Dedicated to the progress and advancement of all paralegals.

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
  • 19 May 2011 7:41 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    I would like to share with you an article written by Jamie Collins and published in the IPE monthly newsletter. Click the link to read about Top Ten Pointers for New Paralegals: Climbing the Paralegal Ladder.

    Please feel free to subscribe by sending e-mail to


  • 28 Apr 2011 3:53 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    Office Politics? Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil!

    By Vicki Voisin, ACP

    Office Politics – strategies people use to achieve personal advantage -- are a fact of life. Some are “good” and some are “bad”.

    When thought of as “bad” office politics, reference is to the tactics people use for their advantage at the expense of others, adversely affecting the work environment and relationships. “Good” office politics help you promote yourself.

    You may hate them, but like it or not, you need to learn to handle office politics well to ensure your career success. If you refuse to deal with the 'bad politics' churning around you, your career may suffer as others take unfair advantage. If you avoid practicing 'good politics', you may miss opportunities to promote and advance your career.

    Office politics may be compared to navigating a minefield. To deal with them effectively, you must accept the reality that they exist and then develop tactics to deal with them. The “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” approach is best. Here are some tips to help you survive:

    Hear No Evil

    Disregard Biased Comments. Negative feelings about a co-worker often result from something another co-worker says. Don’t pay attention to biased comments. Instead, get to know your co-workers and form your own opinions. Once you know someone well and understand what motivates them, you may find they’re not so bad after all.

    Don’t hold a grudge.  Anger toward a co-worker only serves to adversely affect your work. Instead of bottling up your anger and risking an emotional explosion, take steps to diffuse the crisis regardless of who may be at fault. Once the problem is resolved let go of your anger -- treat the problem as history and move on.

    See No Evil.

    Observe your co-workers. It’s always helpful to know where other people stand. Take some time to observe your co-workers and assess their political power. Who are the real influencers? Are there groups or cliques? Who gets along with whom? Who are the chronic complainers and crisis seekers?

    Build relationships that with peers as well as bosses. Be part of multiple networks so you can keep your finger on the pulse of the firm. Get to know politically powerful people in the firm or company. Build relationships with them but never fear them. Be friendly with everyone but don’t align yourself with one group or another.

    Speak No Evil.

    Treat everyone with respect and kindness. No matter how upset you are about something or how upset you are with a co-worker or client, keep your comments to yourself, put on a smile and greet them warmly.

    Avoid joining with voices that criticize your boss, the firm or the company. Never complain to a client or anyone outside the firm about internal conflicts. This only sheds a bad light on everyone, especially you. 

    Don’t be boastful.  Co-workers perceive you as bragging, you may have a label you don’t want. It’s best to let your work speak for itself or let somebody else do the bragging for you. Of course, it does no harm to point out to your boss what you have contributed and achieved beyond the call of duty. If you make a mistake, admit it and fix it...don't blame it on someone else.

    Beware – ultimatums may be very dangerous.  Before you rush to a manager and lay down an ultimatum, consider what the results might be. If you get someone fired, you may pay a steep price with your co-workers. If you are ignored and nothing is done, you are no further ahead and you’ve made it known that you are so unhappy you’re ready to leave the firm. When and if you decide to take your problems to a manager, always be able to offer constructive solutions.

    Additional Steps You Should Take.

    Concentrate on your work. Be the best at what you do, no matter the size of the job, and always leave your mark of excellence on your work. Be punctual, meet deadlines and follow the rules (written or unwritten) of the firm or company. Become an expert (the go-to person) in at least one area. Watch for trends in the industry. Always be learning new systems and software. 

    You may have to make a change. If the chaos of office politics becomes too difficult to handle, you may have to request a transfer or decide that another job is the best route for you. Do not wait until you are completely broken down to do this. Know the danger signs and when it’s time to quit. If at all possible, land the new job before letting go of the current one.

    There’s a saying that you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar. This certainly applies to office politics. Always weigh your options. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Be patient. Be open to new opportunities.

    When you learn to deal with office politics, you will regain your self-confidence and enjoy your work more. You’re a winner!

    Do visit where new subscribers can access the special report titled "Is Your Computer Talking Behind Your Back'" This report is available at no cost and offers inside information on how the careless use of technology can result in the disclosure of confidential client information and/or privileged documents and information.

    The Paralegal Mentor Blog is now available. I'll be looking forward to your comments as I post more information and pictures there.


    Vicki Voisin, "The Paralegal Mentor", delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by setting 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 weekly ezine titled Paralegal Strategies. Information is available at

    She also co-hosts a monthly podcast on Legal Talk Network (

    You may absolutely share this newsletter with people you think might enjoy it. When doing so, please forward it in its entirety, including the contact and copyright information. Thanks and enjoy!

