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1 LOS ANGELES PARALEGAL ASSOCIATION reporter JUNE 2007 VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06 IN REVIEW Feature Article: Laws Affecting the Employment of Paralegals President s Message: 3 Opportunities and An Apology Letter From the Editor: Paralegal Day is on the Way!!! Feature Article: Paralegal Ethics, We Walk a Thin Line... a Tight Tightrope Student s Perspective: Got Network? Peanut Gallery: Make Your Resume Work for You! FEATURE ARTICLE Laws Affecting the Employment of Paralegals by Mireya A.R. Llaurado Most sizeable companies and organizations not just law firms well understand that paralegals are essential to their success. Paralegals provide invaluable and cost-effective assistance in helping to research legal issues, conducting interviews, gathering facts, as well as in monitoring pending transactions, potential claims or filed lawsuits. According to a survey by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, nearly a third of all paralegals work in companies, government and organizations not in law firms. Therefore, al legal employers need to pay close attention to the employment laws and other statutes, as well as ethical rules, that impact paralegals. The Department of Labor is frequently called upon to address the issue of payment of overtime wages, as well as the application of other wage laws, to paralegals. It may surprise many attorneys that, in 2000, the California legislature passed laws establishing minimum qualifications for the paralegal occupation, with revised statutes that became effective in Clearly, the legal issues affecting paralegals are much more extensive than the frequently expressed concern over the unauthorized practice of law. continued on page 12 LAPA S OFFICE HOURS Direct your inquiries to LAPA s Administrative Manager, Tracey Booth, at LAPA: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon. contact info on page 23. Also in This Issue: Directors Meeting Summary 2 Calendar of Events 3 LAPA News 4 NALA News 5 CAPA Corner 6 LAPA Career Center Info 7 CAPA 19th Annual Edu. Conf. 15 NALA 32nd Annual Edu. Conf. 20 New & Renewing Members 22 Board of Directors Listing 23 PRESIDENT S MESSAGE 3 Opportunities and An Apology by Donna Reznick-Goodich, CLA This month s Reporter is an idea-packed issue so I will just add a brief note about the career opportunities that LAPA is offering this month. The MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE, headed by Board Director Denise Sierra, is planning its first meeting of the year and looking for more members and new ideas. Socializing and networking are currently on the agenda, especially after the success of the South Bay s get-together. Want a LAPA social in your neighborhood? Meet other paralegal living and working nearby? Denise at The INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY COMMITTEE has scheduled its first MCLE continued on page 4

2 DIRECTORS MEETING SUMMARY by Andrea Mitchell, Secretary Pro-Tem The Board of Directors Meeting was held at the offices of Silver & Freedman on May 1, The first item was the approval of the Board minutes from April 3, After discussion and some revisions noted, the minutes were approved. The Treasurer, Thomas Horlick, gave the Treasurer and the Administrative Manager s Report. Thomas reported that expenses were high but otherwise normal compared to He pointed out that the figures speak for themselves. He added that there is $10, cash on hand. With regard to the Administrative Manager s Report, the overall membership numbers were in the mid 600 s, which was high. He informed the Board that a bonus check, voted on and approved in January 2007, was issued to Tracey Booth that same day. Bobby Rimas presented the Vice-President of Marketing & Planning Report which indicated that due to marketing activities, there were additional freelance paralegal registrants and October Conference Exhibitors. The Website Committee Report was presented by Bobby Rimas who distributed to the Board, a copy of LAPA s website page. He informed the Board that he was working with the web designer on LAPA REPORTER The Reporter is published monthly by the Los Angeles Paralegal Association. The news and views presented express the authors views and not necessarily those of LAPA. Publication of any article or advertisement does not imply endorsement of the opinions, products or services offered. LAPA assumes no responsibility for verifying facts offered by contributing authors or in reprinted articles. Readers should consider information contained in these articles as guidelines to be independently confirmed as to timeliness Los Angeles Paralegal Association. All rights reserved. THE ADVERTISING AND EDITORIAL DEADLINE IS THE 5TH OF THE MONTH PRIOR TO PUBLICATION. Articles and News items should be directed to LAPA at Inquiries about making a submission should be directed to LAPA at or call Tracey Booth at (866) 626-LAPA. Inquiries about advertising placement, applications, membership materials and address changes should be directed to Tracey Booth, LAPA Administrative Manager, at (866) 626-LAPA. Articles will be published as space permits. The Newsletter Committee reserves approval and edit rights on any article submitted. The Los Angeles Paralegal Association is a non-profit, mutual benefit corporation within the meaning of section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code. Membership dues and donations to LAPA are not tax deductible as charitable gifts, but may be deductible as related business expenses. LAPA suggests that you consult your tax advisor in this regard. 2 LAPA JUNE 2007 / VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06 different features to the page. Additional revisions were suggested and discussed by the Board. Section/Committee Reports Litigation - Donna Reznick-Goodich announced that there is still an opening for a Litigation Chairperson. Heide Maersch informed the Board that she plans to contact the prior committee members to see if anyone is interested in filling the position. NALA - Bobby Rimas presented a NALA Liaison report and indicated that he filed LAPA s Affiliated Association Quarterly Report with NALA headquarters. CAPA - Heide Maersch informed the Board that the President of CAPA attends conferences hosted by affiliated associations such as AAfPE, NALA and NFPA. She informed the Board that she has requested that CAPA extend the early registration deadline and that she would check to see if the hotel would open for additional rooms at the conference rate. Downtown Mary Theroux reported that a webinar regarding UCC reports was being planned for mid to late July. The webinar will be designed for intermediate paralegals to analyze and interpret UCC reports. CSC is the sponsor for the seminar. LAPA would provide 1 hour MCLE credit to the attendees. The Board discussed ways to track attendance to the seminar. Intellectual Property Terry Kiel reported that the inaugural meeting of the IP Committee was held on April 5, The committee discussed arranging for an IP-related MCLE seminar in June or July at continued on page 4

