A successful trial team involves more than just a good lawyer, it includes a strong trial consultant. In this Paralegal Voice, host Carl Morrison talks to April Ferguson about trial consultants and the important role they play in the courtroom. They discuss the basics of what a trial consultant does, how they interact with paralegals, and the education a paralegal needs in order to transition into trial consulting. Stay tuned until the end for Listener’s Voice, Carl’s recurring segment featuring audio questions or comments from a listener. To send in your own question, email Carl at [email protected].
April Ferguson is the chief executive officer of Opveon Litigation Services and is the head of Opveon’s jury consulting practice.
Special thanks to our sponsors, NALA, ServeNow, and Thomson Reuters Firm Central.
The Paralegal Voice
The Important Role of a Trial Consultant
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 am a certified paralegal and paralegal educator and I am 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 am devoted to helping others enhance their passion and dedication for the paralegal profession through entertaining and engaging interviews.
My guest today is April Ferguson of Opveon. Thanks for being my guest today, April.
April Ferguson: Hi Carl, thanks for having me. I am glad to be here.
Carl Morrison: We are so excited to have you on the show and talk about something that is a passion of mine and that’s trial and trial technology.
So before we begin we would like to thank our sponsor, Thompson 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 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.
And finally ServeNow, a nationwide network of trusted prescreened process servers. Work with the most professional process servers who have experience with high volume serves, who embrace technology and understand the litigation process. Visit 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 all about trial consultants, trial technology consultants, the differences between the two and how a paralegal can transition into the profession.
April, thank you again for being our guest today on our show. It’s really great of you to join and share with our listeners all about trial consulting and trial technology, and how your career intersects with the paralegal profession. Even though I work in a corporate setting now I am still an adrenaline junkie at heart and I love the fast-paced world of the courtroom and trial and love talking about trials. I can talk about them all day long.
So first, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, April.
April Ferguson: Sure. So by title I am the CEO of the Litigation Support and Trial Consulting firm. By education and profession I am a paralegal turn Trial Technology Consultant, turned jury consultant. Education, I have an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice and a Master of Science in Law. I spend about probably 50% of my time in the courtroom. The rest of the time I am working with clients on a whole host of projects. My average day could be anything from, oh gosh facilitating a focus group or a mock trial to working on graphics or demonstrative to preparing a witness for testimony.
So because of my background as a paralegal and a Trial Technology Consultant, I still have a number of clients that want me in the courtroom running their technology and assisting them during trial, and I think maybe I enjoy those cases most because I have the opportunity to sit through the whole trial versus just being in and out maybe for jury selection or something.
I have been in 200 plus trials throughout my career. My client base is national. I have clients from LA to New York and north to south, so I do a fair amount of traveling. 10 years ago when I was a little bit younger I considered that to be a perk of the job seeing the world on somebody else’s dime, and today I am just going to say maybe the long hours of trial and travel, I have a few more gray sparkles in my hair.
Carl Morrison: I have a lot of gray sparkles in my hair, and I all say it’s because of working in trial and doing so many trials over the years but I do enjoy it and do miss it a little bit, and I understand that when you are younger, traveling a lot, hey it sounds glamorous, it’s great, but over time, you are like, yeah I want to get home. But being a trial consultant what you do is an exciting career, wouldn’t you say?
April Ferguson: I think so. I love that, I don’t regret for one minute the career path I have taken.
Carl Morrison: That’s fantastic. That’s fantastic and with that let’s get kind of into the meat and potatoes about trial consulting, and so how would you define a trial consultant and we mentioned Trial Technology Consultant, they seem and sound like they are the same thing but tell the listeners how are they different, how are they same, let’s start with trial consultant, what is a Trial Consultant?
April Ferguson: Okay. So I think that’s a great question, and I do want to clarify that I think they are two very distinct positions with two different skill sets. So a Trial Consultant, which for purposes of this exercise, I am going to use interchangeably with jury consultant, because that’s basically what they are that, that is a very different position than a Trial Technology Consultant.
So jury consulting is a very specialized field which is comprised of everything from social scientists to communication experts, psychologists, sociologists and litigation professionals. I would like to say that we are trial strategy and communication experts. There’s a ton of diversity in the field as it relates to the services that jury consultants offer, some of us focus solely on pretrial research while others spend a majority of their time in the courtroom assisting with maybe jury selection or monitoring juries and assessing case strategy.
