In this Mix Bag episode, Carl covers news from the Supreme Court, Crisis Management Plans, and presents his Corporate HR Guide to the Paralegal Profession.
Carl H. Morrison, RP, PP, AACP, is an experienced certified paralegal and paralegal manager and has been in the...
Carl decides to “mix it up”, skip the interview, and pull out his proverbial Paralegal Grab Bag to expand the conversation to a blend of news, issues, and tips. He also covers an interesting recent ruling from the Supreme Court; why your firm needs a well thought out crisis management plan and how to help accomplish that; plus his Corporate HR Guide to the Paralegal Profession. Keeping with the “mix it up” theme, Carl also takes the Listener’s Voice in a new direction for this episode, so stick around!
The Paralegal Voice
Paralegal Grab Bag: Court Rulings, Crisis Management, and the Corporate HR Guide to the Paralegal Profession
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 to 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.
Before we begin, we would like to thank our sponsor NALA. NALA is a professional association for paralegals providing continuing education, voluntary certification and professional development programs. NALA has been a sponsor of The Paralegal Voice since our very first show.
And, CourtFiling.net; e-file court documents with ease in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. To learn more visit CourtFiling.net to take advantage of a fee 30-day trial.
And 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.
And finally Legalinc. Legalinc makes it easy for paralegals to digitally automate tasks like business formations, corporate filings and registered agent services nationwide. Visit legalinc.com/podcast today to create your free account.
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, of course, you know me. If you’ve been a longtime listener now, you know that I always got to mix it up. So today it’s not any different, I’m mixing it up for you guys.
Today, we’re going to do a little bit of a different approach and I’m doing my mixed bag show. So today you guys probably do the same thing, you follow a lot of different blogs, follow different Facebook groups on the paralegal industry. I’m a law nerd so I follow a lot of different things.
So I saw a couple of different things that I thought these areas and these topics I think would be really good for you guys to hear about. So today, we are doing my mixed bag show.
So first I wanted to share with you a recent Supreme Court decision. I found it really fascinating. We’re going to talk about it, we’re going to talk a little bit about crisis management and being prepared and you’re probably thinking what, what is Carl talking about, stick with me, you want to stay tuned for that portion of the show.
And then finally, I’m going to share with all my corporate paralegal listeners but it also applies to those paralegals who work in a law firm setting but maybe you have corporate clients. And this is what I’m calling my Corporate Human Resources Guide to the Paralegal Profession. So let’s kick off our show.
We’re going to start reaching into that mixed bag and we’re going to start with the United States Supreme Court decision that recently came out. I saw this on a particular blog and it piqued my interest, because I was like whoa wait, what. And I wanted to share it with you because it’s one of those decisions that involves Trademark Law, okay.
Now, before you go I’m not listening, I am going to turn you off Carl, nope, stick with me, you got to listen to this particular decision. On June 24th, this year, the United States Supreme Court made a decision and struck down a ban on trademarking immoral and scandalous words and symbols, which is really fascinating because if you think about a lot of different words that maybe you find scandalous in nature, this particular Supreme Court decision struck it down.
It’s considered a major victory for those companies and individuals who were, and have over history sought trademark protection for being able to use profane brand names. It’s radical, it’s a radical concept and it’s a radical thought, so stick with me we’re going to kind of digest this a little bit.
So first let me give you a little bit of the background of the particular case. Now, if you want to go out there and read the case yourself, if you’re a big giant law nerd like me, the case is styled Iancu and I’m probably totally butchering that, but I’ll spell it for you Iancu v. Brunetti, case number 18-302.
The crux of the case was that the Lanham Act’s prohibition on registering federal trademarks that are immoral or scandalous violated the First Amendment, your ability to free speech and I’m just going to say that. The main question in this was whether the US Patent and Trademark Office acted unconstitutionally when it basically refused to grant trademark protection to a particular brand.