  • 04 Apr 2011 12:28 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    By Gloria Koss,

    Communication skills are something that come to us, as sociable beings, somewhat naturally. While communication can be easier for some than others, it is an important skill set to manage because those who can communicate well are in high demand in the workforce. Paralegals who have a firm grasp of these skills not only invite new employment opportunities for themselves, they can also further cement themselves in a position they currently hold and enjoy.

    For those not as skilled as they would like to be in the art of communication, some very simple tips can immediately begin improving how you interact with attorneys, clients and other professionals around the office.

    The importance of communication for paralegals
    The National Associate of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently released a study conducted to discover the most desirable skills that employers sought in potential employees. These same desires apply to existing employees, especially in the legal profession. What was at the very top of their list? Communication skills. That’s right, a good communicator is more desirable to employers than those with sharp analytical skills, good team players, those with sharp technical abilities, and even individuals with a solid work ethic. What types of skills fall into this most-wanted category, and why are they so important?

    Obviously, communicating means the ability to effectively transfer information to other individuals. More specifically, there are three general types of communication skills: expressive, listening, and overall management. Body language, facial expression, and word choice all fall into the category of expression. Being able to absorb information through hearing falls into listening, and works in close conjunction with expressive skills. These skills work together to gather spoken information and then relay it to the area that interprets the information in conjunction with the speaker’s body language and facial expression. The overall management function then brings the entire experience into one melting pot, which allows the individual to interpret the encounter and react appropriately to it.

    On the surface, these functions manifest themselves in individuals who are effective public speakers, those who can produce high-quality written presentations and communications, and those who conduct themselves with grace in the courtroom, in meetings, or with clients. Superficially, it seems like something we do naturally, almost unconsciously. However, as with every other aspect of life, there are always some who do it more effectively than others, and those individuals are more likely to get the coveted position you are competing for. Why is that?

    Employers want to hire effective communicators because they want people who can present their firm as the most professional, educated, and capable to their clients. Clear and concise communication, whether written or verbal, does that. Employers also state that paralegals who are great communicators reduce confusion, stress, and errors in the workplace. Also, while this skill set is the most desired by employers, they also state that it is the rarest. With that said, how do we make sure we are showing top-notch communication skills in the office?

    1) Be a contributor
    Show your interest in your firm by contributing at meetings or other times when feedback is solicited. By taking an active role, not only do you ooze confidence, you show your co-workers and bosses that you are invested in your job. Weekly firm meetings can sometimes be tedious, but participating early on shows your bosses and co-workers that you take your position seriously and can contribute to the overall success of the firm. Speaking up in the first third of the meeting shows you are eager, but willing to let others speak first.

    2) Radiate confidence
    Many times when we are trying to be polite we actually undermine our credibility or emanate a lack of confidence. Look others in the eye when speaking to them or when they speak to you. Hold their gaze, as being the first to drop eye contact can sometimes be seen as submission.

    Also, when speaking and writing, choose your words carefully. Avoid beginning sentences with words such as “I could be wrong …,” “I could be forgetting something …,” or other defensive signal phrases because they undermine you as an individual. Avoid ending statements with “OK?” or “don’t you agree?” because these words can make it appear that you are seeking the approval of others or are otherwise unsure of your decisions or statements. By making better word choices paralegals can project an air of confidence and professionalism to those around them in the workplace, instilling a reciprocal sense of worthiness in the eyes of those around them.

    3) Look prepared, even when you’re not
    When arriving for or sitting through meetings, avoid fidgeting, shifting your eyes frequently, and making other types of harried movements, as they make you appear unprepared. The fewer movements you make, the stronger the message you send others that you are cool, calm, collected, and in control. Numerous shifty or fidgety movements indicate exactly the opposite; you can appear nervous, uncertain, or otherwise project a negative image to your co-workers and clients, making them question your ability to manage the situation at hand.

    4) Make the most of small talk
    Being able to talk with co-workers, bosses, and clients comfortably projects respect, confidence, and professionalism in the workplace. Take an interest in those around you and use tidbits of information to your advantage. For instance, remembering that a client has a grandson in kindergarten and asking a question about him while you wait with that client in the hallway for your case to be called not only makes you appear more personable and caring, it can also help to calm nerves in otherwise unpleasant circumstances.

