able to find the guidance you need.

  39. I am starting a new job on the 20th of January as a Paralegal. I have completed a certificate program and feel somewhat ready to tackle the job. I am looking for a mentor to help guide any of the day to day questions that I know will pop up that aren’t covered in school. I am located in Columbia, SC and the area of law is mainly real estate litigation, bankruptcy, and title issues.

    Thanks in advance!
    Pamela

    • Pamela, I’d highly recommend joining our “Social Club” on LinkedIn for “The Paralegal Society.” We have tons of friendly paralegals in our group who would likely be willing to offer you guidance. We obviously cannot offer legal advice, but you can think of it as having your own “rally crew!” (And who doesn’t need one of those?!)

  40. Hello there,

    I would love it if I could get some advice. I have a undergrad English degree and undergrad Writing degree plus a Paralegal certificate, but have not worked in the field for a long while years to be exact. Any tips on what to do to get those skills back? I see that a lot of lawyers are using technology I might be trained on. I thought of taking the M.A. in paralegal at GW in D.C. Would love your advice on this.

    • Marie Therese, I would recommend listing all transferable skills on your resume. I’m not sure of your background, but other professions/tasks are often similar to some of what we do in the legal field. I would stand on your past experience and try to make your resume look as good as possible with any transferable skills. The English and writing are a definite plus.

      Join our LinkedIn group — you will find a lot of paralegals from your area in there!

  41. Hello all,
    I have just recently changed my college plans to a Paralegal program. I have no idea what I want to be in this world (I’m 19) and my dad has been steering me in this direction. After stressing and crying and hair/sleep loss I decided to listen to him. Now here I am, with a week before I start studying for the rest of my life I’m reading all these horrible things about being a paralegal. Am I doing the wrong thing? Is this a field I should be entering? Any responce would be lovely.

    Thank you
    Melissa

    • Melissa, I don’t think anyone can answer that but you. I love my job as a paralegal and so do many others. Just try to get your foot in the door somewhere and give it a whirl. You won’t know until you try.

      Best of luck to you on your career journey!

  42. Hello,

    Let me first start by saying I have been taking online Paralegal classes for a long time. Too long, in fact. My husband is in the military (hence why I had been taking online classes for so long), and we recently moved to the LA area and I am now enrolled fulltime in college to finish my AS degree in Paralegal Studies, and then move on to receive my BS in Paralegal Studies. My ultimate goal is to work as a Paralegal for MLB, NFL, or NBA. I would greatly appreciate any advice on where to start in order to achieve this goal; intellectual property law (does IP law and trademark law go hand in hand?), sports law, corporate law, civil litigation law? The reason I am asking about this is because in my Intro to Paralegal Studies course we have to build a portfolio. In this portfolio we have to “draft a cold-call cover letter directed to a potential employer for the area of law you are interested in seeking an interview for an entry level position.” I KNOW for certain that ultimately I want to work for one of the above mentioned organizations, I am just completely unsure of which type of law that would fall under. ANY information is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    -Lauren

  43. I’m currently a Senior Paralegal in a corporate legal department. Our company has 2 levels of paralegals, paralegal, Sr. Paralegal. We are looking for advancement and perhaps opening a third level of paralegal. Any suggestions on how we can again submit this to HR for consideration as the first time they advised there was no need to have a third level in the legal dept. However, in the rest of the company in various other departments they have several opportunities for advancement and have higher levels than paralegals ie: contract administrator. Let me know if any one has any suggestions on how we can successfully present this to HR. Thank you.

    • Lisa, I wish I had an insightful answer for you. If you’ve climbed the ranks where you are currently, often paralegal management (as in managing other paralegals/the office) is the only way to climb higher. That or a change in firms. The career ladder is always there — it just depends if you want to do what you need to in order to climb it. We all hit the ceiling at one point or another. We then have to ask ourselves the hard questions — do I stay or go? How long can I deal with this? Should I make a change… and to what?

      I wish you the best of luck in your current situation.

  44. Hello,
    I truly enjoy reading through all of the informative blog posts by The Paralegal Society. I recently joined the group on Linked In and look forward to following along.

    I will earn my Paralegal Graduate Certificate in June. While I enjoy all of my classes, I am unsure which area of law I want to work towards. Could you possibly write a blog post detailing several different areas of law, and/or the types of people that might enjoy a particular area? My goal is to match my strengths and interests to a specific field-immigration, real estate, personal injury, family law, etc. I appreciate any and all feedback.
    Thank you.

    • Great idea, Amanda! It’s been awhile since we featured specific practice areas. Be sure to check the sidebar on our site for the areas we’ve previously covered. I know we’ve done PI, real estate, and corporate law.

      Thank you for your kind words! Much appreciated.

  45. Judi Smith said:

    I would love some assistance in the area of employment law. When setting up a new case, what types of documents would you request from the client. In this situation, we are the company who terminated an employee for cause. I did request his personnel file, however the terminated employee removed all signed documents prior to his departure….

    • Madeline said:

      Judi, you may have already discovered that there is a problem with him removing anything from his personnel file. You or your attorney first need to reference federal and state law concerning if and what an employee is allowed to remove from his file. Secondly, you need a copy of the policies and procedures of the company. Unfortunately, even if they are terribly written policies, you will have to work within the scope of what the company has set out. If they have no policy manual, you will only have fed and state law to guide you. Next you will want records relevant to the individual’s employment, such as employment applications, records relating to position qualifications, contracts of employment, job description, personnel action forms, records of performance and disciplinary matters, and awards. Putting together the policies with his JD you will begin to know if the company acted in accordance with their own discipline and termination rules, and if the action they fired him for was actually a valid cause. Good luck!

  46. Geneva Coleman said:

    Hello. Wonderful to find your blog and cyberly “meet” you all. I am a litigation paralegal from Kentucky. I am 52 years old, with a wealth of experience, including three very recent years in the business. (I have an eclectic professional background that began in the legal field many, many years ago, and after a divergent career path, I found my way back to the field of my first love. My personal professional goal is to obtain a certified paralegal designation. I want this for no other reason than it will mean a lot to me personally. It will not increase my pay (I’m fine where I am now), and it won’t change what I’m doing now (I’ve been a paralegal for a while now). The problem? The criteria for sitting these certification exams include no viable options for legal professionals such as myself. While most will accept a bachelor’s degree “in any field” — I have no bachelor’s degree. I do have an associates degree– and many will accept an associates — so long as it’s in paralegal studies — which mine is not. Some will accept years of experience in lieu of the above educational requirements, and I do have experience but many of the attorneys for whom i worked in those early years, are no longer accessible to me for various reasons (moved, lost touch, retired, no longer practicing, etc.). While I have no problem verifying three years of recent/current substantive paralegal work, some of the certification programs require much more than this and still others demand that work-in-lieu of a paralegal certificate, must have been accrued prior to 2012. (I believe this to be so that their older members who learned on the job as did I, will be covered, while successfully barring new certifications in the same way that they earned their certification — that being experience. Whatever the reason, it leaves folks like me out of the loop, as my immediate verifiable experience extends across the 2012 time period and continues even today. The long and the short of all of this is that I am a working paralegal. I am a smart, capable woman, who I believe is a credit to our field. I am fully able to study for, sit, and pass the paralegal exam (which should, in and of itself, in my opinion, prove a person’s capability in the field). And although I am in the business and have been and will continue to be, I cannot sit the certification of a paralegal due to the requirements of eligibility. I don’t want to wait until I’ve accumulated seven more years of experience. I think it a shame that anyone would have to do so. I respect that the profession wishes to maintain a high standard and that the certification designation is not to be taken lightly. I do feel strongly, however, that to bar our sisters and brothers who are out in the field and in the trenches, who are doing the work every day– to restrict our ability to have the chance to sit the exam and celebrate our professional worth — is, well, in a word — wrong. I do substantive paralegal work daily. Under the direction of my attorneys, I write briefs, research law, interview clients, summarize depositions, review medical records, prepare discovery, compose legal documents, and much more –on a daily basis. In 2012, I sat second chair with my attorney during a murder trial and again in 2013 I was by his side in the courtroom during a civil medical malpractice. I assist in every aspect of trial prep. I am a practicing paralegal. Yet, I am barred from sitting the exam that would give me the professional designation. I wish this issue could be addressed and that the exam process could be opened to those of us with experience and ability, but not a paralegal certificate and/or degree. Thank you for listening and continued success in your endeavors to promote our field. -Geneva Coleman, Litigation Paralegal, Legal Assistant, KY

  47. muneeza omar said:

    Hi , my name is Muneeza Omar and i am a final year LLB student at the University of London (external system). I will be graduating in august and am seriously considering a career as a paralegal in America . there are two reasons for that, first of i am an american citizen who has always wanted to come back and work in the states , particularly Chicago and with my LLB I suppose employers may find me as a good candidate for the position.
    I do intend to complete a post graduate paralegal certificate from a ABA approved school, i have my eyes set on loyola , is that a good school option ?
    Also I was hoping to find a legal secretarial or assistant and if possible a entry level paralegal position in a law firm with my LLB alone , reason being i would like to get some experience and pay to support my self through college .
    This would be a big move for me and I have searched long and hard for a forum or people who could answer my questions …
    Hope to hear from you soon !!