3 CALENDAR OF EVENTS Contact telephone numbers on page 23. JUNE 5- Board of Directors Meeting tba, Donna Reznick-Goodich. 7- CLA Review Course Kathleen Rosenstock, ACP & Catherine Durgin, CLAS, see page CLA Review Course Kathleen Rosenstock, ACP & Catherine Durgin, CLAS, see page CLA Review Course Kathleen Rosenstock, ACP & Catherine Durgin, CLAS, see page CLA Review Course Kathleen Rosenstock, ACP & Catherine Durgin, CLAS, see page CLA Review Course Kathleen Rosenstock, ACP & Catherine Durgin, CLAS, see page CAPA Annual June Conference San Diego, see page CLA Review Course Kathleen Rosenstock, ACP & Catherine Durgin, CLAS, see page CLA Review Course Kathleen Rosenstock, ACP & Catherine Durgin, CLAS, see page 17. Save The Date!!! LAPA s Downtown and Corporate/Real Estate Sections will be hosting a webinar on August 1, 2007 at 11:00 a.m. (PDT) regarding UCC searches. This webinar will provide information on the requirements to conduct a diligent UCC search, correctly interpreting the results, what to request when ordering the search, analyzing contents and interpreting the effect of subsequent related records. The webinar will be conducted by Paul Hodnefield, Associate General Counsel of Corporation Service Company ( CSC ). More information to follow... LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Paralegal Day is on the Way!!! by Carl D. Alvarado Editor for LAPA I d be somewhat remiss in my responsibilities as editor of this fine organization, if I didn t take the time to bring to our members attention, the arrival of one of the most important holidays of the year which occurs on June 22nd. For those of you unaware of the most revered of holiday occasions within our profession, Paralegal Day occurs on that date. To add to the festivities of the event, June 22nd falls on a Friday and that, in and of itself, is cause for me to celebrate! I d be willing to bet, that if some sort of solidarity were to take place and all the paralegals in the State of California got together for one big push at the Governor s office, we could convince him to make paralegal day a State holiday, thereby allowing us all to take the day off with pay. If truth be told however, I can never seem to find enough interested parties to back me on that, so I guess I ll just be coming to work on June 22nd, the same as the rest of my fellow constituents. What I find even more perplexing is this; there isn t a national Lawyers Day, or Junior Associate s Day, or a national holiday in honor of the partners of the firm, so why is it that paralegals aren t the ones in charge? I wouldn t mind being the first paralegal to draft up a petition for our beloved governor to sign, but I m still waiting for a response to last year s proposal in which I pretty much asked for the same thing. I m still waiting though I do expect a response any day now. All this cause for celebration brings to light an interesting story most appropriate for this occasion: A paralegal, an associate and a partner of a large law firm are walking through a city park, when they spotted an antique oil lamp. The paralegal picked it up, but both the associate and partner grabbed for it at the same time, each arguing that they found it first. Their tussling had the effect of rubbing the lamp, and to their shock continued on page 18 VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06 / JUNE 2007 LAPA 3

