Conni Hebert, an advanced certified paralegal, brings more than 20 years of experience as a paralegal to her work with...
Carl H. Morrison, RP, PP, AACP, is an experienced certified paralegal and paralegal manager and has been in the...
Translated into Latin, pro bono means “for the public good.” Pro bono work is a way for lawyers and paralegals to give back to their communities but is by no means a requirement for legal professionals. In this episode of the Paralegal Voice, host Carl Morrison talks to Conni Hebert about why paralegals should be investing their time in pro bono work and the importance of finding pro bono activities that empassion and engage you. They also discuss the fine line between volunteering your services and the unauthorized practice of law.
Conni Hebert is a paralegal at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and currently serves as the chair of the State Bar of Nevada Paralegal Division and is the NALA Liaison to the Las Vegas Valley Paralegal Association.
The Paralegal Voice
How Pro Bono Work Improves Your Career
Carl Morrison: Hello everyone. Welcome to The Paralegal Voice, here on Legal Talk Network. I am Carl Morrison, a certified paralegal, devoted to law, and your host at The Paralegal Voice.
I’m a certified paralegal and paralegal educator and I’m devoted to not only the paralegal profession but to all legal professionals, from legal support professionals to paralegals, to those whom we support, attorneys. I’m devoted to helping others enhance their passion and dedication for the paralegal profession through entertaining and engaging interviews.
My guest today is Conni Hebert. Conni is an advanced certified paralegal for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in Las Vegas, Nevada, and received her certification through NALA. She has been a paralegal for over 25 years working in areas from insurance defense, to construction law, to real estate and developed her interest in the legal field while serving active duty in the United States Air Force.
She is a Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran and personally Conni, thank you for your service.
Conni is currently the Chair of the State Bar of Nevada Paralegal Division, an active member of the Clark County Bar Association, and is very active in Las Vegas Valley Paralegal Association; a NALA affiliate.
Conni also currently serves on the firm’s Pro Bono Committee at Brownstein Hyatt, which really brings us to our topic for today, Pro Bono Services and Paralegals. Welcome Conni.
Conni Hebert: Thank You, Carl.
Carl Morrison: We are so glad to have you here on the show today to share with us your passion for pro bono services and the paralegal industry.
Before we begin, we would like to thank our sponsor, Thomson Reuters Firm Central, cloud-based legal practice management that streamlines your day and automates non-billable administrative tasks so you can accomplish more with less.
And also NALA; NALA, the paralegal association is a professional association for paralegals providing continuing education and professional certification programs for paralegals at HYPERLINK “http://www.nala.org/”nala.org.
NALA is a force in the promotion and advancement of the paralegal profession and has been a sponsor of The Paralegal Voice since our very first show.
We would also like to thank Boston University, offering an online certificate in Paralegal Studies. If you are seeking a professional credential or just want to further develop your skills, Boston University provides an affordable, high-quality, 14-week program. Visit HYPERLINK “http://www.paralegalonline.bu.edu/”paralegalonline.bu.edu for more information.
And finally ServeNow, a nationwide network of trusted prescreened process servers. Work with the most professional process servers who have experienced with high volume serves, who embrace technology and understand the litigation process. Visit HYPERLINK “http://www.serve-now.com/”serve-now.com to learn more.
The goal of The Paralegal Voice is to discuss a wide range of topics important to the paralegal industry and share with you leading trends, significant developments and resources you will find helpful in your career and everyday job.
My guests will be engaging and informational with a little bit of fun thrown in. Our topic today is Pro Bono Services and Paralegals with Conni Herbert from Las Vegas. And I have to say listeners that Conni is someone I would consider to be “The Queen Of Pro Bono”.
You like that title, don’t you?
Conni Hebert: Yes, I love being the queen.
Carl Morrison: We’re really glad that you’re here with us today. So Conni, let’s start off. I’ve got some questions for you today, and so first question, I want to ask about that ABA has always really strongly encouraged attorneys to participate in pro bono activities, and at the same time the ABA Standing Committee on Paralegals has really long promoted paralegal participation in pro bono work through its model guidelines for the utilization of paralegal services, which states that lawyers should really facilitate legal assistants to participate in the pro bono activities.