And in this case, it was a clothing line, the brand name is FUCT. Now, I’m not going to pronounce it, you can write it out and sound it out and you know particularly what that word is saying. Things that I’ve read since I’ve read this particular decision FUCT is actually the true brand name, but if you read it and phonetically sound it out it is a profane, a scandalous word.
This particular clothing line was created by a designer by the name of Erik Brunetti in about 1990 and it’s aimed at the 20-somethings, it’s the younger generation and since that timeframe, he’s been attempting to get the brand name trademark, all that time and the Patent Trademark Office is going, no, it’s a scandalous name because you if you sound it out, it’s one of those terms that we cannot allow and we’re not going to trademark.
Well, the fact that this particular brand name that he has created has not been able to be trademarked it’s caused his products to be counterfeited and knocked off numerous times by other manufacturers. And it’s been costing this particular designer real money.
The designer Brunetti, his stance has been if he could get the brand trademark then he could go after the copycats and shut them down, which yeah, definitely. I have a company, my particular brand name may sound to some people if you sound it out scandalous but that’s not what I’m doing, it’s FUCT.
And so, he wants them to stop stealing his work, however of course, the Patent Trademark Office, they’ve consistently rejected his trademark application, stating that these particular letters even though they are letters, they are sounded out and violate the law that bars trademarks protection for immoral, shocking, offensive, and scandalous words.
Now, the attorneys that were making that argument for the designer, there was a little bit of glimmer of hope for this designer about two years ago, because the Supreme Court in a different case but very similar ruled that a particular Asian-American band calling themselves The Slants could not be denying trademark protection.
And in that matter, the Patent and Trademark Office denied the trademark for the brand name as they deemed it racially disparaging. But the court said, the denial amounted to unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.
So Brunetti had a little bit of ammunition to help him bolster his arguments to take up to the Supreme Court to get trademark protection. So what was interesting in Brunetti’s case, the government’s argument was that they maintained that they could deny the trademark for this particular word.
But in oral arguments before the Supreme Court, the justices pointing out to a particular chart, that showed terms that had been granted trademarks and those that hadn’t. So words like FCUK and the brand FUBAR both had been granted trademark protections in the past.
The word Crap had been registered in trademark names 70 different times, but of course the S word that is synonymous with crap was consistently denied. In this argument, my favorite jurist, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked how the Patent and Trademark Office defined what is scandalous, shocking or offensive.
She asked do 20 year olds generally find FUCT to be shocking or scandalous. Of course, the government conceded that they probably did not, but they said that term could be shocking to a substantial portion of the population, and thereby can be denied the trademark.
Justice Gorsuch said during oral arguments that it was hard to see why certain trademarks that used or alluded to profanity were approved and others were denied. So ultimately the decision was 6-3 and I’ll tell you who the majority justices were.
It’s Kagan, Thomas, Ginsberg, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. The three dissenters were Roberts, Breyer and Sotomayor.
So what was interesting was that all nine justices, all of them, agreed that the federal law banning “immoral trademarks” was too broad and that would — it would allow the government to grant trademarks to messages it approved and denied trademarks for messages it disapproved.
Kagan pointed and varying treatments of opposing messages by the Patent and Trademark Office. For instance, the Patent Office gave protection to a game called Praise the Lord but denied Bong Hits 4 Jesus.
In another example, the name You Can’t Spell Healthcare Without THC was denied but granted the phrase Say No to Drugs. Kagan said that that law violates the First Amendment guarantee of free speech because it disfavors certain ideas.
Now Roberts in his dissent said that the First Amendment does not require the government to give aid and comfort to those using obscene, vulgar and profane modes of expression. And to me, and I’m going to tell you guys, I don’t profess to be a legal scholar by any means but to me their statements was clear that the justices were signaling to the Patent and Trademark Office that hey, even though we are saying what you’re doing is violating free speech, the First Amendment, we’re giving you an out, we’re showing you another route of being able to deny these terms in the future. Because what the justices stated was that it was taking no position on statutes that Congress might write in the future. Aha, there we go. There’s the wrinkle.
