The National Association of Legal Assistants is seeing record registration numbers for its second all-virtual annual meeting in July.
NALA CEO Vanessa Finley joins host Jill Francisco to preview this year’s catalog of hot topics, standards, and certification courses. And Finley explains how to register to attend public events for free.
At its July meeting, courses cover a range of trending issues – qualified immunity and immigration law – to practical skills, such as case planning with Agile or Scrum, how to write appellate briefs, and avoiding the unauthorized practice of law.
On the topic of UPL, Finley and Fransisco discuss how the regulatory landscape is changing when it comes to who can deliver legal services. Opening markets in as many as 17 states is leading to increased demand and expanded roles for paralegals. This is especially the case for limited licensed legal technicians and document preparers, Finley explains.
Vanessa Finley is chief executive officer of the National Association of Legal Assistants.
Special thanks to our sponsors, NALA, ServeNow, CourtFiling.net and Legalinc.
Jill Francisco: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining me for another exciting and informative episode of the paralegal voice on the Legal Talk Network. I’m Jill Francisco, an advanced certified paralegal, the past president of NALA, and your host of this episode of the Paralegal Voice. I have over 22 years of paralegal experience and I’m so excited to continue to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for the paralegal profession with you. We have a very special guest for today’s show, but before we welcome her, we’d like to thank our sponsors.
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Thank you to 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.
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So I am so very excited to have Vanessa Finley, CAE of NALA, the Paralegal Association. Vanessa took the reins of NALA towards the end of November 2019, and has not looked back at all. It has been a wild ride. I’m sure she’ll agree. But I’m super excited to have her back as my guest today. Vanessa, welcome to the show.
Vanessa Finley: Thank you so much. I’m thrilled to be here.
Jill Francisco: So Vanessa and I are just going to — first of all, we’re going to really get right into the thick of it because hopefully you’ve seen somewhere in your paralegal world that NALA is having their 2021 NALA Conference @ Home, a hundred percent virtual again for the second time. And so, I wanted to bring Vanessa on here. We’re going to talk about a few different things. But first, I would love Vanessa, if you could just kind of give an overall rundown of how to get on the conference, what we’re thinking about? Because I know there’s tons and tons of excitement brewing around it.
Vanessa Finley: There is, there is a ton of excitement. And we’re excited here at NALA as well. I’m literally looking a stack of nearly a thousand care packages that I’m going to ship on Thursday. And I’m not kidding, I’m looking at them right now through my window. We’ve been working on these last couple of weeks and so that will be the start of your conference as you’ll get a nice care package with all kinds of great swag. But the most important part of the conference is actually what we’re going to be doing during the conference and we will have 32 different educational sessions over three days, July 22nd, 23rd and 24th. And during that time, you will be able to earn 11 CLEs during the actual conference time itself. And then after the conference, you can purchase bundle and watch or participate in the other sessions that you are unable to attend. But just by attending the conference itself, you can earn up to 11 CLEs, just in one fell swoop over those three days.
We’ve got some really timely sessions coming up. We’ve got a session on the Lasting Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We have a session on qualified immunity for law enforcement. That’s extremely timely. We have a couple of sessions on Internet law and legal immigration needs and thoroughly understanding privilege. So I think that with those topics alone, you can see that NALA is very focused on making sure that we’re in a timely manner addressing topics that are important to our members. And we’ve got some of the tried-and-true ones. We’ve got how to write Appellate Briefs, The Eighth Amendments, Criminal Protections, Uncommon Easements, Insurance Law, eDiscovery Workshop and avoiding unauthorized practice of law.
So we still have some of those common ones that a lot of people like to take and especially if they’re first-time attendees and then some unusual topics for this year. We have a session on using Agile or Scrum for case planning and a look inside crime scene investigation. So there’s some of the topics that will be available during the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of July. And then, of course, we have a whole track for those who are prepping for the certified paralegal exams, or the CP exam. And you know what? I think I might have here on the phone with me someone who’s delivering a couple of those sessions. So Jill, why don’t you tell us a little bit about the sessions you’re going to be doing?
