Avoid the Unauthorized Practice of Law - Tips for Paralegals

Debra Hindin-King (hindinking@wtotrial.com)

October 19, 2016
 

How often have you wondered about the impact the unauthorized practice of law (UPL) has on your role as a practicing paralegal?  The Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association’s definition of a paralegal is “a person qualified through education, training or work experience to perform substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily, but not exclusively, performed by a lawyer.  This qualified person may be retained or employed in a traditional capacity by a lawyer, law office, government agency, or other entity or is authorized by administrative, statutory or court authority to perform this work; or this qualified person may be retained or employed in a non-traditional capacity, provided that such non-traditional capacity does not violate applicable unauthorized practice of law statutes, administrative laws, court rules or case law.”

According to the ABA Model Guidelines for Utilization of Paralegals,  “1) a lawyer is responsible for actions of paralegals (Guideline 1), 2) a lawyer is responsible for paralegal work product but may delegate (Guideline 2), 3) a lawyer may NOT delegate: a) responsibility for establishing attorney-client relationship, b) responsibility for establishing amount of fee, c) responsibility for legal opinion rendered to client (Guideline 3) and 4) a lawyer is responsible for ensuring others are aware the paralegal is not licensed to practice law (Guideline 4).” 

The ABA Model Guidelines for the Utilization of Paralegal Services imply also paralegals should all strive to assist with the delivery of legal services at a high level of excellence.  The paralegal’s role in the delivery of legal services to the general public under the direct supervision of an attorney has changed during the past several years due to the ever changing structures of the law firms seeking paralegals as cost-efficient resources.

In Colorado the paralegal profession is not regulated and therefore certification or licensing are not requirements to practice as a paralegal.   The state does require paralegals work under the direct supervision of a lawyer.  Check with individual states regarding requirements for practicing paralegals.

Non-lawyers (paralegals or legal assistants) cannot do: 1) provide legal advice to another person, 2) select legal documents on behalf of another person (unless under the direction and supervision of a licensed attorney), 2) draft legal documents (unless under the direction and supervision of a licensed attorney),  3) interpret the law as it may apply to another person’s situation, 4) represent another individual in any legal transaction or matter, 5) charge a fee for legal services, or 6) prepare a matter for trial (unless under the direction and supervision of a licensed attorney).\

Are you afraid to confront your supervising attorney with questions about the issue of UPL?  The attorney’s obligations (per Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct 5.1) relate to the supervision of non-lawyers assistants including, 1) paralegals, 2) other office staff, 3) lawyers outside the jurisdiction, 4) legal personnel from parent, subsidiaries and affiliates, 5) legal vendors and 6) legal investigators.  

Violations of Section 5.1 by attorneys can have severe consequences and may include: 1) admonition, 2) reprimand, 3) probation, 4) license suspension, 5) restitution, 6) payment of costs, 7) limitation on practice, 8) retake professional responsibility exam or 9) resignation.  

If you happen to receive a call or an email from a client (perhaps the supervising attorney is in trial and unavailable) – best practice is to forward the client’s request to the attorney (voice mail or email) and document the response to deliver back to the client.   In this instance you are simply conveying the legal advice to the client based upon consulting with your attorney and allowing the client’s question to be addressed in a timely fashion.

Several professional paralegals associations have white papers and written opinions related to paralegal ethics and they include: 1) NFPA (National Federation of Paralegal Associations, 2)  NALA (National Association of Legal Assistants, 3) AAfPE (American Association for Paralegal Education), 4) IPMA (International Paralegal Management Association), 5) NALS (National Association of Legal Professionals) and 6) AAPI (American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc.).   Explore these resources for information related to UPL and the topic of paralegal ethics. 

Attorneys are ultimately responsible to ensure policies and procedures are in place and the paralegal understands the lawyer’s ethical duties, obligations and the limitations of paralegals and support staff to keep the office running smoothly to avoid any ethical problems.

 

Professional Paralegal Organizations - Why Belong?

Debra Hindin-King (hindinking@wtotrial.com)

October 28, 2015

When was the last time you took a look at your paralegal job description? Was it when you responded to the job ad and then eventually were hired by your current employer?

Several years ago, when the paralegal market was well defined related to job responsibilities, it was easier to know what your employer’s expectations were of your skillset and experience. Today’s job market has dramatically changed! Reasons include diverse paralegal programs at schools and corporate America’s reduced budgets to hire qualified employees. Paralegals are expected to be knowledgeable and experienced in various different facets of the overall delivery of legal services. The advantage working in a small office allows you to be exposed to many different aspects of the legal profession – a great opportunity for entry level to mid-level paralegals.

No day is completely alike and paralegals are asked to perform a variety of tasks under the direct supervision of an attorney. Common assignments may include but not limited to: 1) preparation for hearings, mediations, arbitrations and trials; 2) researching facts of the case and obtaining judicial decisions pertinent to the case; 3) assisting in client, non-party witness and expert interviews related to the case; 4) drafting routine pleadings, e.g., subpoenas, notice of deposition, complaint, disclosures, case management orders, trial management orders, trial exhibits and witness lists; 5) overall general case management including document organization; 6) obtaining and analyzing online information through fee-based and free databases; and 7) collaborating with other members of the legal team.

Paralegals are an important cog in the legal team wheel when it comes to getting materials prepared for hearings, mediations, arbitrations and trials. Pre-planning is crucial to address last minute projects requested by the legal team. Having weekly team meetings and creating “to-do lists” will assist team members with being transparent throughout the pendency of the litigation to insure deadlines are met and court appearances are not missed.

Another facet of the paralegal’s role is researching the facts of the case and providing background information about the subject matter in litigation. In addition, gathering and reviewing judicial decisions pertinent to the case is a project frequently delegated under the direction of an attorney to a paralegal. Due to the abundance of resources at our fingertips, electronic record searching assists attorneys and paralegals with current law that may be applicable to a dispute.

Preparing questions under the direct supervision of an attorney to be used in non-party and expert witness interviews is a great project for a paralegal to assist with during the discovery phase. Creating a template (a valuable timesaver!) and modifying it for each witness is a resource that everyone on the legal team can use.

Drafting routine pleadings is a project often delegated to paralegals. Using examples is definitely a time saver for the paralegal, lessens the time spent modifying the pleading and saves the client money! If using an example, you need to make sure that you change all of the pertinent information particularly the jurisdiction, case caption, case name and attorney information. Make sure to confirm with the judge’s staff about the preferred format for trial and exhibit lists – this may vary from judge to judge within the same judicial district as well as in U.S. District Court cases.

A major responsibility delegated to a paralegal is general case management, which includes managing documents in both paper and electronic formats. The record keeping of requested documents from a client and third-party providers, in addition to documents being produced by opposing counsel, is very important to the overall management of the case. A tip for assisting with record keeping is either to create an electronic or paper notebook of all transmittal letters that accompany a production of documents. In addition, maintaining a Bates label log spreadsheet to note receipt of a collection of documents is important. Sometimes there may be a dispute about a collection of documents not being produced timely or a question of completeness – it is great to be able research the question quickly using your summary document!

Paralegals are called upon to assist with procurement of new clients. The publicly available information about individuals, companies, products and court filings is abundant through fee-based or free resources available on the Internet. Legal databases are great resources to gather information about a prospective client. Another valuable resource is social media, which may often uncover information about a party that you may not be aware of through traditional resources.

As a member of a legal team it is important to remain transparent with others during the pendency of litigation and/or a transaction matter. To insure everyone is on the same page – set up a group email in Outlook to disseminate information. Having a cohesive legal team not only benefits the team members but provides better cost effective legal service to your client.

Many employers have their own formal descriptions for paralegals to use as a resource during a job performance evaluation. To further explore what types of responsibilities/tasks are assigned to paralegals in various areas of law, check out the following:

1) Bureau of Labor Statistics - http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm

2) Colorado Bar Association - http://www.cobar.org/index.cfm/ID/106/subID/23108/CLAS//

Remember, to advance in your paralegal career you need to absolutely market your skillset every day. Your special talents and expertise will be recognized and appreciated by your legal team. Offer to assist your HR department with creating job descriptions for your paralegals – you will be glad, and so will future generations of paralegals!

 

Conquering Fears of Public Speaking – Chapter 1

Debra Hindin-King (hindinking@wtotrial.com)

September 23, 2015

According to Wikipedia, “glossophobia, or speech anxiety, is the fear of public speaking or of speaking in general.”  When was the last time you were asked to speak to a group about an aspect of the paralegal profession?  Were you tempted to tell the program facilitator that you were unavailable instead of accepting the challenge to face your fear?  Remember, those in the audience want you to be successful!

I remember the first time I was asked to do a presentation and my first reaction was to make up an excuse and not accept the invitation.  Instead, I decided to overcome my fear and calm my nerves by telling myself that I could do a good job with sharing my knowledge and experiences with other paralegals.  I made sure I was well organized with a detailed outline to follow during my presentation, including points that I wanted to emphasize in case I got my words twisted or suffered sudden memory loss.  Consider doing a presentation with a co-speaker the first time – this is a great way to share the session and lessen the fear factor!

I practiced my first presentation several times (I needed to make sure I did not exceed my time limit) in front of friends who provided tips on polishing my presentation style, such as modulating my speaking tone (avoid speaking in a monotone) and not speaking too quickly –take a breath occasionally and convey excitement about the presentation topic!  Receiving constructive feedback from your friends before the actual presentation is invaluable.