4 LAPA NEWS Michelle Hofeling of Henjum Goucher, Melissa Emery of Optimal Translation, and Melissa Card of Henjum Goucher South Bay Networking Mixer Kick-Off a Success!!! On April 26, 2007 Henjum Goucher Litigation Services sponsored a paralegal networking mixer at the Torrance South Bay Hilton to kick off the regeneration of LAPA s South Bay Section. Not only did paralegals from the South Bay attend, but paralegals from numerous other surrounding areas as far away as 45 miles attended. The networking amongst the paralegals was great - for starters, those that have been in the field for quite some time shared tid-bits PRESIDENT S MESSAGE- continued from page 1 seminar for July 10, 2007 at the Olympic Collection. This group has great enthusiasm and has planned events into the fall. Give Chairman Terry Kiel (also a Board Director) a call if patents, copyrights, trademarks and the like are of interest to you. Meet other IP paralegals and share your expertise. The CLA REVIEW COURSE will be starting this month. Becoming a CLA could be the single biggest career boost you can make. It was for me. See this issue for details and make the commitment this year to get those initials behind your name. RETRACTION: In our May Reporter we printed an article about pro bono opportunities with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA). According to the volunteer coordinator, David Ackerly, LAFLA doesn t use paralegal volunteers. LAPA s apologies go to David and to those of you who have called to offer your time. Please check the pro bono page at for other volunteer venues. 4 LAPA JUNE 2007 / VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06 with those that were just entering the field - and all learned about some of the benefits of membership to LAPA. There were even a few paralegals that joined LAPA on the spot! Ideas and suggestions were shared about topics for future South Bay MCLE seminars - so watch your calendars. To end the evening on an even higher note, Henjum Goucher gave away numerous door prizes and half the place walked away with their hands full of awesome goodies. Thank you Melissa Card and Henjum Goucher for kicking off the South Bay Section, in a big way! MEETING SUMMARY- continued from page 2 the Olympic Collection. The next committee meeting is scheduled for May 3, South Bay Denise Sierra informed the Board that the social/networking gathering sponsored by Henjum Goucher Litigation Services at the Torrance Hilton on April 26, 2007 was a success. Two members joined LAPA from this event. Denise stated that other similar event will be scheduled for Downtown, West Los Angeles, or Century City. She added that a meeting to discuss future events is slated for June or July. CLA Kathleen Rosenstock announced that the schedule is set for the CLA review courses and that the contract with National University has been signed. Kathleen stated that she still needed volunteers who are CLA s to be an instructors for a couple of the classes. The classes are scheduled to begin on June 7, 2007 at National University. Corporate Jane Gately announced that the breakfast seminar hosted by TCW on LLC vs. Corporate Formation is scheduled for May 19, Special Counsel is the sponsor. Pro Bono Maria Bravo announced that Housing Rights Center was added to the website. Newsletter Committee Report Mary Theroux informed the Board that with regard to copyright issues, that in case where the underlying copyright in an article is owned by the author of that article, LAPA may reprint/publish the article with permission from the author, but does not need to get permission from the owners of the publication where the article continued on page 19

