Mentor Blog

Welcome to our mentor blog. Here you will find posts from
industry professionals on such topics as:
  • Resume & Cover Letter tips
  • Interview Tips
  • How to succeed at work
  • How to get a Mentor
  • What every Mentee should know
  • I lost my job. Now what?
  • Healthy habits
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  • 02 Apr 2020 9:19 AM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    Are You in the Next Round of Layoffs? What to do in the Time of Covid-19.

    By Chere B. Estrin

    It's happening all over the U.S., the world and yes, even in the legal field. Layoffs.

    Law firms, like everyone else, are laying off. I hear stories from legal professionals who walked into the office or turned on their home computers to find out they were let go on the spot, most via e-mail. No severance, no warning. It's a sign of the times. Firms are immediately reserving cash, tightening up and battening down. It's worse than the great recession. But there’s hope. Yes, there really is.

    Some people have been furloughed - meaning, they are laid off and expected to return when the economy returns. Really? That's a terrible risk and unless the firm is paying its' employees to hold them in check, there is no reason to expect there will be a future job, We have no idea what that future looks like.

    Some people tell me that they have job security. It’s time to face reality. No one, absolutely, no one is immune to these big chasms in the job market. No one. Unless you have a crystal ball and predicting what is going to happen, you have to act as if the worst will occur. If it doesn't, consider that a windfall.

    There are areas that are now "hot" because of Covid-19. Interestingly, no matter what crisis the world sees, it is inevitable that critical areas of need pop up. Here is what is hot or getting hotter:

    1. Estate Planning - People are suddenly getting ready - just in case - for the worst by preparing their estate plans.
    2. Healthcare - There will be thousands of lawsuits against hospitals, doctors, nursing homes, and anything else related to healthcare including medical malpractice and products liability (for those ventilators that failed from manufacturers with no prior experience).
    3. Employment law - Lawsuits for wrongful termination, age discrimination and more, are going to pop up as millions of people are terminated.
    4. Insurance defense - Given the number of lawsuits bound to happen, insurance defense will see an increase. Plaintiffs always go for deep pockets.
    5. Divorce and family law - Reports from psychologists and elsewhere point to the divorce rate going up as house bound people experience "real issues". They decide if their present situation is how they want to continue. There is usually an uptick in divorces after holidays. This is hardly a holiday.
    6. Bankruptcy - Just as in the recession, bankruptcy for millions of businesses and individuals is not only around the corner, it is on our doorstep. Out of work employees, closed businesses, revenue loss and less income point to one thing - bankruptcy lawyers and staff will be in demand.

    If you are in any of these specialties, you may just stand a chance for survival. If you are not, for heaven's sake, get cross-trained now before it is too late! Take a class, learn from other departments, do what you need to do. In other words, always ride the horse in the direction it is going.

    What if you do get laid off? I hope not. If it happens, don't run scared. This is a flight or fight situation. Choose fight. Running will not get you back where you want to be. By fighting, you don’t go down. Here are some action items you can do:

    ·       Get your resume together, even though you are certain you are safe. I receive more bad resumes than good. In a panic, people throw one together and expect it to sell them. Remember, you are now going to have tons of competition for the same job. During the recession, there were hundreds of applications for the same role.

    The resume needs to look professional, "pretty” and package you to stand out. Tailor your resume to the job description. I had a candidate just this week, applying for a corporate paralegal position. By the looks of his resume, he clearly was not qualified. However, after the interview, it turns out that he was very qualified. He refused to change his resume. He had one line in the resume that matched the job description and two pages that did not.

    He expected the firm to assume that he had accomplished the tasks in the job description because he mentioned "corporate paralegal". Believe me, they make no assumptions, they have no imagination and if the responsibilities in your resume do not match the job description, they will definitely pass. Finally, I got him to change the resume because he had, in fact, done everything in the description. At this point, he has made it past the HR Manager and onto the Hiring Manager. Fingers crossed.