Other consultants, jury consultants work primarily on witness preparation and theme development or graphics and demonstrative. There’s just a wide variety of services that jury or trial consultants offer. I would say that the best jury or trial consultants have a very well-rounded practice which encompasses just a little bit of everything I mentioned.
A Trial Technology Consultant on the other hand is similar to a hot seat operator in the courtroom. They are the person that when you walk in the courtroom, they have their computer sitting there and they are connected to a projector or a big flat-screen monitor and they are presenting evidence in the courtroom through TrialDirector or some other trial presentation platform.
On the back end they interface directly with the trial team to ensure that all the exhibits are ready for electronic display, video, testimony has been cut and edited, graphics and demonstratives are prepared and ready for use. I generally say that a Trial Technology Consultant should be the most technologically savvy person on the team. So they should be able to assist everything with boardroom setup to the actual and courtroom presentation, anything in between would fall within the scope of a Trial Technology Consultant’s duties.
Carl Morrison: So would you say that as a Trial Consultant you are really — lack of a better term, the expert, the expert in the way of human psychology, human communication, things of that nature. And by that I mean a big part of what you do as a Trial Consultant or a Jury Consultant is to really help the attorneys and witnesses deliver kind of an effective case narrative to the jury, would you say that’s kind of a correct way to look at it?
April Ferguson: So I think that’s — I think that’s correct, and I will describe my job. My job as a trial or jury consultant is to help my clients prepare their case in a way that most effectively resonates with the jury.
So my ultimate goal is to help my client on the jury with the tools that they need to be an advocate for my client in the deliberation room and we do that in a variety of different ways. I work very closely with my attorneys on voir dire and the jury selection process to make sure that we seat the best possible jury.
I assist them with team development and the storytelling process. I think it’s so important to create a narrative that resonates with the jury. We create graphics and demonstratives that assists the jury in better understanding the concepts of the case, and this is especially important in cases that are pretty technical in nature or cases where the subject matter is not something the average person deals with on a daily basis.
We also work very closely with our clients to develop powerful opening and closing statements. Although those are not evidence they are two of the very most important parts of the trial. So how is this accomplished? And I think that is done through pretrial research, that’s a very effective way to put your pulse on the hot-button issues in a case.
So understanding how different demographics in our society, different sectors of our society respond to the various issues in a case, helps us prepare our case in such a way that appeals to the demographics of our jury pool.
So through our pretrial research we put together what we call ideal or non-ideal jury profiles that can be used during the jury selection process, so that we know kind of what type of person most favorably response to our position. So I am not for sure that I would say that I am a human psychology expert but I would certainly like to think that I am a trial strategy expert.
Carl Morrison: So really the ultimate goal of a Jury Consultant and what you are saying is really to improve the attorney’s arguments, to help analyze and find just the best mix of individuals, peers for a jury in a particular trial, right?
April Ferguson: I think that’s a good way to summarize it.
Carl Morrison: Okay, great, perfect. So how does a paralegal really fit into this world of jury consulting?
It sounds like a paralegal would not have any interaction or any relationship to a jury consultant, and by that, I mean does a paralegal really play an integral part or do you see that a paralegal playing an integral part of the trial team, including and specifically a jury consultant such as yourself?
April Ferguson: So I think absolutely. I think paralegals are an integral part of any effective trial team. So I mean you know this from working on big pieces of complex litigation, trial preparation is something akin to a three-ring circus. And paralegals are the circus masters.
They are responsible for keeping attorneys on task, ensuring that case materials are kept updated and organized, they prepare trial exhibits, they coordinate case logistics and most importantly, the primary point of contact for outside consultants like myself and other experts.
So as the Trial Consultant, we heavily rely on the paralegals to provide us with the information that we need to do our job. So in order to design an effective research strategy or to develop a case theme or to design a persuasive demonstrative or even preparing key witnesses for testimony, there are certain things that I need from the paralegal to do my job.
They are the gatekeeper and I have found that unless have a very solid working relationship with the case paralegal, my job as a Trial Consultant is going to be very difficult.