Knowing your subject matter for your presentation is also crucial to overcoming your fear.  Often times we are confronted with questions that may take further research to provide a correct answer – you may need to tell the participant that you will need to provide them with a response after a break or via email after the presentation.  If you don’t know the response, avoid guessing and providing an answer that may not be correct.  As a polished speaker you need to be honest with your audience.

Eye contact with the audience is extremely important.  Having a visual contact with the audience will show you are interested in them as individuals and hopefully will elicit some contributions to the presentation through the asking of questions or sharing of personal experiences.

Avoid relying heavily on a PowerPoint presentation to read to your audience. Often times they feel it is a waste of time to attend the session if all you are going to do is read your slides without adding personal observations and experiences about the topic.  Although a PowerPoint presentation may calm your fear of public speaking, it should be used as a resource tool for your presentation, not as the presentation itself.  

There are endless ways that you can create an effective PowerPoint presentation for your audience to assist with their note taking on the topic you are presenting.   Keep your PowerPoint slides simple – have an introductory slide with an overview of your presentation (roadmap), bullet your important points on succeeding slides and conclude with a summary slide.  Having a roadmap ensures that you cover all the important points in your presentation in case your nerves overcome you during your presentation.

Taking a class or joining a local club related to public speaking will provide you the skills and confidence you need to speak with ease in front of an audience.   We can all learn from each other about public speaking techniques that are helpful and those techniques that are not useful.  Sharing experiences with others only strengthens your understanding about how to be a more effective and persuasive public speaker. 

As paralegals, we are often called upon to present to our legal team a verbal summary of the client documents we have received, reviewed and organized for attorney review along with other case management related tasks.  This is a perfect venue to sharpen your public speaking skills in an office setting about a topic you are knowledgeable and passionate about with your team.  This experience will provide you with the confidence to conquer your fear when you speak to a large group of people outside your office. 

The more relaxed and confident you feel about speaking before an audience the more successful you will be when you receive and accept your next public speaking engagement.  Just remember there is no such thing as the perfect presentation regardless of how much you practice and know your subject matter. 

If you want to engage feedback about your presentation with your audience, provide them with a questionnaire to complete at the conclusion of your presentation or email them an online evaluation form.  Reviewing comments from the success of your presentation will assist you with other speaking engagements.  Remember, some comments may not be favorable, however, you must allow yourself to view these critical observations as learning tools to build upon for future presentations.

Conquering the fear of public speaking takes practice and patience with yourself as you get comfortable with sharing your expertise and personal experiences with an audience.  Having the resources to assist you with conquering the fear will make you a more effective public speaker.

 

Case Management -Creating the Extreme War Room

Debra Hindin-King (hindinking@wtotrial.com)

September 2, 2015

Start Early

The war room is an important part of effective case management.  Ask yourself how and when space within your office should be requested and dedicated as a war room?  I frequently begin with speaking to the office manager and/or managing partner of the firm to determine the most appropriate space to reserve during the pendency of litigation.  The sooner you plan and reserve space within your office the easier it will be to insure the management of the case will run smoothly.  Be generous when you estimate the dates you need to reserve the room and when you expect to be finished.  If your co-workers are concerned about reserving the room for the management of your case for an extended period of time have a discussion before the issue gets out of control.

Equipment

After securing a space (preferably in a low traffic area of the office), reach out to your IT department to determine the type of technology you will need for your legal team.  The basic equipment set-up should include: access to high-speed Internet, computer, printer and scanner (black and white/color).

Additional items to consider for the war room may include:  office furniture (shelving units are very helpful as well as adequate lighting), telephone (with conference calling capabilities and an office employee telephone list), whiteboard, easel, office supplies, snacks and restaurant menus (for those late nights).  In addition, for the paper cuts and headaches that might arise – a first aid kit would be helpful to have in the room.  If you have confidential materials – a portable shredder. You may consider placing a recycle box for non-confidential materials the room.

Logistics

After normal business hours, access to your building and/or office suite may be a challenge for outside parties, particularly your client and witnesses.  Coordinate with your office manager to insure they have access to enter the premises.

Make sure to coordinate with the office administrator the need for light, heat or air conditioning for late nights and weekends to insure the legal team is comfortable.  In addition, have a list of individuals with their contact information who can assist with equipment issues (good to have back up machines) and staff support for the legal team during non-business hours.  It is also helpful to learn where the extra ink cartridges for the printer and copy machine are stored at your office if you need to replace one after everyone has gone home.  Prepare a list of outside courier services for special deliveries that may need to be made outside of business hours. 

Functionality

By utilizing an organized war room, it will assist and provide comfort to your legal team to conduct witness interviews, practice opening argument and closing statement, view document collections (hopefully everything will be in electronic format), prepare paper trial exhibit notebooks, if necessary (need space to assemble contents of notebooks and quality checking final work product), maintain original deposition transcripts to be offered to the Court at trial, debriefing after each trial day with the legal team and client as well as other events.

Appoint an individual on the legal team to replenish materials in the war room as they get utilized.  Having the war room frequently stocked with supplies will alleviate frustration and anxiety from members of the legal team as they deal with the stressful activities related to preparing for trial.

Confidentiality

If your war room is located in a secure area of your office and requires a keycode to access the room make sure all legal team members have the code.  Remind your team that discussing key strategies outside the war room (including office hallways, elevators and restrooms) should be avoided.

Summary

Providing a comfortable environment (“minimize anxiety”) and being flexible for your legal team to have a room to call “home” during the pendency of the litigation will definitely be appreciated by your team members – particularly during the trial preparation phase of the case when last minute tasks can be overwhelming!   

It is also important to note that post-trial there is a need to insure materials created during the case and used at trial are maintained in either paper or electronic format for any appeals that may follow the trial.   Recycle the numerous sets of copied materials prepared for trial to reduce the clutter in the war room or file room during the post-trial phase of the case.

If your area of practice is corporate law – designating a space for due diligence review of documents followed by a possible merger/acquisition activity is critical to the overall smooth flow of tasks associated with the event.  Having all of the materials located in a secure data room will provide the legal team and outside interested parties a comfortable setting to conduct their review.

Effective case management is important and paralegals, as part of the legal team, can be involved with and provide assistance to the overall success of providing the client with the best possible legal services. 

 

Academia v. Real Life Experiences – Survival Tips for Your First Paralegal Job

Debra Hindin-King (dhindinking@wtotrial.com)

August 26, 2015

Paralegals are an important part of the overall delivery of legal services to their employers and often work for corporations, government agencies, law firms and non-profit organizations under the direct supervision of an attorney.  Entry-level paralegals need to equip themselves with enthusiasm, talent, knowledge and desire to be successful in their careers.

You may be asking yourself, what are the most meaningful classes to take while pursuing a paralegal certificate or degree to ensure your marketability after graduation?  Evaluating the curriculum prior to enrolling in a program is important. It’s also essential to evaluate the job market in the geographical region where you hope to gain permanent employment after graduation.  You need to do your homework to gain an understanding of the resources available to pursue your paralegal career.  

Many required classes in a paralegal program include administrative law, contract law, ethics, research, litigation practice, real estate, family law, torts, corporate law, criminal law and technology.  In addition, some programs require an internship prior to completion of the program.  Often, these internships lead to temporary or permanent employment after graduation. Getting such a step inside an entity is a great opportunity to quickly demonstrate your skills and knowledge.

In a report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2014, the need for paralegals is expected to grow 17% from 2012 to 2022.  According to the BLS, “experienced, formally trained paralegals with strong computer and database management should have the best job prospects.”  Keeping this information in mind, entry- and mid-level paralegal career opportunities appear to be hot!

It is important to enroll in many computer classes offered by your institution to ensure you have a basic understanding of how important technology is in the legal profession.  Both knowledge and practical experience with various software programs will benefit you as an entry-level employee.  Having a basic understanding of Outlook, a document management system, calendaring application and database software functionality will definitely be to your advantage when discussing your skillset during an interview.  If you have basic computer skills, employers recognize you will require less training to quickly hit the road running with your legal team.  Every employer has its own protocol and in-house systems. Step outside your comfort zone, accept challenges and embrace your first job as a paralegal in the real world!

Having a paralegal mentor is a terrific resource to assist with acclimating to a new environment.  As an entry-level paralegal, you should embrace learning new skills and sharpen your existing understanding of concepts you learned as a paralegal student.   Having the opportunity to assist associate attorneys with their projects is also a great way to get involved with tasks associated with the project.  You both are spreading your wings in your respective roles on the legal team!

Create a network of other entry-level paralegals to exchange ideas and chat about the challenges they are facing – you may find others are in situations very similar to your own experiences!  As an experienced paralegal, I often find myself continuing to reach out to my colleagues for referrals related to process servers and court reporters.  Referrals can often be more reliable than spending time on the Internet drilling down to the information you need in a short amount of time.

As an entry-level paralegal it is difficult to anticipate all of the challenges you will face early in your career, but utilize your past experiences (for many of you this may be a second or third career path) and utilize your knowledge, discipline and your strong desire to embrace the legal profession.   

 

Time Management For Paralegals – Avoid Being a Procrastinator

August 19, 2015

Debra Hindin-King (hindinking@wtotrial.com)

How often have we heard we need to manage our time more effectively and efficiently to meet deadlines that are staring us in the face?   Did you think the deadlines might disappear if you waited long enough to begin a project?  It’s time to develop a plan and put on your game face to accomplish those sometimes less than desirable items on your to-do list or action plan along with the challenging tasks you enjoy.   As you gain more experience, you get more responsibilities, which underscores the necessity for good time management skills.