Jill Francisco: Yes. That’s I’m super excited about it and it’s funny because being the past president, on one hand, I was happy to get out of there. I’m done. It was very successful. But on the other hand, I’m like, “Oh, I miss it all,” you know. And so, I was super excited when I was selected to be a presenter for this coming conference. And I’m going to do two of the CP review courses like Vanessa was saying, I’m going to do civil litigation and I am going to do the torts, which both of which is exactly what I do day in and day out for the past 24 years I think I’m in. It is just a really neat experience. I’m going to try to obviously give the nuts and bolts that you need to have to successfully pass the CP exam. But I also want to try to add a few little real-life examples which hopefully sometimes make and little funny things and quirky tips and tricks that kind of make it hopefully easier for the attendees to remember when they’re trying to regurgitate all the information when passing the exam.
So and ike Vanessa and I have discussed many times in the past, it was really important for me when I was president, and actually I think Vanessa and I kind of started it is to get an address all of the categories for the review for the exam is to give a chance where all the attendees. If you’re interested in getting ready to take the test, you can come there and you can get all of it at the same time. And I think it’s the only time really that you can get all these live sessions.
Vanessa will probably address how you can come back and she was mentioning, if you don’t, you’re taking some live and you can’t decide you want to purchase all the sessions later, that’s obviously another way to get it. But it is super cool because a component of our seminar is the presenters are also online. Even though the things are kind of recorded and decided they are live, they are listening, they can take live feedback, they can actually stop and address things. So that makes it really nice interaction. And so, I really hope attendees, if you’re getting ready to take the test that you’ll take advantage of this awesome opportunity. So Vanessa, what else? I’m sure you got a little bit other things.
Vanessa Finley: I wanted to say that on the CP itself that in addition to the year civil litigation tours will be covering contracts, corporate and commercial law, criminal law and procedure, legal ethics, real estate law, the skills exam, we will have a writing workshop this year as well, and then the overall United States Legal System. So those are all the areas that the CP exam is testing you on. So you will be able to attend every single one of those while attending the conference live. And like Jill said, yes, most of the sessions are pre-recorded so they’re on time and we know we’re not going to have any sort of technical difficulties, but the presenter is there live as well and is able to break in, answer questions, answer questions at the end. And so, it was quite an engaging process last year and we’re looking for even more engagement. This year, we are going to have more breakout rooms with specialty topics and special areas and you can pop in and out of those. And so, we’re really trying to make this up a conference that is very engaging for the participants and for the presenters as well. Last year, we did a great job. And this year, we’re looking to knock it out of the park even further.
Jill Francisco: So Vanessa, did you want to touch on just a little bit about like exact place or best place to go to register and maybe just a little bit of a fees to just talk about how great of a deal it is because seriously I know I’m kind of partial of, you know, just a bit, but it is just a phenomenal deal for anyone that needs any kind of education if you need continued legal education credits and even if you don’t, there’s just no way that you’re going to get this quality of education at this price and opportunity presented. So Vanessa, please tell them a little bit about that.
Vanessa Finley: Take it away, okay. So if you go to our website, which is nala.org and under the education tab, you will see “conference.” And when you click on that, all things conference will open up for you. You can download the agenda, you can see the registration information. Right now, we are in the regular registration period and that members are paying 199 dollars for the entire conference, non-members are paying 249, and students are paying 149. So that’s to get you all of those access to all 32 sessions during the conference and again, which you can attend 11 hours yourself during that conference. If you are interested in participating in the NALA activities that are not education base. So that means we have our annual meeting, our affiliated associations have their annual meeting.
we have a panel NALA, panel to answer questions about things, the latest and greatest things going on at NALA, we’ve got two board meetings, we have a candidate forum because at conference we’re also voting in new board members. So all of those sessions that are not education or CLE sessions, if you want to attend those, you can at no cost but you do have to register. So you still have to go to our website nala.org and go to the education and then conference area.
And you’ll see underneath the registration grid, there’s a public meetings only option and you just sign on and you click on the public meetings only. It has no cost, but we can’t invite you to attend until you have registered. So that’s your ticket in and you need to register by Monday, July 19th in order to get into the conference itself and have full access to that. You will receive, after you’ve registered, you will get a login information. It won’t come until that Monday most likely right before the conference. But that will be your login to the conference itself. And then, I’ll take you to the portal and the hub and you’ll be able to navigate from there.