Carl Morrison: I always teach students that when you get into, especially, if you’re going to work in civil litigation and working as a paralegal and doing a lot of trial work, you are the master of the evidence, your attorney and your experts, and if you are lucky enough to work with a jury consultant like as yourself, April, you’re going to be the master of all that evidence and you’ve got to know what backwards and forwards because those individuals are going to rely on you heavily.
So I try not to laugh when you said it was — I think you called it a three-ring circus, that trial is like a three-ring circus and the paralegal are the circus masters. All I could think about was the meme and that you see online, not my circus, not my monkeys.
April Ferguson: Yeah.
Carl Morrison: Well, unfortunately as a paralegal —
April Ferguson: This is your circus and these are your monkeys.
Carl Morrison: Absolutely. And you have to master those monkeys. So, do you think a paralegal can provide the same type of support to an attorney that a jury consultant would be providing, and if not, why not?
April Ferguson: So I think the role of a paralegal and a jury consultant are very different. I think the same thing is true of a paralegal and a Trial Technology Consultant. I think they are all very important parts of the trial team but all three of the roles are very different.
I find that trial teams were most effectively when you have a strong case paralegal that manages the day-to-day activities of a case, when you have a Trial Technology Consultant that ensures that all things technology-related are taken care of, and then the case warrants it. I mean let’s be real here, not every case warrants a trial consultant or a jury consultant.
But if the case has significant exposure and budget allows and you hire a trial consultant to assist with case strategy, witness preparation and the likes, the three of those positions together can work so effectively to assist the attorneys on the trial team. But I do think they all have distinct roles.
Carl Morrison: And I agree with you on that. As a trial paralegal for so many years and working with jury consultants on matters, my role was very discrete and separate, but vitally important to the entire trial team including the jury consultant, because the jury consultant and I worked closely on not only the evidence and the witnesses, but sometimes getting the input, so the jury consultant would ask me to help maybe develop and look at themes that were being presented in the trial.
And you can’t — as a paralegal, you can’t just sit back and go well, that’s not my job, I’m not going to be involved. My role is to do X, Y, Z and that’s it. Well no, you need to be an active participant in the trial team because it’s vitally important to work closely not only with your attorney and the experts, with those other consultants such as the Trial Technology Consultant and the Jury Consultant.
April Ferguson: Absolutely. I could not agree with you more on that.
Carl Morrison: April, let’s take a short commercial break and when we come back, we’ll continue our topic and we’ll talk a little bit more about Jury Consultants and Trial Technology Consultants. We’ll be right back.
Advertiser: Looking for a process server you can trust, Serve-Now.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 www.serve-now.com.
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.
Carl Morrison: Welcome back to The Paralegal Voice. I’m Carl Morrison. My guest today is April Ferguson. April, before we took our commercial break, we were discussing trial consulting and jury consultants, and how a paralegal fits into that type of profession.
So do you think that a paralegal who would want to transition into trial consulting, should they like get any type of additional education? I know you talked about your perspective but in the industry as a whole, in jury consulting, do you think if a paralegal wanted to that they needed additional education and if so, what kind of education would you recommend?
April Ferguson: So in most cases I’m going to say yes, and I think a lot of that depends on what undergraduate or graduate degree that paralegal already has. But I think in most instances, additional education is typically required, and I’m going to use myself as an example.
I had an undergraduate degree in Social Science, but I knew that if I wanted to move into the world of trial consulting from being a paralegal or a Trial Technology Consultant that I needed to go back to school to get the proper education and training, because I just didn’t feel like that my experience in education as a paralegal and a technology consultant translated into the world of jury consulting.
So I think understanding the intersection between psychology, sociology and the law are all very important parts of being a good jury consultant. So I think as a general rule in the industry, most jury consultants have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, but most and I would say the largest majority have either a Master’s degree or a Doctorate degree.
And I think being able to conduct effective research requires the knowledge of how to design a good research study, how to statistically analyze it, how to utilize the information that you obtained to develop case strategy and ideal/non-ideal juror profiles. And I don’t think those are necessarily skills that you learn in a paralegal training program or at least they were skills that I learned in my paralegal training program.
So I think the answer is yes, generally additional education and training is required to transition into the world of jury consulting.
Carl Morrison: Do you see with a Master’s or a Doctorate degree, are they specific to a sociology or psychology type degree?