5 NALA NEWS NALA s LEAP Program by Bobby T. Rimas, NALA Liaison The National Association of Legal Assistant s ( NALA ) Leadership, Enhancement and Preparation ( LEAP ) program is one of several great NALA membership benefits. Specific LEAP objectives include cultivating an understanding of the following: Responsibilities and roles of the Board of Directors and the professional staff. The committee structure of NALA. The responsibilities and roles of the NALA Certifying Boards. Products and services of NALA. Ethical considerations which may confront board members; recognize and assess situations where ethical guidelines must be followed. How the structure of NALA, the boards, members and volunteer leaders work together to further the mission of NALA. Participation in LEAP will enhance the leadership skills of individual members. 1 The LEAP program is greatly beneficial for those seeking to hold elected national leadership positions within NALA and provides opportunities to build leadership skills that can be utilized on a national level. Participants will obtain hands-on experience with active volunteers to achieve various goals and objectives. By obtaining such leadership skills, one can better assist and direct the work of NALA. To be a LEAP participant, a current NALA member must hold a current CLA/CP credential, experience volunteering in local or state paralegal associations and/or community non-profit organizations, and (attend) the 2007 and 2008 NALA conventions. 2 NALA s 2007 Annual Convention will commence on July 11, 2007 in New Orleans. For more detailed information regarding NALA s LEAP program or the continued on page 10 VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06 / JUNE 2007 LAPA 5

6 CAPA CORNER by A. E. Maersch, CAPA Primary It s already June and a busy month is ahead. First, June 22nd has been proclaimed California Paralegal Day and June 23rd is CAPA s 19th Annual Educational Conference, followed on Sunday by CAPA Board s second meeting for the year. As promised, here are some of the notes and overview of the Board of Directors meeting held February 3rd and 4th of As each Committee for the upcoming year was now appointed with new chairs and members, they quickly met to move their respective committee projects further or set forth goals for the year ahead. Here are some of the Committees and their information: Outreach Committee comprised of the Officers of the Alliance who schedule convenient opportunities for each of them to attend local Member Association events and provide a face for CAPA to that local legal community. The Committee charged with updating the Handbook of Paralegal Utilization. They are progressively working on updating the Handbook and including a new Immigration law section. Their target is to have it available at the June Conference. The Website Committee is working on updating certain informational pages as determined by their meeting with Jon Montgomery, a past CAPA President and the person who responds to the general questions sent to the CAPA website. The Benefits Committee is actively seeking additional benefits for the Alliance s Member Associations. They are assessing services versus a purchasing opportunity as possible new benefits. Be sure to check on page 23 of the Reporter for your current benefits available through CAPA. The Centralized Records Retention Committee is working on a feasibility report to determine if the Alliance should pursue a proposed project related to storage of a paralegal s continuing education units. Next, reports were provided from the Bar Liaisons for certain practice sections of the State Bar. The Liaisons are positioned to get a better understanding continued on page 19 6 LAPA JUNE 2007 / VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06

7 FEATURE ARTICLE Paralegal Ethics We Walk a Thin Line... a Tight Tightrope by Susan Daugherty (Reprinted with permission from The National Federation of Paralegal, Associations, Inc., I was accused of UPL... I couldn t believe my eyes. There I was, reading through documents my husband received from his ex s attorney. My husband was appearing pro se, and, lo and behold... a request to the court to prohibit him from using the services of a paralegal. It continued with broad-based, but serious, allegations against me and cited the state s statute and (mis)cited the state s supreme court opinions prohibiting paralegals from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. I was mortified... amazed... and absolutely livid! Worse yet, in my very conservative state, I was afraid that these allegations could actually result in criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and fines, ending my career. So, why am I telling you about this embarrassment? The way I figure it, many paralegals face the same possibility at some time in their career. After all, even while we are still in school, people begin asking us about how to proceed in their legal matters... off the record, of course. Do we respond off the record? Or, do we reply that we cannot answer because to do so would be engaging Advance your career at s online Career Center I m looking for qualified legal professionals to add to my staff. in the unauthorized practice of law, which is prohibited by law. What a pious thought... albeit the right response. I m willing to bet that most readers among us have given some form of well-intentioned and seemingly innocent legal advice to Mom, Dad, Sis or a dear friend. And, giving legal advice is UPL. Does that mean we ve broken the law? The NFPA Model Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Guidelines for Disciplinary Enforcement states at EC-1.8, A paralegal shall not engage in the unauthorized practice of law and further, A paralegal shall comply with the applicable legal authority governing the unauthorized practice of law in the jurisdiction in which the paralegal practices. NFPA s research reveals that, generally, the practice of law is defined as giving legal advice, signing legal documents, appearing in court or before other tribunals on behalf of another (except where permitted by statute, rule, regulation or opinion) and setting, negotiating or accepting fees for legal services. If Mom and Dad are about to lose their house because an improper judgment was obtained against them... or Little Sister gets an offer to settle her fender bender for just the property damage... or Greatgrandpa passes on with only a few dollars and no will... what s really prohibited when it comes to helping with legal matters that affect us personally? What s the likelihood of off-the-record advice given to a close family member coming back to haunt us? Where should we draw the line? continued on page 8 I m looking for a new position. Post Jobs Search resumes (13,000+) Search jobs (3,000+) Post your resume Powered by the: Legal Career Center Network Get connected at: VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06 / JUNE 2007 LAPA 7