Jill Francisco: Thank you, Vanessa. I’m sure that’s very easy going to our website at nala.org as Vanessa said to get all that information. And I have to say, Vanessa and I, we didn’t get to kind of plan like I’m sure she’ll agree. She got a little bit more planning time this year and preparation. She probably maybe learn what not to do last year with me, who knows? But anyway, we went into it at the last minute. It was very successful last year in my opinion and it was so beneficial. We reached so many more and different. I think is a good comparison paralegals which obviously is now as one of their mission, to their mission statement, to reach and do continue education for paralegals. And it was just a really nice experience. It was really a different one. And since then, and I’m sure Vanessa will agree. Since then, all of us are listeners and everything we’ve all attended now a lot of virtual events.
And now, we actually have something to compare it to. And I mean, again, bias. I know, you don’t have to tell me. But it’s like we did a great job back when we didn’t have a lot of examples and to say, we had it, we gathered. I mean, you guys were so expensive of getting together what was the best thing to do? What was the best practices that were available? And I think you did such a phenomenal job last year in in preparing that it’s even going to be just totally off the charts this year. And now, it’s like when you’ve attended those other things, you can kind of see that it really is a wonderful event. It’s engaging. It’s organized. It’s very technical savvy. It’s very cool. There’s a lot of neat little elements. And so please, even if you don’t need CLE, if you’re just a paralegal and it’s like you want to just be up to date and meet and connect because the chat just goes crazy during the sessions, you can give out your email address, you can share them your information. It’s just a really neat place. So I just hope everybody will take advantage of it.
Vanessa Finley: Yeah, we had a record-breaking, 950 attendees last year and this year we already have 1,200 people registered. So you will be joining a large network of your peers and there’s really no better way to connect with paralegals all across the country and share with each other and learn from each other.
Jill Francisco: Totally agree. Thank you so much. Vanessa, before we move on, we want to circle back I think a little bit about the certification for a minute, but we need to take a quick commercial break. We’ll be right back.
NALA members receive exclusive content such as the paralegal utilization and compensation survey report, access to members-only collaboration site, discounts on office products and car rental, access and preferred placement on a web platform for paralegal contract jobs and access to the member-only career center. NALA members also receive discounted education and products. Join NALA today and become a part of our community. Learn more at nala.org.
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Jill Francisco: Welcome back to the Paralegal Voice. I’m Jill Francisco and my guest today is Vanessa Finley, CAE of NALA. And today, we’re discussing the awesome up-and-coming 2021 NALA Conference @ Home and what’s kind of going on in the state of NALA certification program, like how’s the exam doing.
I know we’ve still been able with the exam being electronic that we’re still progressing and testing and things. But how’s everything going overall with the certification?
Vanessa Finley: You know, things are actually going quite well. We had, obviously, a break-in certification when the pandemic really started last year. So March, April, May, in those time periods, we really have a significant drop obviously in testing. But since then, we have rebounded quite successfully back. For example, the second part of the exam which is what you pass and then ultimately have your CP once you pass the skills exam. Last year, we had about 380 folks that took that exam in four different quarters. And this year, we already have 208 in half as many quarters, in two quarters. So we were very pleasantly surprised to see that it really hasn’t dropped off very significantly. We did have a little dip in the middle of last year, but people are still very focused on promoting their profession and developing themselves so they can be the best paralegals that they can be.
Jill Francisco: I’m happy to see we’re full steam ahead on that. So anything else that’s kind of in the mix for the certification?
Vanessa Finley: Well, for certification, we are just continuing to rebound from some of the dips from last year, but everything is cruising right along. We’re in the middle of a testing cycle. We’re beginning the process of redoing job analysis and things like that that will take effect in two to three years. So you were — there’s a constant churn in the certification department of not only delivering the exam but ensuring that it is still up to date and still a valid measure of paralegals core competencies. We’re just really cruising right along as we have been.
Jill Francisco: Okay. And also, I think I’ve heard. Are we doing a book review manual CP fundamentals update? Are we allowed to give any – I don’t want to give any top secret, you know, things away here, but I kind of heard there might have been an update, another edition?
Vanessa Finley: Yeah, we are currently working on a new official edition of the CP fundamentals and that will be coming out soon. I don’t want to share a date with you yet but it is coming out soon and you will see all kinds of information on our website and of course via email if you’re on our mailing list.