    Gloria Koss is a former paralegal and a staff writer for, a trusted network of local, pre-screened process servers. also offers ServeManager - a web-based software to help legal professionals assign, track and manage service of process all in one place. Learn more at or

  • 26 Jul 2010 7:32 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    Take These 3 Steps for Career Success
    By Vicki Voisin, ACP

    Throughout my career, I have immersed myself in learning. Because I have always worked as a paralegal, I have primarily attended and spoken at law-related seminars. Lately I've become interested in time and space organization, so I've been learning a lot about that, too. I've discovered, though, that it is also important to take ample time to focus on personal development .

    Why? Because it's essential that you work harder on yourself than you do on your job. If you do this, the job will take care of itself and your life will be successful.

    Over the years, I have learned 3 steps for success that I want to share with you. I refer to these as my "a-has" because they have helped me focus on very important areas of my life and they have also helped me create a successful career.

    1. You are the average of the five PEOPLE you hang around the most. This is a principle taught by Jim Rohn, whom some call the father of personal development. A light bulb went off when I heard this. It made me realize that it's necessary to surround myself with people I want to be like....people who are success oriented, who have vision, who have spirit and dedication.

    The key is to make a concerted effort to be with people who think big and talk about great ideas, instead of the headlines of People Magazine, the price of gas (how depressing!), or how much they hate their jobs and their bosses. Attitudes and levels of thinking are contagious. Beware!

    There are tons of great seminars offered both where you live and all around the country. You have no excuse not to get out there and surround yourself with people who have positive attitudes and like-minded goals.

    2. Your ENVIRONMENT must support your goals. Your success depends more on your environment than you may realize so it's imperative that you give yourself an environment that supports you at the level you want to attain, not the level you are at now. There are three areas of your environment that you should give your utmost attention:

    • Your physical environment. Do you love your work space? Do you have enough room to work comfortably? Does this space encourage you to think? Are you surrounded by things that are beautiful and bring good memories, such an eye-catching piece of art?

    We can't all have a gorgeous view from our offices, or even a window, but we can create an environment that brings us peace and tranquility without spending a lot of money. Little touches like flowers, photos of friends, family or your recent vacation, even an interesting paperweight, can make you feel good.

    • Your emotional environment. Do you get the support you need from your friends, family and co-workers? These people are not mind readers. It's up to you to ask for what you need from them.

    I have a great group of friends that I can bounce ideas off, ask for help with problem solving, and share my successes. Of course, sometimes I just need to vent! If your friends, family and co-workers can't provide this, you may need to find a career coach or a support group that will.

    • Your intellectual environment. It's crucial that you feed your brain with new ideas and up-to-the-minute knowledge. Are you stimulating your brain every day? If not, you need to find a way to make this expose yourself to creative and innovative thinking that will stretch and increase your brain power. Again, seminars, teleclasses and books/audio programs are helpful. I really enjoy listening to these on my iPod so I can learn while I take a walk or when I travel...this makes a long drive, a lengthy wait in an airport, or my time on an airplane zip by. My personal favorite is downloading books to my iPod from my membership at iTunes also has many podcasts and other programs available at little or no cost.

    3. Your future is created by your habits. It only makes sense that your daily habits will create long-lasting effects in your life. The habits you establish today will determine the results you have tomorrow.

    If you want to be healthy and in shape, you must have the habits of a person who is healthy and in shape. If you want to be a successful paralegal, you must have the habits of a successful paralegal. If you want to be a leader, you must have the habits of a leader. None of these things will happen tomorrow unless you establish habits today that will lead to the results you want.

    Your challenge: Visualize YOUR tomorrow. What kind of person do you want to be? Where do you want your career to take you? Then decide: What new habit can you put into place now that will make your tomorrow what you want it to be? What can you do today to create a work environment that gives you joy? What will you do to surround yourself with people who will support you and who will be a positive influence? Ask yourself these questions now so that you can create habits for yourself today that will result in the tomorrow you want.

    ©2010 Vicki Voisin, Inc.

    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 weekly ezine titled Paralegal Strategies and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network. More information is available at

  • 23 May 2010 4:23 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    How do you handle change?
    By Vicki Voisin, ACP

    Change is inevitable.
    It is the one constant in life and something everyone experiences. These transitions are not always easy to navigate, though, and it's sometimes difficult to view them with optimism.

    Here are five ways to see the positive in these transitions and to embrace changes as they come your way:

    1. Don't dwell on the past. There are many emotions associated with change that may keep you from moving forward. Instead of spending time stewing about what you were or what you had, focus on where you are going and what you want to be. Then devise a plan to create that future.

    2. Focus on the positive. Your attitude toward the change will have a direct effect on the outcome of the process. If you concentrate on success and view change as an opportunity that exists to teach you or to lead you to something better, you'll find it easier to make the transition. Change may lead you to something new and rewarding that you wouldn't have had the ability to pursue before. It may lead you to new friends, a new job, or a new hobby.