8 FEATURE ARTICLE- continued from page 7 If we literally interpret statutes and opinions prohibiting the unauthorized practice of law, we cannot advise anyone, even a spouse, about his or her legal rights, obligations or responsibilities. With that being said, we can suggest who friends or relatives might contact with a legal problem, but we cannot make calls to courts and other agencies to request information on their behalf. We can help friends or relatives to type a legal document, but we may not tell them which forms they need to use to pursue or respond to a legal problem. Oh, and be careful about charging fees -- fees just seem to raise those UPL demons every time. The biggest dilemma comes over morning coffee or across the dinner table, discussing a legal matter with a loved one. Obviously, we can always represent ourselves -- anybody can, regardless of whether he or she has legal knowledge and/or training. We also can refer anyone to an attorney; we can even call the attorney to make an introduction for our friend. We could even tell our friend to take to an initial meeting with the attorney certain paperwork that the attorney will need. But how about friends or relatives asking for more because they want to proceed, pro se -- without an attorney -- and represent themselves? Even if the person swears not to tell, the hardest thing to realize is that by giving an opinion, a/k/a advice, we could be hurting them. We have to be very careful to ensure that we do not give advice that could affect their rights, obligations, or responsibilities. Plain and simple -- we have to tell them that we just can t help them. Suppose that they follow something we say and it is wrong, or they interpret our advice wrongly. Or, suppose that we don t know all the facts when we respond, or we don t know all the laws that might apply to their particular set of circumstances. We do not want to take the chance that we limit their legal options or recourse. To confuse matters even more, each state interprets UPL differently. Much depends on the tasks performed or assistance rendered. Supposedly, clerical tasks aren t UPL, but try telling a court that you did not assist in phrasing the information on a form when you are the relative of the informed pro se party. Try explaining how your relative cited the appropriate continued on page 21 8 LAPA JUNE 2007 / VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06

9 STUDENT S PERSPECTIVE Got Network? by Jenifer Smith For many of us paralegal students who are currently enrolled in a paralegal program, or have just graduated, we are often overwhelmed with what we can do with this degree. There are countless questions, such as how do we get a job without legal experience? How should one dress for the interview? What size firm would be best for me? What should my résumé look like? As a paralegal student graduating next month from Cuyamaca College with no legal experience, I had the opportunity to go to the 2007 Los Angeles Paralegal Association s Spring Career Conference. This was my first event that I had attended as a paralegal student and it will certainly not be my last. When I first walked into the conference room, I was amazed at how many people were there. As I grabbed the first table I saw with no one sitting there, I started to look over the program of events and could hardly wait for the presentations to start. Sitting behind me at a table were three women who were discussing the same questions that I had. I asked if I could join them, we all started talking and shortly after, we exchanged addresses. Indeed it did not take long before the friendly environment put me more at ease. Soon it was time to get down to business, which meant handing out my résumé and speaking with the recruiters of the various legal temp agencies present at the conference. Even with the comfort found in the camaraderie with my peers, I still found myself a little nervous, after all what was I going to say? What would they think of my résumé? Would I be prepared for the questions they might ask me? Despite being skeptical of what I could offer and filled with the fear of the rejection, I got up from my seat and went over to the recruiter tables. However, to my surprise I received positive feedback. They all seemed interested in me and liked my résumé; some even said they could place me immediately. I thought that I was dreaming: How could they place someone like me, fresh out of school with no legal experience? These answers would soon come to me by way of a panel of paralegals and recruiters. The advice was highly invaluable and set my doubts at ease. Here are some things I found to be of great insight and information to all paralegal students. Q: What do you look for when hiring for an entry level position? A: Recruiter Panel- For hiring individuals for large firms, we look for an ABA-approved certificate/degree and BA degree. For smaller firms an ABA-approved certificate/degree or experience could compensate for a degree. Stability and consistency in your résumé is essential, being able to articulate what s written in your résumé, being flexible in your schedule and salary, and knowing what you want to do, but still being able to be flexible. Paralegal Panel- Positive attitude, terrific work ethic, professionalism, flexibility, writing skills and interpersonal skills. Also, becoming a notary will help set you apart in getting the job you want. Q: What are some of the HOT areas on the rise? A: Recruiter/Paralegal Panel- Corporate and IP Litigation. Q: What are some of the things that you could do to advance your career as a paralegal? A: Paralegal Panel- Demonstrate a strong work ethic, attend all the training you can on applicable technology, join organizations/network and volunteer for different projects. Q: What are some resources you should use to find a job? A: Recruiter/Paralegal Panel- NETWORKING is paramount. Write a list of all the people you know in the legal community; have a good résumé/cover letter; join organizations; talk to classmates who work in the law offices; utilize Martindale Hubbell legal directory for information on firms; get names of personnel who do the direct hiring for the paralegals in different firms; talk to recruiters. Build relationships-don t just get the business card, go up to the person and talk with them and don t forget about your professors in school. Also, knowing where you want to be and where you want to go helps. continued on page 10 VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06 / JUNE 2007 LAPA 9