Developing your own time management techniques to systematize and organize your time is critical for being a successful paralegal.  Some of the benefits of time management include: 1) less stress from deadlines, 2) greater productivity, 3) better organization, 4) good work-life balance, 5) more flexibility to handle last minute projects, and 6) a feeling of accomplishment and positive satisfaction. The following tips will help you to realize these benefits.
Tip #1 – Develop a list of your work on a daily, weekly or monthly basis and prioritize your projects.  I find keeping a daily schedule in front of me on my desk is a great reminder of what I need to accomplish.  Remember to be flexible and allow for unplanned requests that need to be completed on a rush basis.  You may categorize your list with projects that 1) must get done (be realistic!), 2) should get done, and 3) other things to get done after I do 1) and 2). 
Tip #2 – Be proactive and plan ahead to avoid crises.  Try to anticipate any deadlines that may happen in the future to avoid a total meltdown.  If it is your responsibility to handle the calendaring of deadlines, make sure your attorney receives calendar notifications through the firm-wide docketing system or Outlook calendar.
Tip #3 – Confirm deadlines with your team members to ensure that everyone is aware of events to avoid missing an important court filing or court appearance.
Tip #4 – Transparent and timely communication with your legal team is critical to ensure everyone is aware of deadlines. Good communication will enhance your time management!  Make sure you are included on attorney email communications to be sure you fully understand the upcoming deadlines and scope of a request.
Tip #5 – Have all of the information you need in advance for a project to save on wasting time later and having to revise your work product.  Be proactive and ask questions when receiving the assignment to avoid delay in completing the project.
Tip #6 – Communicate with the delegator of a project that you are addressing his/her immediate needs but will continue to work on tasks that may take less priority during the day.  Don’t feel bad about the items that you were unable to complete for that particular day, assuming you have prioritized well, but do communicate your status back to a delegator or appropriate team members.
Tip #7 – If you need assistance with a project, learn to delegate within your office.  If you have an administrative project, ask the receptionist or file clerk to assist while you continue to work on other projects.  Remember to say “thank you” to those assisting with the project.
Tip #8 – Speak with other paralegals in your office who may provide ideas about completing projects more efficiently.  Networking both within your office and with friends will enhance your time management skills.
Tip #9 – How disciplined are you related to your work habits?  Do you prefer to work non-stop on a project until completion or take frequent breaks? Do you have constant distractions during the day precluding you from focusing on your workload?  You will be the sole judge of the way you best work.
 

Many of us are guilty of being procrastinators – we often complete tasks that are easy and less time consuming then delve into the projects that require a substantial amount of time for completion.  Utilizing time management skills can reduce the stress associated with being a procrastinator and lead to a better work-life balance!

Washington State Bar Association Presentation of Limited License Legal Technician Program

July 29, 2015

Jody H. Hall

What does the future of the legal profession look like?  Washington State is trying to answer this question in a new and innovative way.  On May 22, I attended a presentation at the Colorado Supreme Court by representatives of the Washington State Bar Association (“WSBA”). These representatives provided the history, overview and requirements of their Limited License Legal Technician, referred to as LLLT (pronounced “Triple L T”).

When I first heard about this presentation, I figured it was some sort of paralegal regulation or registration program of the same mind with the Florida Registered Paralegal, the North Carolina Certified Paralegal or voluntary certification process for paralegals through the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. 

First and foremost, a LLLT is NOT a non-lawyer.  A LLLT receives a license to practice law from the Washington Supreme Court; however, that license is limited in scope to a particular practice area and limited representations within that area.  LLLT’s are held to the same professional responsibility as attorneys; attorney-client privilege applies and the same or similar bar association regulations apply to LLLT’s. 

Currently LLLT’s are only available in family law but the hope is to expand the program to include other practice areas, including elder law, immigration and landlord/tenant.  Washington already has another limited license for real estate closings.  The scope of representation in family law includes: child support modifications, dissolution and legal separation actions, domestic violence, committed intimate relationship actions, parents and support actions, parenting plan modification actions, paternity actions, and relocation actions.  If the case involves real estate, retirement, or elements outside the narrowly defined scope, the LLLT must refer those matters to an attorney.  However, the LLLT can continue the representation of those matters within their scope, as well as proceed with the direction of the attorney.  A LLLT cannot represent a client in Court – a fact that other states implementing their own task forces on the concept have indicated they would change.

The journey to the current LLLT program was started more than 12 years ago out of a need to address a future shortage of lawyers, increasing public demand for legal services and the change in the legal services market from technology.   While most may think there are too many lawyers already, many of whom cannot find jobs, the fact is that law school admissions nationwide are on a decline.  The WSBA is also looking at the very real probability that 50% of attorneys will age out or retire in the next 5-15 years.  Even if we do not like them, the number of people using services such as LegalZoom, Cybersettle and Rocket Lawyer cannot be ignored.  It’s not that clients are leaving their lawyers for these other service providers – 84% of moderate income and 50% of middle income families do not even think of going to a lawyer in the first place. 

The pathway to becoming a LLLT is well-defined, including comprehensive education, character and ethical, financial, exam and experience components.  The goals in establishing the LLLT program included the 3 A’s – Affordable, Accessible and Academically Rigorous.  The total cost of the program is $15,000 (as opposed to $100k+ for 3 years of law school).  In the early stages of the program, there is the opportunity to waive the minimum associate decree and core education requirements through the NFPA PACE Exam, the NALA Certified Paralegal Exam or the NALS Professional Paralegal Exam.  The core education elements can be achieved through any of the 26 community colleges in Washington.  The legal classes must be developed by a law school and are currently being taught by the University of Washington Law School online (making it accessible to candidates throughout the state). 

Just how well this will be received and utilized remains to be seen.  Although 12 years in the making, the first group of 9 Washington LLLT candidates took the licensing exam in early May, and 7 candidates passed the licensing exam. 

The Colorado audience, including Chief Justice Rice, had many questions, including how will the Court’s embrace LLLT’s, what impact would it have on court facilitators that currently assist pro se parties, what rates do LLLT’s charge, and more.

Will Colorado adopt their own LLLT program?  No decision or commitment has been made; however, a steering committee has been formed to investigate.  The meetings are open to the public.  We can safely assume, however, that should Colorado decide to implement something, it will be many years before we see it in practice.  The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for August 28, 2015.  We will post to the RMPA calendar as soon as we receive more details.

Additional details of the WSBA LLLT can be found here and here.

 

 

A Paralegal’s Cookbook:  Recipe for Success

 

June 17, 2015

Debra Hindin-King 

 

Do you have the necessary ingredients to make your paralegal career a success?  Have you recently jotted down a few goals that you would like to include in your professional career plan?

Let’s begin with gathering the ingredients for your recipe (exact portions will vary from individual-to-individual).

 

Basic Ingredient #1 - Attitude

We all have good and not-so good days at the office, particularly when we are faced with immediate deadlines and co-workers that make themselves unavailable to assist you with a project to meet the deadline – so where is that team spirit?  You as the person empowered to manage the case or project need to remain calm while systematically completing the project utilizing available resources, expertise and a positive attitude.  Recommended portions to add to the recipe will need to be adjusted as it relates to the project.

  

Basic Ingredient #2 – Communication

Although technology has been a great resource to assist us with more efficient and transparent communications, a face-to-face conversation is equally as important.  Confirm instructions to avoid delay in completing the project.  I recommend a large portion of the communication ingredient be added to your recipe.

 

Basic Ingredient #3 – Networking

Strive to establish a circle of people you can rely upon to confer about creating a successful career path.  Seek out individuals with similar interests, skills and experiences with problem solving, dealing with challenging personalities and professional growth plans.  Often times, networking lends itself to seeking out new employers to meet your professional goals as a paralegal.  Networking is a fluid ingredient and should be added to maintain the right consistency for blending with the other ingredients.

 

Basic Ingredient #4 – Transparency

How often do you receive emails that aren’t directed to you but you were included on the communication so that if you are ever called upon to participate in a later email discussion you are aware of the specifics related to the issue?  Technology has allowed us all to be more transparent with our legal teams which enhances our ability to deliver more cost effective legal services to our clients.  Transparency is also a good “checks and balances” and provides accountability with team members and your client.  The suggested amount of this ingredient should be a heathy portion.

 

Basic Ingredient #5 – Education

When was the last time you participated and/or presented at a webinar, live seminar or in-house training session?  Learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change in the profession.  As Socrates so eloquently stated, “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”  Many paralegals that have practiced in this profession for several years maintain that education is not as important as gaining practical experience on the job – so why bother with additional education?  My view on this matter is totally different, and I believe every educational opportunity will either provide you a new tool, resource or skill that you may not have previously had in your paralegal toolkit, along with experience.  Since education is a lifelong process – I suggest an abundant amount of education be added to the recipe. 

 

Basic Ingredient #6 – Stress Relief

Stress is a condition present in all of our lives whether we want to admit it or not!   How we process stress varies from individual-to-individual.  Be proactive to minimize your stress level including pre-planning of activities, financial obligations, healthy alternatives and vacations.  Your computer is a good tool to use to organize yourself – Outlook calendars work great and provide you with reminders about appointments.  Outlook folders can be created for individual activities to include communications and documents related to the topic.  Consider adding several cups of stress relief to your recipe.

 

Basic Ingredient #7 – Success

Success in your career will be the outcome of your personalized recipe – make sure to not over-stir or over-bake the above combined suggested ingredients!   You ultimately want the perfect blend of ingredients to aid with a successful paralegal career path.  Suggested amount of the success ingredient will depend on basic ingredients #1 through #6.