So first for our listeners, can you give really an idea of what pro bono means and really how does it relate to the legal industry?
Conni Hebert: Sure Carl. The term pro bono is short for the Latin pro bono publico and that means for the public good. So when you’re talking about in the legal world the term generally refers to free legal services that a professional would provide to say poverty-stricken clients, non-profit groups or charitable organizations.
So anytime you hear someone talk about pro bono in the legal field it would be generally an attorney providing free legal services or giving free legal advice. And lawyers are bound by ethical rules to charge reasonable rates for their services and to serve public interest by providing free legal services to those in need.
Carl Morrison: Perfect. So not only does the ABA promote paralegals participating in pro bono services but other associations, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations also known as NFPA, their model code of ethics and professional responsibility and guidelines states that every paralegal should really aspire to annually contribute 24 hours of pro bono services; of course, under the supervision of an attorney, but what’s your take on this statement, Conni? Do you agree that paralegals should aspire to kind of contribute a minimum of 24 hours of pro bono services a year or do you think it should be more, do you think it should be less, what do you think?
Conni Hebert: Carl, I think 24 hours of pro bono service a year is a great goal for any paralegal. I think it’s certainly attainable by any paralegal that volunteers on even a few pro bono activities here and there. I think that a few weekends, every couple of months you would knock out those 24 hours easily. And if you’re participating in a pro bono activity that really interests you and ignites the passion in you those hours will fly by.
So for me I have a goal of 50 hours a year and because I usually participate in pro bono activities that excite me, I don’t even keep track anymore, it’s just, it’s so easy to meet those goals. So I think the key is to really find a pro bono activity that is in your wheelhouse or something that may challenge you and the hours are going to be met easily.
Carl Morrison: And I agree with you Conni. I think 24 hours is an easily attainable goal. Yeah, we should all strive to contribute additional hours but even a minimum 24 hours is an attainable goal. And like you said when you find a passion it will be easy, you will shoot through those 24 hours quickly.
What I found was interesting was NALA, National Association of Legal Assistants, they really don’t have an official policy regarding pro bono work by paralegals, however there are comments to specifically Guideline #4 of NALA’s annotated Model Standards and Guidelines for Utilization of Legal Assistants. And it states that “the working relationship between a lawyer and a legal assistant should extend to cooperative efforts on public service activities where possible”.
So do you think that paralegals can provide some pro bono services without the supervision of an attorney? Do you think you always have to have an attorney supervising you in the pro bono activities?
Conni Hebert: Well, this could be a sticky one. Paralegals must always be cognizant of preventing the unauthorized practice of law, so there is no reason why paralegals cannot volunteer their services at various pro bono activities with or without an attorney’s supervision.
If they are aware of UPL and they take extreme caution that they are not providing legal advice or anything that would constitute UPL. Paralegals are able to provide pro bono assistance in areas such as case intake, drafting documents, acting as a witness, providing notary public services, documenting pro bono activity and data entry of pro bono hours.
Those things all assist the attorney or the legal service provider without necessarily requiring attorney’s supervision. Anything beyond that I think you really have to take a look and make sure that you’re not approaching that UPL.
Carl Morrison: And that’s something that I stress to the students that I educate and have educated for almost six years now, is the importance of understanding and recognizing when you’re getting extremely close to teetering on that line of UPL and being cognizant and knowing where you can go and how far you can go and where you need to stop. And there are like you just said, services, pro bono activities that can be done but you have to be cognizant of how close you’re getting to that unethical line there.
Conni Hebert: Exactly.
Carl Morrison: So speaking of some pro bono services, if a paralegal came to you and said hey Conni, I’ve never participated in doing anything pro bono related, and what kind of opportunities are out there for me?
Carl Morrison: How would you respond? What are some of the opportunities in the way of pro bono services that are available that a paralegal can assist in and provide to the public as large?