So really this case is not truly over, it’s interesting because what may sound scandalous and vulgar may be immoral to others may not sound scandalous to some. And so, it’s very interesting because to me it’s the marrying of trademark, the protection of being able to use stuff and market stuff with terms I want to use to be able to market but don’t violate the First Amendment.
So I’m going to ask you guys as my listeners what do you think? Do you think we’ll see Congress actually create new tighter laws on trademarking offensive terms in the future as a result of this decision? You think that other cases are going to bubble up that are going to try to get the Supreme Court to go a little bit different to ease up? It’s an interesting concept.
And I’ve seen some comments that some paralegals have been posting about this particular trademark case. I know some of you actually practice in trademark, so let me know your thoughts. Send me an email to [email protected], that’s [email protected] and I want to know your thoughts on this case. I find it fascinating. So keep the emails coming.
We’re going to take a short little commercial break and when we’ll come back, we’re going to continue the mixed bag. So don’t turn that dime.
Advertiser: This episode of The Paralegal Voice is brought to you by CourtFiling.net, your solution for electronic filing in California, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. CourtFiling.net provides a better e-filing experience so you can spend more time helping clients. Because they know that work sometimes happens after hours, CourtFiling.net offers 24/7 phone, email, and chat support. Visit CourtFiling.net to receive 30 days of unlimited free electronic filings and see how you too can e-file court documents with ease.
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 to The Mixed Bag Show. I hope you guys have enjoyed the first little tidbit that I brought with that Supreme Court decision. So we’re going to reach back into that bag, and we’re going to pull out my next topic. What I thought would be interesting and I wanted to talk with you about is crisis management and preparing for that not if but when a major crisis does occur in your company, if you’re a corporate or in-house paralegal or your law firm, you’re probably thinking was does this got to do with me as being a paralegal?
I have been dealing with this professionally. I know others that have been dealing with this particular subject professionally and I think it’s a very valid topic to be talking about and in light of a lot of things that are going on. So whether you are a paralegal for a corporation or paralegal traditional law firm setting, a company’s response, your company’s ability to respond to a crisis can result in major business risks and you as that vital member of the legal team is really important in assisting your senior partner in the firm or general counsel in developing and implementing a crisis management plan.
A lot of companies don’t have them, you’d be shocked. A lot of the larger companies do, a lot of law firms I know don’t have a crisis management plan. And it’s not, if a crisis is going to occur during the company’s lifetime, it’s more than likely when is it going to strike, what is the strike going to be, what’s the impact and the degree of that particular crisis.
If you were to ask your firm’s managing partner or your company’s general counsel, you’re going to find more often than not, they’re going to acknowledge that they’re not properly prepared or even prepared for — at all for crisis, no matter the degree of the crisis.
And you guys know, as well as I, crisis, they come in all shapes and forms. Think about the MeToo Movement, a lot of law large companies that have had to deal with the whole MeToo Movement and issue surrounding sexual harassment. Think of cyber attacks, and we see that all the time from large corporations; Amazon, Target, name them; virtually every company, large corporation has been affected by cyber attack but even law firms have been prone to cyber attacks.
Think about design defects to law firm employees and bezel in client funds, all the time crises are occurring, they do occur. So if your company is not ready to respond to crisis like this almost instantaneously, a company really has to, when you’re dealing with crisis management, comments on social media, the news cycle that can truly impact and affect your company or your firm and before your company even formulates a plan.
I know a particular professional that dealt with something like this, the impact was huge, huge because it hits social media and it was an issue that just spread like wildfire. And this particular professional I know, their ability to handle it was bogged down because they didn’t really have the right plan in place. So your ability to respond to a crisis quickly and efficiently is vital.
So I wanted to give you four talking points to go back to your managing partner or your general counsel and sit down with them and discuss what’s your company’s crisis management plan, do they even have one, and if they don’t, well these talking points I’m going to talk to you about, these four points, jot notes down and go back and help your company help your law firm design and implement one.