    Your future job is probably not on Indeed. Yes, there are plenty of jobs there. However, if you take a good look at what is now happening, you will see that the majority of jobs were posted before stay-at-home orders. Check how old the job is. If it is 30+ days old, you might have a couple of situations: the job expired or is on hold; the firm filled the job but did not pull the posting or they are having a hard time finding someone.

    Prepare yourself.

    • Tap into your network. Best people who know where the jobs are, are employees at the firm. Colleagues confide in each other about desires to seek another position. They don't go running down to HR and say, "You know, I am thinking of leaving. What do you think?" Colleagues know where the next vacancy is.
    • Go to Martindale-Hubbell, a well-known law firm directory, listing thousands of firms. Research hot specialties and your practice area. Check out their websites. They may be hiring. Even if they are not, send an inquiry to the Hiring Manager and throw your hat into the ring for upcoming positions. You just don't know what can happen.
    • If you are not on LinkedIn, by all means, put yourself on! If you are afraid your current employer will see your profile, be aware that LinkedIn does not mean that you are looking for a job. It is a sign that you are a professional in today's workplace. Be sure and list responsibilities under each firm. Just putting, "Litigation Paralegal" means nothing to recruiters and employers.

    Recruiters buy a LinkedIn package allowing key word searches. If your profile doesn't look right, there is no professional picture and you skimp on details, you will get passed over. Write a compelling summary. Just saying, "Highly motivated legal professional with corporate transactional skills, team player, works well independently" ain't gonna do it! Get away from routine descriptions and make yourself stand out. Listing job responsibilities that thousands of other people have is not good enough. 

    Check out samples on LinkedIn to make your summary compelling and show some personality. Put your full name and firm. None of this "confidential" stuff or name like, "Anne D.". You will get passed over. Guaranteed.

    Don't overlook LinkedIn’s job board. However, you are going to have to have that profile because when you respond, employers click the link that goes right to you.

    ·        Get registered with staffing agencies. They may not have something now but when they do, they reach into their database. Don't get discouraged if you don’t hear right now. Most of their clients have put their jobs on hold for 60 days or more. But please, don't hound them as they are in this just like you and times are tough for everyone.
    Check out what's going on with your alumni. People tend to stick together. Don't be shy. They may know something.

    ·        Consider working temp or contract. Usually, when a recession hits, direct hire goes down but temporary staffing goes up. That's because firms do not have the budget for full-time employees or they only have project-by-project needs. You may not get the same rate as on your job but hey, the rent will be paid and the kids will eat. Don't get caught in temping too long because that backfires when you go to find a full-time position. Firms don't like long-term temps as a rule. They think you won't stay.

    ·        Consider a job outside of the legal field just for now. You can even temp. We all know Word, have good communication skills, are pretty intelligent and have excellent work histories (well, most of us, anyway). Sign up with a general clerical agency. Take a clerical job if things are not panning out. It's not forever and will get you through so you don't otherwise go on unemployment or go hungry.

    I honestly do not know if temping will heat up in this unusual market. No one seems to be predicting much of anything. But it just doesn't hurt to have backup plans.

    • Check your email constantly. I cannot tell you how many candidates say they are desperate but fail to constantly check email. Even worse, their voicemail is constantly full. In this market, it is going to be survival of the fittest. When an agency calls you for a temp job, they want to fill it immediately. If an employer calls and can’t get through, they move on. If you are slow in getting back to them, chances are they have filled the order. You need a sense of urgency because someone else will beat you to the job.
    • Not a member of NYCPA? Join now. You will get the newsletter, networking and job board opportunities. When the time comes, you can get out of the house and meet. (Not now.) Some associations are now holding virtual meetings. Be sure and attend. You probably have plenty of time on your hands.
    • Stay on top of the news and social media for this field. While turning off the news and giving yourself a mental health break is good, bear in mind, this crisis changes almost hourly. Having information is having power.
    • If you haven't been laid-off, now is the time your firm sees you as indispensable. No more just suiting up and showing up. You need to become an expert so much so that the firm would really suffer a loss if they let you go. That could be a deciding factor when the firm is faced with who to cut.