April Ferguson: I think there are all different types of people in the jury consulting world. Everything from communication experts, to forensic psychologists, to sociologists, to linguistic experts, I think there is a whole variety of disciplines that comprise the jury consulting circle.
So I think it just depends on what you want your practice to look like. I mean there’s a lot of lawyers turned jury consultants that don’t necessarily have sociology or psychology degrees. I — in my social science degree, I have a lot of psychology and sociology before my Master’s degree as a Master of Science in Law.
But before I started my Master of Science in Law, I was in a Psychology Master’s program and then I just — I decided for what I wanted to do transitioning to the Master of Science in Law was a better career path for me, but I think there’s a variety of different disciplines.
Carl Morrison: If I wanted to, if Carl Morrison, a certified paralegal here, if I wanted to become a trial consultant, if I wanted to switch into jury consulting work, what would you recommend to me? If I was to ask hey April, I want to do this, what do I need to do? What would be my first step in really transitioning?
April Ferguson: Okay, so I’m going to say having known you for many years and thinking the world of you, I would say come back to Tulsa, come work for me. So that would be your first step, okay.
But seriously though, so the first thing I would say to anyone wanting to get into the field is that you would want to make sure that you meet the educational requirements and if you’re going to go back to school to get an advanced degree that you choose a field of study that corresponds most closely with what you wish your practice to look like, and like I said earlier, there’s a variety of disciplines within the jury consulting field.
I would also suggest that you beef up your understanding of statistics and gain a better understanding of designing effective research studies. I also think it’s important that you study under a good trial consultant and find someone willing to mentor you. There is absolutely zero replacement for good experience, having a good mentor and on-the-job training.
One thing that I think is important for your listeners is the biggest advantage paralegals have over others who are new to the trial consulting field is case experience.
So for example, like we talked earlier, I know your background and you’ve worked on very large pieces of complex litigation. You’ve been in scores of trials. So you understand litigation, you understand what it takes to prepare a case for trial and you understand the stress that comes along with the job.
So I think that gives you and any paralegal with your experience a leg up. But I think education is, is key.
Carl Morrison: For those listeners that don’t know my undergrad, actually bachelor’s degree, is in science and specifically in Pre-Med. I have a certificate in Paralegal Education, but my undergrad was in Pre-Med and I took those statistic and research type classes and absolutely loved it. I’m a nerd, right there I’ve already got that, so there you go.
April Ferguson: Okay, so when are you moving back is what I want to know.
Carl Morrison: Right, exactly.
April Ferguson: We can get you to a flight to 21:04.
Carl Morrison: Well, let’s talk about Trial Technology Consultants, and that type of consulting profession. As a Trial Technology Consultant, you’re saying that you’d be the expert in the visual presentation and the information that’s being communicated to the jury, right.
So does a Trial Technology Consultant have to have the same level of expertise in those areas we’ve been talking about; psychology, sociology things of that nature as a jury consultant, yes or no? What’s your take on it?
April Ferguson: So I would say absolutely not. I would say absolutely not. Like I said earlier, I think a Trial Technology Consultant possesses a completely different skill set than a trial or a jury consultant.
So for example, many jury consultants are not very technologically savvy but that’s a key requirement for being a Trial Technology Consultant.
So the same thing is true with being a Trial Technology Consultant. I don’t think anyone would expect their trial technology specialist to be an expert in the field of human behavior or be able to facilitate a focus group or a mock trial. I think they are completely different jobs with different skill set; despite the fact that there is some overlap and for example, many Trial Technology Consultants put together extremely compelling slide decks for like opening and closing statements.
In fact, some of the best slide decks I have ever seen have been done by Trial Technology Consultants. But that’s also something that jury consultants do. So there is some overlap that I think it is — I don’t think there would be any expectation that a trial technology specialist have the psychology or sociology background that you would expect from a jury consultant.
Carl Morrison: I mean a Trial Technology Consultant still has to be a master of communication and that is a skill set that any paralegal has to have in their wheelhouse is strong communication skills, and as a Trial Technology Consultant, you got to understand the message that you’re putting out there and understand and have that skill set to be a effective communicator, right?