So let’s start with number one. Time is of the essence, I just talked about that a minute ago. Attorneys are trained to play defense, even plaintiffs’ attorneys, to really proceed carefully, think about it, get all the facts together and say nothing, that’s kind of the typical response, they want to formulate their plan.
In a crisis playing defense and waiting and not communicating is not in anyone’s best interest. So your firm has to act quickly and efficiently to decide the message that needs to be communicated.
Warren Buffett is quoted as saying it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. So in a crisis, time is of the essence and time is of the essence in a crisis management and you have to react appropriately and quickly.
Number two, build and create that crisis management plan. Well you got to plan it out how are you going to handle and manage a crisis, well, you got to have a plan in place. The best way to address this crisis is to be prepared for it. So even though the company may not know what the crisis is going to be you got to plan for it. So good plan is going to start with the specific crises that maybe the firm knows this may occur or the company may know occur.
So if the type of crisis is what I say invoke, so a executive or partner’s personal texts are being made public, they get released accidentally or even not accidentally, and that type of crisis happens at your company. You got to plan for it. Go ahead and plan for it. If you think that can happen, think of a plan to manage that type, that particular type of crisis.
So you got to think about and identify those risks that your firm or your company may have already determined may have an adverse effect and plan for them. So create those procedures, think about the — what I call the three different areas of crises. So you have a minor crisis, a major crisis and medium crisis.
So think about and create procedures around those particular three types of crises that you may, your company, your firm may be affected by. And you should also think of examples for each to be able to help a crisis management team. We’re going to talk about a crisis management team here in a second, so you can figure out what is considered a crisis.
Say for example, an employee posted a complaint on social media about a supervisor, well that may not typically be a crisis, that’s just a disgruntled employee. But say for example, if a managing partner is being arrested for driving under the influence, and is involved in a hit-and-run and the partners find out about it online before the accused, it’s not the managing partner has been arrested has not been able to tell his partners and it gets out. Well now, yeah you can consider that pretty much a crisis and so having these plans are important.
Number three is, determine who is your crisis management team? You got to figure out who your team members are that can manage the crisis and be able to quickly and efficiently deal with it as it happens and as it unfolds.
So you have to identify the members of the team, who is going to lead the team, who the spokesperson is. I will tell you in the corporate arena typically the general counsel is the leader of the team, but is not the spokesperson. In a law firm, it could be the managing partner or the director of the firm is going to lead it.
But again, your leader of the team typically the GC or the partner is not the spokesperson. Your spokesperson may be a leader in the PR Department, Public Relations Department if your company is large enough to have one, or if you’re in a firm, you may have a PR person on staff or maybe you have a PR firm that you deal with, that person is probably going to be and you will discuss with your crisis management team, but that spokesperson is probably going to be your PR related individual.
And of course, when you’re developing your team you also want to — your team members should identify their respective roles and responsibilities and who reports to whom in the arena of a crisis.
And then fourth and finally, communication is the key. You got to be prepared to communicate effectively during the crisis. So having a standard generic company response prepared ahead of time, when that crisis happens, having that in the can, you might have to tweak the message but it will allow the members of the team to provide input quickly to that message and efficiently without having to spend countless hours analyzing each of the word of the communication, circulating in seven different people, so on and so forth.
If you have a kind of a template message in the can that you can quickly and easily tweak according to the crisis, perfect. Then your communication can be released effectively and quickly. And you know guys, as paralegals, we can all play a really huge and vital role in helping our company or firm be prepared ahead of time for the not — if it’s going to happen but when it’s going to happen.
So let me know if your company, your law firm, they’ve implemented a crisis management plan and team and I’m really curious guys. I got to be honest, I would love to know how many firms actually have a crisis management plan and a crisis management team in place.
So I mean the individuals that work for larger firms you may have one. Even small firms guys, you really need and think about the type of crises that you may deal with employment law or excuse me entertainment law and maybe you really need to think about. That’s your only type area law that you work in, you only deal with entertainment type clients, small mid-size firm, you really might want to think about what type of plan which you have in place to deal with a crisis.