    That may mean initiating an office politics campaign, gaining new responsibilities, getting next to the conduit to the power who can speak for you, and rising above everyone. Just plain old excellent hard work will not do it in this unprecedented market. Everyone is expected to work hard and provide excellent work. This is not criteria strong enough to keep you at the firm.

    Protecting yourself in your career today is just as important as washing your hands, practicing social distancing and staying at home. You don't want to get the virus and you don't want to be unemployed or helpless.

    Here's the deal. Nothing lasts forever. While going through this is one of the worst possible situations that can happen to our magnificent country, we are tough enough to fight it through. I believe in my heart of hearts that we will see the light at the end of the tunnel and realize, it's not a train coming at us.

    Have faith. Keep washing your hands, stay calm, stay positive and most of all, stay strong,

    Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a top staffing organization in California. She is also the President of the Organization of Legal Professionals. Chere has written 10 books on legal careers, hundreds of articles and has been written up in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Trib, Newsweek, Entrepreneur and others. Chere is a recipient of the LAPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Los Angeles/Century City Women of Achievement Award, New York City Paralegal Assoc. Excellence Award, and a finalist for the Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award. She is a former administrator in an AmLaw 100 firm and Sr. Vice President in a $5 billion company. Reach out at: chere@estrinlegalstaffing.com.

    ©Estrin Education, Inc. 2020


  • 29 Mar 2020 5:49 PM | Samantha Vitone

    Being a paralegal is hard but also, a very rewarding job. Even though we are not attorneys, we as paralegals do a lot because we are the ones who assist the lawyer or lawyers in the legal industry by drafting documents, conduct legal research and maintain and organizing files and the list of duties goes on. What exactly is a paralegal? According to the American Bar Association (ABA), a paralegal is, “ a person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.” From the 1970s to 2020, the paralegal industry has changed dramatically and paralegals are in high demand than ever before.

    One way to be a paralegal is to receive a paralegal certificate and that is when you successfully completed and graduated from an ABA-Approved paralegal studies program. When you receive a Paralegal Certificate, it does not make you a Certified Paralegal (CP). How do you become one you might ask. To be a Certified Paralegal, you need to successfully complete both the knowledge and skills exam from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). You first have to see if you are eligible to take the two-section exam to be a certified paralegal. The candidate must submit the CP application on www.Nala.org, pay a fee and send the required supporting documentation via e-mail, online or mail to NALA. You will be notified via e-mail if you were or not approved to take the exam.  The exam is a comprehensive assessment based on federal law and procedure. There are several benefits of having a Certified Paralegal Credential including a salary increase, which will assure employers and clients that they possess a specified level of understanding and competence and having a CP credential is recognized worldwide.

    Once you become a Certified Paralegal, the next step you can do is being an Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP). Yes, there is more! To be one, you have to successfully complete the Advanced Certified Paralegal program that is hosted by NALA and it is designed to advance your education. The average course is about 20 hours in length and organized into multiple chapters and these web-based courses are available on a 24/7 basis. Anyone can take the courses and you do not have to be a NALA Certified Paralegal but the ACP credentials are only available to current Certified Paralegals.

    The paralegal plays an important and critical role on any legal team and because of that, we should always try to learn. The more education we obtain, the more knowledge we will be of the legal world. If you cannot be a Certified Paralegal or an Advanced Certified Paralegal, that is ok! A few ways to learn about certain law fields is by attending legal seminars, webinars, online courses, and Paralegal conventions/events. What Anton Chekhov has said, “Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.”


  • 15 Mar 2020 3:02 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    How Bad Is It To.....

    We all make mistakes. However, there are degrees of mistakes, some very bad, some, well, not so bad. Here are 5 scenarios that might sound familiar to you:

    How bad is it to......