  48. Francisca said:

    Hi everyone,

    I’m a newly Certified Paralegal (NALA) living in Texas who is trying to move back home to California. It will be a few months until I make the move, but in the meantime I wanted to try and start gaining experience with the California court systems. It will have to be long-distance. Any recommendations on how I can start this?

    Thanks

    • Francisca, I would see what you can find online by way of local/state trial rules, etc. You may also want to look into taking some online webinars in areas that interest you to increase your knowledge base. Check out the Paralegal Knowledge Institute or Institute for Paralegal Education. Both are reputable places to obtain additional education.

      I hope this helps!

      • Thank you very much for the reply! Luckily, one of the attorneys at my previous law firm was a California attorney and he had those California Practice Guides from the Rutter Group I was able to study off of. I’m still looking for online webinars to take so I will check out those two places you recommended.

        Thanks again!

  49. Christine said:

    Hello. I am not a paralegal but a legal secretary. I can say in my 15 years I have been exposed and put to task on projects that would likely be considered to be placed under the jurisdiction of a paralegal but nothing too intensive. After working 12 years at an educational law firm in Ohio, I have now transitioned to another firm that is closer to home and family. The reason I write this post as I have never been put to task to write motions and/or briefs. I can say I have prepared these types of documents in “shell” form but never was put to task to write a statement of facts or legal analysis. I find myself spinning my wheels trying to self-educate myself, while also learning new areas of law which I have never been exposed to.

    Currently, I am working on a class action lawsuit wherein Plaintiffs have brought suit claiming they were not properly compensated for either straight and/or overtime. I find myself wasting inordinate amounts of time on researching the subject of wage and hour regulations, etc. The ultimate outcome of this project, which entails review of 1,000’s of time cards, is to figure out the amount of uncompensated time and then the potential dollar amount owed. Is there anyone in this forum that could give some guidance on how they would tackle such a project?

    Again, I am a legal assistant. I was hired as a legal assistant. I am upset because I want to give a great product but I have never walked down the path as a well-seasoned paralegal. I have had numerous conversations with my firm superiors with regard to my qualifications and what I feel comfortable with and it has come on deaf ears. I don’t feel that ethically I am giving our client a fair deal as I am researching and self-teaching myself how to tackle this project but at the same time wasting (and billing time) that could be put to better use.

    Any suggestions/guidance would be appreciated.

    • I conferred with a respected colleague on this one, Christine. It definitely sounds like they threw you in over your head into the shark tank. I think you need to tell them if you truly don’t feel equipped for some of these duties. Learning on the fly is one thing, but if you feel out of your depth, I’d say an adjustment is needed. Some times, that adjustment involves walking right on out the door (with proper discussions and notice given), if the situation cannot be resolved. It’s not fair to you. It’s not fair to the clients. Your attorneys have you in the hot seat without sufficient resources, clearly. (Through absolutely no fault of your own). And it’s not a good position for all involved.

      Please feel free to also approach me privately: theparalegalsociety@gmail.com.

      Best of luck to you as you navigate this crazy situation!

  50. Hi,
    New to the site. I have graduated from with a bachelors degree in communication and I am wanting to pursue a career as a paralegal. Where do I start and what is the best step to take from here? Any and all information would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks

  51. Ok, Im totally new to the site ..and really like al the sharing of great topics and info, and not until today ..I have become some what of a fan of becoming a paralegal, would love to know where is the best accredited place to attend for the proper education to become a realestate paralegal in georgia or florida

  52. I am new to the site. I have been working as a paralegal for 3 years now, and I am in a constant battle between my line of work and my personal style. I feel constrained because I would like to be bolder with my style, but I am scared of losing my job because of that. I am talking mostly about hair color. How bad is it if a paralegal has blue hair? My professionalism is the same, my skills are the same, and I am just as much as a good employee if my hair is a different color. Thoughts?

    • In all honesty, the blue hair is a total no go. No way, no how. That’s my honest opinion. In order to be taken seriously in this industry, you’ve got to look the part. Most firms are conservative and definitely concerned with appearances. I understand your issue, but I just don’t see the blue hair flying in legal. Save “bold” for personal time and the weekends!

      Thanks for posing this interesting question.

  53. Pamela Boyd said:

    Hello,
    My name is Pamela Boyd and I am a paralegal student at the University of Southern Mississippi. I am doing a research paper and power point presentation on the role of a paralegal in a criminal law office and I need some information that I can only get from other paralegals. I was wondering if there are any criminal paralegals here that would answer my questions. It would really be a big help!

    Thanks so much,
    Pamela Boyd

  54. Hi Everyone –

    My wife is not accustomed to finding forums on the internet), so I’m asking for her.

    She has been working as a paralegal since 1986. She would like to file a form to be grandfathered as a paralegal in California.

    She has a form “Sample Declaration re: Business & Professional Code ‘6450”, but it’s a hardcopy and several years ago. She is not sure whether this form is current.

    Can anyone refer us to the current form to use to apply to be grandfathered as a paralegal in California?

    Thanks for any help.
    Ralph

  55. Stephanie said:

    Two spaces after a period or one? Why? Why is there no definitive answer? This is keeping me up nights.

    • I have a feeling my leg is being pulled, but I’ll play along….

    • She isn’t pulling your leg -I promise. This is actually a hot button topic when it comes up. You’ve come to the right place for a “real” answer.

      Here’s the deal – in mainstream society, it’s now one space. Schools are teaching one space. If you write an article for a magazine or online publication, it’s one space. (An editor will karate chop you if you send a piece with two spaces.) But the land of legal is a little slow to catch up with the times. I use one space for my articles and blog posts, but at work — it’s TWO spaces all day long. If you look at the incoming mail stack, you’ll see that is what almost all legal people are doing. So keep watching that mail pile and until things change there (and it starts looking the other way – one space as the legal mainstream), we’ll continue on with two spaces for purposes of formality… even though its archaic.

      Hope this helps!

      • Oh, I see.

        Looks like I may have muddied the waters with my naive reply and link/URL. Sorry!

      • I have been a paralegal for 3 years only, and I was never specifically told to use the double space after a period. I have noticed the other paralegal, who is older, do it but it never occurred to me that it is a formality thing. I don’t understand how the difference between one space or two can translate into formality. So maybe I am helping shape a new era in the legal world, because all of the documents/letters I write are single spaced after period, all day long. 😉

  56. I would love to help any new paralegals that need a mentor. I have been a paralegal for 8 years and specialize un Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation for the State of SC. Anyone needing help or if you just have an issue that you’re struggling with, please feel free to email me and I will provide as much assistance as I can. Good luck to all the newbies! It’s a great field to be in.

    Christy

    • That’s awesome, Christy! There is a lot more action in our LinkedIn group, if you aren’t already a member. People post random advice questions all the time. We’d love to see you “around.”

    • I need a mentor! I am not necessarily a new paralegal; I have a bachelor’s degree and a post-degree certificate in paralegal studies. I have only 3 years of paralegal experience that focused on foreclosure defense litigation. The past five years I have worked as a housing counselor. I want to “break back into” the legal field as a paralegal. Any and all advice would be appreciated.

    • Renee Jordan said:

      Christy,

      I too am a PI and WC Paralegal in SC. I’ve had a question on my mind for years and believe the area is probably to gray for a specific answer, but I want to ask it any way. What number would you put on a typical caseload for an experienced Paralegal? I struggle with this all the time as I constantly feel like I’m drowning, yet I also know that all cases are not the same, as some can be fairly simple and easy while others can be more difficult and require more attention. Your thoughts? Thanks!