So feel free, again, send me an email [email protected] and share with me your thoughts on a crisis management plan and let me know what you think in the way of importance of having a plan. Let me know if you totally poopoo me and go Carl, you are blowing smoke. No way, this is overkill. Let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
We’re going to take one more short break, so stay tuned, don’t turn that dial. After the break for my final segment and the Listener’s Voice we’re going to talk about Corporate HR Guide to the paralegal profession. We will be right back.
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.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Legalinc. Legalinc is empowering paralegals to embrace their inner legal rockstar by automating the everyday tasks that hold them back. Through their free dashboard solution, paralegals can quickly and easily automate services like business formations, corporate filings, registered agent services and more. Visit legalinc.com to create a free account and check out legalinc.com/podcast for a chance to win Legal Rockstar Swag.
Carl Morrison: So finally, I wanted to share with you, not only my corporate paralegal friends out there, but the law firm paralegals who maybe work close with corporate clients and it’s a resource what I’m calling My Corporate Human Resources guide to the paralegal profession. And really this is to help you my listener be able to better define a paralegal role within your corporate environment or maybe as a law firm paralegal help your corporate client develop that right job title and description for a corporate paralegal position.
So let’s first define the term paralegal. Okay, we all know, you’re probably sitting here going Carl, I am going to smack you upside your head. Really, we all know what a paralegal is. Well, I’m going to say something. Our profession, the paralegal profession it’s over 40 years old, and early in our infancy, we were called legal assistants/paralegals, the terms were synonymous and there seems to be many companies and law firms out there that still struggle over the term paralegal versus legal assistant and what a parallel can and should do.
Now, I see you all debates on many different paralegal Facebook channels out there and other social media outlets discussing even amongst us within our own rings, the difference between being called a legal assistant and a paralegal and whether or not there’s even a difference between the two.
And I will tell you all, sometimes those debates can get quite heated and no reason to get that heated, I know we all have our camps that some of us get into of legal assistant versus paralegal, but really much has been written as to what the duties are that are appropriately delegated to a legal assistant/paralegal and most all agree that the legal assistants, paralegals that perform the work which is of a substantive nature requires education, knowledge and expertise, distinguishes it from which is clerical.
So paralegals (legal assistants) do the work that requires substantive legal knowledge, creativity and problem-solving and independent judgment, but it’s always under the supervision of a lawyer. So the nature and amount of that supervision that is required really lies with the lawyer’s discretion.
Now, we all know legal assistants paralegals we cannot ethically, we can’t set fees, we can’t accept or reject clients, we can’t represent clients in court, we can’t give legal advice, that’s we all know that.
For the new paralegals, may be paralegal students I’m going to drill that in your head, legal assistant cannot set fees, accept clients, represents clients in court or give legal advice, know that.
Yet, legal assistants, paralegals may and do exercise independent judgment within those established parameters.
So standards and guidelines that are out there, they’re important to any profession and with our profession, we’ve got three major national paralegal legal support professional associations, that offer a paralegal certification exam. So whether you go through NALA, our sponsor with ACP, or you go through NFPA, the RP exam or NALS, the PP exam, any one of those certification exams that are offered ensures uniformity of Professional Standards and signifies that a paralegal is capable of providing those superior services to their employer.
Okay, so let’s go back for a second. So what’s the difference? Carl, you’re sitting there, you’re just sitting there going Carl hey, what’s the difference between a legal assistant and a paralegal?
I want to know your thoughts, Carl. I’m going to tell you right now guys and gals there’s no clear-cut yes/no answer. There could be depending on the area of the country or even between two different companies within an area of the country. It all depends on the job duties that are being touted for that position that’s being identified whether it be a legal assistant or paralegal position and those job duties.
So it’s all dependent but if you get down to the crux of it, there’s really no difference. The ABA has not changed the definition. They use paralegal/legal assistant. You have to do substantive in nature, requires education knowledge and expertise, it’s not clerical.