Conni Hebert: Well I do get that question quite often actually. As the Chair of the State Bar Nevada Paralegal Division, I do get the occasional email or phone call from a paralegal that does want to get started, participating in pro bono activities. So I do have a list of resources that I can provide that paralegal, and some of those resources involve legal service providers and just volunteer opportunities.
So some of those are assisting veterans and active duty service members, notarizing wills and acting as witnesses for powers of attorney, things like that. Paralegals can also participate in will clinics and sealing criminal records clinics.
Paralegal students’ community volunteers can all do intake admin support. There is a whole list of volunteer opportunities for these legal service providers. There is also CASA, where a paralegal can act as a court-appointed special advocate for abused children, that are in the court system. There is project REAL. There are a whole list of opportunities that are available for paralegals. You just have to know who to contact and where to look for those.
Carl Morrison: Perfect. Just listening to you go through the list, there is some things that I didn’t even realize that are considered to be pro bono activities. So here in a little bit we’ll talk more about the opportunities that are available to us.
Conni, we’re going to take a short break to hear a message from our sponsors and when we come back, we’ll continue our discussion about pro bono services and paralegals with Conni Hebert.
Advertiser: Firm Central, cloud-based legal practice management software for solo and small law firms provides a single online location for all of the tools you need to manage client files and perform client work and offers unrivaled integration with Westlaw. With Firm Central, you can securely store and organize documents and case files, manage time tracking and billables, and collaborate with clients through a secure client portal from anywhere there is an Internet connection.
Are you looking to advance your career? Do you know someone who wants to enter the paralegal profession? Boston University’s fully online Certificate in Paralegal Studies is a fantastic option. It’s affordable, takes just 14 weeks to complete, and is led by accomplished faculty who teach employer-focused legal skills like legal research, writing, technology, and more. Visit HYPERLINK “http://www.paralegalonline.bu.edu/”paralegalonline.bu.edu for more information and to download a free brochure. That’s HYPERLINK “http://www.paralegalonline.bu.edu/”paralegalonline.bu.edu.
Carl Morrison: Welcome back to the Paralegal Voice. I’m Carl Morrison. My guest today is Conni Hebert, an Advanced Certified Paralegal and Pro Bono Advocate, who works as a litigation paralegal in Las Vegas.
So Conni, we were talking about some pro bono services. Does a paralegal need any, like special skills or knowledge to help provide pro bono assistance to the community?
Conni Hebert: No, no absolutely not. No special skills are necessary, just a desire to help those that are less fortunate. I would recommend that a paralegal get their Notary Public credential so that they can provide notary services. That is one of the — I would say the most needed volunteer service that a paralegal can provide, that is notarizing wills, powers of attorney, things like that.
So that’s definitely something that would be helpful when you’re looking to participate in pro bono activities, is to be a Notary Public in your area.
Carl Morrison: Okay so no additional skills or education do I need to take in order to provide any pro bono service, right?
Conni Hebert: No, no.
Carl Morrison: Perfect. Perfect.
Conni Hebert: Just a willingness to help others.
Carl Morrison: That’s great. The servant’s heart is what I call it, having a servant’s heart.
Conni Hebert: Yes.
Carl Morrison: I’m a litigation paralegal and I don’t have any domestic law type experience or any will experience or landlord-tenant type experience, what kind of pro bono services would you recommend to me if I came to you Conni that I should participate in?
Conni Hebert: Well I think that every person has something in their personal life that ignites the passion in them, that passion maybe helping children in the foster system or volunteering at the soup kitchen, feeding the homeless. For example, my passion is helping military veterans, being a military veteran myself.
I think that paralegals are in a unique position. Since we’re not the attorney, we don’t actually provide the legal assistance to someone less fortunate. However, we are able to assist a pro bono attorney and that assistance can mean everything to someone less fortunate.
So my recommendation to you would be to discover what your passion is. If you have a desire to help less fortunate children, abused children in the foster system, then definitely seek out pro bono activity that would involve that area. Like I said CASA or Project REAL, things like that.