  57. Kathleen M. said:

    Hello, I’m interested in becoming a Paralegal; I hear the future opportunities are great! What I’m wondering is if I have enough education & experience so that I don’t have to go back to school for 2yrs. I have my AAS degree in Office Technology, I have over 5 yrs experience in Customer Service & Office Assistance. I’m currently in a Work Experience position as a Legal Aid for a State Grant program. I’m also taking free, on-line courses thru the local library to assist in my current job.

  58. Ansley Burgess said:

    Hello, I have a unique dilemma. I have a BA in Sociology and Criminal Justice, and I attended a Paralegal Certification Program. I am not certified because I still owe a good chunk of money to the school I took the course through. I have experience as a Legal Assistant; however, my supervisor is deceased (very small company) and unable to provide a reference. II cannot get my foot in the door and this is the only thing I want to do. Any advice? Oh yes, and as a single recently unemployed mother I cannot afford to pay what I owe in order to obtain my certification.

    • Madeline Lewelling said:

      Every state is so different Ansley, as well as every city. Some places require a certificate, other places it doesn’t matter as much. And I too have previous employers who are deceased. I think I would put at the top of your resume, in the “Goal” section, something like: “Seeking entry level position to continue with legal experience supported by Bachelors Degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice.” A Bachelors is important! List the small company and as I understand it, references are now requested at the interview; you can explain she/he is deceased. It’s challenging, I agree, and I’ve been certified 18 years. But send a lot of resumes and write an excellent cover letter to go with each one. Make a few personnel comments about your ambition and how well their posted position fits your skills. Good luck.

  59. Mariana Fradman said:

    Ansley: I agree with Madeline that every state and city is different. However, most of employers will do a credit check before they hire you and your prior employment will be shown on it, so list it even if you can’t get references. I am not sure about the “goal” section, but you definitely should list your bachelors degrees. For your certification program, you can list the name of the program, number of credits or hours fulfilled and when did you attend it. Make sure that your skills match the position and emphasize that your goal is to assist them. If you would like me to take a look at your resume, please feel free to send it to mentor@nyc-pa.org. I know that every jurisdiction has different requirements, but another pair of eyes won’t hurt, would it?

    Madeline: great comments!

  60. Colleen Hobe said:

    Hi,

    I’m not sure if you can help me but I thought why not ask anyway. I have decided to pursue a career as a paralegal. I want to make a difference and I feel that a career in law is the best way for me to do that. I am having a difficult time choosing a program, however. There are so many out there. I know it will have to be online or mostly online because of my hectic retail work schedule. I already have a BA so it can also be a certificate program. But ABA vs non-ABA, does that really matter? And then there is state certification which limits school choices as well! I would also like a school that will help me find a job afterwards, in my area. And, having already spent money on my education, I am hoping to find one that doesn’t take all my savings. There is such a variation in cost. Is more expensive better? There are a couple of community colleges that have Nc paralegal certification but they are over an hour away and only offer associate degrees. I have done some research and several colleges such as Duke University have an online program but it is considered continuing education and the credits are not transferable. Is that a good idea? I have also heard about Center for Advanced Legal Studies…their program is about $8600, which is the top of my budget. Then there is National Paralegal University which comes in at $4200. It is very confusing and I want to make the right decision. I know this is probably asking a lot but I really could use your advice! Are there any online or mostly online programs out there that you would recommend?

    Thank you in advance

    Colleen Hobe

    • Madeline Lewelling said:

      Hi Colleen. A good bit of time has passed and you probably have made your decision. But if you haven’t I’d share a word or two with you if you want. If not, that’s fine, of course.

  61. I have to interview a paralegal for a project due in November. Please answer all the questions that you feel comfortable answering. A response would be greatly
    appreciated you can email answers to me or post here. This is for my last class to receive my A.S. in paralegal studies
    1. What type of Paralegal are you?
    2. How many years have you been a paralegal for this type of
    law?
    3. Have you been a paralegal for another type of law? If so,
    which do you prefer?
    4. What kinds of assignments are you given?
    5. How do attorney interact with the paralegals in this type
    of practice?
    6. How many different attorneys do you work with?
    7. How are your assignment priorities set?
    8. What kind of education do you think best prepared you to work in this kind of office?
    9. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
    10. Are you glad you became a paralegal in this kind of law office?
    11. Are you a certified paralegal?
    12. Do you feel you should have to be certified to work as a paralegal?
    13. What advice would you give to someone wanting to become
    a paralegal?
    14. Why did you choose this career?
    15. What are your responsibilities as a paralegal?
    16. What are your least favorite aspects of your job?
    17. What type of education and training have you had?
    18. Do you continue training throughout the year?
    19. What previous positions have you held?
    20. What kinds of ethical dilemmas have you faced on the job
    and how have you resolved them?

  62. Mariana Fradman said:

    1. What type of Paralegal are you? Real Estate Paralegal
    2. How many years have you been a paralegal for this type of
    law? Over 15 years
    3. Have you been a paralegal for another type of law? If so,
    which do you prefer? Yes, family and bankruptcy. I prefer real estate law.
    4. What kinds of assignments are you given? Various. From title and surveys review, ordering and review of lien searches, review condo minutes books, drafting checklists, indexes, closing documents, preparing e-forms, assisting with closings, post-closing deliveries.
    5. How do attorney interact with the paralegals in this type
    of practice? By email, by phone, face-to-face.
    6. How many different attorneys do you work with? I can have 3-7 active transactions at any given time and work with 1-5 attorneys per transaction at the same time.
    7. How are your assignment priorities set? Mostly, by deadlines. However, if I know that a search or a document production will take some time, I need to factor in different obstacles.
    8. What kind of education do you think best prepared you to work in this kind of office? BS in paralegal studies.
    9. What is the most challenging aspect of your job? Setting up priories and managing work flow.
    10. Are you glad you became a paralegal in this kind of law office? Yes.
    11. Are you a certified paralegal? No.
    12. Do you feel you should have to be certified to work as a paralegal? It is not a necessity, but shows the dedication.
    13. What advice would you give to someone wanting to become
    a paralegal? It is a rewarding profession, but be aware that you need constantly be on top of the changes and never stop learning.
    14. Why did you choose this career? The profession chose me.
    15. What are your responsibilities as a paralegal? see No. 4
    16. What are your least favorite aspects of your job? Bill my time.
    17. What type of education and training have you had? BS in legal studies; on-job training and CLEs
    18. Do you continue training throughout the year? Yes.
    19. What previous positions have you held? I was a mechanical engineer.
    20. What kinds of ethical dilemmas have you faced on the job
    and how have you resolved them? I was asked for an advise by a client (or a friend) more than once. The answer is always “No. I am not an attorney.”

  63. Jason Voorhies said:

    Hi. Question about Bluebooking/cite checking a legal brief… Can you tell us the difference between the use of “citation omitted” and “internal citation omitted”? Thanks!

    • Andrea Duckworth said:

      Hi Jason,

      Generally, when you see “citation omitted,” the author means the external legal or secondary source for the quote or point just mentioned. An internal citation refers to another section of the brief or case itself, usually a point discussed by the author earlier in the brief.
      I hope this helps!

  64. Good afternoon:

    I recently got a new job with a firm that mainly handles foreclosures. The girl before me had been in the position almost 10 yrs. Big shoes to fill. I have about 5 yrs experience as a paralegal, but I got 3 days of training for this particular job. I can say that I am familiar with some of the processes and general ideas but I have not done this specific job before. I am genuinely happy here and I want to be successful in this job. I absolutely hate it when I make mistakes and I often feel all over the place. I know that is what is expected of me-to have the answers and to be able to do most all things. I have a very important supporting role. But, again, I had 3 days of “training” and most of the time when I ask questions, I get told to look at an old file or the answer is a straight up “I don’t know”. Some days I feel a bit slighted because I did not get the training I believe I deserved as well as, I get very little guidance. They are very big on sayng “ask questions” but sometimes you don’t know the question to ask. I just want to know of any tips that will help me perform, stay organized and basically do the best job possible. I want to be better than their last paralegal. Also, how do I do my very best job when there is so much I do not know. So I guess I am looking for ways to teach myself, too. Also, any communcation tips. I know these requests are very general and I kind of feel like this is my first job, but there has been a lof of stuff that I did not get along the way.

    I just want to stay here and I want to do an EXCELLENT job. I want to be valued and close to irreplacable. Thoughts???