April Ferguson: Absolutely. I mean I think that is very true. And I mean that’s why I said some of the best slide decks I’ve seen have come from Trial Technology Consultants because they are the experts in communicating information to juries; whether that’s preparing demonstratives that explain a process or a flow, but yes, I mean I think that you’re spot-on.
I mean Trial Technology Consultants are in effect communication experts. They know how to best present the evidence.
Carl Morrison: So talking about skills and that brings me to our next segue into skill sets and as a jury consultant with trial technology consulting experience, what are some of the skills, if you could give like a top five, what are the top five skills you believe make an excellent Trial Technology Consultant?
April Ferguson: Okay, so the first thing I want to say is the absolute best Trial Technology Specialist or Trial Technology Consultant I know are former paralegals. So a lot of the same skill sets that are required as a paralegal are required for a Trial Technology Specialist.
So the first thing that I think of is it’s important to be technologically savvy, and I’m not talking about someone who knows how to turn on a computer or launch some software, I’m talking about someone with mad hardware and software skills. I think it’s super important to be able to work well under pressure, this trial is stressful, stuff happens, bulbs burn out of projectors in the middle of a slideshow, people trip over extension cords despite the best tape down job.
Attorneys are famous for walking in the courtroom in the morning and handing you new documents last-minute that they want to have displayed with the first witness and you’ve got to quickly scan them and get them worded in.
The court oftentimes rules on deposition testimony right in the middle of trial and you’ve got to quickly edit the portions that are coming out while the jury is waiting.
So this requires someone who does not frazzle easily and someone who can efficiently perform their job under immense pressure.
And the other part that I am going to kind of tail onto that works well under pressure you also have to be able to work well with no sleep. And I only have to joke about that. I can remember in one specific case and this is my first very large trial, and the trial started like sometime in October and we finished a couple days before Christmas.
So it was a very long intense trial in Federal Court, but I can remember on more than a couple of occasions during that trial I literally never left the office the night before.
So I like kept a toothbrush and a hairbrush at the office because the attorneys would go home at two or three in the morning and I’m still left with a bunch of stuff to do. So when they came back at 7 or 8 and they’re ready to bebop down to the courthouse, I’m still sitting there with my same suit on.
So anyway, you have to be able to work long hours. I’ll see what else. Organizational skills, I think it’s super important to be organized. You have to be able to quickly locate exhibits and testimony and impeachment clips, and if you’re not organized there is no way that you’re going to be able to access the data that you need with just the click of a few buttons.
I think it’s important like a paralegal to be a creative problem solver. I think the ideal Trial Technology Consultant is going to be an out-of-the-box thinker who looks for creative solutions to problems. I mean we have stuff happens all the time during trial and despite the best laid plans, and the best preparation, you have to have a Plan B ready.
I think that paralegals know that and I think that’s something that translates very well into trial technology consulting.
And I think the last — I’m going to pick one last thing I would say being prepared. So you cannot be a successful Trial Technology Consultant without hard work and preparation. I told you earlier, I’ve been in 200 plus trials. I am so familiar with trial director that I could probably pull up exhibits in my sleep, but that doesn’t change the fact that every single trial and every single client requires that I prepare for my 201st trial the same way I prepared for my first trial.
So I don’t hit corners, I don’t wait to the last minute just because I feel comfortable. I am 100% prepared always. I check, I double-check, I back up, I duplicate, I run through my mental checklist and I never, I never relax. I never get comfortable and I think that is something that is key to being effective in a role of a Technology Consultant.
Carl Morrison: I have to tell this little anecdotal story about a trial I did a couple of years ago and out-of-town trial, I had a state trial for that matter and I was going, I was working with some evidence. We were on break and my hard drive went down. I had to switch and I had a backup, external hard drive of the evidence and one piece of evidence wasn’t working right and I needed to retrieve it off of our drive back at the office.
So meant I had to remote into and I remoted in, were backup, the jury’s going, we’re going and our IT Department had moved all this particular directory and I am about to die, but of course, internally I’m screaming, but of course no one knew it because I kept my cool. I did what I needed to do. I was able to.
Now I’m madly texting under the table to the secretary going get it back, get it back, get it back, but no one else knew, not even the attorney until much later that I told her what happened. So yes, vitally important as a paralegal and a Trial Technology Consultant, you got to work well under pressure.