So a position that may be identified as a legal assistant but the duties that are listed are clerical in nature, that’s not a true paralegal legal assistant position. So you’re thinking okay, Carl, you’ve piqued my interest now, but really what’s the benefit of having a paralegal. Why should I have a paralegal? If you’re a company legal department leader, that it’s listening to my podcast and you don’t have a paralegal, you’re thinking about, you’ve heard all about the paralegal industry maybe I want to add a paralegal position. You’re probably thinking well how can a paralegal benefit my company or maybe you are a law firm paralegal or attorney and with corporate clients and they don’t have an in-house paralegal or paralegal team and maybe you want to help your client create a more efficient and effective legal team.
So use of paralegals and using paralegals can truly contribute to the bottom line. In-house paralegals can perform many tasks now assigned to outside counsel. So thus you’re containing the legal fees within the four walls of the company and they improve case management.
Paralegal salaries while commiserate with other professionals having like credentials and type of responsibilities, those are still less than being paid to lawyers. So working in a corporate environment, paralegals are expected to manage a large number of assignments in an efficient and timely manner.
My attorney that I worked for, he and I were talking today and it was interesting because I didn’t realize this but he was reading a particular survey, benchmark survey, and the in-house attorney whether you’re an attorney or paralegal, the in-house “billable rate” when you consider all of it impacted is about 90 bucks an hour.
Well that sounds dadgum cheap, much cheaper than having to hire outside, a lot of outside attorneys to do a lot of things that maybe an in-house paralegal can do. So another benefit is transactional work, preparing, negotiating contracts, protecting the corporation’s intellectual property or IP, maintaining those corporate records, dealing with litigation, helping outside counsel deal with litigation.
These can all be done entirely in-house by paralegals which really reduces the need for outside counsel. Now, don’t panic outside counsel, I’m not telling you guys to disappear, trust me I still use you guys all the time. But typically a good portion of an in-house attorney’s time is spent managing outside counsel.
Well, ding-ding-ding that’s where a paralegal comes into play, because a paralegal can assume a primary role in the management of the cases and free the in-house attorney to work on more substantive legal matters. So really the bottom line is clear. Using paralegals truly significantly lowers that those outside counsel fees, improves the management of the cases and provides greater cost, containing those costs for the legal department.
But without outside counsel and in-house legal team working together efficiently and effectively, those costs can’t be contained even in house and outside using outside counsel. It’s better to think about and utilize paralegals in both sides of the equation.
Of course another benefit is knowledge. An in-house paralegal, we get our knowledge that is invaluable to both the internal attorneys and outside attorneys, which in turn really allows matters to be handled efficiently and more cost-effectively.
So corporate paralegals, we’re extremely familiar when you think about it with the organization of the company, the whole hierarchy, what the company’s goals are, the priorities, the products, and truly can accumulate, analyze, get all that data, summarize it from that insider’s perspective.
So in-house paralegal is vitally important to assist outside counsel and from such insight, paralegals can quickly determine the appropriate persons to contact to maybe get specific information, say you’re dealing with a litigated matter, outside counsel needs to speak with this person in security, this person in public relations, so on and so forth.
Well that paralegal is going to know who will be the best person to deal with, so it saves time and money when working with outside counsel in preparing and responding to the discovery requests in litigation. Experienced paralegals with in-house knowledge, they don’t work only in the legal department but they’re found in a different and of large variety of positions, different positions throughout a corporation.
So from a contracts administrator to corporate procurement, patents, corporate secretary I can go on, litigation manager of legal services operations, so on and so forth.
Also the use of paralegals it provides consistency. So when firms throughout the country are handling similar matters for a large company, it’s beneficial to have that in-house paralegal that’s helping provide that information so that each firm does not have to virtually reinvent the wheel.
So I’m considered the hub of my particular legal department. I play an extremely vital role to outside counsel because they had that one-stop shop when it comes to getting and dealing with information from me because I can help guide and direct them.
So in addition to the cost savings and the corporate knowledge benefits, there are a lot of intangible benefits that are created in a company who use and employ long term paralegals. So really no dollar value can be placed on the teamwork skills that are developed over time by the attorneys, the paralegals, other legal staff in a corporate setting.