  65. Hi there,

    I am a new paralegal in a solo attorney personal injury firm. It is now time for me to compile the evidence (i.e. medical records) and create a list outlining the evidence and what pages they are on pursuant to ER 409. I know that I am supposed to list the pages so that they are easy to access for the other party. Do I have to number these pages? Or shall I just count them out? I can’t find a guideline anywhere online and I don’t know what is appropriate! Please help, thanks so much.

  66. Debbie Dixon said:

    Hi, this is very interesting to read!
    I have a question, I will be graduating from Kaplan U in March 2015 with an AA in Paralegal studies. My question is where to begin looking for work, I live in Reno, NV. and all the jobs I find want experience. It is driving me nuts, how can I get experience if I cannot find a job?? I have been in retail my whole adult life, management for 9 years, Administrative Assistant, BtoB Telemarketing, Dance Teacher, held a Real Estate License in Calif. and that about sums up all I have done. I have a lot of experience and have maintained a 3.60 GPA while working full-time with a family. Any suggestions???

    • Here’s my two cents:

      You might have to start out as a file clerk or legal clerk.

      I also went through a temp agency and was placed as a legal clerk for a small law firm that was dealing with a mass tort case. Mainly, the job was to talk to clients. Either answering phone calls or making calls to them asking for more information. I stayed at that position for two years, which gave me the chance to finish my bachelor’s degree and get certified through NALA. That, plus recommendations from my coworkers and the other attorneys, provided me the opportunity to become a CP to one of the partners.

      I would say make sure to highlight your education and transferable skills on your resume, try to accept anything the temp agency gives you (even if it is just a temporary assignment), and start studying for one of the paralegal certifications (NALA or NFPA).

      Good Luck!

  67. Kathrine Lester said:

    This happened to me too what I ended up having to do was go through temporary agencies with an emphasis on working in a law office I landed many full time positions this way and therefore gained the “experience” they are looking for as then I was able to modify my resume to show experience in law firms….

  68. Hi. I’m new to the forum. I’m currently a paralegal student at UCR Extension.
    I’m having difficulty briefing cases, especially the Analysis/Discussion section. I get my cases off of LexisNexis Academic through my college library. Any advice on how to dissect the case info and convert it into concise paragraphs?

  69. Hello all,

    Any thoughts on working across state lines? My old employer is looking for help and I was going to try to offer my services on a contract/part-time basis. Has anyone done projects for an employer in a different state? Is it recommended?

    If i do go through with it, I would probably consult with an attorney to help with putting the agreement together.

    Thank you,

  70. Hello All,

    I have just started my paralegal training at Roger Williams University, and I’m in need of help to develop a sample call script to “use to answser the phone when a potential new client calls and wants to give you information but you need to complete your conflicts check and get necessary information to complete it. You should be ready to deal with situations where the client is pushing to tell you more about the case, or wants to speak directly to an attorney in the office immediately.” I’ve read through the book and researched online, but I’m having trouble coming up with something suitable, having never worked in a law office before. Any help would be much appreciated.

    Thank you and Best,
    Philip Watson

  71. Heather jones said:

    I have a question. I am interested in becoming a paralegal. I have done copious abouts of research and found out there are only two programs for paralegals and one is way out of my price range the other is Herzing. My question is does anyone know anything about this university and if so is it a decent school to obtain my education from?

  72. I work for a small firm, and we deal with a little bit of everything, but mostly handle criminal and domestic relations matters. My question is: what is your most useful way of keeping track of all the deadlines that come up? Although my firm is small, my attorney has a rather heavy caseload, and sometimes the deadlines can get overwhelming! I find myself waking up at 3:00 a.m. gasping “AHHH did I forget to do _____?!” I’ve tried several methods but I’m wondering if anyone has any advice on this topic that I may not have thought of myself. I’ve been a paralegal for almost 4 years now.

  73. Hi everyone!
    I currently work as Senior Recruiting Manager for a privately held real estate, private equity, development and property management firm. We are in the market for a Closing Paralegal to join our team. This is a new area for me as a recruiter, so I am asking for any guidance that can be offered. Specifically any job posting boards or forums that talent would regularly access. Of course, I am happy to share the details with anyone interested. Many thanks for your time everyone!

  74. Hello, I am hoping to get some advice on possibly changing careers. I remember the first time someone asked me what I wanted to be when I “grew up” and I stated that I wanted to be a lawyer. However, as I started to mature I realized that I didn’t actually want to have to deal with the taxing requirement it meant to be an attorney; not to say that be a paralegal is a cake walk. Anyway at the time I graduated high school pursuing a career as a paralegal never even crossed my mind as all I thought of when it came to law were attorneys and judges so I dove head first into a four year degree graduating with a B.S. in Wildlife Biology. The administration was so persuasive in the certainty that finding a full time career would be no problem. Long story short that has been anything but the case. I am now working a full time job at a veterinary practice and part time at an emergency veterinary practice working close to 55+ hours a week just to keep my head a float; I barley take home $1,600.00 a month. However, I do not seek pity instead I’m hoping to have some honest discussions about making the difficult change over to the law profession. When I say difficult I mean more so in having to start from scratch again rather than feeling unsure of my decision.
    One thing I know for sure I want a career that I can work at; that will allow me to grow and learn new things on a daily basis. Financially I want a career that will allow to eventually pay all my bills at once instead of in portions and will allow me to afford a vacation once in a blue. I don’t think that’s asking too much. When I started looking into switching career paths I looked at a lot of different options but the one that I kept coming back to was getting a certification in paralegal studies. I love reading and honestly some of the best times I had in college was when I was researching for a particular science discussion, paper or history discussion; I know it’s almost disgustingly geeky. I guess my biggest fear is investing even more money I don’t have into a career path and having it crash and burn as well (i.e. taking out more student loans). Any information would be greatly appreciated and would be taken with the utmost respect.

  75. Hello, I’m looking for a personal injury mentor. I love that my new position keeps me busy, but I fell I’m struggling with keeping up with medical & billing records. Please advise.

  76. How do you deal with a new assistant that’s passive aggressive? I’m the only legal assistant at a law firm and recently hired another one. But she seems very defensive, and makes remarks like “when I was an assistant I would never [blank]” or just comments that seem to be kind of defensive or passive aggressive. I’ve never had to work with anyone like her before, so I’m not sure how to deal with her. We have made it pretty clear that she is to follow my directions and things like that but she just puts her 2 cents or snark remarks in everything. So what to do?

  77. Adeline Stokes said:

    I need to interview a paralegal for my introduction to law and the legal profession class. I was hoping I can conduct a phone or email interview with someone who has experience as a working paralegal. Feel free to contact me through my email stokes.adeline12@gmail.com

  78. Heather said:

    Hello everyone. What would you say the average (a good) caseload size is for a litigation paralegal specializing in torts? I realize a lot is preference and capability but was just wondering what your thoughts were.

    Thank you!

  79. Stephanie said:

    Does anyone ever respond to these questions? I see questions from January to present and there are no responses. Is this still a working blog? New blog entries are getting fewer and fewer and there were none last month. I used to love this site, but now it makes me sad.

  80. I recently earned my paralegal certificate and am now in the process of looking for a job. I am a career changer and do not have any work experience in the legal field therefore, I am under no illusions. I know the chances of my landing a paralegal job in the area of practice I want, or even landing a paralegal job period, are low. I am willing to take any job in the legal field to get my foot in the door and get some experience. One way that have thought that I might have an easier time getting experience is by offering to do pro bono work for some of the local attorneys. Has anyone had any experience with this and if so how do you go about offering your services without sounding desperate?

  81. Kelli Carr said:

    hi, I’m actually a legal assistant, (just starting out), but have been in insurance for years. My question is .. I’m working for a one man defense attorney, whose having some major billing issues. I’ve researched collection agencies, that seems like a waste, unless you guys know of any that are really good, yet affordable. Statements with threats of suing, statements with “let’s make a payment plan”, etc…. just aren’t working. Any suggestions? Were talking about @ 50 cases here. Ranging from owing $150 – !0,000. I’ve been nice, i’ve been threatening, i’ve been down the middle. Need suggestions for these past cases, suggestions for current cases, and suggestions for cases going forward. He’s a defense attorney so sometimes the court deadlines make it difficult to come up with the money in time. We live in a small town. Not so small people pay in chickens or anything, but you get my drift…. thanks!!

