A year-end farewell as co-host Carl Morrison steps away from the mic. It’s been a great ride for the past five years, and Carl closes with a look back at 2022. Have no fear, co-host Jill Francisco stays with the podcast and will continue to deliver important insights in 2023.
We’re watching so many changes to the role of paralegal professionals: more responsibilities, better tools, improved processes, and more options than ever.
How can we make the legal profession more efficient and deliver more value? Think of paralegal professionals as “revenue protectors” not a “cost center.” By adding value, paralegals let firms keep more of what they earn. Process management remains key.
Carl also revisits “DEI,” diversity, equity, and inclusion. How are we doing in the legal profession? And then there’s ALSP, alternative legal service providers. Did that turn out well for paralegals? The creativity of paralegal professionals continues to improve the process and drive the profession.
Mentioned in This Episode
“2022 For Paralegals, 12 Big Trends,” Paralegal Voice
University of Denver, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, “IAALS Releases New Allied Legal Professionals Landscape Report and Resource Center in an Effort to Increase Legal Options for the Public”
University of Denver, IAALS, “Oregon Joins Growing List of States Empowering Legal Professionals to Help More People,”
“Contract AI, The Game Changer for Corporate Paralegals,” Paralegal Voice
“A Solution for Firms Seeking Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” Paralegal Voice
NALA, “Let Us Talk About Inclusion and Belonging,”
“Modern Legal Project Management: Agile and Scrum Processes,” Paralegal Voice
“ALSP: A Paralegal’s Friend or Foe?” Paralegal Voice
“Paralegals in Pop Culture” with guest Lisa Stone, Paralegal Voice
“The Indispensable Paralegal” with guest Erin Levine
SOLID with David Cowen
Chief Litigation Officers’ Summit
American Bar Association, Paralegals
Carl Morrison: Hello everyone. Welcome to The Paralegal Voice, here on Legal Talk Network. I’m Carl Morrison, an accredited legal operations professional and advanced certified paralegal, and your host of The Paralegal Voice.
Well guys, this is it. This is my last show. I am retiring from The Paralegal Voice, the podcast. Sad to say, but I’ve had a great time being your host for so many years, picking up the Baton from Vicki Voisin. If you can believe it, 2017, that was when I first started as the host of The Paralegal Voice, when Vicki interviewed me and passed the Baton on, and it’s been a fantastic ride, and I’ve so enjoyed all the shows that I’ve done over the years. I know with our host, the co-host, which is now the main host, Jill Francisco, you guys are in great hands with future shows that I know that she’s going to be doing great work for you guys.
So I kind of wanted today’s show to be a little bit of a reflection, reflection of the year, reflection of my time as the host on The Paralegal Voice. I kind of want to start with this year, particularly. I mean, we’ve had an amazing year, right, and I can’t believe it’s December. Christmas is just around the corner. I’m looking at my desk and I have a little Christmas tree that I always put up every year on my desk, and I’m, like, I can’t believe I put that up. It’s Christmas. Wait, what happened? I was just doing a show at the beginning of the year about the trends for 2022 and the top 12 trends that I was foreseeing for the year.
It’s funny, because I was kind of looking, looking back at and listening back at that particular show that I did, and it’s funny, because not that I was looking into any crystal ball, my shoe, but a lot of what I was seeing in the way of trends were really trends that did actually revealed themselves and in full glory, I guess you could say. I mean like one of the things I talked about on the show, and of course, you can go back and listen to all the past shows that I’ve done, but you can listen to this particular show. But we were talking about, I was talking about on that particular show, one of the main things is the limited paralegal licensures that are going on. I was honored to be asked and unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend in person, but be part of a think tank with the University of Denver on some of the new limited paralegal licensures that are coming out across the United States and helping discuss as a group as part of this think tank what the standard should be and how we should be helping as a think tank drive some of the conversations with a lot of these respective State Supreme Courts or State Bar Associations that are coming online with these limited licensure programs.
A very dear friend of mine that lives in Arizona, I won’t call her out by name but she knows who she is recently passed the Arizona license, the paralegal program there in Arizona in family law, and so proud of her for doing that. I think there’s over 15 in certain areas that Arizona has, and looking forward to seeing what they create and what they do and drive for the access to justice in Arizona, and across the country. So being part of that particular think-tank, I’m really excited to continue that work and help drive the conversation in a positive way to really help our country and help our population have better affordable access to Justice. So that was one of the trends that I talked about this year. Oregon is one that you can add to the list, the growing list, that are has created a limited licensure program.