10 STUDENT S PERSPECTIVE- continued from page 9 Q: What is the best advice that you can give for someone starting out in this field? A: Recruiter Panel- Be knowledgeable and continue your education. Keep growing and expanding your horizon: CLA Exams getting specialization for this will keep you marketable. Volunteer whenever possible and pick up extra projects. Bottom-line... have a passion to learn. Paralegal Panel- Once again networking is essential. Be open to new possibilities, take advantage of training offered, be a team player, volunteer, cross-train, be a problem solver, show initiative, be pro-active, increase technical skills, network on a broader scale not just local. And don t do a good job, do the BEST job that you can do. This event taught me a lot. First and foremost, it helped me understand how valuable networking is, because sometimes it is not what you know but who you know. Indeed, some companies tend to go by word-of-mouth referrals first before they look through the piles of résumés. Thus, if you are to take nothing else from all this advice, it should be the importance of networking. Through networking alone I have already received a few job offers without having experience before they have posted the jobs publicly for others to apply. So getting out and attending different events/workshops and seminars definitely increases your chance of getting your foot in the door to the job that you want. I also learned to use all my resources. Don t place your job search in someone else s hands. Ask yourself every day, What am I doing day to day to help me get into this field? With a professional and personable attitude you can market yourself and acquire other skills that you may be able to bring to the job you are seeking. Jenifer Smith is a paralegal student at Cuyamaca College in San Diego, CA and graduates with her paralegal degree in May She is also the student liaison for the Cuyamaca Association of Paralegal Students and has been a student member of the San Diego Paralegal Association for one year. In addition, she has been on active duty with the United States Navy for 6 years. NALA NEWS- continued from page 5 upcoming NALA Annual Convention, please visit NALA s website, Notes: 1. From the NALA website, 2. From the NALA website, Bobby T. Rimas is a paralegal who specializes in immigration and employment matters. He currently serves in the capacities of LAPA Vice President of Marketing and Planning and LAPA s NALA Liaison. He can be reached at or via cell phone at (213) LAPA JUNE 2007 / VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06

11 PEANUT GALLERY A monthly column where sponsors and/or vendors share helpful hints. Make your Resume Work for You! by Cherisse Heidi A. Cleofe In the brief time potential employers have to review resumes, it is essential for your resume to outshine the rest. The key is to be succinct but substantive, confident but not overconfident and, most importantly, your resume should be an honest representation of your work. Here are a few things to keep in mind: 1. Formatting and Fonts Keep your formatting and fonts simple. The overall visual presentation of your resume makes a huge difference. Be sure to double check that everything lines-up accordingly. Complicated formatting and fancy font can be distracting, and will take away from what you are trying to convey. 2. Spelling/Grammar Spell check only takes a few minutes (if at all). Please use it. You must be sure to re-read your resume to catch any quick grammar errors. Careless errors that can be easily rectified are inexcusable! 3. The One Page Rule It is best to keep in mind that the second page (and subsequent pages) of a resume must be earned. Only in the instance of substantial experience should your resume go beyond the first page. 4. Experience Description This is your chance to highlight all the important details of your day to day activities that make you and your experience remarkable. What documents do you handle? Do you review or draft these documents? What kind of cases do you handle? How involved are you in the process? What is the nature of your client interaction? Your resume should elicit as few questions as possible. 5. Important Information You deserve everything you ve earned, so be sure to note your education/degrees and certification(s) on your resume. Also, with the paramount importance of software skills in the legal industry, it is essential that you include your software proficiencies. A good resume is vital. It is of utmost importance that you regard your resume with the proper attention required for you to put your best foot forward. A continued on page 20 VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06 / JUNE 2007 LAPA 11