  82. Hello, my father is the attorney in his solo general practice firm, my mother is his legal secretary and I come in when I have time off to help with technology and setting up new systems for them. As my father is always busy and my mother as well they do not have time to research or put into place new systems or ideas. Currently I am pursuing a Legal Studies degree at night as I have a job and an infant son that I care for. I am trying to find online resources on file management and generally just how to improve their process’s, such as building their files, collecting fill-able forms, intake forms, questionnaires etc.. I spend many hours researching, but mostly trial and error. I would greatly appreciate any help on where I could locate resources or even just to point me in the right direction to learn more about creating systems to make the law firm a smoother running operation as many things are put to the side b/c there is not a good system to get it taken care of when It should be or spending mass amounts of time looking for files keeping up on billing ect.. Thank you for any help you can lend.

  83. Sharris0204@kctcs.edu said:

    Im a aspiring paralegal, I need to interview a paralegal for my career research paper. And I haven’t had much luck. I was wondering if anyone had the time to conduct an interview Via email? Or by the phone. It will take 15 mins. I only have to ask 5 questions. I’m also intrested in a mentor.

  84. I’m a freelance writer and after my divorce, need to find a career that will pay me enough to support myself and my daughters. (Writers are expected nowadays to work for compliments and maybe a hundred dollar gig once in a while so it’s been a long road!) I’ve been exploring different options and training as a paralegal seems to be a good fit. I’m a great researcher and interviewer with excellent communication skills. I’d like to work in family law (and have written dozens of articles about divorce.) Before I invest in an ABA certified program (probably through U of California Berkeley), is this even a remote possibility? I need to make more than minimum wage part time and would like to have some meaning in my career

    Thanks!
    Beth

    • Dear Beth,

      Sorry for what you went thru. The career of a paralegal is rewarding and exiting. However (and I am speaking from East Coast, NYC specifically), you won’t be able to make a lot from the beginning and part time jobs are not easy to find. Before you invest, I would recommend to look at the paralegal market in your area and contact your local paralegal association for some feedback. Keep in mind that many positions are not called “paralegal”, but could come under different names like “legal assistant”, “legal resources specialist”, “project assistant”, etc. Then doing your research, pay attention on how many years of experience are required in your area. Most likely, the “entry level” will call for 1-2 years of experience. To get it, you will need to work in other capacities in the law firm or volunteer. Also, keep in mind that many positions require a degree, not only certificate in legal studies. As I don’t know your specifics, you may poses one, but in another area. In that case, a certificate from ABA approved program will assist.

      As a researcher and interviewer with excellent communication skills and a writer, you have great skills that would put you on the top of the list, but I don’t want to sugar coat the road to success: it is bumpy.

      If you have any additional questions or concerns, I will be happy to answer them. I can be reached at mentor@nyc-pa.org.

      Good luck to you!

      Sincerely,
      Mariana

  85. Good morning! I have a software recommendation request. My firm (about 50 attorneys) will be updating and using Microsoft 365 this year. I have been tasked with the project to provide software to integrate all contacts into on space with the feature that auto-updates contacts when any employee makes changes in their personal contacts. I need to be able to access and mirror all employees Outlook Contacts in one space. Any recommendations?? Thank you in advance for your help and guidance!

  86. I recently graduated and am interested in working as a litigation paralegal for a personal injury firm. During my litigation course I did well and felt confident at being successful in this career. However, now I feel overwhelmed and unsure. Any suggestions or advice for succeeding as a litigation paralegal?

  87. gencoleman2010 said:

    Time. The biggest thing is time. You will enter the office/firm knowing more about this business than I did but you will still be “green” as we say here. It takes everyone time to season and mature into a new profession. Listen. Take notes. Look up things if necessary. But most likely you won’t be tasked with too much responsibility at first. Whatever is assigned to you, do it willingly and do it well and watch and learn from those around you. Ask questions when appropriate. Seek to understand the why and not just the how. Time. And determination. Give it time and determination and you will go far.

  88. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the role of the paralegal here in North Florida. How many paralegals actually end up doing a high percentage of purely clerical tasks such as maintaining office files, stocking supplies, making copies, etc.? And how many paralegals actually have jobs that allow them to perform the same substantive work as attorneys (with, of course, the exception of the work that is limited by rule to attorneys)? It seems that a lot of so-called paralegal jobs are more secretarial than substantive. And how many paralegals are actually treated like professionals in the law office? It seems that many attorneys hold all support staff at arm’s length, including “paralegals.”

  89. gencoleman2010 said:

    In our lose firm (which has been continuously in operation since the late 19th century by former generations) I do some of both. My bosses are “old school” and the firm is now small, so I do find myself making copies and doing other secretarial work. I also do substantive work as well. Personally, I believe this is much more the norm, at least here in this area, than a strict delineated role for paralegals and secretaries.

  90. Hello. I’ll try to be brief. I recently got promoted to a paralegal but only because they needed me to travel for 12 trials that are coming up and they have no one else to go. That was four months ago. Now the 12 trials are coming up but my mom has been recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and Relies on me to drive her to her treatments and other things. These 12 trials go on for 7 months straight and I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to get demoted but I also want to be there for my mom because she’s in bad shape. Thanks

    • Jonny,

      First off, I am very sorry to hear about your mom. You will NEVER regret choosing her over a job, no matter how things turn out.

      It’s hard to give good advice based on limited information regarding you and your situation, but I have a feeling there may be some gray area in between quitting or not helping your mom.

      1. How big is your firm? How many employees does it have?
      2. How long have you worked there?
      3. Is there any way they may let you resume the lesser role you had prior?
      4. Do you need this job financially or are you in a position to be able to immediately step down?
      5. Is the firm already aware of your mom’s condition?
      6. Are you well-networked legally? Do you have connections that could land you a new job?

      While I know you are working your tail off to keep this promotion and get through these approaching trials, I agree that your personal situation, at the moment, has to take the front seat in your life. There are many things you may regret in life and NOT being there for your mom because of your career WOULD be one of them. I’m fairly certain of it. While I may not know the anwers to the questions above, I do know that to be true for most of us — regret sucks.

      I suggest having a heartfelt, professional meeting with your boss or HR rep. Explain the situation to him or her. Be honest. Tell them you know this would end up being a regret in life and you can’t let it be. See if there is any possible way for them to accommodate your situation. It sounds like you may already know it’s an all or nothing type of a thing. But even if that is the case, I don’t think anyone would hold it against you or blame you for choosing your mom over your job. And I don’t just mean at this firm, but at the next place you try to get hired at, too. There isn’t much of a choice to be made. More just what you know you have to do and the best way to go about doing it.

      I love my job, but at the end of the day — family comes first. Try to give formal notice and go out graciously. But make sure you have your life mapped out as far as how you can land a new job and pay the bills in the meantime. Get the plan in motion.

      I hope this helps! We’re here if you need anything.

      (And you may want to check out my personal blog — Just Being Jamie. I’ve written a lot on there about cancer in recent months, due to a situation with my uncle. Here is a link: https://justbeingjamiedotcom.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/live-your-life-out-loud/)

      Keep your head up.
      Jamie

    • Mariana Fradman said:

      Dear Jonny,

      I am sorry to hear about your mom.

      Don’t chose your job over your mom. I went that road. I couldn’t quit the job and was torn between job, family, and my mom. For a year, my life was defined as work-hospital-get home to change-back to work-and-back to hospital with a few breaks when she was home and instead of a hospital chair I had a bed when I slept in mom’s house. I don’t know how I survived, but I regret that I didn’t spend more time with her.

      Cherish every moment you spend with her. And have a hope. Miracles happen.

      I agree with Jamie – have a talk with your management. If they don’t support you at this time, this is not a place you want to be. There will be another job.

      My heart is going to you and your mom.

      Sincerely,
      Mariana

  91. Paula Gardner RN, CCM said:

    Quit your job today. Move in with your Mom. Enjoy what time you have left. I promise you that you will never regret the decision.

  92. I completely agree with Paula! Quit your job and be with your mother. You only have one mother she will need you. Also I advise you to look into Dr. Wallach and call his show and get help from him in dealing with Cancer. He used a lot of natural way and supplements to deal with chemo. Also Look for a site called “Chris Beat Cancer” he cured himself of cancer. Be open to new info that the poison called Chemo.

  93. Bob Davidson said:

    @Jonny,

    Don’t be so quick to leave your job; to the contrary, you should try to hold on to yours because jobs remain scarce. Ask management if it can modify your schedule or if you can work from home so you can attend to your mother and/or assign another paralegal to the out-of-town trials. Otherwise, try to take time off pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act. Finally, don’t be surprised if your firm bounces you after you meet with management. In fact, be prepared for it.

    Best of luck and best wishes to your mother.