So one of the other trends that we talked about was working from home, and the great resignation that the pandemic caused and people wanting the better work-life balance, and I see it constantly. Every job now that I’m seeing, that’s really driving the conversation of what I’d say is a “benefit” as working from home or having a hybrid type of work-life, where two days in you’re in the office or three days in you’re in the office and two days from home, and things of that nature that really is helping people reflect and have a better true work-life balance and be able to perform their work but also be able to enjoy life, because guys life’s way too short, right.
We talked about that with that legal technology is such a driving force right now. It has been always, but it continues to be such an important part of our skill sets as paralegals is staying on top of the technological trends that are happening. This year, and probably remember, I interviewed an individual, Memme, who is with company that deals with contract AI, and he actually presented at NALS Conference this past summer on AI and contracts and paralegals in the future. I interviewed him on the show as well, and definitely, go back and listen to that one. That’s a great conversation, because it’s all about how AI actually assists. It doesn’t take our jobs away. It only helps us perform our jobs better.
One of the other trends that I was talking about on that particular show that kind of dovetails into the whole AI and improving the work is process improvement and looking at ways to improve how we do our jobs and looking for opportunities for better collaboration, not just amongst when you work in private practice or working in-house corporate legal department like myself, better collaboration amongst outside law firms, opposing parties, legal technology providers, vendors, all those, when we work together, legal operations professionals, such as myself, when we work together, we only help drive the conversation better and the collaboration better amongst the delivery of legal services.
So this year, more and more companies, in-house, corporate legal departments are looking for ways to, and it’s not cost-cutting, because that’s not the main driving force. It’s about having to really think about how can we make it more efficient and bring more value because in-house, when we work in-house corporate legal professionals, paralegals, legal operations professionals, attorneys, we’re trying to protect the revenue. It’s what I always like to say is our whole goal is to protect the revenue. We are not a cost center. Too long has the in-house corporate legal department been called a cost center. We’re really revenue protectors. Our whole game and goal is to protect the revenue that’s coming in. So we’re always looking for ways to improve processes, how can we automate certain workflows, things of that nature. So that was one of the things I also talked about on that show was workflow automation.
Another area that is so important is DEI, diversity, equity, and inclusion. You guys probably remember when I had on the show, I interviewed Emmanuel Smith from — well, he’s also Kansas City Chief NFL star, but he is with JusticeBid, and the whole drive of providing better DE&I initiatives within companies and law firms. It’s not just gender and race and sexual orientation as indicators of diversity, but it’s also looking at different populations and different education and skill-sets as also indicators within diversity and inclusion. So it’s such an important part of our work lines that we’re going to see more and more, and we’re continuing to see more and more and not to cause strife and cause us to have to meet these certain benchmarks, because corporate client tells us to do it. No, we should be doing it for making a better working collaboration.
It goes back to my conversation about collaboration, and when we are committed to embracing and changing and improving our DE&I initiatives within a company and a firm, we only make ourselves better as a population. So it’s important for us to look at ways to be more inclusive, to be more diverse. Even hey, I mean, our sponsor, NALA, they have a whole DE&I committee, which is fantastic, and they’ve produced a lot of publications and blurbs on their newsletters and things of that nature, and it’s great, because it’s such an important part of our work life.
One of the other things that is one of the trends that I talked about is legal operations and you guys have heard me talk about it because that’s a career pathway that I chose. I looked at ways to how can I continue to improve and grow as a professional and to use all my skill-sets as a paralegal to keep growing, and legal operations was the best pathway, because it has afforded me an opportunity to grow and continue to climb that ladder as a professional still not giving up my paralegal life, because I’m carrying all the national certifications and I’m still very active in paralegal associations, but it’s a pathway that I found to grow. I know many, many, many, many paralegals that have grown into illegal operations role. In fact, I know some of you guys have reached out to me on LinkedIn and emails, asking how do you do it, how do you get into it. So I encourage you, if you still have questions actions or are looking more at it to reach out to me and email me. I’m not going away. I’m not leaving the planet. I’m still going to be around. I’m looking forward to the future that I’ve got carved for myself in the way of legal operations, and providing additional things, and I’ll talk about those things in a minute.