Jill Francisco: I think it’s very important not only that NALA got the book together and had the CP fundamentals published a couple of years ago. If you had to have a little edit, you had to have it addendum, it was done. But then to have that out there and also be timely in the updates and things, I just think it makes it so valuable to paralegals. And again, not only just that are taken the exam, it’s just a great overall tool and reference tool to it, you know, new paralegals and school. It’s just a really neat resource for paralegals and I love that you’re keeping it updated and timely. And it’s so super cool because if the listeners don’t know a lot of the chapters are written by paralegals, they’re out there, they know what’s going on. So I come into you, Vanessa, to keep that pushing that ahead.
Vanessa Finley: I do appreciate you talking about those who aren’t necessarily preparing for the CP exam because it is great information and it’s also a good opportunity for me to share that you’re taking the CP exam isn’t like reading a textbook and then be taking a test on that textbook. That is not what learning the core competencies for paralegal is about. It’s about the education you’ve received. It’s about your experience. It’s about your on the job training. It’s about the books you do study and read. I think there’s sometimes a misconception that the CP exam is something you study for to take the test as opposed to really recognizing that the certification itself is identifying you as a paralegal of those core competencies and you develop those core competencies through all kinds of avenues, not just a single book. And no single book is going to give you all the experience you need. I mean you know this, Jill. You are a paralegal. All the areas in which you get information and learn and grow and develop as a paralegal, you do not find that in one single book or even just two or three books. It is really about the full breadth of your knowledge. So we really encourage people, yes, to use those books that are designed to help you study. But at the same time, keep in mind that it’s all about all that you’ve learned as a paralegal.
Jill Francisco: I remember going on any visitations, talking about educating our members and new paralegals, season paralegals about NALA and you’re right. It’s not just on that one book. It’s on possibly stuff that you learn from a lot of sources. A lot of times you’re in school, so you’re getting your textbook knowledge. And then, like Vanessa said, you’re coming out. You’re then getting some on the job stuff. And it’s really takes all.
And I’ll have to say, I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. I waited 10 years almost to take the test. People are — that’s always a popular question. Should I take the test right out of school? Should I take the test — and it just kind of as whenever it fits for you. I mean I would love to say — I would love like Vanessa knows this is kind of a goal I think still with NALA is to get it into the paralegal programs, the school programs, like you’re towards the end, you’re getting ready to graduate. If that was a part of your program, that’s just another level that sets you apart from someone that just has the normal associate’s degree or something that just gives you something else.
So we’re definitely all supportive of doing that. But I think that it’s good to remember that even with my bachelor’s degree and then when I study for the test, I still think it helped me. When I was looking at Strunk and White, I was looking at some of those books because I knew there was an essay and communications. I still learn stuff.
Vanessa Finley: Do you have any flashbacks?
Jill Francisco: I am. I am going, “Oh, gosh, my hands are sweating already.” But anyway, it’s like you still learn stuff. Like you said it’s on the job, it’s what you have, and then it’s also gathering from and picking from a lot of sources of information. And like I said NALA just had that one book because honestly the book picks from a lot of sources of information of paralegals that are on the job for different amounts of time and different levels of experience and different things. So it’s just like it’s just really going out and getting all that you know and like you said to just prove that you have those core competencies to do your job and it just really gives you — and it’s so awesome when you pass. It just really gives you that really awesome feeling.
Vanessa Finley: Accelerating.
Jill Francisco: Yes. That you really have done it and you really have those things and you demonstrate to your employer and you demonstrate to a prospective employer. So if you’re interested, go to the conference, the review courses are going to be awesome. They’re all covered and it’s of great opportunity at this time. There’s also information on nala.org on the CP exam itself. So if anybody has any question, that’s a great resource to go on there. And I think now, we were going to lead into just like what is going on in the paralegal profession? I feel like I am so busy. I don’t know, I mean, I was always busy but I feel like I’m at another level of busy if that’s even possible.
And the other thing that I think is really weird to me. I mean, I guess weird is not the word, kind of just like out of whatever is I get like, I’d say at least one or two emails from attorneys that I know every week asking me if I know a paralegal that needs a job and like before — yeah. And it’s plaintiff attorneys, it’s defense attorneys, it’s in-house attorneys and it’s from all over the nation because thankfully I have my connections that I made through NALA over the years and it’s amazing. So I know that it’s in demand. We’ve talked about I think the Bureau of Statistics Labor of Employment and we’ve talked about how it was all really good, I think. And now, I think it’s blowing the roof off. What are you feeling with that? Are you getting any of that?