    1.  Agree to a phone interview with a staffing organization recruiter and ghost or stand them up. Recruiters are professionals. They take the time to answer your application. They set aside time in their very busy schedule that could have gone to someone else. Recruiters can be your best friend because not only do they know where the jobs are, they have intimate details of the firm that you would never know by answering an ad on a job board. They may even have other jobs available that you don't know about.

    Once you stand them up, they put you down in their file as a "no show" and move on to the next candidate. It is really rude and frankly, unprofessional, not to even shoot the recruiter a one-line email and in the re line say you can't make it. That way, you remain friends and the recruiter can book their very valuable time with someone who does want the interview. You wouldn't stand up an employer, would you? Of course not! Why would you stand up the gatekeeper to the employer? What happens? Usually, after some time goes by, the candidate forgets that they stood that recruiter up and applies for their dream job with the same agency. The result? They are very definitely rejected.

    How bad is it: Really, really bad.

    2.  Your resume does not look that great. Yet, you refuse to change it, acknowledge it isn't the greatest or have someone else review it. You use Times Roman font (outdated). You use the wrong grammar i.e., in past jobs. You say, "Drafts documents" instead of the past tense, "Drafted documents". (Employers bounce resumes for that reason. You don't know how to write.) You are not specific to the job description posted. You keep sending out the resume with little or no results and claim "age discrimination" or some such thing. You go back 30 years when you only need to go back 10 years.

    How bad is it: Really bad.

    3. You leave off your email or your phone number on your resume. Seriously??? You say that you are getting too many spam calls. You forgot to put it on. Or, you leave off your email and say you don't want to reveal it to strangers or that you get too many emails. I am curious. How do you expect potential employers to reach you? Sometimes, they book an interview with you and only afterwards, realize there is no phone number on the resume. It's annoying and makes you look unprepared. You are viewed as not detail oriented or, well, making a dumb mistake. (Honestly) They simply pass.

    How bad is it: Really bad.

    3. In an effort to adhere to the "one page" resume rule, you squeeze everything in or leave out important information. Look. You need to sell yourself. You need to get past the gatekeeper. It's absolutely true that potential employers can spend less than 15 seconds perusing your resume seeking salient points. Two pages is perfectly ok. Three or four is not. It's better to have a good looking resume than one that is crowded or leaves off important information.

    How bad is it: Kinda bad.

    4. You just had a phone or face-to-face interview and you fail to send a thank-you email. I cannot emphasize how important the thank-you email is. First, it shows professionalism. Second, it reminds the potential employer of you and it is one more reason to get in front of them. Third, employers review the thank-you email and make assessments as to your writing ability along with your desire for the position.

    The first paragraph thanks the employer for taking the time to meet with you. The second paragraph and most important, ties in something that was said in the interview that ties in with your skills. It shows that you were listening and reminds the employer of why you are qualified for the position. The third paragraph talks about looking forward to moving to the next step. Try not to use standard thank you's that everyone writes. Be original. It shows that you are well above the average candidate.

    How bad is it? Sorta bad.

    5. You have no questions to ask the interviewer after the interview. The interviewer ends your talk and asks you if you have any questions. Now is the time to show off that you are highly interested. Don't say, "No, you've pretty much covered everything." Have two questions to ask about the job. Be sure not to ask what are the benefits, bonus and salary. Not the right time. Answering, “No, I have no questions” could signal to an interviewer that you lack enthusiasm, thoughtfulness, and an understanding of everything discussed in the interview.

    The first rule is never ask anything already covered. Listen carefully the entire way through your interview because if you ask something already expressed, it’ll seem like you weren’t listening. If you need something explained further, ask: “I’d like to revisit this point … can you elaborate on this for me?”

    You might say:

    • ""I am very interested in this position and am confident I am qualified. Can you tell me if I am the type of candidate you are seeking?" The idea here is to find out what objections the interviewer might have. Finding out on the spot gives you a chance to explain further or more solidly clear up any doubts the interviewer might have instead of having them stew over it and send a rejection letter.
    • "How has this position changed over the years?"
    • "Is there anything that I haven't explained adequately that you would like to address?"