So I know that you guys are probably sad with me, saying that I am “retiring” from being your host, but don’t be sad, because there’s so much more coming to you with the amazing, Jill Francisco. So right now, I am going to take a short commercial break. So when we come back, we’re going to talk a little bit more about some of the other trends I talked about this year, and also, talk about some of the other activities that I’ve been doing that has taken a lot of my time. So stay tuned. We’ll be right back.
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Carl Morrison: Welcome back to The Paralegal Voice, this is Carl Morrison and we were bemoaning the fact that I am stepping away from my podcasting duties to focusing on other initiatives that I’ve got going on in my life. But before the break, we were not just talking about that, but we were talking about a lot of the trends that I was talking about earlier this year, because, hello, it’s Christmas time, which I can’t believe it’s already December. So much has happened.
So one of the other areas that I was going to talk about that I mentioned in the January show was about ALSPs, Alternative Legal Service Providers, and it being such a huge industry, $11 billion industry when you talk about ALSPs. Those are there to provide corporate legal departments and law firms specialized expertise in areas, and to really help streamline and make more efficient the use of an attorney’s time and money for the corporate client to be able to provide the legal services in an efficient way, because again, like I said, we’re all getting a little nervous, especially now. I’m sure you guys have seen on the news and threats of recession and, oh no, we’re not going to be in a recession. We’re going to be — the inflation is not going to be as bad. Well, now they’re talking recession again, the potential of a recession next year or by 2024.
So it’s making everyone nervous, and what we can’t do especially us, paralegals, we have the power to do, is not to worry about the potential of recession hitting. We have to think about ways that we can make things more efficient. How can I improve this particular process? How can I improve the intake of client? Is the form that I’m using too long? Can it be streamlined and more automated? Can I do provide to a potential client a questionnaire via SurveyMonkey that they can fill out before they even show up for their appointment? Think of creative ways to streamline and make more efficient, because when you do that, you are demonstrating to your employer that you’re thinking above and beyond what’s being asked of you and you’re trying to improve, so that when — because it will happen eventually, I’m sure.
When we get to that point when we have to tighten our corporate belts, if we’ve already implemented new initiatives and ways to streamline and cut costs or improve costs already now, then we’re already saving money for the long-term when there are certain things that have to be looked out from budgetary reasons. So thinking of ways to improve or what you need to be doing period, whether we’re in the throes of an amazing economy or in the throes of a recession. I’ve even heard dark talk of a depression, and it’s like, I don’t know that we’ll get to that point. I don’t know, maybe, maybe not, but if we start thinking now and start improving things now, we’re only going to help ourselves in the long run and actually improve the delivery of legal services, which leads me to one of the other trends that I was talking about earlier this year, agility.
When you’re agile and being able to move quickly and efficiently and effectively, then you’re only helping your firm. You’re not just helping yourself but you’re also helping your firm. I talked about on the show that there were firms that weren’t agile in the midst of the pandemic. They didn’t know how to pivot to moving from working to an on-prem type of format to working strictly cloud-based. Unfortunately, some of those firms had to shut their doors, because they didn’t know how to react and be more agile. But those that blossomed and having grown even in the midst of it were those firms that had greater agility and the ability to move more quickly and getting away from those siloed methods of practicing law is automating the process is, thinking of ways that you can make certain processes move more efficiently. So when we do that we’re only helping.
So those were some of the areas, some of the trends that I talked about this year, and everything is right on target. That’s everything that has been happening professionally. There’s so many great articles even on some of these topics like AI that the Facts & Findings magazine that now puts out talked about DE&I initiatives, legal operations, the list goes on. So I challenge you guys, the listeners, to stay on top of the trends and listening to people like Jill and other podcasts out there. New one comes on line all the time. There’s a lot of great content out there. So when we stay on top of the trends, then you’re not so apt to fall behind. So it’s important to stay on top of the trends.
One of the things that I was also going to talk to you guys about that I’ve been doing this year that I didn’t really talk much about on some of the shows, because I really wanted to spend more time with my guests. But I’ve been doing a lot and have been invited to speak at a lot of different legal conferences, the International Legal Technology Association, ELTA, ELTACon, I spoke in DC earlier this year, this fall actually, on legal operations and outside counsel management. I was invited to speak at SOLID which is put on by David Cowen and his group that was in New York City and I was invited to speak on legal operations and what it takes to get into legal operations.