If you want to help seniors, if helping seniors what means a great deal to you, then I would seek out pro bono services with the senior law project. It just depends on what areas you have a personal interest in, something that would affect you on a personal level. And I think that’s the best way to make that match.
Carl Morrison: That’s great advice, because I do have a passion to help with homeless when it comes to like the soup kitchen and things of that nature, food assistance, and so that’s kind of my drive, and so I’ll have to get with you later and talk about where I should really direct those passions to. So thank you, Conni.
Conni Hebert: Absolutely.
Carl Morrison: If a paralegal doesn’t have a network in their community of like pro bono attorneys, if they are in a small town, and there’s no really other pro bono attorneys or paralegals to talk to about this topic that we are talking about today. What would you recommend to that paralegal who is just got that itch to help their community and provide that level of assistance to the community.
Conni Hebert: Well even a small town would have usually a rural legal service provider that services that area. I would direct that paralegal to their closest areas’ paralegal association or contact their State Bar. If they have a paralegal division, reach out to them.
Google is your friend, Google pro bono services in your area. There’s a wealth of information on the Internet and sometimes it just takes a quick search to find those resources. I would definitely call the State Bar and ask for a contact person for their Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission and reaching out to the closest NALA affiliate. You can contact NALA for that information and I think those are great places to start for someone that really have no idea where to get started.
Carl Morrison: Great, great advice, great recommendations there. A minute ago we were kind of talking about some ethical issues in UPL and my favorite topic, I bore my students to death with beating in their head ethics.
Conni Hebert: Right.
Carl Morrison: But what are some of the ethical ramifications of a paralegal providing pro bono services? We talked a little bit about UPL but what other ethical ramifications do they need to think about?
Conni Hebert: Well, I think it’s really easy to fall into the trap when you are giving back to the community and you’re sitting with an individual that has no idea whatsoever about the law. And you really want to help them, and you want to give them great advice but you can’t. You can’t give them that advice, and it’s really hard because these individuals just need some information. They just need someone to tell them where to go or who to call or what document to fill out.
So it’s just really, really hard to refrain from giving this information that you know you can give them, but you can’t give them, because again you don’t want to cross the Unauthorized Practice of Law line. You just have to be really careful with that.
Carl Morrison: Perfect. And I’m sure you have heard or personal experience with horror stories of unethical situations that have occurred in the delivery of pro bono assistance; both with attorneys and paralegals, and we’re not going to ask you to divulge any of those horror stories, but how can a paralegal protect themselves from crossing over into that unethical territory?
Conni Hebert: Well, always err on the safe side I would say. If you’re unsure of how to respond, seek out attorney’s guidance, have a lawyer on your speed dial that you can call and ask if this is appropriate or if it’s not appropriate and if you are notarizing keep your notary Handbook right by your side so that you can always look up what you’re allowed to do and you have that as a reference, that would be my suggestion.
Carl Morrison: When in doubt ask the question. There’s never such thing as a stupid or a wrong question, especially when it comes to the realm of ethics in our industry.
Conni Hebert: Absolutely right.
Carl Morrison: So just recently the ABA held their Ninth Annual National Celebration of Pro Bono which they stated included over 1,300 events from clinics to CLE opportunities to Pro Bono Award ceremonies, fundraisers, homelessness events etcetera, etcetera, and this is across the country. Do you think there should be more done to like increase awareness of pro bono services by paralegals and how should we really as paralegals provide greater awareness?
Conni Hebert: I definitely think more awareness is needed. I think the local Paralegal Associations, the State Bar Associations, and National Associations can all do a better job at bringing awareness of pro bono and how paralegals can participate in pro bono. The State Bar of Nevada Paralegal Division recently hosted a mixer and we had the Supreme Court access to Justice Commission Director as our guest speaker and he spoke to our guests about how paralegals can participate in pro bono, and I can’t tell you how many paralegals had no idea about the amount of pro bono activities they could participate in.
And so it really made me think that we can do more in that area. I think that one by one each of us as individuals, paralegals can become more involved in their associations whether it’s local, state or national and start participating in these activities. And if each of one of us did our part in volunteering our time and participating in Pro Bono I think it could really bring more awareness that way, but definitely the associations need to do more maybe on social media, to get the word out. I think that would definitely help bring the awareness.