  94. Elizabeth said:

    I have recently joined a Bankruptcy Law firm with no prior legal experience (this is my first job out of school). The only people working here is the attorney and myself. Currently I am having issues with Amendments and also Ch. 13’s, is their anyone who can assist me? So far I have taught myself everything by researching, books, and speaking with the courthouse. But to be honest I really need help from an individual who can demonstrate.

    • Mariana Fradman said:

      Dear Elizabeth,

      Congratulations on your first job! Sorry, I can’t help with the bankruptcy. The last time I prepared schedules for Chapters 7 and 11 almost 20 years ago…I would highly recommend to join Paralegal Connect and Perfectly Paralegal groups on Facebook. One group is 3,600+ and another close to a thousand members. From my experience, you will always find someone who is willing to assist.

  95. Anonymous said:

    Hello, I am a high school student interested in becoming a paralegal and happened to stumble upon this website. I was wondering whether the level of education needed to become a paralegal (as in, an associates or bachelor’s degree) makes a difference in the end. As I’ve read from a number of your articles, doesn’t the overall experience as a paralegal weigh more when trying to get a job? If so, could I get an associates degree while taking an internship with a paralegal, and would that count as ‘experience’? If that doesn’t count, then how would I be able to gain experience in advance? Sorry if my questions sound silly!

    • Mariana Fradman said:

      Dear Anonymous!

      There are no silly questions in this word in general and in our profession specifically.

      Depending on your local market, an associate degree may satisfy the employers’ requirements, but may not. It is always recommended to strive for a higher degree. Most of schools incorporate internship into their curriculum and, in order to graduate, you will be required to intern for 100-140 hours in your last semester. Depending on the place you are interning, your experience may be very valuable. It will definitely be counted toward your total experience, but it could be not enough to get your first job as employers are picky and look for an experience. My recommendation is to volunteer while in school. For example, in NYC, you can volunteer for numerous legal clinics assisting with immigration, consumer credit and other matters. In addition, you can volunteer for a housing court. In other places, there could be similar or different volunteer opportunities. Your first step should be to see if there is a local paralegal association in your area and join it. As a student, you will take advantage of a discount while enjoying all benefits.

      One thing to remember is that your internship/volunteer jobs are actual jobs. Keep them all on your resume. Just try to have as little gaps between them as possible and show your dedication (meaning, don’t change them every over month.)

      Feel free to ask additional questions. I am sure that you will have them. 🙂

      Good luck and let us know how you are doing!

    • Bob Davidson said:

      Excellent question. At a bare minimum, an associate’s degree and paralegal certificate. To be competitive, a bachelor’s degree and paralegal certificate. A paralegal certificate from an ABA-approved program may provide more opportunities.

      You will collect a great deal of learning from your program. Strong credentials such as a degree and certificate will help you vault past the receptionist into the interviewer’s office, but as a practical matter, experience does matter. You would somehow need to collect experience. Your school may require completion of an internship(s). That’s a good thing, not because of the work experience you collect but because of the contacts you make and the letters of recommendation that you will (hopefully) receive from attorneys and others in your firm.

      Finally, despite what schools may tell you, you may have to begin in a nonparalegal job. Nothing wrong with that if you have to – you want to collect paid law experience for your resume because, again, experience matters. In the meantime, you want to get your foot in the door and be in the right place at the right time in case a paralegal job opens in the firm. It’s very common to upgrade in-house employees to paralegal as long as they are otherwise qualified – two paralegals in my last firm started as receptionists.

      Hope that helps. Best of luck with however you proceed.

  96. Holly Sullivan said:

    Can you share any paralegal tips for performing background searches on plaintiff’s and witnesses in addition to a Lexis Accurint search?
    Thanks!

  97. What is the best appraisal form for an appraisal of residential real estate for probate?

  98. Hello, I would like to see more articles that reflect on the experiences and issues that paralegals working in legal services/legal-aid firms have. I feel like a lot of the articles here are focused on paralegals who work in private law firms and/or perform more of an administrative/clerical role.My experience is that paralegals in the non-profit legal services world are expected to do much of the substantive work that attorneys do and equally be an advocate for their clients. This difference leads to a whole set of different issues that paralegals doing this kind of work have to contend with.

    For example, to give some of my own background: I have been a paralegal for almost three years now at a legal services firm that focuses on civil rights law and where paralegals, for the most part, operate pretty autonomously from attorneys with respect to cases they are assigned. For example, I am assigned cases and expected to assess the nature of the legal issue, identify what relief there may be for the client, do the work necessary to obtain that relief, and/or represent clients at administrative hearings – largely on my own. Of course, I have a supervising attorney who oversees all of my work and provides feedback, but the actual substance of the work is left up to me. The only thing I don’t do because I’m unable to is represent clients in judicial or court proceedings. Although I do most of the same work than attorneys do at my firm and get very great results for my clients, I feel as if 1) my work is not respected/praised/appreciated as much as the work of attorneys 2) my expertise on the given areas of law I’m familiar with is often seen as questionable, yet an attorney with less experience than me is somehow more credible 3) in addition to the substantive work I’m asked to do, I’m also asked to do the ‘extra-curricular’ work that attorneys are not expected to, which shifts more work onto my plate.

    Also would like to point out that in the non-profit legal services world , I’ve seen some instances where the paralegal job description has expanded to include other non-legal tasks or jobs such as 1) paralegal/community organizer 2) paralegal/social worker.

    I think articles shedding light on experiences or trends like the above in legal aid organizations for people who may be looking for work as a paralegal in such firms or other non-profits would be helpful and provide a more inclusive reality of the paralegal world.

  99. Nieves Vega said:

    Hello Jamie,

    I have my Associates in Paralegal studies, but I really never worked for a law firm until now.

    I’m turning 29 this year and I think a lot more about having a career and not just a job to pay bills. I’m not getting any younger and I think this is the time to start. I will admit, I’m a little stressed out right now. I start my first Paralegal job with a solo attorney who does criminal and civil law, but I’m not all that great with the legal writing part. I have great customer service and before this opportunity, I was a subrogation specialist and an adjuster for work related injuries, but the writing part is what is getting me worried.

    Can you give me an idea of what I can expect my first few weeks? Any advise with legal writing such as any courses I should take? How to become a successful paralegal to my firm and not just a waste of time? Please help!!!

    Thank you! 🙂

  100. Christine said:

    Hello All,

    I have been working as an Estates and Trusts Paralegal in Maryland for 9 months now and am a recent Paralegal Studies graduate. My problem is that I’ve never had an actual Estates & Trusts class (it wasn’t a requirement). While I have been learning on the go with support from the other paralegals and my attorney, I still constantly come across concepts that have me racing for Google to find out a little more about the item I am currently working on.

    Does anyone have any resource or textbook recommendations to help me fill in the gaps? I am more than happy to spend the money on a quality textbook, but wanted to be sure what I’m getting will be a good one.

    Thank you!
    Christine

    • Bob Davidson said:

      Hello, Christine,

      Practice manuals for estates and trusts may have been produced for your state. Your firm’s law library may have one or more, or ask the attorneys you work for. Otherwise, law school law libraries would have them. Also consider asking your firm to send you to an estates and trusts CLE. Otherwise, nothing wrong with googling questions.

      Don’t worry about the OTJ learning aspects. Everyone learns that way and it’s often the best learning.

      Best of luck with your efforts.

  101. I am looking into going to an online college for either a certificate in paralegal studies or my masters. Could anyone recommend any good online schools. Also is here a main advantage of getting a masters vs. a certificate? My main goal is employability and making a decent income. There are so many online schools I’m not sure which are legit. B

    • Bob Davidson said:

      If you considering a master’s in paralegal studies, don’t bother. MPSs are highly esoteric and highly expensive for the ROI. A MPS won’t make you any more employable than a bachelor’s and paralegal certificate, and will not give you advanced placement, as it were, over other candidates.

      If your heart is still set on a master’s degree, earn a more marketable one, such as an MBA. With a MBA you can eventually transition into law firm administration. Law firm administration should pay more than top of scale for paralegal. Another marketable degree might be a master’s in public administration. That degree could help you gain employment in government.

      Finally, strongly consider attending on-campus school for your training. Employers still place greater weight on such training. And, indeed, so many online schools are not properly accredited.

    • Mariana Fradman said:

      When looking for an online program, look for school’s reputation. Washington University has online MBA program. The program is very good as well as the school. I agree with Bob that it won’t make you any more employable and it may even hurt as you may become overqualified. However, it may assist you in getting an employment in government or teaching.