Vanessa Finley: Yeah, absolutely. So the paralegal field has been growing much faster than the average fields out there. So 12.8 percent increase compared to like a 4.5 percent increase growth in the field. That was pre-pandemic and it really is not changing post pandemic — or not post, I guess we’re not quite post — mid-pandemic and then hopefully post pandemic.
Jill Francisco: We’re trying.
Vanessa Finley: Yeah, we’re trying to get through it. So the demand is still quite high and I think what’s really going to be fascinating to watch is how paralegals, how their work style and their work life is going to change because we know the horses out of the barn. We have all realized how much we can actually get done remotely. Like even those of us like here at NALA, we had some remote policies. We had some folks working remotely. So it wasn’t a brand new concept to us by any stretch. But even recognizing how much you can actually get done remotely and how productive some people can be remotely. And if you’re one of those people that has really demonstrated your productivity and your flexibility, that’s just going to bode so well for you in the coming years because that’s what’s going to stand out as your productivity and of course your approach to the job.
I say it all the time, you can teach those technical portions that a good paralegal needs to know, but it’s so softer skills. It’s that those communication skills. It’s the negotiation skills. It’s your creativity. It’s your customer service. It’s those softer skills that really speak to an employer, I believe, and help you grow and develop in a position because that’s what really stands out. And so, obviously, continue to work on those and you may be able to have more flexibility for remote work, if that’s something you want.
I do know on the flip that we’re hearing some people say, “Nope, we want to get back to normal. Everybody in the office.” But I don’t care. I don’t care if you did remote before. We want to see your face. And that’s going to happened too. But again, if you have really enjoyed this remote opportunity and you’ve demonstrated your value in that type of role, whether you state your current company or go elsewhere, I think that’s just going to be a really strong indicator for employers moving forward.
Jill Francisco: Yeah, I totally agree with you. And just real quick, I think it was last week I work for a large defense firm and they said on an email, they were kind of contemplating there, few months ago they had made like a day, “Everybody’s back in the office. Okay, here we go.” You’re trying to making those decisions. And then, I was kind of like, “Well, we’re going to offer work from home opportunity.” And they let you choose two days. Of course, not Friday. Everybody can understand that. But two days and that’s what you need to do like an agreement, like a contract type thing, like an agreement, what’s expected from both sides. And I have to say, huge smile came to my face when we got it, not only — I mean, personally, I really thought it was a great opportunity for me personally when I could work from home. It really changes just a lot of stuff about us. I think, personally, professionally, I had an episode about a year ago, probably over a year ago now, and it was a girl that had worked from home for about, I think five years. So she wasn’t new to it and she wasn’t forced into it. But one of her topics or one of her comments to me was I’m just happier.
And so, and I get that now and that’s why it was a big smile to my face, but that just to me was I love the opportunity that that gives the paralegal because think about it. What if you don’t want to work now for an employer that’s right in your town? Okay. Who cares? Now, you’re available to work for employers that are all across the country because you’ve proven yourself that you can do that. And remote is 10 miles or 500 miles. I mean, it doesn’t matter. I mean your remote is remote. So that’s really also what brings a big smile and makes me really excited is it really I like that the employers, the attorneys, the law firms, the legal community recognizes that paralegals are valuable and can be valuable, and they don’t have to be sitting at a desk, traditional pen to paper, hands on computer constantly. They can branch out, they can be productive, they can do different things and it’s a benefit to all and to the clients, to the employers. It’s just great. So, I know we’re into tha and I know —
Vanessa Finley: And I think another big — I just wanted to add one quick little thing and that is the fact that your contract work is really an area that I believe is going to really start to explode. Because again, you can do remote work, contract work remotely. And as companies had to scale down, they may have had to rely more on contract work, and again realizing what they can get done with a contractor as opposed to an employee perhaps. And that again opens up some different opportunities for paralegals who may not want to work full time or maybe get bored doing the same thing all the time and wanted to do some different types of work. And of course, I have to plug NALA in that.
We do have a couple of resources on our website for our members. We do have a job board on our website. That is free for employers to post to and it has full access by our members, so you can go in. It’s a member only benefit and you can see postings from all across the country. And then another resource is a program called SimpleLaw. And that is where employers can post contract jobs or projects for paralegals. And you again, as a member, can go in and find those projects or those contract opportunities and get connected in that way as well because the world is changing. The world has changed. We are forever changed after 2020 and now 2021.