So there you have it, a recipe to post on your refrigerator or computer to remind yourself of the ingredients to gather when evaluating your career as a paralegal.  Enjoy the experience and adjust the recipe accordingly to enhance your career!

  

Spin your paralegal skills to your benefit!

June 3, 2015

Debra Hindin-King (hindinking@wtotrial.com)

How often have we heard the idea of “marketing” your skillset and experience to your employer to ensure you continue to be a viable member of the legal team? Today, we often learn from our peers their jobs may be in jeopardy due to the downturn in the economy, a merger, or restructuring of their organization. In these instances, one’s mindset is not on their career but focuses on the mere thought of how to pay monthly bills and continue to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

In today’s business world and job market, we can no longer assume we will remain with the same employer until retirement. So, how can you increase the marketability of your paralegal experience and skills? 1) Volunteer to take on projects within your own company, law firm or governmental agency that will complement and enhance your current skillset and ultimately lead you outside of your comfort zone and, 2) get to know how other team members tackle and organize projects. After all, we are becoming a more transparent society, which applies to conducting business in the workplace. Sharing information is a must! Although we would all like to take pride in owning a project, sharing with a co-worker your leadership role may lead you to future sole ownership of a task.

Gone are the days where any of us were hired to serve a sole function on the legal team. We are now asked to successfully and efficiently perform numerous tasks in the delivery of legal services. Multi-tasking is a familiar concept used during the interview process of new employees: “How comfortable are you in juggling several projects with immediate deadlines?” And the next question: “Do you reach out to others for assistance to successfully meet those deadlines or do you have a meltdown?” Managing your emotions and your stress levels are very important to maintaining a positive and more productive presence in your work environment.

Have you heard rumors among your peers about someone constantly complaining that 1) projects are less than challenging, 2) demanding attorneys wait until the last minute to prepare a brief to be filed the same day, 3) they are expected to have a subpoena prepared and served on the same day on a witness and/or, 4) the challenges of organizing logistics for a document review outside your office in another state? Do those sound familiar to any of you in the litigation practice area?

We all have heard many times paralegals are great multi-taskers, so the above situations can be viewed as challenges we may anticipate, allowing us to plan for positive outcomes without having a meltdown. Spin and apply your proactive talents to assist with defusing some of the stress of meeting critical deadlines. Do you personally calendar/docket important deadlines where your input and assistance may be needed? Do you hold regularly scheduled meetings or have weekly email communications with your legal team to discuss upcoming events that may require your involvement?

If you are aware of the deadline for filing a lengthy brief, e.g. motion to dismiss, motion for summary judgment, motion for class certification that may reference several documents to support your legal argument – grab a copy of the draft and begin collecting, organizing and 2 storing the exhibits electronically that will eventually be labeled and attached to the pleading for an electronic filing with the court and service upon the parties in the litigation. Often times you may have to research the location of the documents designated from a document database, deposition testimony excerpt or Internet. It’s best to allow yourself plenty of time to compile the collection.

I find it a good practice to create a subpoena template to store in my firm’s document management program. If you need to prepare a subpoena either for a deposition, documents or trial attendance at a moment’s notice – you only need to insert the name, location and date. Many states have pdf templates online of subpoenas; check these out before reinventing the wheel.

It is best to be kept informed about any discovery pleadings, particularly initial disclosures or requests for production of documents that have been submitted during the pendency of the litigation. This may give you a clue about the opposing counsel’s universe of documents. Parties will often have an outside vendor acting as the document repository or an off-site warehouse where the documents are stored (if not in electronic format) that will require inspection to determine which key documents from the collection need to be scanned for further review.

Coordination of the production of documents generally occurs with communication between the parties’ paralegals. The issue of cost sharing should be discussed with opposing party at the onset of the project because client pre-approval may be necessary due to the anticipated expense for your client.

Does your company or law firm have providers that offer free webinars about their products? These are great and easy ways to enhance or gain new skills to allow you to be a more active resource to your employer! Some webinars may provide CLE credit depending on the topic, and it is a painless experience to sit at your desk and let someone else become the driver of your computer screen while you get some education in one hour!

Take some risks and you may be pleasantly surprised at the support your employer will give to help you become a more proactive employee and team player! The next time you receive an email about preparing a self-evaluation in conjunction with your job performance review, be sure to include the projects you were involved with outside your assigned practice area. A gentle reminder about your accomplishments will refresh the memories of those who instill the most confidence in your abilities and are your best advocates!

 

Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone to Re-Tool Your Paralegal Skills

March 11, 2015

Debra Hindin-King (hindinking@wtotrial.com)

How often does your attorney ask you to complete a task outside of your comfort zone?  Do you panic or calmly accept the assignment?  Furthermore, do your hands get sweaty, your knees feel like they are going to buckle, your heart rate races and your stomach is experiencing similar effects of a washing machine’s spin cycle?

Staying in your comfort zone lends itself to consistency, routine and steady performance.  Stepping outside your comfort zone allows you to achieve goals you never thought you could.  It allows you to grow professionally and personally.  However, when you step outside your comfort zone, you open yourself to possible stress and anxiety from not knowing what will happen next.  The possibility of being unsuccessful and taking more time to complete an assignment may be looked upon by you as a failure.  Only you can be the judge of the possible ramifications of stepping outside your comfort zone and whether it is really worth taking the risk!

As paralegals we like challenging assignments.  If you are embarking on a project for the very first time ask questions before becoming frustrated.  Often verbal instructions about an assignment may differ from the written version being sent to you via email.  If you are unsure about the assignment always confirm your understanding.  Sometimes after accepting the assignment you may become unavailable to complete the task and therefore have to delegate it to another person within your office.   Make sure as a delegator that you provide the specifics about the task.

Do you have the capacity to take on new cases in a different practice area? Expand your knowledge by getting out of your comfort zone and learning about a different area of law in your office.  Acquiring new skills, you are making yourself more marketable to those you work with in the office and getting to know about others’ preferred practice styles.   Although the learning curve may initially be steep and challenging, the benefits most certainly will outweigh the risk you have taken to embellish your skill set.  Being a proactive employee shows that you are willing to step outside your comfort zone and assume whatever risk may be associated with the assignment.

Freshening up your paralegal skill set will keep you actively sought after by your attorneys for the management of challenging projects and open doors to areas of the law that you may not have considered.  Take calculated risks, challenge yourself and be open to a new experience!

The Benefits of Volunteering –  Need a break from your day-to-day life?

June 11, 2014

Debra Hindin-King (hindinking@wtotrial.com)

Volunteering can be more than doing a good a deed.  In fact, volunteering can be a terrific way to polish your existing skill set, enhance your career options, build new relationships–both personal and professional–and positively affect the lives of others in your community facing serious legal challenges.

Have you always wanted to learn more outside your area of expertise in your fulltime job as a paralegal?  Have you wanted to step outside your comfort zone and learn new skills or use your existing skills in new ways?  Often, volunteering may introduce you to new professional paths and opportunities.

Volunteering offers the opportunity to network with people in your community with whom you may otherwise not have had contact.  In addition to professional networking, volunteering can be fun and a great venue for making new friends (Generations X/Y and Millennials – are you listening?).  If you are new to the community, looking for something to do and want to meet new people who are passionate about the same issues as you – volunteer!  Part of volunteering is finding organizations and opportunities that align with what you hope to learn and accomplish through volunteering.

Colorado Legal Services (CLS) is a private non-profit agency that has served people in Colorado since 1925 (formerly known as the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Denver) and has 14 offices throughout the state to provide “meaningful access to high quality civil legal services in pursuit of justice for as many low income persons and members of vulnerable populations throughout Colorado as possible” according to the CLS’ website.   Its clients include those who are veterans, homeless, recently released from jail or living in shelters due to their situation.  Visit www.coloradolegalservices.org to learn more.

At present, CLS receives funding through the National Legal Services Corporation, the State of Colorado, United Ways, the Colorado Lawyer Trust Account Foundation (COLTAF), government grants and private donations. 

Financial eligibility (except senior citizens over the age of 60) is based on the nationwide poverty guidelines set by the federal government and approved by the CLS Board of Directors. “CLS cannot represent every client, we provide each client the opportunity to present his/her problems and obtain the most effective advice, referral or representation possible from CLS or other community agencies” according to CLS’ website.

I volunteer as a legal assistant one day a week at CLS in Denver, conducting domestic intakes via telephone and for walk-in clients.  After a very thorough one-day training session given by CLS attorneys and a follow-up orientation given by other more experienced volunteer legal assistants who volunteer at CLS, I was ready to address and interview those seeking legal assistance for a variety of civil legal issues.  Accurately recording a client’s responses to the numerous questions during the intake process is critical to insure correct information is obtained to determine whether he or she will qualify for help by CLS lawyers or paralegals, for a referral to a specific agency, pro bono clinic or pro bono attorney to provide assistance. 

Clients may also complete their applications on-line, which expedites the process of conducting the initial intake.  In 2013, 178 volunteers contributed over 17,753 hours assisting clients at CLS.  The volunteer legal assistant’s acute listening skills and ability to ask questions concerning specific issues affecting a client is important during the interview process.  Every afternoon, the legal assistant attends a staffing session with an attorney or paralegal to review interview notes and determine which agencies or services best fit the needs of the various applicants.