April Ferguson: Absolutely.
Carl Morrison: So I’ve got another question here. What additional experience or education would you recommend for a paralegal that maybe they don’t do a lot of trials, so I have some trial experience, but they want to maybe transition into becoming a Trial Technology Consultant, what would you recommend?
April Ferguson: So there are a couple different certifications available. One is through the American Guild of Court Videographers, the certification is called a Certified Trial Technology Specialist and then there’s one through the National Court Reporters Association and I can’t think of the name of the certification. I don’t know a lot about that certification but I do know a lot about the AGCV certification because I help draft the curriculum and I used to teach the CTTS classes.
So both of them I’m sure are good programs that’s going to say something and it’s probably discredit to my own certification but I really don’t think certification is necessary. They’re expensive and probabyl I shouldn’t be saying that but I don’t think certification is really necessary.
I think that as long as you have the requisite legal skills and as long as you are technologically savvy, the rest can be taught and that’s everything from learning the trial presentation software that of course that’s a key part of it, but it’s being proficient in PowerPoint and Excel and Photoshop and other softwares within the Adobe Creative Suite.
I think all of that stuff can be taught as long as you are technologically savvy and you learn fast. I have said this before trial technology is my first love and I think it’s a perfect career path for a tech-savvy paralegal, who’s looking to transition out of law firm life into the consulting world.
So I don’t think there’s any necessarily additional education, it’s just a willingness to go in and learn something and come out of your comfort zone but you have to be technologically savvy although it’ll never work.
Carl Morrison: As long as we have trials, as long as we have a judicial system, there will always be a need for a individual such as a Trial Technology Consultant to be there and I think it’s just a profession that is growing and will continue to grow and well received.
April Ferguson: I could not agree more. I think it’s a fun job not only is it a next step in a career, it’s a fun job. So I am in trial on average 20 to 25 weeks a year. When I was a Trial Technology Consultant and did mostly that work before I transitioned did the jury consulting work, I might have been in trial 35 weeks a year. It’s tiring, it’s long hours but it’s fun, it’s rewarding, you get to see all different types of cases, work with all different types of trial teams and it’s rewarding to watch people get the justice that they deserve whether they are on the plaintiff side or the defense side. Of course, I am biased but I think it’s a very rewarding career.
And I just want to say Carl, if any of your listeners have any questions about this career path or just one about some questions off of me, I am more than willing to answer questions about this career path.
Carl Morrison: Thank you so much and we will have all your contact information with the show. So thank you. I am sure the listeners will definitely be reaching out to you and I am just going to say that trial, I absolutely love trial, it sounds like and people probably think we are insane but I love to the fast pace of the trial scene, yes, many long nights, many long nights, many long weeks being out of town. You can attest to celebrating birthdays, holidays, Valentine’s Day out of town. So —
April Ferguson: Yes.
Carl Morrison: But it has its reward because like you said it’s one of the best things to see our judicial system works and works well by allowing individuals that have been wronged to seek justice in our court system. So it looks like we are running out of time so as much as I hate to cut this topic off, I could talk to you for the next four days about it but I have got a fun —
April Ferguson: Come to talk to us Carl, come to talk to us.
Carl Morrison: I have a fun and final question to ask you. So what do you think about when you are alone in the car, I know it’s a funny question what do you think about when you are alone in the car?
April Ferguson: Oh my goodness. Well I try not to think because I have to think all day long every day so I probably tried not to think. So I am — I do when I am in my car I sing, I sing at the top of my lungs, so I mean in my mind, I am serious competition for Carrie Underwood, a little known fact here. But my family thinks they might tell you something different but in my car, I am the star of the show. So I mean let’s just hope for Carrie Underwood’s sake that this whole trial consulting gig continues to work out for me because I mean Carrie could be in trouble.
Carl Morrison: Well if I see you on America’s Got Talent, up there singing, I will say to people I knew her when she was a jury consultant.
April Ferguson: Yeah well, maybe Carrie’s not in for that much competition.
Carl Morrison: So April, that’s all the time we have for today’s show. Like I said, the listeners if they want to get in contact with you, what’s the best way for them to reach you?
April Ferguson: They can call my office. Our office number is 918-359-8900 or you can shoot me an email, it’s [email protected], so either of those, I would love to hear from your listeners if they have any questions.