    Here is a great article to help prepare you: 14 Impressive Questions to Answer at the End of the Interview

    How bad is it? Pretty bad.

    There are always things we could do better. However, these common mistakes can be avoided and you can spend a lot less time agonizing over why you didn't get an offer. Always take the path to success. Don't be resistant to trying new techniques. With the coming down economy, you may find yourself on the job market. (Hopefully, not.) Beat the competition and land the job you want. You'll be glad you did.

    Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing, a top staffing organization in California. She is also the President of the Organization of Legal Professionals and the Paralegal Knowledge Institute. Chere has written 10 books on legal careers, hundreds of articles and has been written up in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Trib, Newsweek, Entrepreneur and others. Chere is a recipient of the Los Angeles/Century City Women of Achievement Award and a finalist for the Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award. She is a former administrator in an AmLaw 100 firm and Sr. Vice President in a $5 billion company. She can be reached on Sundays from 3am-5am. Reach out at: chere@estrinlegalstaffing.com.

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-bad-chere-estrin/?trackingId=EfVKWycaPZM1jVNoHzey%2Bg%3D%3D

  • 08 Mar 2020 9:47 AM | Samantha Vitone

    Social media has been more of a reliable resource for finding prospects, jobs, new talent, and partners than ever before. One of the most popular social networking sites in the year of 2020 is LinkedIn: a social networking site when it comes to online “business networking.” Did you know that LinkedIn has actually been around longer than Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram? But it is more relevant now than ever. 

    You are probably wondering to yourself, “is it important to have a LinkedIn profile?” The answer is, yes. Why? According to Topresume.com, “LinkedIn hosts more than 500 million professional profiles, which means nearly an unlimited supply of network connections and job opportunities. From seeking a new job to maintaining your personal brand, LinkedIn is an important part of being a full-fledged professional in any industry these days.” Your profile gives you the ability to showcase your expertise, connections, skills and achievements.

    Learn how to build a professional and better LinkedIn profile with the few tips below.

    Profile Picture: The quality of your LinkedIn profile picture is very important. Your picture is a key element of your LinkedIn presence. According to Lydia Abbot, the Blog Editor and Contest Marketer at LinkedIn, research showed that just having a picture makes your profile (14) fourteen times more likely to be viewed by others. 

    Get someone such as a friend or family member to take your photo – do not take a selfie. Make your pose simple, put the focus on your face, look friendly and stick to your office wardrobe (there’s no need to dress up unnecessarily). Standard office clothes will do. The only exception to this rule is for casual work environments), and do not over edit your picture. Try to avoid small, low-resolution images and your ideal size is 400 x 400 pixels. For more tips to have a better LinkedIn profile picture, click here

    Write an Interesting Headline and Summary: LinkedIn data shows that you only have (5) five to (10) ten seconds to impress a potential employer online and one of the very first things they see is your headline. Your headline should answer the question, “Why should I stop and click on this profile?” Have a specific header such as highlight your unique value proposition. The more detailed your headline is, the better. 

    Think of your summary as a cover letter - as it is supposed to give people a better sense of who you are. Show off your personality, keep it short by removing superlatives and write in an active voice, and have a pitch: elaborate on your passions, skills and unique story. Click herefor more tips to making a better LinkedIn profile summary.

    Customizing Your URL: Your LinkedIn profile URL is important because it enhances your personal brand, control how you appear when people search for you online, use the URL on your resume and on personal business cards. Click here for directions of how to change your public profile URL.

    These tips will help you make a better profile. It will wow your future connections and grow your influence on LinkedIn. What are your tips to making a LinkedIn profile desirable and interesting? Write your tips or advice below to help other readers with their profile.

    Also, do not forget to download the LinkedIn Mobile App on your electronic device or devices.

  • 11 Aug 2019 4:00 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    By Becky Kane—Doist via Fast Company

    Becky Kane writes, "According to his LinkedIn profile, Rick Galan has been the head of digital marketing at Qualtrics — an experience research and analytics software company headquartered in Utah and Seattle — for the last three years and seven months. On paper, he certainly looked successful. Yet here he was with a to-do list so out of control that he had decided to just give up and start fresh."