      Berkeley College has online program as well. You can take a certificate or a degree program. The Berkeley’s paralegal program was ABA approved, but not anymore. The only reason is that ABA doesn’t approve 100% online programs. That doesn’t mean that the program lost its credibility. However, ABA started to approve hybrid programs.

      As Bob recommended, look for on-campus school if you have one close-by. Depending on where you are, ABA approved program is more preferable.

      Good luck!

  102. Veronica Caine said:

    I absolutely love this site, thank you! I’m wondering — would it be possible to reprint a “Rant” or two in our paralegal association’s newsletter? They are just TOO. DARN. GOOD.

  103. I am seeking a new career path starting out as a paralegal. I have BS in Psychology and have some experience working in the mental health field as well as with individuals with developmental disorders. I am enrolled in a paralegal program and plan to take the NC certified paralegal test to obtain my certificate. Even though I am extremely passionate about helping others and working my hardest to help find the most successful outcome, I have a record. My question is how should I present my background with a battery misdemeanor and a DUI? I even had to do jail time. I have made many mistakes in my past but have learned many lessons as well. This reason for my career change into law is because of the legal trouble I got into. I was at my lowest point and my attorney (Truly, it was the paralegal) helped me in get through it. It opened my eyes to a new path and new passion for understanding the law. I knew I never wanted to be on the wrong side of the law again. I don’t want my future employer to judge me because of the record I have. I want them to see the passion, dedication, drive and commitment I have for getting job done, no matter what. How do I address this and get someone to give me a chance? I want to learn all that I can and maybe one day go to law school to pass the bar.

    • Mariana Fradman said:

      Dear Katie,
      No one checks records before an offer is extended. However, you may be asked that questions on the initial application. I would recommend to be as open as you are in your post above. Tell them what you had your share of mistakes, but you don’t want to be judged by your past, but by your commitment and passion. Do your best in school and volunteer to show your dedication. Good luck to you!

  104. Amber Smith said:

    Hello, everyone! I came across this website by chance through Google, and so far I am finding so much helpful information, but I do have questions about the paralegal field and just wasn’t sure who to turn to.
    My situation is this: I am a working mother in Illinois. I went to college years ago but never finished due to a sudden illness, and then necessity dictated I jump straight into the workforce. I had considerable office and administrative experience before I was hired as a legal assistant at the firm I’m at now, and I’ve fallen in love with the legal field and yes, even its psychotic demands and challenges. I love this work and I want to expand my education. I’ve now had 3 years at this law firm, and I perform all of the same duties that the ‘educated’ paralegals do, and even though one has less experience, I am making far far less. The attorneys have come to expect the same work product from me and have received it but I feel I’m being taken advantage of, simply for lacking a fancy piece of paper or two. I want to provide a better, more secure future for my son and getting an education seems to be the ideal solution.
    My problem: I absolutely must work full time to keep a roof over my head, so attending in-person school is simply not an option. I’ve done so many hours of research on the pros and cons of attending an ABA-approved program, but there are none within 75 miles of me that offer majority distance-learning (online) options. (I’m in a rural area.) I can’t afford to waste my time, money or effort on some for-profit online school that no employer will take seriously.
    I was hoping to find others who’ve been in a similar predicament of finding a worthwhile institution and if I should go the full mile of getting a bachelors degree vs. an associates.
    In the weeks I’ve spent researching, I can’t help feeling discouraged by the lack of standards and differing opinions on what would help me expand my horizons. I have the on-the-job experience, so I’ve got a feel for knowing this is what I want. Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
    P.s. So far, my leading school of choice is Eastern Kentucky University – it’s ABA-approved and all online except for a residency I would have to do on campus…so far the only one I’ve found like it.

    Thanks!
    Amber

    • Mariana Fradman said:

      Dear Amber,

      Welcome to the paralegal world!

      I would recommend to check into George Washington University (non-ABA approved, but the name is good enough) and Berkeley College (good program, recognizable name, was ABA approved, but they decided to open fully online program that isn’t ABA-approved.) And, the quality of education didn’t suffer because the school decided not to renew their approval. The school has a number of brick-and-mortal campuses as well.

      Please keep in mind that ABA-approved schools are not a requirement. Some employers don’t care or don’t know the difference. They may prefer, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a must. A good school with a good grades is all what matters. Plus, an ABA-approved school will cost you much more for sure. As you have an on-the-job experience, you have more advantage when the majority of graduates already.

      Good luck!

      Sincerely,
      Mariana

    • Bob Davidson said:

      Have you considered asking your firm for a raise? Or taking a national certification exam(s)? Taking and passing one or more of the exams would give you that piece(s) of paper to prove your OTJ learning.

      Otherwise, consider that many legal employers do want an ABA-approved paralegal certificate. Particularly firms that cater to institutional clients, such as insurance companies. It’s surprising, but institutional clients can demand certain quals from legal staff (including attorneys) that handle their matters. The point is it is more probable than not that you will not stay with your firm forever. But for an ABA approved certificate you could short yourself of opportunities.

      Good luck with however you proceed.

    • Bob Davidson said:

      One more point. Whether or not you choose an ABA approved paralegal school, most definitely you should finish your bachelor’s. A bachelor’s degree will make you more competitive.

  105. I recently started in working as a foreclosure/real estate firm that is currently handling a case with thousands of pages of medical records. I need to summarize these records chronologically into a format suitable for easy access during Court. Previous to this position I was medical technician so I am very familiar with medical records but here I have no idea of where to begin! Is there a format or general template I can follow for such a procedure? Any suggestions are welcome!

  106. Bob Davidson said:

    First thing you might do is ask the attorney how s/he wants them indexed. Attorney may simply pull the most relevant ones.

    Otherwise, my firm would index records in chrono order by DOS beginning with the first provider with separate dividers. We indexed them into three ring binders; your attorney may have a different preference. In the binders we set up detailed medical indexes where we indexed each record line by line by title, e.g.:

    New Patient Intake-09/20/16
    Patient Examination-09/20/16
    S.O.A.P. Notes-10/01/16

    If there was no title of the report, make up one that seems appropriate. Records that were typed (word processed) we would index as “Narrative Report” if it did not have its own title.

    If a provider referred client for, e.g., an MRI and the radiology report came with provider’s records, the radiology report would be indexed separately by name of provider.

    Hope that helps. Good luck with your project.

  107. I recently started working as a paralegal at this criminal law firm. The other day I found out that the lawyer I am working for had not been sworn in a certain court district or admitted into. The court asked for a admissions petition and cover letter. The attorney asked for me to write out the cover letter, but I am at a loss as to how to do that. Any assistance would be most appreciated.

    • Bob Davidson said:

      Sorry to be late to the party. Your cover letter could read similar to a cover letter you would use to file pleadings with the court. I would include copies of the petition for the court to date-stamp and return, and copies of the order admitting attorney to date-stamp and return. Be sure to include a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope.

  108. I graduated from a paralegal certification program in 2016 after 7 years trying to find other jobs (I have a BS in Criminal Justice and no upper body strength which means no police work). Soon after I began my program I began to notice that all the jobs advertised had that dreaded “e” word in them. I decided to continue my program mostly because I did not want to go back to the job I left (unarmed security guard, 9.60/ hr no benefits for the first year).

    When I finished the program I began applying for jobs (mostly through indeed and linkdin), I did my best to avoid the ones that called for experience but eventually I even applied for them too, while being honest about my lack of experience. During this down time I sought NALA certification and attended a paralegal conference (using money from my increasingly impatient parents). The end result: no job offers, no interviews most of them didn’t even have the decency to send the “you weren’t worth our time” email to me.

    Desperate for work I tried my hand at teaching ESL overseas, during my time overseas my NALA exam was graded and I passed. I left the ESL job early and returned to applying for work back in states. So far I have applied for 122 positions and even after my NALA certification I have not received a single interview invitation.

    I’m sure you can imagine my frustration at this state of affairs, I feel like the past 2 years of my life were a complete waste of time and money. So what I’m asking at the end of this pathetic little pity party is: how can I get people to give me a chance? Working for free simply isn’t an option at this point I need paying work and I need it fast.

    Thanks in advance for your help and for putting up with my whingeing

    • Mariana Fradman said:

      Dear Javert,

      First of all, congratulations on passing NALA certification exam. I comment on all what you did and do to find a job. I am sorry that you are in the “catch-22” situation and feel for you that some employers need to learn manners to respond with one line, at least. With regards to getting an experience, did you try legal clinics? Some of them have evening and weekend hours. It is hard to advise as I don’t know where you are and each state/location has its own unwritten rules. I will be happy to take a look at your resume and see what I can help you with. Feel free to email it to mentor@nyc-pa.org.