Carl Morrison: And Conni, I agree with you that I think there should be greater awareness being made of pro bono services and it’s a matter of an individual that has such as yourself having the drive and the passion to do this and if your local chapter of your Paralegal Association does not do any pro bono activities, get a couple people together, do something that is going to assist the community at large. So I agree with you on that.
So Conni, let me ask you personally what is your passion when it comes to pro bono? Tell the listeners some of your personal experiences in actually providing pro bono services and where your heart lies in providing that access to justice in the community.
Conni Hebert: Well my passion as I stated earlier is helping veterans’ active duty service members with their legal dilemmas they may be faced with. So a couple of years ago the Attorney General of Nevada brought to my firm’s attention a new program which is the Office of Military Legal Assistance (OMLA) and the Attorney General brought this idea to our firm and the Attorney General’s goal was to help active-duty service members and veterans in Nevada find pro bono legal representation for civil issues. Issues at the base, their JAG could not help with.
So if the JAG on the base couldn’t help these active-duty service members and the veteran service offices could not help the veteran, where would they go? So the Attorney General wanted to help close that gap in services and wanted to provide pro bono services to these members.
So in an effort to reach out to the rural communities of Nevada and provide access to this program for some of Nevada’s most underserved veterans, the OMLA now hosts wills workshops in which OMLA provides wills, powers of attorney to any military service member or veteran. The workshops are held in conjunction with Nevada legal services.
Volunteers are offered training on the software in general statutes and the attorneys can submit that for CLE credit. It’s a really great opportunity to participate in the Attorney General’s outreach. It really provides a much needed service to our military veterans. So helping veterans is such a passion of mine. OMLA is definitely where the majority of my pro bono activity goes to.
I travel to wherever the nearest Wills Clinic is being held and I provide notary services and I witness documents and it’s such a pleasure for me to hear war stories from the veterans and knowing that my firm is helping by taking consumer fraud cases for these military members who may be a moving company, try to take their money when they were moving from one base to another and it really makes me feel good that I’m helping and giving back in that way.
Carl Morrison: Which I have to say I just truly appreciate all your dedication to providing additional assistance to the military and veterans because it is an area that needs a lot of great individuals such as yourself providing the assistance needed. So thank you Conni for that.
Conni Hebert: My pleasure.
Carl Morrison: Do you find it rewarding providing those pro bono services as a paralegal?
Conni Hebert: Oh absolutely. It’s a highlight of my legal career. It just brings joy to my heart, something I really look forward to.
Carl Morrison: More than going into work, right, is actually providing those pro bono hours to those that need it.
Conni Hebert: Absolutely. I mean when you see the smiles on these individuals faces, when you know they can’t afford proper legal representation and when you know that they just have no idea where to go for the help and it can be a really simple gesture sometimes, a simple notary signature, notary stamp or answering one question about a contract; that would be the attorney not the paralegal of course.
Carl Morrison: Right.
Conni Hebert: But when you’re teamed up with an attorney and you’re providing these services, I mean their smiles just really — really does it for me.
Carl Morrison: Let me ask you this. Why should a paralegal do pro bono?
Conni Hebert: Well I think that everyone can give back to their community in some way. Some people choose to donate clothing to the women’s shelter. Some people choose to buy coffee at Starbucks for the next person and they’ll drive through behind them, some people open the door for others. I mean I think everyone has an ounce of kindness in them and if you have the legal knowledge and you have the capacity to help, why not.
Carl Morrison: I agree with you, 110% that it feels good to give back. We all have —
Conni Hebert: It feels good, right.
Carl Morrison: We all have some level of giving, givingness I guess if you want to say it, to give back and it’s also a great way to gain experience and maybe another area of law. I don’t have experience with wills but maybe I should consider branching into assisting attorneys that provide wills services. It provides another way for me to gain additional experience and it’s a great way to network too, when you do pro bono. Wouldn’t you agree with me?