Volunteers at CLS include law and paralegal students, paralegals, retired teachers, other professionals and attorneys who want to make a difference in their community with a lasting impact on the lives of those unable to afford legal assistance related to their immediate legal needs. Ongoing training takes place throughout the volunteer commitment and related to the various services offered by community agencies and specialized units supporting CLS clients. Topics for the trainings include Medicare updates, landlord-tenant rights and responsibilities, eviction procedures, bankruptcy, domestic issues, replacing a lost identification card, legal terminology and the legal process, ethics and confidentiality, immigration, and changes in regulations affecting CLS services.

In addition to the intake process, legal assistants can volunteer for other opportunities including clerical, special projects and research.  Thanks to a very well organized and successful volunteer program, CLS volunteers have a webpage link on the CLS system, are annually honored during Volunteer Recognition week in April, and, most importantly, are frequently thanked by the CLS staff and clients for their efforts and commitment to the success of the organization.  Volunteers want to feel needed, and CLS definitely creates a positive environment in which volunteers may thrive and feel appreciated for their commitment and passion to assist people who are often forgotten or ignored despite the urgency of their needs. A non-profit organization can be a driving force behind social change.

A non-profit benefits tremendously from the energy and services of its volunteers. As a volunteer, you can be an “unsung hero” in the lives of many Coloradoans.  Don’t forget it feels good to help others and to be valued as a volunteer!                   

For more information related to CLS and volunteer opportunities – please contact the Administrators of Volunteer Services – Gail Lorenz (glorenz@colegalservices.org) or Annette Moffat (amoffat@colelgalservices.org) call (303) 866-9306, or visit 1905 Sherman Street, Suite 400.

 

What Every Paralegal Needs for Planning a Successful Trial

October 23, 2013

Debra Hindin-King

(hindinking@wtotrial.com)

How often have we thought to ourselves that we needed to be better prepared before the first day of trial?  Your attorney announces the case is not going to settle and you will be responsible for various tasks including but not limited to: preparing the trial exhibit and witness lists; preparing the trial management order; coordinating witness preparation sessions for trial; hotel accommodations and travel plans for lay and expert witnesses; ordering daily draft trial transcripts; scheduling a visit with the court staff (and court IT person); setting up a war room for trial; and other related trial activities.

The best advice is to get your trial team on board and have a meeting to discuss deadlines and division of labor as to who is the responsible team member to coordinate the various tasks.  During the course of the case (helpful at the conclusion of discovery) you should begin creating a list of potential trial exhibits.  I would suggest you save an electronic version of each potential trial exhibit in a folder on your internal drive (it will make it easier to electronically label as a trial exhibit as the trial date gets closer). 

After the Rule 26(a)(2) disclosures are filed begin drafting a witness list for trial using similar information you included in your Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures.  Often times there are late disclosures before trial so you will have a draft list that may need to be tweaked before it is filed, disclosed and attached to a Trial Management Order.

Sometimes in the PreTrial Order a certain date is provided for the filing of a Trial Management Order, in addition to other deadlines related to Rule 16 requirements affecting the trial.  As the case proceeds through discovery begin drafting the TMO using the information available and update as the facts change, pending motions fully briefed have been decided and damages asserted in the lawsuit increase or decrease.

Immediately get deadlines docketed in an Outlook calendar or in the docketing program that your company or law firm has to track deadlines listed in the PTO and TMO.  Pre-planning is helpful to all members of the trial team and will avoid last minute surprises and stress!

Prepare a chart with the names of witnesses, current contact information and availability for a trial preparation sessions to be conducted either during a telephone conversation, video-conferencing or in-person.  It is always helpful if the witness has been deposed to provide a copy of his/her transcript with related deposition exhibits to assist with a smooth and efficient preparation session.  For expert witnesses it is a good idea to review with them their report and supporting documents they relied upon for their opinion.  Frequently (particularly if a trial date has been continued a few times) an expert report may have been prepared a few years before the case is actually heard by the Court—thus it is important to have a trial preparation session close to the time of their actual testimony in court to review their opinions.

Immediately upon learning of the trial date, it should be placed on your radar screen to begin investigating hotel accommodations and travel arrangements for out-of-town witnesses and clients.  Many times conventions book blocks of rooms at hotels during your trial, and it may be a challenge to obtain lodging for all of your witnesses.  Contact the visitors’ bureau and convention center in your area and inquire whether any large group will be in town during your trial.  If you need to set up a war room in a hotel suite you may be able to arrange for complimentary sleeping rooms.  Based on past experience pre-planning is crucial to insure your guests have a place to stay!

Another common request from the trial attorneys is obtaining a daily draft transcript of the testimony elicited by witnesses during the trial.  In some state courts there are no court reporters and the trial proceedings are audio recorded which often times precludes a court reporting transcription service from producing an accurate record of the elicited testimony (thinking ahead, you want an accurate copy to preserve your right for appeal).  Many court reporting services (after getting the Judge’s approval) will allow parties to bring in their own private court reporter for the duration of a trial so that a daily transcript and/or realtime can be made available to all parties.  Again, it is best to coordinate this request as soon as possible to insure the court reporter can be present for the duration of the trial and that you are provided a draft transcript in the evening.  In Federal Court the request may be easier to facilitate because generally live court reporters are present to transcribe the testimony during the course of a trial.  Usually court reporters will require advance payment for their services.

It is a good idea to schedule a visit to survey the courtroom to meet the court staff and access the limitations related to electrical wiring for the technology you will be using during your trial. Take your IT person with you if you will be using an electronic trial presentation program to insure she/he has the proper equipment, including extension cords for the courtroom.  The day before trial coordinate with the court staff to set up and test the equipment (it’s helpful if parties share the equipment─less clutter in the courtroom) to avoid any last minute glitches.  Many courthouses advise that you bring your own equipment while the Federal Court system has the equipment in the courtroom and you simply plug-in and you are ready to go!

Last but not least, it is important to determine the location of your war room at trial.  Location may be the most important ingredient to having a functional and successful war room. If you are in trial in your hometown coordinate with your office personnel as soon as possible for the necessary space that you will need, including witness preparation rooms in addition to the war room.

If you are on the road you need to determine whether the hotel you are staying at is close enough to the courthouse so that you can easily access materials during the trial day from your war room.  Generally, most large hotel chains have suites available that work well for war rooms to house equipment, including computers, printers, copiers, fax machines and office supplies.  Word of caution─inquire at the hotel whether your opposition is also staying at the same hotel on the same floor as your war room!  Ask the hotel management about the stableness of the hotel internet connection.  Plan to bring a Wi-Fi card to have access to firm email and internet browsing in case your documents are stored on a cloud.

Plan for the worst and expect the best─you will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  Paralegals are the cheerleaders for the trial team as well as the conductors of the logistical symphony of orchestrating a smooth transition from theme to theme of the case.  Success is measured by the pre-planning and organization skills you provide in support of the trial team.  Regardless of the outcome of the trial, a paralegal is often the unsung hero on the trial team!

 

Paralegal Mentoring – Do you have a plan?

July 31, 2013

Debra Hindin-King

(hindinking@wtotrial.com)

Merriam-Webster defines the word “mentor” as, “a trusted counselor or guide.”  Often mentoring programs are driven by the needs and interests of the mentee and focus heavily on orientation, advice and networking rather than on training and the development of technical skills.

When was the last time you were approached by your employer to be a mentor to another paralegal?  Have you declined the opportunity because: 1) you don’t have the time; 2) you don’t feel you have enough experience to share with someone else; 3) the responsibility of mentoring belongs to someone else or; 4) you are unsure of the benefits and value you will get for your time being a mentor?  If you have responded to one or more of the above, it is time to retool your thinking about being a paralegal mentor! 

Mentors need to assume a number of different roles during the course of the relationship with the mentee.  Some basic qualities of a successful mentor include leadership, people oriented, willingness to share personal experiences, sincere and honest, active listener, seeking out opportunities and solutions and being flexible.  Mentoring is a shared experience for learning and growth and will only succeed if the mentor stays involved in the relationship.  Furthermore, the mentor needs to remain flexible and adapt to the changing needs of the mentee.

If the paralegal profession is going to continue to flourish in the future, it is the responsibility of those currently in the profession to groom graduates of paralegal programs and new paralegal employees to succeed with the challenges in this profession.  How many of you had a mentor at the beginning of your paralegal career?  It would have been great to have someone with experience address the many questions that accompany the responsibility of being a paralegal.  Furthermore, it would have instilled confidence that whatever the challenge you could efficiently and successfully accomplish the task!  Mentoring programs can often eliminate obstacles and stumbling blocks for a new employee while promoting ethics and professionalism.  It can be a rewarding experience for both the mentor and mentee.

Being a mentor enables you to have fun, achieve personal growth, learn more about yourself and improve self-esteem.  It will make you feel like you are making a difference, being more productive and have a better attitude at work.  Mentoring is geared toward the general goals of developing critical thinking skills and promoting life and workplace success.

An introduction of mentoring a new paralegal may have occurred during the student’s internship as part of the paralegal program’s curriculum and required course work for graduation.  The paralegal supervisor/mentor for the student provided a buffet of different types of experiences related to working in a legal environment to fulfill the requirements of the internship program.  Mentoring a student is a learning experience for both of you.

The task of obtaining and organizing documents for a due diligence review related to a potential business merger or acquisition would provide a great overview of the due diligence process for a mentee.  In the area of litigation, having an understanding and general experience of the necessary components of getting a case ready for trial is priceless, e.g. discovery, preparing trial exhibit notebooks, coordinating courtroom logistics and the related technology used to manage a case.   Paralegals have significant knowledge and experiences that can benefit others who may need just a simple primer to be a smashing success.