Jill Francisco: That is so true, Vanessa. So just real quick, we got to take one more break before we come after kind of wrap up our discussion on what’s going on in the paralegal profession right now. We’ll be right back.
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Jill Francisco: Welcome back to the Paralegal Voice. Vanessa just said before we broke, you know, that the world has changed and I had a guest on a couple months ago about how the practice of law has changed and it’s not going back.
The clients are just not going to pay for things that now they have seen can be done very productively and efficiently and effectively remotely. You know, depositions mediations, arbitrations, hearings. I have a very good friend that’s a judge, a family law judge. This is just kind of very interesting to me and I’m on, I serve on the board with her locally of the community college of the paralegal program. And she said that she doesn’t know if they’ll ever go back to those hearings because all the reasons that sometimes the litigants could not appear was “I didn’t have transportation. I didn’t, you know, this that and the other. I can’t do my job.” Which are all totally legit reasons. She said “We’re just reasoned through the docket.”
And I mean, that’s what you want. That’s the goal. You’re getting through all these problems and things especially dealing with family law that are probably have a sense of urgency a lot of times. And I feel like that’s what it’s all about. Like, if it’s getting done and you’re getting to the end result and getting through and helping more people, that’s what it’s all about. And speaking of that, I think we kind of lead into is that access for justice? I think is what some of these things that suggest that Vanessa I know has her finger on the pulse and really got some — I know you’re always watching these things so tell us about some of those new areas and been around areas but new things about it.
Vanessa Finley: Yeah, but they really are starting to blossom all the more and you’re right, this is really about accessing justice and when you talk about serving those clients that; number one, might not be able to afford an attorney; number two, may be afraid of attorneys. And so, when we talk about accessing justice, it’s for those marginalized groups, those underrepresented groups that do not have the luxury or benefit of their own attorney, and so there have been just discussions for quite some time around something like — and I’m sure your listeners are familiar with this — the Triple LT, the limited licensing paralegal that can have acts who can be licensed to do certain types of activities that traditionally only attorney can do, right? So, but it’s typically related to things like housing and landlords disputes, family law. Again, think of these folks that aren’t getting, don’t typically have access to legal support. And so, how can we use the paralegal profession to help grow access to those who typically don’t have access?
So we’ve got, there’s three states right now that have a limited licensing program right now. There’s nine different states that have a task force exploring limited licensing. Just an idea that includes Oregon, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia Florida, Connecticut. These are all the states that are really exploring how they can help their residents, their state residents, have better access to justice. There’s other programs, other states that are looking to who have or looking to have document preparer program. So again, some of those real standard documents that it’s great to have legal support, but not everybody can afford a full-time higher-priced attorney. We know that that’s part of the fact. And so, we right now have 17 different states that are in some phase of providing limited licensing or documentation, expanding documentation preparation, or are exploring it right now. So it’s a pretty exciting movement right now.
Jill Francisco: That’s really is interesting because I know — obviously, when I was president of NALA and even just on the board, it started to come to light and we kind of monitored it because initially you’re like “Oh no.” Is this going to be good for our profession? Is this bad for our possession? Is it going to hurt our profession? Because we carry it. That’s our — that’s what we love and we don’t want it changed too much. But it’s really weird because I think it kind of started. You had a couple states initially with the Triple LT and then it’s like it kind of went stagnant for a little bit and kind of was on hold and not just because the pandemic it was even before that. It kind of was kind of on hold. And then you just like you said, you’ve seen the surge, I think, come back. And I think it’s because the need is even more.
Think about the things and the issues and the problems and — I hate to say it. I’m not trying to be negative, but it is. It’s problems that the pandemic is creating for people. I mean, more people get in victim, more people having those disputes, more people having that issue. And so, I just — the paralegal profession is wonderful and I think, obviously, we all are very conscious of the unauthorized practice of law. We do want to be any of that. We’re not hanging our shingle out there. We understand our place. We understand our boundaries.
And I think that’s all about being a professional and being — when you’re a professional paralegal. And so I think it’s a wonderful opportunity. And something that I know you know and we just didn’t exactly address it, but Social Security Administration is a source that the paralegal has always been able to do. And if their specialized and the paralegal is well-versed on those little rules and those little things, even just a common sit there with the person that has to come in and go before the Social Security, judge, it just really helps and it makes it more comfortable, more familiar, not so foreign like you said, and not such a big expense to be able to get explore the benefits that possibly they are deserving of and there is coming to them.