Attorneys and company management can develop a comfort level with the predictability of performance of long-term in-house paralegals. So that relationship that’s built between the paralegals and the operations employees is really extremely beneficial to that ongoing company’s success.
We don’t work in silos, each department has their responsibilities and goals what they’re supposed to be doing including legal, but we don’t work in a silo. We work together for the benefit and the betterment of the company. So what does the company have to do to attract well-qualified paralegals, aha, there’s the million dollar question.
So of course I’m not telling you all anything you don’t already know, we’re smart, we’re educated, we want the same potential for growth as other corporate professionals. So we want recognition for service, we want the ability to be promoted, the challenge of new opportunities, we don’t want to be stagnant.
So developing a defined career path for paralegals within a company allows corporations to really set a standard for the professional and the personal growth of the employee, so virtually an excellent recruiting tool for qualified paralegals. So helping develop a tiered program which incorporates a well-defined job description, education, experience requirements, so on and so forth.
It’s apt to attract the most qualified paralegals. Depending on the size of the company, depending on how much work, you might have one, two, and three, paralegal one, level one, level two, level three, senior paralegals, so on and so forth.
It’s all dependent on how you want to structure the program but laying it all out and being very detailed in the job duties that the paralegal is going to have to do in their respective role is really important.
So I’m going to offer to you guys if you’re interested in some sample corporate legal job descriptions, some titles, different tier, ideas kind of a template, send me an email, of course [email protected] and I’m absolutely happy to share with you some ideas in the way of a template to maybe help your corporate legal department.
If you’re going to actually create a paralegal position, think about what is the best way to define the duties and to make sure that you get the best paralegal for your company. So that’s it for today for The Mixed Bag, but I got one last little thing. Before we close up the show I wanted to wrap up with my favorite portion and I call it The Listener’s Voice.
So it’s a time when I select questions that you the listener sends to me, I read them, I read your question and my answer on air however it’s a mixed bag kind of day in it. So I’m going to turn it on you guys. I’m going to ask a question of you, my listener.
So I want to know what my listeners answer is to this question, my question to you, my listener, is when you have a major case of the — I don’t want to’s, how do you turn around. So when you’re dealing with — I don’t want to — I just come in today, I’ve got 17 different things but none of them are urgent. I really want to shop on Amazon. I really want to play on Facebook, how do you turn it around, how do you go, okay, I got to focus, I got work to be done? How do you turn around?
For me, when I start getting those, I take two minutes, I stand up get some caffeine, take a little quick brief walk and then I go okay, let’s look at what are my challenges, what is the most complicated or what’s the most frustrating of what I got to do on my to-do list, that I really don’t want to do. Tackle that, that’s how I kind of handle the — I don’t want to today, I just want to play, I don’t want to be an adult, I was talking with a paralegal friend of mine today and we got to talking we don’t want to be an adult anymore, we just want to play.
So my listener, hey send me your answer to my question when you have a major case of the, I don’t want to’s, how do you turn it around. Send me your question to [email protected], that’s [email protected]. I’d love to know how you deal with the, I don’t want to’s and make your voice, The Listener’s Voice known.
That’s all the time we have today for The Paralegal Voice. I hope you’ve enjoyed The Mixed Bag episode. If you have questions about today’s show, please email them to me at [email protected], also in a couple of weeks you may be listening to this before July 10th through the 12th, but I will be recording some shows from the NALA Conference in Phoenix, Arizona July 10th through the 12th, if you’re attending I hope to see you there. If it’s after the conference has already come and gone when you’re listening to this particular show, don’t fret, you can actually obtain the recordings of the sessions after the conference and directly through nala.org and enjoy some of the sessions. I’m looking forward to it.
So stay tuned for more information on upcoming podcasts for exciting paralegal trends, news and engaging in fun interviews from leading paralegals and other leading professionals. And be sure and make your voice The 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.
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.
Kelly LaGrave shares the importance of paralegal certification and suggests study tools for the exam.