      • Thanks for your response, I am in North Carolina do you know anything about how to find work here?

  109. Mariana Fradman said:

    Dear Javert,

    Unfortunately, I don’t know about job market in North Carolina as I am in NYC. However, there are a few groups on Facebook and LinkedIn I would recommend you to join and look for local contacts. I found the majority of people who jointed those groups being very helpful. LinkedIn: The Paralegal Society and National Federation of Paralegal Associations. Facebook: Perfectly Paralegal, Paralegal Connect, and Paralegal Network. Also, search for groups that are local to you. For example, New York City Paralegal Association has groups on LinkedIn and Facebook. Good luck and feel free to reach out to me should you have any additional questions or concerns.

  110. Trey Velez said:

    I manage personal injury claims pre-litigation at the firm where I work and to some degree during litigation as well. My main jobs are gathering medical and insurance records, writing the demand, and dealing with the adjusters. The biggest set back I have faced is that many large providers ignore my medical record requests even when I have made absolute sure to go through exactly the right channels with the correct HIPAA compliant release. This has been a consistent issue since I have been working at this firm. At first, I blamed it on my inexperience and assumed that I was making mistakes, but, at this point, I know how to verify proper channels and stick to protocol. I am wondering if a) this is a regular issue for others in the field and b) is there anything I can do to compel providers, especially hospitals, to produce the requested records. I am Latinx and work at a Latinx firm, and we service predominantly low income Hispanic clientele, so I have begun to wonder if our ethnicity or the socioeconomic status of our clients is behind our poor treatment.

  111. gencoleman2010 said:

    When a medical records office refused to send the records timely, I would send a subpoena, provided the medical provider was in state and subject to a subpoena.

    • Trey Velez said:

      Thanks for the suggestion gencoleman; my understanding of the subpoena, however, is that it requires court action or at least pending court action, so I would not be able to use this until suit is filed. I gather medical records long before suit is filed in order to attempt negotiations outside of court.

      • Bob Davidson said:

        You’re not alone, my friend, in having trouble with soliciting medical records. Some providers are very slow to fulfill medical records orders. Even though you strictly comply with HIPAA, hospitals in particular can be finicky about form and not necessarily substance regarding a HIPAA form. Some providers may demand prepays before they will fork over records; did you check that out.

        I’d suggest that you intensify your followups. Ask provider if it has a particular HIPAA form it uses for patient/client medical records requests. Maybe ask the precise address and person for directing your requests. Do ask about prepays. Finally, I seriously doubt your firm and clients are experiencing ethic discrimination – some providers are simply harder than others to work with.

  112. Trey Velez said:

    Thanks Bob! I think that your suggestion to intensify follow ups is going to be my best option, and I will also look into using the specific HIPAA forms used by providers. I do try to prepay when necessary, but that has been an issue in the past. I hate to hear that everyone struggles collecting medical records, but it is nice to know that I am not alone. I doubted the ethnic discrimination as well but could not help but wonder. I really appreciate the responses to my question. I just found this forum and am happy to have the lessons of years of experience at my fingertips.

  113. Hello everyone! So glad I found this website. Let me cut right to the chase.
    I am a 28-year-old female Canadian with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a half-certificate done in Paralegal Technology. I also worked for a prestigious law firm in IP for two months in Canada.

    I am currently looking into moving to the US, and I really need to know – do firms even interview candidates from Canada – or anywhere else other than the U.S., really? Would they invest the paperwork time and money to get me a working visa if I apply? I have tried applying to one job in D.C., at an immigration law firm – and was invited for the interview but as soon as they found out I was a Canadian they retrieved their invitation because I did not have a visa. Note: There is NO way to get a visa other than WITH a job offer. So, does anyone know if firms are willing to hire out-of-country paralegals and sponsor them for the visa/work permit?

    Second question: How important is a Paralegal Certificate in order to get a job? I have half a Canadian one done, and I have my Bachelor’s Degree. I absolutely am not diminishing those who do get the certification, but it seems to me in retrospect, almost everything I learned in my certification I could have learned through self-learning.

    Thank you all so much!

    • Bob Davidson said:

      Although you did not say where specifically you are from in Canada, you know that Ontario paralegals are substantially different than U.S. paralegals. Ontario paralegals can actually practice law. U.S. paralegals are nonlawyers who are barred from practicing law. If you are in Ontario, you may be in for a shock were you to work in the U.S.

      Regarding hiring, FWIW everything I’ve seen indicates that law firms are not even considering out of state candidates, much less ones outside of the country.

      As far as paralegal certificates go, if you are in Ontario your training pursuant to Law Society strictures will be far more extensive than typical U.S. paralegal training. In any event, but for my paralegal certificate I could have never pursued the vocation, much less be hired. So, speaking for myself, only, I’d say that for noob U.S. paralegals the certificate is damn important.

      • Thank you so much for your reply! Any reason you might think of as to why U.S. law firms would not be willing to hire paralegals that are out-of-state (nevermind the “out-of-country”, that would be another subject)?

        By the way, I am originally from Montreal. We also can practice law under certain circumstances.

        Thanks again!

        I.C.

      • Mariana Fradman said:

        From my experience working in a multinational firms, I didn’t see a single time when an out-of-country paralegal was hired. You answered your own question that there will be no job if you don’t have a visa. I saw a few international paralegals who were hired for jobs. However, all of them had visa already. I can’t say which kind of visa as I didn’t speak about the status with them. Sorry that I couldn’t be a better help in this matter.

        With regards to out-of-state employment: it all depends on the area of law, size of the firm, education and personal matters. Some people more lucky, some less. In general, employers don’t pay for relocation. In addition, there are state-specific laws that are applicable and, unless you can prove that you know them or a fast learner, employers don’t want/don’t have time to train or re-train a candidate.

      • Thanks Mariana! Just a little correction: I did not attempt to answer my own question, because of course I know it is not possible to work anywhere without a visa. It is important for all those who wish to reply, however, that the ONLY way one can work is through the sponsorship of the firm or attorneys hiring. So whoever had that visa at your firm must have had it renewed when they were hired – by the attorney they were working for.That being said, if what you say is true and even multinationals don’t sponsor – I honestly have to say…Their loss! I am a speaker of five languages, with a Bachelor’s, experience and a hell of a brain ;). Now that I’ve officially tooted my own horn as they say (Sorry, I had to, as this comes as pretty shitty news to me), I will find a way!

        Thank you to those who read and answered my questions! Although bad news isn’t always good to hear/read, at least now I know what I have to do going forward.

        Best wishes to all, keep being awesome!

      • Bob Davidson said:

        On the other hand, I tried looking north for opportunities. I learned that Canadian employers are barred by law from considering foreign nationals unless there is no suitable Canadian to fill the job. I also learned that one must be a landed immigrant in order to be eligible for employment in Canada.

      • Bob Davidson said:

        As far as law firms not considering out of state or even out of city candidates, it’s simply easier for them to consider local candidates. One firm I know of restricts candidates to within twenty miles of the office. Although weather in winter can impact the commute in Denver, I don’t see what difference it makes where one lives as long as one reports for work on time. I also see where distance from office can be discriminatory, but that’s outside the scope of this discussion.

  114. Andrew Lighthall said:

    My question also involves Canada versus U.S. paralegal training and work. I am a U.S. citizen with a strong personal attachment to a Canadian citizen. I have already started a paralegal certificate program in the U.S., but I am willing to start again in Canada, Alberta, to be exact.

    Do U.S. trained paralegal’s have any real chance of obtaining employment in Canada-outside of Ontario- and does Canadian training allow for U.S. employment? I have been searching for this answer, with few definitive answers.

    Thank you in advance for any insights you may have.

    • Andrew – I would say your chance of employment in Canada are high – about as high as anyone, let’s presume a Canadian citizen with an equal diploma or education background – mainly due to the fact that you are willing to start your paralegal program again in Alberta. Best of luck! Immigration to Canada is also a much smoother process. I don’t see you having any trouble moving there and working there if that is your desire. If I can offer a suggestion – look up the Paralegal Association in Alberta and get connected with people there. http://www.alberta-paralegal.com/

      • Bob Davidson said:

        FWIW please see my response, above, about Canada giving priority to its own nationals for employment over immigrants.

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