    READ MORE HERE

  • 07 Aug 2019 8:41 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    A question was submitted to NYCPA:

    As applied to Regulation D Private Placements there are Jurisdictional NASAA Legends.  What book or website  would I need to find out the Legend requirements for Israel, UK, and Europe? I'm aware that there is a more "general" foreign legend. Would that be more appropriate? where would I find one? I will be applying them to a "clear sky" continual offering for 100mm. For disclosure purposes- the issuer exemption is being utilized. As for forms when attracting foreign investors with or without using a "portal" what forms are required and to whom do I submit them. Is it possible that my questions and more that I may not be aware that I have are answerable in one or more horn or nutshell books?
    If you can help, please respond to Bermanmoorellc@aol.com.

    Thank you!


  • 12 May 2019 7:54 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    Are you afraid to post on LinkedIn? I have broken down for you how I went from a lurker to a full-time poster (am I an hashtag #influencer yet?) Each stage is typically 3-6 weeks (depending on your level of social media fear).

    • Lurk for awhile (it's ok, this is a necessary prerequisite.) 
    • Like a few posts per day. 
    • Begin to comment. (Keep it real. Just make believe you are talking/conversating.) 
    • Become a regular liker/commentator. 
    • Begin to post with a goal of once a week. 
    • Accidentally post twice a week (because you found yourself with more things to say and it wasn't so scary!) 
    • Post daily. 
    • Surprise yourself and post more than once a day! 
    • Disclaimer: It's ok to take a break if you have to.
    •  Also: Message people regularly to say hello! 
    • Connect with at least 10 ppl per day. 
    • Connect with those that like and comment on you posts.

    Questions? Ask me in the comments! If you're a LinkedIn pro what can you add? P.S. This somehow means a lot to me to share this. Hope you like it! hashtag #EstherINsites hashtag #socialmedia hashtag #linkedinlife hashtag #linkedintips hashtag #connectengagerepeat Expirit

    https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6531899395418386434/

  • 08 May 2019 8:49 AM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    10 truly helpful Windows 10 tools you might not know about

    Enthusiast-friendly power tools lurk in every corner of Windows 10. Let's shine a light on some of the more obscure ones.

    By Brad Chacos

    Senior Editor, PCWorld

    So you’ve mastered Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts and Snap open windows like a boss. Now what?

    Windows 10 offers many other power tools for enthusiasts—if you know where to find them. Some are older, yet still obscure. Others are relatively new, added during the twice-annual major upgrades Microsoft’s been pushing out since Windows 10 launched nearly four long years ago. But all 10 of these little-used tricks and tools can help hardened PC users save time or eliminate headaches.

    If you’re looking for a guide to even more of the operating system’s darker corners after reading this, be sure to check out our roundup of the best Windows 10 tips and tweaks. Most everyone will learn a little something! Microsoft’s been aggressive about rolling out new features for Windows 10, but not necessarily about promoting them. Speaking of which…


    1. Timeline

    Microsoft rolled out Windows 10’s Timeline feature as part of the April 2018 Update, and it’s awesome. It’s basically like a browser history for your desktop programs, showing files you’ve opened previously in chronological order. Selecting one opens the file once again. Paired with the “Pick up where you left off” in modern Microsoft Office apps, you can be knee-deep in that project from two weeks ago in no time. Better yet, Timeline’s tied to your Microsoft account rather than an individual PC. If you store your files in the cloud, you can pick up where you left off no matter which device you happen to use.


    READ MORE HERE: https://www.pcworld.com/article/3387950/10-truly-helpful-windows-10-tools-you-might-not-know-about.html


  • 17 Apr 2019 10:23 AM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    How Can Paralegals Survive and Thrive in New Wokr Situations?