Conni Hebert: Absolutely. And even the legal service providers who you volunteer with they usually will provide you training in the area that you’re going to be working in. So it’s a great opportunity to learn something new, to give back to the community those less fortunate and to just gain that valuable experience and above that, it’s also a great networking opportunity to meet others in your field, establish new connections and learn about other pro bono opportunities.
Carl Morrison: Exactly. It’s everything you just said. I’m a huge proponent of networking and what a great way to network is to give back and meet not only other individuals in our industry but just meeting the community at large, so thank you Conni.
Let me ask you where does a paralegal even begin to look for pro bono opportunities? Let me ask you, where does a paralegal even begin to look for pro bono opportunities? And what are some of the resources that are available to like help a paralegal decide where they want to be in the way of providing community outreach pro bono type assistance?
Conni Hebert: Well if a paralegal is in Nevada they would call me. But I would say, well, like I said earlier, a Google search is a great place to start. I would start also with the State Bar in your state, the local paralegal associations, the NALA affiliate associations, look for legal aid centers in your area.
There is always a legal aid clinic or something of that nature in your area, in the area, and that’s a great place to start. Call any of those places, do your Google search, just nail down a few places to start and whoever you talk to can provide you with other opportunities as well.
So once you make that first call or send that first email, looking for opportunities, the door is going to open and you’re going to get a lot of good ideas.
Carl Morrison: It’s really the six degrees of separation. I mean you just start with the one like you said, send that one email, pick up that phone and make that one phone call and the door will open, and many opportunities that come flowing to you. So yeah, it’s a matter of just stepping out there.
Conni Hebert: Right, and then narrow it down by what your personal interest is in.
Carl Morrison: Correct.
Conni Hebert: Or what area you want to gain experience in.
Carl Morrison: Right, exactly right. So Conni, let me ask you, what are some of the constraints and opportunities that are available to a paralegal like maybe someone works in a small law firm and they want to provide pro bono services. So what would be some of the opportunities and what would be some of the constraints of that?
Conni Hebert: Well, I don’t know if there is any constraints because it would be a small firm, maybe a small firm would not have a pro bono committee or something of that nature, a small firm may not have a formal pro bono policy or a pro bono engagement letter or any kind of structure as far as what types of pro bono matters the firm would take on.
So it might be more on the paralegal shoulder to find those opportunities rather than rely on the firm to generate pro bono cases for you.
Carl Morrison: So okay, same question, like as it relates to large law firms, Conni, what are some of the opportunities and are there any constraints to a paralegal who works in a large law firm, such as yourself?
Conni Hebert: Well, I think working in a large law firm you will have a larger set of resources and a lot of large national firms such as mine have a pro bono committee and a pro bono partner. So you have those resources just by being in that structure. The pro bono committee will generate pro bono cases for you and your attorney. In most situations the pro bono committee will provide a new matter for the attorney or they will seek out a volunteer attorney and then it’s on the paralegal to volunteer to work on that pro bono matter.
You also have help from the pro bono committee in a large firm, when you’re not sure strategically how to proceed in a pro bono matter that you have no experience in, and your larger firms could possibly provide CLE for you, so that you can be full of knowledge in that area. I don’t think there would be any constraints specifically due to the firm being a large size.
Carl Morrison: I can tell you that, I work in a corporate legal department now having transitions from the litigation world in a large law firm, and for me personally some of the constraints because we are a small legal department for a large company, some of the constraints for me is the flexibility and the less freedom to take on some things during the day.
It’s more of me having to do this afterhours and on the weekends which most paralegal probably going to have to do anyway. But what would you recommend as some ideas in the way of solutions to a paralegal, like myself, who works in a corporate legal department who wants to maybe get their general counsel and maybe the rest of their legal team involved in providing some sort of pro bono community service?
Conni Hebert: Well I would approach your outside counsel. I would approach your attorney team and come up with some initiative in the area of pro bono, maybe talk with your marketing people. It attracts other law firms and attorneys to do joint projects.