I spoke at the Chief Litigation Officers Forum in Florida just earlier this month, which was an amazing opportunity to speak about one of always my dear love of litigation and actually speaking from the corporate client perspective. Most of the attendees at that particular conference were all law firms and lawyers. So it was great to share with insight and a lot of great feedback from the panel that I served on, on that particular topic. I’ve spoken at Consero a couple of times on legal operations, a couple of different topics within the legal operations world. I spoke at Mitratech, which is a legal technology service provider on legal operations. So this year, I have to make a lot of the speaking gig.
I spoke at the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium in May on legal operations 101, which we’re going to be doing again next May in Las Vegas again, which is great, because I live here. So I don’t have to travel very far. But Carl has been racking up his miles this year, which was kind of funny, because it was — I didn’t think I was be traveling. Traveling was not what I kind of foresaw. It’s funny that all these particular gigs that people were asking me to speak at. I was saying, yes, months and months ago and didn’t really stop and think about, wow, wait a minute, I got to travel between these and I’ve got to work. I got a full-time job, I have to do, and I was in the throes of the middle of a merger and acquisition, our company being acquired.
So that was an interesting dynamic, as well as, for those of you that know me, I serve on the American Bar Association Paralegal Education Approval Commission. I was recently just pointed to the Commission as a Commissioner. I’ve been a site team member going in reviewing programs, but now, I am actually part of the commission itself, which is a great honor to serve on that to help improve paralegal education. So that and helping paralegal program. I actually hit the refresh button on their program and strengthening it. Carl’s been a very busy boy of recent. So with all these different things that are happening, I can’t do it all.
Unfortunately, I had to reflect on a decision to have to let some things go. Unfortunately, I made a decision that I needed to step away from The Paralegal Voice, and I will tell you guys, it was not an easy decision for me to make, because I enjoy speaking to you guys. I enjoy hearing from you all, reaching out, all the emails that I’ve gotten from the listeners voice, from you guys on topics that I’ve shared and you wanting feedback, and I’ve so much enjoyed spending that time with you guys. It was a like a lot of family and friends, you guys just aren’t listeners to me, you’re actually friends of mine. So having to make that decision was not easily made, but I also have to think about my mental and physical health, and I can’t do it all. Unfortunately, I’m just one person, but it’s been an amazing ride, and I’m honored to have been doing this for the past five years now, which is a great time.
I was thinking about when I was leaving work today and I was coming to home to record the show, I was thinking about some of the shows that I’ve done over the years and. Lisa Stone, which is also friend of mine, but talking about the aspect of the legal industry and pop culture, and the intertwining of the two. I loved doing that with Lisa. I thought it was a fun show. I loved doing the show with Erin Levine of Hello Divorce and talking about creating a divorce app, her and her paralegals that work for her, her understanding the importance of having great paralegals as part of the team, to all the different guests I’ve had on the show, talking about so many different varied topics. I’ve enjoyed every single one of them. I’ve not had a show that I didn’t like. It’s been a lot of fun; a lot of work, but it’s also been a lot of fun.
So I want to end the show with a note to you guys that I’m here for you. I’m always here for you, no matter what. Even if you’re not hearing my voice on a podcast, I’m always here. I’m always just an email away, [email protected]. You can always find me on LinkedIn. Follow me on social media, keep in touch with me. I want to hear from you guys always. No matter what, you ever have a question or comments or concern about the paralegal industry, holler at me. I want to talk to you. I’m not leaving. Like I said, I’m not leaving the planet. I’m here for you guys. I’m here to listen to you always, and know that you have a mentor that maybe he’s not right there with you, but he’s always just an email away, and I will always mentor you.
So with that I’m signing off for The Paralegal Voice and know that you are being left in great hands with Jill Francisco. So with that, guys, take care of yourselves, staying true to each other, be good to each other, and I look forward to continuing to speak with you guys soon. So thank you for listening to The Paralegal Voice, produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network. If you would like more information about today’s show, please visit legaltalknetwork.com. Find Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or download Legal Talk Network’s free app and Google Play and iTunes. And reminding you, I’m always here to enhance your passion and dedication to the paralegal profession and for you to make your paralegal voice heard. Love you guys. Bye.
Male: 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, representative, shareholders, or subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.