    3. Focus on others. Instead of spending time feeling sorry for yourself because of the changes you're going through, focus on other people. You'll feel better if you help someone else. You may also realize that, compared to the problems of other people, what you're going through really isn't so difficult after all. Do what you can to make their lives better and you'll find you've made your own life better in the process.

    4. Accept reality. Here's a favorite saying: "It is what it is!" This certainly fits when you think about change. Your transition will be easier if you accept the change for what it is and understand that it's out of your control. Try to relax and be open to possibilities. You'll end up in a better place.

    5. Surround yourself with supportive people. You may feel isolated by the transition you're experiencing and you may think no one else can help you. Quite the contrary! Change will be easier if you let other people into your life. Look to family, friends, co-workers, spiritual leaders...anyone who will listen, encourage and support you. They'll also help you remain in the loop, stay optimistic and hopeful.

    Here are some questions to consider when you're struggling with change:
    • What's good about this?
    • How can I make this work for me?
    • What does this change allow me to do that I couldn't do before?
    • What positive results will come from this change?

    Change is inevitable and usually not something you can control. What you can control is your attitude and how you allow the change to affect you. When change occurs, don't settle for merely surviving. Instead, make the change work for you...grow and thrive!

    ***Note: OK...a new paint color on the lighthouse I see several times every day isn't a life changing event; but after considering the above, I'm ready to move forward and accept that it's out of my control. The lighthouse is red...the lighthouse is beautiful!

    ©2010 Vicki Voisin, Inc. 

    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 weekly ezine titled Paralegal Strategies and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network. More information is available at
  • 29 Apr 2010 9:07 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)
    The link below is to a free e-book on Finding and Realizing Your Professional Path. Please feel free to share.
  • 16 Feb 2010 8:38 PM | Anonymous
    CUNY Citizenship Now!
    Event Announcement

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010
    11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    NYC/CUNY Corps Logo

    Event Sponsor


    Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty

    Julissa Ferraras

    New York City Council Member
    Julissa Ferreras

    Council Member  Dromm

    New York City Council Member
    Daniel Dromm

    Quick Links

    Dear Deborah,

    Since the beginning of the year, Citizenship Now! has already served over 600 clients at our Hatian TPS events with the help of over 400 volunteers from the New York City area. Help us continue our push to make 2010 a record year for service.

    Please join us at our upcoming event on
    February 24, 2010 at Jackson Heights Jewish Center.  At the event, we will provide free legal assistance to help lawful permanent residents apply for naturalization.  This is an
    opportunity not only to help immigrant communities, but also to network and hear from our event cosponsors Council Member Julissa Ferreras and Council Member Daniel Dromm. Please find complete information about the event below.
    Citizenship Now! 
    Application Assistance Day
    with Metropolitian Council on Jewish Poverty.
    Co-sponsored by NYC Council Member Julissa Ferreras, and NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm
    Wednesday, February 24, 2010
    11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    Jackson Heights Jewish Center
    37- 06 77th Street
    Jackson Heights, Queens
    Get Directions
    To volunteer for this event, or for more information, please call Nadine Huggins at (212) 568-4679 or email  

    Please note: Breakfast will be served to volunteers at 10 a.m. Make sure to arrive promptly, so that you don't miss it!

    Kym Gashi
    Projects Coordinator
    CUNY Citizenship and Immigration Project
    (212) 568-6294

  • 06 Feb 2010 6:18 PM | Deleted user
    A new member has suggested this site: Paralegal, created by Vicki Voisin, aka The Paralegal Mentor. She offers strategies and resources to help your career.
  • 30 Jan 2010 9:51 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    I would like to share the article written by Monica O'Brien with you. It will answer some in not all questions I am getting on a regular basis.

    Mariana Fradman

    6 Tips to keep a Mentor

    by Monica O’Brien

    I get messages almost daily from people who read my blog and want to meet with me by phone or in-person. As a rule, though, I won’t meet with anyone unless they have interacted with me several times, or they give me a good reason (not just “let’s chat”). I realize this may make me seem snobby or elite, which isn’t my intention.

    Steer clear of being a time vampire

    My intention is to avoid time sucks. I would love to be everyone’s friend, but it isn’t a reality for me at this time. I have work, school, a house, and a family that all need my attention too.

    Plus, I realize some people are just out there to use me, and some people are one-hit bloggers who will disappear in 2 months, and some people don’t have that much in common with me, and it’s hard to sort through whom I should spend my time getting to know, especially online.