For example, our firm has partnered with one of the large casino legal departments here in Las Vegas and we participate in a backpack stuffing for children from homes that may not have meals for the children when they are not in school. So that’s a community service event but it’s hand-in-hand with pro bono giving back. So I think that you could just approach your counsel with ideas and maybe brainstorm with your marketing team along those same lines.
Carl Morrison: I think that’s a great idea that to involve, of course not only the legal department, but the marketing department as well, because they will have many different resources and opportunities to collaborate with outside agencies that need assistance and related specifically to pro bono as well.
Conni Hebert: Right, and it’s a great public relations opportunity.
Carl Morrison: Yeah, exactly right, it’s a huge public relations, yeah, exactly. So let me ask you this. Here is your personal question for the day, Conni. So what or maybe it’s a who really inspired you to get so active in pro bono activities, Conni, I am knowing you now for almost two years and you are and I don’t mean it lightly — you are truly the queen of pro bono, you are extremely active in the community here in Las Vegas. And so what or who inspired you to get so active?
Conni Hebert: Well, I was approached about three or four years ago from our firm’s pro bono partner in our corporate office and she was looking for someone to assist her on the pro bono committee firm-wide, and she recruited me, and asked me if it would be something I would be interested in. And I really thought about it and what it would mean for me personally to assist the firm in its pro bono efforts and how I could contribute to that, both in an administrative capacity and working on pro bono cases that our firm has volunteered to take on.
And so that’s how it started out. I currently am responsible for our firm’s pro bono hours’ reports. I prepare those on a monthly basis and I prepare and we have an initiative that encourages all of the attorneys to participate, so we have a little — we put stars on the offices of attorneys that have reached different milestones in their pro bono hours for the year.
And so that’s a program that I’ve been involved with since its inception. And so yeah, it was my former pro bono partner that approached me and got my wheels spinning and got me to thinking that there would definitely be something I would want to do. And my volunteering started back when I was in middle school, I volunteered at the hospital as a candy-striper. So I have been volunteering for a long time.
Carl Morrison: And it shows and your dedication to it is phenomenal. And again, thank you for what you do for the community and not just our local community but the community at large meaning our country. So thank you so much.
Conni Hebert: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you for those comments.
Carl Morrison: Conni, I want to say thank you so much for joining me today. I think this has been a really great conversation and time today and I will be blatantly honest you have truly inspired me to get more active in our community and be a better legal professional by assisting in these pro bono activities and opportunities that are available to us.
So if a listener wanted to reach out to you to ask any questions or maybe even collaborate with you on maybe a pro bono opportunity, how would they reach out to you?
Conni Hebert: I can be reached via email at HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]”[email protected], and that’s NV as in Nevada, HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]”[email protected], and I can also be reached on LinkedIn. My LinkedIn address is LinkedIn/in/connihebert. And I am happy to answer any questions that anyone has about the paralegal profession and pro bono in general or specific questions as well.
Carl Morrison: Thank you so much again for everything that you do, and I really enjoy our time together today.
Conni Hebert: Well, thank you for having me.
Carl Morrison: Let’s take another short break now and don’t go away, because when I come back I’m going to have a couple of announcements and share with you our listener’s voice and answer a question on the air for you. So we’ll be right back.
Advertiser: NALA means professional. NALA offers continuing education and professional development for all paralegals. A NALA-Certified Paralegal credential has been a gold standard of professionalism for over 30 years. More than 15,000 paralegals have this certification and nearly 2,000 have achieved the demanding Advanced Certified Paralegal. NALA works actively with all those in the legal field to promote the value of paralegals and to advance paralegal professionalism. See more about why NALA means professional at HYPERLINK “http://www.nala.org” www.nala.org.
Looking for a process server you can trust? ServeNow.com is a nationwide network of local, prescreened process servers. ServeNow works with the most professional process servers in the industry, connecting your firm with process servers who embrace technology, have experience with high volume serves and understand the litigation process and rules of properly effectuating service. Find a prescreened process server today. Visit HYPERLINK “http://www.servenow.com/” www.serve-now.com.