Becoming a mentor to a recent paralegal graduate or to a seasoned paralegal new to the corporate legal department or law firm is an experience highly sought after toward grooming a co-worker.    Having in-person conversations sometimes can be more effective than a telephone call or email communication.  As a paralegal mentor think about taking a break and grabbing a cup of coffee or enjoying a nice relaxing lunch outside of the office to further discuss the mentee’s role within the company or law firm.  Consider inviting another co-worker to join you when you go outside the office with your mentee – networking is a great activity to learn more about each other!

Mentoring improves the retention of new employees; both parties will most likely have greater job satisfaction.  Remember that a mentor/mentee relationship is not subject to evaluation and there are no time limits when specific activities within the mentoring relationship should occur.  To assess whether the mentor/mentee relationship was a success, look at the productivity of the mentee and whether the mentor derived professional value from the experience.  Mentoring is a give-and-take relationship.

Accept the challenges and rewards of mentoring a person and experience the benefits that will last you a lifetime. 

 

Paralegals – Are they part of your business plan?

April 23, 2013

by Debra Hindin-King

(hindinking@wtotrial.com)

When was the last time you took a few minutes to chat with your paralegals about the value they add to your law firm or company’s legal department?  Have you shared with your paralegals the organization’s core values and goals?  Furthermore, are you aware of the extraordinary talents these professionals provide to the overall delivery of legal services?   Often a law firm or company’s business plan provides structure (purpose of the business) planning for the operational needs of the organization.  So where do paralegals fit into the plan?

Paralegals can be overlooked when it comes to preparing an organization’s business plan but they shouldn’t be.  These professionals can assist with expanding the client base through the overall marketing efforts of the law firm.  They can uncover background information about targeted industries or companies to help attorneys streamline their efforts when seeking new business opportunities. 

Paralegals are good beta testers for new software products being considered by the organization.  How often have we heard from professionals that they had no input into a new software product that they now are expected to learn and use, e.g., docketing, billing or a new database program to manage electronic discovery?  If upgrading your organization’s technology is in your business plan have a paralegal be a member of the committee considering the purchase and implementation of new technology.

Does your business plan include a blueprint for mentoring new employees – whether they are attorneys or paralegals?  If your plan only addresses attorneys, solicit interest from the paralegals about preparing a plan to meet their professional needs.   As part of the continuing in-house CLE training for professionals consider pairing an attorney/paralegal to present on a specific topic, e.g., docketing deadlines, ESI protocol, trial checklists.  Engaging a paralegal in co-presenting a CLE topic will allow attendees to see the value paralegals bring to the legal team.

Commonly paralegals only receive feedback related to job performance during their annual review.  Taking time from an attorney’s busy schedule to acknowledge a paralegal’s exceptional contribution about a project (in person or by email) can challenge the paralegal to reach higher in achieving professional goals included in the organization’s business plan.

Often paralegals only learn about negative comments about a project completed several months prior during an annual review.  Ongoing feedback throughout the year allows issues to be addressed and resolved by the parties.  Timely feedback about job performance is a critical component of empowering paralegals to their best within the structure of the organization and providing a better overall quality of life.  Professional satisfaction and responsibility is a craving of most paralegals and employers need to better embrace these concerns when discussing and sharing the organization’s business plan.

A business plan needs to be evaluated on a regular basis to determine if it continues to meet the expectations of the organization’s management.  A business plan is like a car that needs to be maintained on a regular basis to be a viable source of transportation.  For an organization to remain successful and competitive, an effective business plan is an absolute necessity. 

 

Enhancing Paralegal Effectiveness: The Art of Delegation

February 27, 2013

by Debra Hindin-King

(hindinking@wtotrial.com

Seasoned paralegals are challenged with managing unruly caseloads and administrative duties for their employer. Often, they are also tasked with overseeing the in-house technology and out-sourcing the management and review of electronic data discovery (EDD) and electronically stored information (ESI). Knowing how to delegate while keeping the stress level at a minimum is key to a paralegal’s success as a member of the legal team.

Frequently, tenured paralegals believe they need to be heavily involved in every phase of a case or a project. To be effective in overseeing a specific case or project, delegation of responsibility of those on your legal team is critical. The leadership role of the paralegal is more prominent if the team assembled is accountable for successful completion of a specific project.

You must define expectations, but also trust those to whom you delegate to assist with making good and sound decisions. Scheduling an initial team meeting to discuss the parameters of the project will have everyone on the same page. Furthermore, questions addressed at the meeting will benefit all team members while recognizing the soon-to-be contributions that support the overall goals of the project. In addition, a successful delegator will allow the team members to develop their existing skills to their full potential; empowering and taking ownership of the project while being responsible during the decision-making process.  Remember, if things go wrong  you as the leader of the team will ultimately be responsible.

There may be situations when you should not delegate, such as last minute projects that only you can accomplish within the requested time frame when everyone has gone home for the evening. However, if you have team members with flexibility in their schedules, a last-minute project may be doable. Sometimes clients prefer to coordinate and speak with the paralegal who has been assigned to oversee their case because of their existing relationship.

Large document reviews or assembling trial exhibits opens an opportunity to delegate to a team to assist with accomplishing these tasks. Positive feedback to celebrate the individual team members’ accomplishments and team success is important. As the team leader, it is particularly necessary to keep the information flowing because many times during the middle of a project with a particular desired outcome, the instructions may change due to a new development in a case. In addition, when delegating effectively and managing a group of professionals, it is essential to have: 1) a plan; 2) promote leadership; 3) encourage motivation; 4) be flexible; 4) have a good attitude; 5) sustain fluid and timely communications; and 6) provide immediate and positive feedback.

As a seasoned professional – whether you work in a small, medium or large law firm or in-house at a company – time management is important to balance the workflow and goals. Time management efforts are based on deadlines rather than on action-oriented tasks.

Delegating successfully may avoid burnout!  Train others to become as good as you are so that you have more time to devote to your duties, which ultimately increases the success of the group organization. Wherever you work the art of delegation can be applied and used to facilitate a more effective and efficient use of time spent on a project. Take time and observe the delegators in your office. What makes them successful?

Paralegals possess great organizational skills and the ability to communicate effectively with other members of the legal team. Including a paralegal as a case manager will not only increase the profitability of your law firm or company, it also will help you remain competitive in the delivery of legal services.

 

The Unperfect Storm – Look Up to the Clouds

January 30, 2013

By Debra Hindin-King
(hindinking@wtotrial.com)

 

We have often heard the phrase in our office, “we have no more storage space for the several hundred boxes of documents.”  Turn the clock forward and we now hear the statement, “we don’t have any storage space on our in-house server(s) or other internal storage device for ESI/EDD.”

It is time to look up to the sky and imagine all of your data residing on a cloud – a great resource to help with holding and accessing, via the Internet, all of your digital data maintained by a third party.  Hosting data on a cloud allows clients, experts, co-counsel, and your legal team to access information 24/7.  Think of the ease of reviewing data in real-time and making quick decisions related to a case in litigation or a merger/acquisition deal being negotiated among multiple parties. 

The cloud provides a huge cost savings by replacing costly licensed software with less expensive software to be used on an as needed basis.

In the future, cloud computing may become the primary platform for Web applications.  The cloud has become our social media network for sites like Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn.  The cloud has also become an electronic library using Hotmail, Gmail, Google, and Yahoo.

The costs of cloud computing can be significantly less than requesting management approval of an additional, in-house server when budgets continue to remain restricted for additional equipment and/or software related to technology. Local computers don’t have to do the heavy lifting with running applications.

The Community Cloud shares infrastructure between several organizations and forms a specific community with common concerns – costs are spread over a few users.  The Public Cloud shares data with several organizations with similar requirements.  There are several advantages for considering a Public Cloud: 1) efficient storage; 2) inexpensive – cloud computing uses large groups of servers to maintain low costs; 3) easy connectivity to servers for information sharing purposes, 4) only pay for servers required, 5) reliable, 6) global; and 7) no hardware/software costs. 

What are the pros and cons of considering cloud computing – check with your colleagues and seek out resources on the Internet before making a decision.  How about the pros: 1) space - savings internally; 2) cost – remote storage electronically less expensive than having a third party host; 3) accessibility – access on any device with Internet connectivity - 24/7 from anywhere in the world to company records; 4) multiple users – fixed price and avoid a per user license fee; 5)       use of enhanced processing power; 6) removal of unneeded capacity when user demand lessens; and 7) single software patch.

How about the cons of cloud computing: 1) security – how secure is my data?; 2) confidentiality – what processes are in place – data  that is released or made available to unauthorized persons could compromise client confidentiality, deprive client of enforceable trade secrets or data subject to attorney-client privilege – might result in waiver of privilege.; 3) cloud provider – inquire about shutdowns it has experienced, what back-up tapes it makes (if any), what formal, written policies and procedures for detecting loss of electronic records and responding to temporary loss of access to records stored on servers; 4) hackers – difficulty to anticipate if cloud will be attacked by a hacker – malware; 5) training – how will in-depth training be administered related to software?; 6) file Structure – need  to spend time and articulate file structure at law firm or company for posting information on the cloud; and 7) must have a device with access to the Internet

National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) identifies the following attributes of cloud computing: 1) On-demand customer initiated service for both server time and network storage; 2) Network access from devices including smartphones, laptops, iPads; and 3)  Computing resources pooled and pay for usage on an as needed basis.

Conduct prudent due diligence of a cloud provider’s security – investigate the clouds’ architecture and methods of operation.  Look up to the clouds and you may be able to see the perfect one to host your company’s data.