    Whether you’re new to the profession or you have years of experience as a paralegal, you may find yourself working in an unfamiliar practice area. You may be ‘learning by fire’ and not feeling confident about how you’re getting the job done. You may not have enough contact with your supervising attorney or feel like you’re bothering him/her with constant questions. Even if you’re not working in a new practice area, there are always new rules and procedures that you need to figure out.

    Here are twelve tips that will help you survive these situations and thrive in your career:

    Just like the cable company, adopt the habit of ‘bundling.’ Try saving all the questions you need to ask the attorney and present them all at once. It’s tough to flag down a busy person and they don’t like frequent interruptions that take them away from their work. If you can schedule one or two fifteen minute meetings (say, first thing in the morning and perhaps immediately after lunch), you may find a more willing listener.

    Does your state have guidelines for the utilization of paralegals? If so, be sure you have a copy and then discuss the guidelines with your employer. Tell him/her that you really like your job and you like working for him/her but you feel there are some areas where you feel uncomfortable and could he/she help you with those. If your employer doesn’t know that you need this help, he or she can’t provide what you need. (Remember that the American Bar Association offers Guidelines for the Utilization of Paralegal Services and so does the National Association of Legal Assistants.)

    Be sure you are getting the supervision that is required for nonlawyer staff. Remember that the attorney is to review your work before it leaves the office and that nonlawyers cannot sign pleadings or correspondence that offers legal advice.

    Familiarize yourself with the court rules for your state and your local jurisdiction. Know where to find requirements and time frames for any filings you’ll be doing. It’s your responsibility to know this for calendaring and for planning when work needs to be done.

    Are there similar older or closed files you can follow? They would give you great ideas for a procedure that’s been followed in the past, documents that have been drafted, and correspondence that’s been sent. Be sure to ask the attorney if there is another file you can follow or another client with similar issues.

    Make the court staff your new best friends. They are usually happy to help with the procedure and they may have checklists and forms you can use. Be sure to treat them with respect and be lavish with your thanks.

    Create your own procedures manual. This should include forms, checklists, contact lists, and helpful Web sites. The more systems you can put in place, the smoother your transition into this new practice area will be.

    Seek out continuing education opportunities, especially in the new practice area. You should consider certification and advanced certification. There are also a number of online courses (remember that The Paralegal Mentor offers a few that might work) that should be convenient for you to attend.

    Take an active role in paralegal forums. Two good ones are provided by Paralegal Gateway and by Legal Assistant TodayNALA also provides a good forum for members. The paralegals who post on those venues are very generous with their expertise and advice. They will generally share forms and their knowledge of procedure.

    Join local, state and national professional associations. After you’ve joined, become an involved member: go to meetings, run for office, join in discussions and educational events. This will provide chances for networking with other paralegals who do the same work you do. Professional newsletters and journals offer lots of articles that may help you with your situation.

    Find a mentor. Ask someone who has experience in the practice area to help you learn the ropes. Again, most paralegals are incredibly generous with their time and their expertise.

    Use social media as a resource. Establish accounts on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter, provide a professional profile and dive in. Be sure to join whatever groups work for you, too. This is a great way to ask questions, locate resources and learn about educational opportunities. Just remember that whatever you post on these sites can be viewed by everyone so keep everything you do on a professional level.

    Your challenge: When you catch yourself saying, “Holy Moly…what do I do now?” take a step back, analyze the situation, and decide which of the above tips will work for you. You will probably find more than one. Then, step by step, learn all about the new practice area or the new procedure. Before you know it, you’ll be offering tips and advice to other paralegals.

    Vicki Voisin, “The Paralegal Mentor”, delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by achieving goals and determining the direction they will take their careers. Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She publishes a bi-weekly ezine titled Strategies for Paralegals Seeking Excellence. More information is available at www.paralegalmentor.com


  • 13 Mar 2019 3:44 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    5 Tips for Incorporating Mindfulness into Your Legal Practice

    Mindfulness practices have known therapeutic benefits that I’ve seen firsthand as a lawyer and practicing yoga instructor.