Vanessa Finley: And that such a great example with the Social Security because again, those who’s getting Social Security the more vulnerable people in our communities traditionally, right? We have older Americans and then we have people with disabilities or who have survivor benefits. So, yeah, it’s another great area that paralegals can really step in and provide an amazing resource to their communities.
Jill Francisco: Yes. Like I said, it’s really neat and I think all this is just complementary to how the profession is growing which obviously makes me excited because the reason why I’m so passionate about the profession and did all my volunteer things through NALA and do things still locally is because we care about the profession, we want it to grow in the future and this is what we do, this is what you do. You keep an eye on things because you might have paralegal that want to change. They want to get into something different. And this is a great thing. Like I had a guest a couple months ago. She went into very experienced paralegal, very well-versed. Now, she’s on her own business to provide services. It’s just really neat. I think all that is just showing how professional and educational and just — or educated, I should say. And like the skills and the skill set and all that stuff that paralegals get that opportunity out there to demonstrate and get into so many different things nowadays. It’s just really neat. Even though we’re forever explaining what a paralegal is, right?
Vanessa Finley: Exactly. Someday, someday.
Jill Francisco: And what we do and how we fit in, but boy it’s hard to find somebody that’s had a great paralegal not be totally on our side, and totally be a proponent of the profession. Once they see the benefits and how much the paralegal can help them. They don’t look back and then they’re out there preaching the facts and how useful we can be and things, so it’s really neat. But anything else that you think is, that you’ve seen coming down or going around with NALA, how is it like — this is a whole, I guess, NALA is hanging in there. I mean, probably had some cost savings with the pandemic but –.
Vanessa Finley: Yeah. You know, what we have not seen significant dip in membership. We are just so fortunate as a membership organization that our members have continued to support the association, supports our fellow members. In fact, we’re starting to see our membership numbers climb from where they were in 2019. So yeah, it’s exciting time for NALA.
Jill Francisco: Well, I think that is a credit because I know that they know how NALA and a professional association is going to support them, is going to be a resource, is going to be there when they need it. I mean, even through the pandemic NALA tried to offer things and even if it’s just bringing your attention to an article or putting out a resource, or putting out a webinar, or on-demand things, or discounts, NALA offer discounts. And it’s like when you have association like that behind you that’s of your profession paralegals, you know, how valuable those. And we’re smart. Paralegals are smart. We know its valuable.
Vanessa Finley: I can attest to that.
Jill Francisco: Okay. Well, Vanessa, thank you so, so much for coming on today, telling our listeners so many awesome things obviously about the upcoming 2021 NALA Conference @ Home and about the awesome sessions and meetings, and socials, and networking, just all around fun. I mean you have to admit it. It doesn’t matter if we’re virtual or in-person. Whatever it is, we’re still going to have a lot of fun, so much valuable education. There’s no place else to get it. And then obviously the CP review courses that I’m super excited about near dear to my heart, the certification program is number one, second to none in the profession. And then obviously we kind of touched on some cool things that are going on in the profession that I think will be interesting to see how they develop. So thank you so very much for coming on today, Vanessa. I appreciate it.
Vanessa Finley: It has been my absolute pleasure. Thanks, Jill.
Jill Francisco: And how about just telling the listeners? I know you gave away the website and I know they can reach you probably on there. But for personally to email, NALA email, you get back if they have any questions, follow up, what’s the easiest way to get a hold of you?
Vanessa Finley: The best way to get a hold of NALA in general is [email protected]. If you want to reach out directly to me, my email is [email protected]. And you can always call us. We pick up the phone. We are not one of those associations that had rolls to voicemail and you’re hoping you hear back at some point. We are here from 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday central time and you can always call us as well at 918-587-682.
Jill Francisco: Well, Vanessa, seriously thank you again so much. It was great seeing you quote again and hearing you in going over a lot of my favorite and near to dear topics with this awesome paralegal profession.
And also thank you to all the listeners who tuned in with us today. And if you have any questions or comments for me. Please don’t hesitate to reach out at [email protected] and I hope you will join me for our next episode in a couple months. I’m Jill Francisco for the Paralegal Voice signing off.
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Podcast transcription by Tech-Synergy.com