 

10 Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions for Paralegals

December 18, 2012

By Debra Hindin-King  
(hindinking@wtotrial.com)

It is once again time to inventory your accomplishments of the past year and decide on your new goals for 2013.  Resolutions can be set and accomplished for and at a specific time during the year whereas a New Year’s resolution can be accomplished anytime within the year.  A key to success for creating a resolution is to be realistic and practicable.

Below is a suggested list of top 10 resolutions for paralegals in 2013.

  1. Do a reality check on your attitude toward life’s challenges.  Do you need to be more proactive in 2013 and less negative?  How about taking a self-help workshop?

  2. Join a professional organization outside of your local paralegal association, e.g., COALSP (Colorado Association of Litigation Support Professionals), CBA/Paralegal Committee, CALSS (Colorado Association of Legal Support Staff) – a great opportunity to network and develop your professional relationships with other paralegals.

  3. 2012 was a challenging year for people who rely heavily on community assistance to meet their daily needs for food, clothing and shelter.  If volunteering is your passion, seek out the numerous community service and pro bono opportunities in your local area, e.g., Colorado Legal Services, Metro Volunteer Lawyers, Volunteers of America, CASA and other organizations that welcome paralegals to become a part of the resource database.  Volunteering is giving back and helping others that might not be able to help themselves but need community and resources to assist with daily survival skills.

  4. Spend some time researching online CLEs, webinars or workshops to expand your paralegal knowledge base in an area of law that may make you a more resourceful employee to the lawyers you work with at your job. This kind of cross-training is great to have when you need more billable hours!

  5. Volunteer to mentor an entry level paralegal or soon-to-be paralegal graduate.  We all have knowledge, experience and skills to share with each other within our profession – set aside time to foster a new relationship with paralegals who will be following in your footsteps in the future.

  6. Seek out a leadership role within your local paralegal association.  If you do, it will be a rewarding and exciting experience.  Get to know the inner workings of the association and be a part of the continuing success!  Honestly after holding various leadership roles, your life will be enriched forever!

  7. Improve your work situation in 2013 by inquiring whether flex-time is an option that may fit your schedule better.  Many employers allow telecommuting where you can work from home 1-2 days a week.  Have you considered job sharing with another paralegal?

  8. Consider improving your health by quitting habits such as smoking or drinking.  Take a natural foods cooking class and/or plan your menus in advance to ensure they are well balanced (remember the 4 food groups!) meals – avoid junk food.  Planning ahead will allow you to have a healthier wallet and waistline!  Getting more exercise is also a benefit to maintaining a healthy lifestyle – join a health club, take a yoga class or exercise regularly with a friend.

  9. Improve your financial condition with an assessment of your credit card debt.  Consider paying off those credit cards with high interest rates or combining them with debt on lower interest credit cards.  Take an investment class on money management and planning for retirement.  We all know 2013 is going to be a challenging year regarding the country’s ability to improve the economy and decrease the unemployment rate.  Be fiscally responsible with your own financial affairs!

  10. Finally, the most important resolution is to be realistic with setting your 2013 goals.  We all like the warm and fuzzy feeling of being successful in our lives and by setting achievable goals and expectations, we will successfully complete resolutions we set earlier in the year in both in our professional and personal lives.

Some of the above New Year’s resolutions will work well together while others may be achieved on an individual basis.  The most important aspect of achieving our 2013 New Year’s resolutions is to be realistic while obtaining the desired outcome.  Conduct a mid-year, self-evaluation to measure your success and fine tune the remaining resolutions you anticipate accomplishing by the end of the year.  Stay positive and confident in 2013!

 

Speed Networking Opportunities for Paralegals

December 5, 2012

By Debra Hindin-King  
(hindinking@wtotrial.com)

 How often have you thought about networking with other paralegals outside your current place of employment?  Where are the best venues to meet people with similar professional aspirations?

 Check out the professional trade organizations within your local community and attend a formal meeting of the organization or scheduled social event.  Being proactive in reaching out to other professionals will only enhance your career opportunities and be a great resource when you have questions or need referrals.  Often times you may need assistance locating process servers, eDiscovery vendors, expert witnesses, forensic specialists, document retrieval companies and many more service providers outside of your home state.

 Along with a fellow paralegal friend (in case you don’t want to go it alone!) check your calendars and then target organizations that hold meetings and events that you will be able to attend.  Remember that being too ambitious and overscheduling yourself may be too stressful and should be avoided.

 The networking experience should be positive and fun.  Instead of networking in person, which perhaps your schedule does not allow, check out virtual chat rooms, listservs, and LinkedIn (where there are a plethora of paralegal sites) to enhance the experience.  In addition, several paralegal publications have blogs you can subscribe to and reach out to other paralegals.  You can always do some Google searches to further enhance your networking experience for resources that are geared toward the paralegal profession.

 Now ask yourself how to begin the process of speed networking.   Have you thought about organizing your own speed networking event for paralegals?  Send an evite to former and current paralegal acquaintances to meet during lunch or after work (food and beverages are always great to lure an audience) with an informal agenda.  Attendees can bring business cards (great ice breaker activity) to exchange with each other and perhaps have a drawing for a donated vendor prize.  Discuss with the attendees if a more formal meeting would be appropriate at a future networking event and consider inviting outside speakers to provide self-help tips and ideas about the profession.  Determine how frequently to meet, time of event, location, and also offer the option of participating by telephone

 Think about developing a database of everyone’s contact information to stay connected between networking events.  Request contact information of their specialty areas of law, favorite Web sites and level of experience as a paralegal, paralegal manager, educator or vendor.  Although the group of attendees may differ from meeting to meeting, the same location and day of the month may be helpful to those that prefer structure to their schedule.

 The paralegal’s role and responsibilities during the past several years has expanded within the legal profession.  The activity of networking is a critical tool for the paralegal profession so that all paralegals can continue to enhance their existing skill-set while assisting with the delivery of legal services. 

 Take a few minutes from your busy schedules to reach out to other paralegals – it will be a bonus to your career and will not cost anything but your time!

 

ARCHIVED

A Paralegal Checkbook :Assessment of Your Skills

August 7, 2012

By Debra Hindin-King 
(hindinking@wtotrial.com)


 How often do you think about remaining innovative and competitive in your paralegal career? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the paralegal profession is expected to grow by 18 percent from 2010 to 2020.  I believe the growth is partially due to the challenging economy dictating the delivery of cost effective legal services and the emergence of more non-traditional paralegal roles. 

 In fact many professional paralegal organizations have expanded their membership (voting, associate, sustaining) to include individuals in non-traditional roles, e.g., litigation support managers, eDiscovery managers, educators, library service personnel, paralegal  managers, contract/freelance paralegals, title examiners, paralegals employed with non-profit and government agencies, process servers/private investigators and many more business related positions.   The paralegal profession is becoming more inclusive of those that have chosen a slightly different career path.

 As the economy continues to assist with expanding the legal profession, we also must be aware of the increased competition for securing and sustaining our current employment as paralegals.  So do a reality check about what skills you need to fine tune your existing skill set to be a more efficient and a better employee.

 The most important skill to sharpen your knowledge and hands-on experience is with technology.  It seems like every day we have a new and improved software product being marketed to the legal profession to assist with managing cases and to be more cost effective in the delivery of legal services to clients.  Many of these new software programs have a trial period in which you can beta test to determine if it is a product your employer might be interested in acquiring and implementing at the firm.  As we all know, both state and federal rules often change which can affect the docketing of case related deadlines  - be proactive and suggest a software product to assist the firm to avoid a missed deadline. 

Many employers offer in-house CLEs to both attorneys and paralegals, e.g., legal writing, witness interview techniques, legal research, preparing for trial and many more topics.  In addition, CLEs are offered by both state and local bar associations to assist with keeping ahead of the competition.  Many national companies offer seminars specifically for paralegals to further their knowledge and practical experience.  Education is an on-going life experience and there are a plethora of options to help you keep fresh in the paralegal profession.

To further expand your contacts and to remain globally connected to the profession consider joining a professional paralegal organization.  This is a great opportunity to network with other paralegals across the country and in the world and learn about obstacles affecting the paralegal profession.  This is also a great opportunity to help market the legal services offered by your law firm – everyone would like to have new clients.

The key to continued success as a paralegal is to market yourself showing the value you bring to your employer.  Seek out new opportunities as a paralegal within your law firm, corporation or governmental agency to show the value added due to your commitment as a team player and terrific skill set.

 

Week of July 30, 2012

Colorado Court’s New E-Filing System

Effective January 1, 2013, the ICCES program will replace LexisNexis.

The State of Colorado Judicial Branch has been working with the CBA on training opportunities with ICCES and will hold many local live training sessions at their office this fall. They will have an online training scheduler available on their website where people can sign up for training opportunities, a large number are still available.

If you go to: http://www.courts.state.co.us/Administration/Section.cfm?Section=efiletrain, you will see a link to access our training registration page. Additional training opportunities will be continually added, including webinar training for those who can’t physically come to one of the training locations (those are not available yet, but should be shortly).
Please visit the above web-site for a list of “current” opportunities (additional dates and times to come). As the date of this notice, RMPA members can sign-up for events on their calendar.

We are working toward getting CLE credits provided for the training classes.
Currently, RMPA is working with the Manager of Application Services at The State of Colorado Judicial Branch toward providing enough flexibility in their schedule to accommodate all our members.

A preview of the new system, and an FAQ, is available at: http://www.courts.state.co.us/Administration/Unit.cfm?Unit=efile
For further information or questions, please contact Jose Trujillo at joseltrujillo1@gmail.com or Ann Woodley at Ann Woodley at administration@rockymtnparalegal.org .