    Six tips to connecting with a mentor

    I think anyone with any amount of clout can probably relate to this. So if you want to meet someone you admire, here are six tips on how to make it happen:

    Tip #1 – Choose someone local

    While the internet holds a vast number of possibilities, at the end of the day my most useful connections are made offline. In my experience, the value of having a local network is at least tenfold the value of a having an online network in terms of job leads, collaboration, and sales opportunities. So it helps to find someone you have a chance of meeting in-person someday.

    Maybe you have endless financial resources and “local” for you means anywhere in the US, or anywhere in whatever country you live in. That’s cool. For me it means people in the Chicago area, usually, or people who are deep enough into social media that they will always be attending the big blogging and social media conferences.

    Tip #2 – Bring something to the table

    Mentors are at the top for a reason; they surrounded themselves with talented people throughout their careers. To get a mentor you need to give him a reason to think that helping you will somehow benefit him. Otherwise, he will not make time to meet with you.

    If you can’t think of a good reason to meet with someone, here’s a default: tell him you want a career like his, and that you have questions about how to pursue the same path. It’s probably true to some extent, right?

    But then you also have to prove you have the potential to go all the way. Force the person to see himself in you; that’s your in. Because who doesn’t want to help someone that is where he was once?

    Tip #3 – Act on advice

    Your mentor will not want to mentor you if you don’t act on his advice. If he is going to make time for you, he doesn’t want to feel like his efforts are going to waste. Plus, acting on a mentor’s advice is a sign of your deep respect for him and his experience. So stop making excuses or explaining why you can’t. Just do what he says; it did work for him, didn’t it? Mentors hate “can’t.”

    But before you act, make sure your mentor is giving you good advice, because that can be a problem too. And if it is, why is this person your mentor still? People can waste your time too, so don’t let them.

    Tip #4 – Report back

    Once you’ve taken your mentor’s advice, let him know. It shows that you can take direction and it makes him want to keep mentoring you. And then you’ll get more advice. But it’s lame to ask for more advice before you’ve acted on what you’ve already been given.

    In fact, don’t report back unless you’ve acted on advice. It makes you go from “interesting mentee” to “wasting my time” very quickly. See point #3.

    Tip #5 – Know the difference between a friend and a mentor

    Raise your hand if you wish you were friends with Barack Obama. Even most republicans would be all over this; but realistically, you probably won’t ever be friends with Obama by contacting him out of the blue about his policies.

    If you want to be friends with someone, don’t ask for advice; instead, invite him to a party, or meet up with him for drinks. And then let it be. Don’t contact him 15 hundred times afterwards for advice. Friendships develop naturally out of common interests and fun; mentor relationships develop professionally. Friendships develop out of mentor relationships too, but usually when the two become equals.

    So choose which relationship you actually want before you contact someone, and expect to wait for either the advice or the camaraderie, depending on which you pick.

    Tip #6 – Avoid public screw-ups at all costs

    This one is by far the most important, because when you ask someone for mentoring or contact information, you are borrowing that person’s brand. Mentors with power are afraid that their mentee will do something stupid and it will reflect poorly on them also.

    And honestly, of all these tips, #6 is what worries me most when I collaborate with others. The more power I get, the more guarded I become against these types of requests. And I think about how I’m nowhere near the top, and how people who really are at the top must feel. Do they worry about this too?


    Monica O’Brien writes career advice for young professionals at her blog, Twenty Set. You can also follow her on Twitter (@monicaobrien).
  • 06 Dec 2009 4:38 PM | Deleted user

    Written by Technical Recruiter, Marc Ingrassia

    My experience has shown that cover letters are more of a formality. I do technical recruiting so, I am more about skills than packaging. Keep in mind recruiters and HR people go through a lot of CV's daily so they generally scan resumes for qualifiers. (And, keep the cover letter short.) Here is a list of things I tell job seekers.

    Cover letters

    Mr. Hayes, I am responding to your paralegal position. As I am flexible with my work hours and have proven skills in computer and legal searches, I know I am equal to the job. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.


    • Read other paralegal resumes and get a feel for what sounds good and what doesn't.
    • Imagine you are competing the resumes you read (because you probably are) and you are the one reading the resumes...ask yourself, what would make me stand out?
    • >Modify resumes to emphasize the qualities that the employer is looking for---within the realm of honesty, of course.
    • Use short, bold words and sentences.
    • Don't be afraid to promote yourself with descriptions...Adept with...excelled in..
    • Don't be overly fancy or cute. Just get the message out.
    • Remember, the resume is basically an invitation to come back and find out more about's not a tell-all.

    Mark Ingrassia
    Technical Recruiter
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