Carl Morrison: April thank you so much for taking the time to share this exciting topic and it’s an additional career path for paralegals to consider if they want to jazz up their experience, definitely look into Jury Consultant or Trial Technology Consultant. So thank you.
April Ferguson: You are most welcome. Thanks for having me. I enjoyed it.
Carl Morrison: With that, we are going to segue to some paralegal news and tips after a brief word from our sponsors.
Advertiser: NALA offers continuing education, professional development and voluntary certification for all paralegals. The Certified Paralegal credential has been awarded to more than 19,000 paralegals. The Certified Paralegal Program is also the first paralegal certification program accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. NALA works actively with all those in the legal field to promote the value of paralegals and to advance paralegal professionalism. Learn more about NALA at www.nala.org.
Carl Morrison: Welcome back. The following are some upcoming paralegal and paralegal related conferences worth noting and more importantly attending. So be sure if you haven’t registered for one of these, you do so and attend.
NALS, the Association for Legal Professionals is hosting their 67th Annual Education and Networking Conference, September 20th through the 22nd in Phoenix, Arizona at the Phoenix Marriott Mesa. Fun and unique education and networking opportunities for legal professionals will be presented. So be sure and attend. Of course, I’ll be there sporting my formal attire for the NALS Foundation Gala Prom Themed Event, so definitely you want to check it out, register, come, show up you can be my prom date.
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations will be hosting their 2018 Annual Convention and Policy Meeting in Seattle, Washington at the Hilton Seattle Airport Hotel and Conference Center. Come with me as we travel the Yellow Brick Road and head to the Emerald City Seattle, Washington. It’s going to be a great meeting and you don’t want to miss out on this wonderful conference.
And finally, we come to the segment called the Listener’s Voice. This is an opportunity for you, as the listener, to send me an email with any of your questions, your career celebrations etc. I’ll go through them, I’ll select the questions to be read on air and if there’s a particular topic you want to ask a question about or maybe there’s a prior guests that you listen to that you have a question for. Be sure to send me an email and make your voice the listener’s voice known and heard. Send your email to me at [email protected].
Today’s question comes from the great State of Texas. Dear Carl, I Am a male paralegal getting ready to finish my paralegal degree. I have been on a few entry-level paralegal interviews recently and I’m having a hard time getting a job. Do you think that the paralegal industry is slanted towards hiring more females than males? Signed. Feeling discouraged.
Well feeling discouraged, I am going to tell you right now, do not be discouraged, first and foremost don’t be discouraged. Getting a job right out of school or if you’re still finishing up school and getting that entry-level paralegal legal assistant job can be challenging at times. I know a lot of employers are seeking someone with a little bit of experience but first and foremost don’t be discouraged. Keep up the good fight.
I don’t think that and I don’t see, I don’t have experience seeing this that the paralegal industry as a whole is slanted towards hiring more females than males. I will tell you that our specific industry has been female dominated for a simple fact that. When the paralegal profession came about in the late 60s, it was legal secretaries that really started the paralegal industry.
For the simple fact that they wanted to continue on and add more substantive work to the work that they were doing for attorneys and as such the career evolved, education started happening for paralegal legal assistant programs and as such because the legal secretary industry was female dominated, it just came that route.
You will see in surveys that are done, statistical data about the paralegal industry as a whole, it’s 95% female, 5% male but to me it doesn’t matter. Employers are seeking those that are qualified and competent to do substantive legal work whether you’re male or female and just because of how it’s evolved in how we have been, it’s just more females than males are in the profession but that it doesn’t mean that there’s not a position for you.
My recommendation to you if you’re having a hard time is to seek out additional work in the legal industry; by that I mean, look at helping man a table at a pro bono event or doing some volunteer hours helping at a legal clinic at your local law school. There are different ways that you can add additional resume fodder to help demonstrate that you’ve gone above and beyond that you have some substantive legal experience outside of the classroom.
So definitely don’t be discouraged, keep it up, keep up the good fight. And keep those questions coming listeners.
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 [email protected]. Stay tuned for more information and upcoming podcasts for exciting paralegal trends, news and engaging and fun interviews from leading paralegals and other leading legal professionals.
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.