Carl Morrison: Welcome back. The following is an upcoming paralegal conference that is worth noting and I wanted to share with you guys and more importantly, would love to see you there. NALS is hosting what’s known as Adventure Tulsa 2018. This is April 5th through the 7th at the Hyatt Regency in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
You want to make sure and come gain CLE but not in the traditional setting. CLE will be held in various locations throughout the city including the local federal courthouse, local college, paralegal classrooms and other non-traditional settings. But it’s not just CLE many different fun events will be mixed in as well.
Seating is limited so be sure and register at www.nals.org. I will be in attendance and I’m looking forward to of course networking, learning and having a lot of fun at this event.
And today finally we come to this segment of the show that I call the Listeners’ Voice. This is an opportunity for you as a listener to send me an email with any of your questions, your career celebrations, etcetera and I’ll read them and I’ll select some to be read on the air.
So if there’s a particular topic you’d like for me to discuss or a question you’d like for me to answer, be sure and send me an email and make your voice the listeners’ voice known and heard. Send your emails to me at HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]” [email protected].
Today’s question comes from a paralegal in Phoenix, Arizona. The individual writes, I’m on my second career and just finished my paralegal program at a local ABA approved school. I’m having trouble finding an employer that is willing to train me as I have no experience in a law firm or office. My previous job was working as a manager for a large retail company. What should I do to gain experience and find a job in my new field?
Well I’ll tell you that today’s show we talked a lot about pro bono opportunities and to gain some additional experience, volunteer for a pro bono group, maybe like Legal Aid, a Wills Writing Workshop, whatever it is that can give you that additional experience that you can add to your resume will help demonstrate to a prospective employer that you have more than just education under your belts. You actually have some real-world experience.
Another thing I would recommend is to network with other legal professionals, locally of course, and inquire how they broke in to the respective market. Each city locale is a little bit different on how people kind of break into it. So understanding how other individuals have done it will help you actually figure out, okay, this is probably the route I need to take to break into the market.
And of course how do you network? Well we’ve talked about passive and active forms of networking on past shows and one of the best ways is to join a local and national Paralegal Association.
NALS, NALA, NFPA, AAPI they all have great networks of professional paralegals and of course, there are individuals within those local chapters that are just itching to help mentor up-and-coming paralegals. And of course one of the best ways is to take skills that you have in your current or immediate job for you specifically large retail company, fine-tune some of your skills that are transferable into the legal industry.
I want to thank this particular listener for writing in and keep those questions coming. It’s a great way to help others because I’m sure that there are others listening to the show that may have had a very similar question. So be sure to keep those questions coming. Thank you.
That’s all the time we have today for The Paralegal Voice. If you have questions about today’s show, please email them to me at HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]” [email protected]. Stay tuned for more information in upcoming podcasts for exciting paralegal trends, news, and engaging and fun interviews from leading paralegals and other leading legal professionals.
Thank you for listening to The Paralegal Voice, produced by the Broadcast Professionals at Legal Talk Network. If you’d like more information about today’s show, please visit HYPERLINK “http://www.legaltalknetwork.com” legaltalknetwork.com, subscribe via Apple podcasts and RSS, and find Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or download Legal Talk Network’s free app in Google Play and iTunes, and reminding you that I’m here to enhance your passion and dedication to the paralegal profession, and to make your paralegal voice heard.
Outro: The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, or subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
The Paralegal Voice provides career-success tips for paralegals of any experience level.
Carl Morrison shares highlights from 2019 interviews on the Paralegal Voice.
Keith Shannon offers guidance for paralegal professionals on the importance of diligent compliance with ethical standards.
Candess Zona-Mendola shares insights from her book, “The Indispensable Paralegal: Your Guide to Getting It All Done.”
NALA vice president Melissa Hamilton and conference first-timer Sherron Brightharp talk about the conference experience and its offerings for attendees.
Vicki Kunz shares about the innovative opportunities arising in the paralegal industry.
NALA CEO and Executive Director Greta Zeimetz discusses NALA’s strengths and the challenges it will face in the coming years.