Week of July 23, 2012

Report From the Underground: A Paralegal’s Perspective of EDD/ESI/EDRM

by Debra Hindin-King
Reprinted with permission from KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals.  www.paralegalknowledge.com.

As a seasoned litigation paralegal my daily vocabulary during the
past several years has included  EDD (electronic  data discovery), ESI (electronically stored
information) and the application of the EDRM (electronic discovery reference model).

The floodgates and management of data continues fluid and over- flowing as paralegals are submerged
(often times near drowning) in electronic discovery. As paralegals we are expected to assist our
attor- neys in understanding the importance and application of electronic data management.  The
acronyms alone can make your head spin and you need an EDD/ESI dictionary in your briefcase (or on
your notepad) to understand the terminology being used to evaluate a data collec- tion.

Because the trends in the management of elec- tronic discovery keep changing – the paralegal’s role
in the process continues to evolve and re- mains important in the delivery of legal services.

Paralegals should be included as part of the legal team from the beginning of the case fil-
ing. If your paralegals are not, get them involved immediately.  By involving your paralegals at
the beginning of a case, you will avoid headaches and complications during the discovery and trial
process.

Paralegals can jump into action when ques- tions arise concerning whether a litigation hold has
been properly put in place at the client’s business concerning the subject litigation.  Ques- tions
frequently addressed with the client include when was the litigation hold put into place, who
received a copy of the litigation hold (names of custodians), how are the responsive documents
being collected (review the EDRM model) and where are they being stored.

It is important to remind the client that em- ployees who have since left the company may possess
relevant information and documents which also need to be collected and that the company computers
they used while employed may contain relevant information. The client may have multiple locations
and various media where employees and documents are located that also need to be secured.

Paralegals can assist with monitoring the fre- quency with which the legal hold memo is distrib-
uted during the pendency of the litigation and ongoing collection efforts of data being discov-
ered by company employees.  Paralegals are often asked to prepare a log of the custodians and their
respective documents subject to the litigation hold during the collection phase.

Because paralegals often assist in ensuring data collected is not altered and remains in its
original state, they can be frightened to hear the phrase, “spoliation of evidence” Paralegals are
often asked to solicit RFPs and engage a forensic vendor to as- sist with the collection of
electronic data to avoid spoliation.

Often, we learn clients recycle, shred or destroy key evidence by mistakenly thinking it is not
important to the subject litigation. A paralegal can be an effective li- aison between the client
and the law firm to avoid and minimize such actions occurring, thus establishing a formal chain of
custody process for potential evidence.

In addition to the key questions of 1) where the electronic data being stored on the client’s
computer network system and 2) who is monitoring the litiga- tion hold at the client’s office,
outside counsel’s para- legals can assist if the client has limited resources within the legal
department to oversee the process.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f ) requires parties in litigation to “…confer the nature and
basis of their claims and defenses and the possibilities for prompt- ly settling or resolving the
case; make or arrange for the disclosures required by Rule 26(a)(1)…..develop a proposed discovery
plan stating the parties’ views and proposals including issues related to disclosure or discovery
of electronically stored information, includ- ing the form or forms in which it should be
produced”.


Often prior to Rule 26(f ) conferences paralegals are involved with  drafting a letter for their
attor- neys to send to opposing counsel stating what they expect to accomplish at the conference. 
The letter should list the information the attorneys  will bring along with them to be efficient
and avoid delay dur- ing a hearing, which is generally held before a Mag- istrate Judge or
discovery officer of the Court.  Come prepared and make sure your opponent is prepared!

Discovery requests in litigation are now propound- ed with robust language such as:

The terms “DOCUMENT” and “DOCUMENTS” mean both written documents and other tangible things, and
include all “writings”, as well as electronic data and e-mails including metadata.

By further example, but without limitation, “DOCU- MENTS” includes original writings, drawings,
Power- Point slides, graphs, charts, photographs, video and audio recordings (voice mails, instant
messaging),
and any data compilations from which information can be obtained and translated, if necessary, by
de- tection devices into reasonably usable form, comput- er-stored information, computer disks and
computer printouts, and also includes all non-identical copies and drafts.

Many times parties will also preface the request to include all spreadsheets in native format so
that the data can be further examined by parties’ experts to easier assess statistical data and
damages being sought in the litigation.

Even small litigation matters may contain an abun- dance of EDD/ESI and it is important to note the
same questions may arise about how to collect, pro- cess and review  the data. Several years ago
clients believed to save time and expense incurred by the law firm reviewing a PST file, they
should print all of
the emails from their network related to the litigation matter.

The paralegal would then receive several feet of printed paper emails which had to be reviewed to
eliminate the duplication of email strings and the multiple custodians who also received and
respond- ed to the same email.

Even small litigation matters may contain an abundance of EDD/ESI and it is important to note the
same questions may arise about how to collect, pro- cess and review  the data. Several years ago
clients believed to save time and expense incurred by the law firm reviewing a PST file, they
should print all of the emails from their network related to the litigation matter. The paralegal
would then receive several feet of printed paper emails which had to be reviewed.

In addition, the printed paper email did not con- tain the metadata that today can be extremely
use- ful in the litigation. Although clients are reviewing cost saving measures related to the
prosecution of litigation, they need to be reminded that the preferred downloadable format of email
commu- nications is in a PST file.  Other common electronic formats for documents other than emails
include TIFF, PDF or Native (i.e., a copy of the original elec- tronic file, usually applied to
Excel spreadsheets).

Another challenge that outside counsel may be subject to is the client having a business rela-
tionship with an outside litigation support vendor that assists with managing their data
collections by harvesting,  collecting and reviewing the rel- evant information. Both inside and
outside coun- sel’s legal teams need to procure a partnership to ensure this is a seamless process
for the produc- tion of data whether it is related to Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures  or responses  to 
discovery requests.

In multi-district litigation and/or class action  law- suits, the challenges are endless amount
various counsels about agreeing to a particular production format including the format for the
creation of a privi- lege log and ultimately a trial exhibit list (many state courts have a less
relaxed format for a trial exhibit list than in federal court).

I have often found it less controversial to discuss and agree to the production format (including
the requested load files for importing in a database/case management program) prior to producing
docu- ments in conjunction with the Rule 26(a)(1) disclo- sures so that everyone is one on the same
page.

Coming to an agreement about the requested metadata to be gleaned from the ESI, bates labeling,
parent/child relationships of emails and many other fields of information is absolutely  necessary
so that parties will not have to re-produce their data in a different format. This will the client
money and avoid delays by the producing party to comply with dead- lines and the required format.

Many times productions will be posted to a FTP site instead of provided on media, e.g., CD, DVD,
thumb drive. Paralegals should notify the parties whether an FTP site is an acceptable method of
production.

We sometimes learn after we have a produced a document that we need to “claw” it back because after
further review it was a privileged document inadver- tently disclosed (see FRE 502). Make sure that
you have an Order from the Court addressing inadvertent disclosure.  Mistakes do happen when
dealing with massive amounts of data – the greater the volume of ESI, the greater the chance of
mistake or error.  Auto- mated searches and human reviewers are not infal- lible.

A majority of the electronic review platforms allow the user to generate a privilege log and trial
exhibit list. I can remember when we had to generate Word documents to reflect those documents we
claimed as privileged, noting the parties subject to the privilege document and the reason the
document was with- held. With the terrific review platforms available now to be able to more
efficiently manage and generate reports of our document collections – this has been a huge savings
of time.  Even in the small cases where


there are few documents (ESI/EDD), a document review platform will minimize e-discovery costs and
risks.

Do not rely only on an in-house litigation support department to assist with managing ESI/EDD col-
lections. Solicit RFPs from vendors whose specialty is assisting with processing and producing
ESI/EDD and get their delivery specifications to provide to opposing counsel early in the case.
There are liter- ally hundreds of vendors who want your business and would be willing to assist at
a moment’s notice.

Check out the Internet and you will find informa- tion about the various services and costs charged
by vendors who would be delighted to assist you with your needs.   Do you have friends that have
outsourced their ESI/EDD needs or does a profes- sional organization you belong to have recommen-
dations?  Another question to ask yourself when outsourcing your ESI/EDD projects is whether off-
shore processing is acceptable to your legal team?

Paralegals working behind the scenes will con- tinue to be a viable part of the legal team par-
ticularly related to the management of e-dis- covery.   E-discovery  needs to be done efficiently
and cost effectively and thus a plan  is essen- tial  to  accomplish both  priorities.    
Technology

continues to move on and paralegals have the
expertise and analytical skills to continue with as- sisting with case management related tasks
related to ESI/EDD to allow attorneys to apply the law and uncover the facts of the case. Sometimes
parale- gals appear to be working underground (legally!) on case management projects. They should
be recognized “above ground” for their talents and overall contributions they bring as a unique 
re- source to the legal team.
About the Author
Debra Hindin-King has been a litigation paralegal for 23 years specializing in oil and gas royalty
and commercial litigation.

She is currently employed at the law firm of Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP in Denver.  She is a
member of the Advisory Council, Organization
of Legal Professionals, Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association, Chairperson of the Strategic Planning
Committee for the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Paralegal Committee of the
Colorado Bar Association and Colorado Association of Litiga- tion Support Professionals.  Debra can
be reached at hindinking@wtotrial.com.
“Do not rely only on an in-house litigation support department to assist with managing  ESI/EDD
collections.

Solicit RFPs from vendors whose specialty  is assist- ing with processing and producing
ESI/EDD.”