    By Jennifer Cormano | March 08, 2019 at 05:07 PM

     

    Jennifer Cormano is an associate in Nixon Peabody’s Los Angeles office (Photo: Courtesy Photo)

    When I talk with lawyers about having a daily practice of mindfulness, meditation or yoga, there’s often resistance to add yet another activity to their already hectic schedules. But these practices have known therapeutic benefits that I’ve seen firsthand as a lawyer and practicing yoga instructor. Studies show that meditation leads to growth in areas of the brain important for learning, memory, emotional regulation, perspective taking and compassion. Simply put, it’s worth the time.

    Here are some ways you can incorporate these activities into your daily life:

    Start small. Pick a short meditation you’ll be able to complete regularly. There are many types of meditation but, at its core, meditation is the act of concentrating your mind on one point of focus. Value the quality of the time and the number of days you practice rather than the amount of time you spend practicing on any one given day. A great starting point is a focused breathing meditation. Start by sitting or lying down. If you are sitting, be sure your feet are flat on the ground with your legs uncrossed. Your hands can be in a comfortable position with your arms unfolded. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in while slowly counting to three. The goal is to time your breath so that you have inhaled as much as possible as you reach the number three. Then exhale while counting to three. Again, the goal is to have exhaled as much as possible as you reach the number three. Repeat this for as many breaths as you’d like. If your mind wanders at any time, gently bring your focus back and start where you left off. Another option is a body scan meditation. You can hear a session I led with the Live & Law in LA podcast.

    Attach your practice to something you already do and/or schedule it. The best way to be consistent is to build a short practice around your current activities. For example, doing the above breathing meditation for five breaths before getting out of the car when you arrive at the office and/or before getting out of the car when you arrive home. Another alternative is to turn something you do daily into a mindfulness exercise. Mindfulness is the act of observing one’s physical, mental and emotional states in the current moment without judgment. For example, if I mindfully brush my teeth, I slow down the activity and focus on the feel of the brush on my teeth or the taste of the toothpaste without deciding if I like or dislike it.

    Track your progress and commit to being consistent. In order to get the most from your practice, it’s important to be consistent with some form of practice. Studies that focus on changes to the brain in connection with mindfulness, yoga and meditation, all show these benefits take place when the exercises are done consistently. Put time on your calendar or use an app to track your consistency. If client demands or other personal needs come up, that’s okay, but reschedule your practice time in the same day rather than cancelling altogether. If you miss a day or two, it’s okay, just pick it up the next day. This isn’t about being perfect every day—just completing your practice most days.

    Grow your practice slowly over time. When you first start out with your new practice, put a reminder in your schedule every week or two to check-in and determine if it’s time to increase your practice time. For example, if you started with five focused breaths before getting out of the car when you arrived at the office, try ten breaths after a week’s time. After another week, try 15. When the number gets too high to count easily, try moving to a timed meditation by setting an alarm for three to five minutes. Then each week increase your time by 15 to 30 seconds until you reach your desired length.

    Be forgiving and patient with yourself and your practice. Lawyers are often perfectionistic and whatever we do, we want to be the best. As a result, we can be incredibly critical of our performance. When I first started my daily meditation practice, it felt like I was failing because I found it difficult to get it in every day. My yoga teacher suggested I try changing the time of day I meditated, but, more importantly, that I go easy on myself. Give yourself the same permission to be a beginner and investigate different options. The end goal is to create a consistent practice that works best for you.

     

    Jennifer Cormano is an associate in Nixon Peabody’s Los Angeles office. She represents both nonprofit and for-profit health care providers, including hospitals, physician groups, academic medical centers, surgery centers, accountable care organizations, and other organizations affiliated with the health care industry. Her practice focuses on hospital/physician alignment strategies, corporate governance and formation matters, joint ventures, mergers, acquisitions and other strategic transactions. The information outlined above does not constitute legal advice and is meant solely for educational purposes.

    https://www.law.com/therecorder/2019/03/08/5-tips-for-incorporating-mindfulness-into-your-legal-practice/ 

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