12 FEATURE ARTICLE- continued from page 1 What Is A Paralegal? Sometimes employers designate employees performing particular duties as paralegals or legal assistants. No matter what term an employer may use, the occupation at least, in California has a single, statutory definition whose contours can have a significant impact on legal employers. Under California Business & Professions Code section 6450(a), a paralegal is one who, qualified by education, training or work experience, works for an attorney, law firm, corporation or other organization, and who performs substantial legal work under the direction and supervision of an active member of the State Bar of California. The statute sets forth a number of typical and permissible paralegal duties. Before the state legislature revised the definition, individuals could present themselves as paralegals after fulfilling minimal educational requirements. Section 6450(a) augmented and codified the requirements. Under California law (with the exception of state employees), the following are acceptable paths for the paralegal career: Completion of a paralegal program approved by the American Bar Association or completion of 24 semester units in law-related courses from an approved post-secondary institution; or A bachelor s or advanced degree in any subject, with one year of law-related experience and a supporting declaration from a supervising attorney who has three years of active membership in the state bar; or A high school or equivalent diploma, with three years of law-related experience (if completed before December 31, 2003) and a supporting declaration from a supervising attorney who has three years of active membership in the state bar. Work experience in a law firm is now an insufficient qualification on its own for becoming a paralegal. Unless an employee completed three years of experience before 2004, California law requires graduation from a university or qualified paralegal program to be considered a paralegal. There are a number of reasons why the definition is important. First, Business & Professions Code section 12 LAPA JUNE 2007 / VOLUME 35 / ISSUE makes it unlawful to hold oneself out as a paralegal if the minimum requirements outlined above are not met. Significantly for employers, the Code puts the burden that is, the liabil[ity] for any harm caused as the result of the paralegal s negligence, misconduct, or violation of this chapter on the supervising attorneys. It is not difficult to imagine how the paralegal statutes can operate to the detriment of the supervising attorney. Consider a legal malpractice case where the attorney portrayed an employee as a paralegal to the client. Now consider that the employee did not actually meet these minimum statutory requirements, and the acts or omissions of this employee actually caused the client s harm. The fact that an attorney defending against malpractice cannot demonstrate that he or she even bothered to assure that a paralegal meet the minimum requirements under the California Business & Professions Code will likely be damaging evidence in the malpractice case. In cases in which a prevailing party can recover fees and costs but faces a motion from opposing counsel concerning the reasonableness of the billings of a paralegal who lacks the statutory qualifications. The attorney s disregard for the basic legal mandate regarding the requirements for an employee qualifying as a paralegal would be a significant factor in this situation as well. The paralegal definition also matters because the California statute establishes legal consequences for noncompliance, and again, the supervising attorney bears the ultimate responsibility. The first line of enforcement is a cause of action that permits a consumer of legal services to sue either the paralegal or supervising attorney for restitution, damages and even attorney s fees for any violation of the paralegal statutes. Second, the Code makes it a crime to hold oneself out improperly as a paralegal or for a paralegal to provide legal services to clients, except for those services enumerated in the statute. If there is a violation, then the paralegal and supervising attorney can both be found guilty of an infraction for the first violation, and guilty of a misdemeanor for... each subsequent violation. By law, the penalties include fines and even imprisonment. continued on page 14

13 VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06 / JUNE 2007 LAPA 13

14 FEATURE ARTICLE- continued from page 12 Back To School: More Statutory Requirements Regarding Education All paralegals are subject to a continuing education requirement. This requirement is distinct from any educational mandate that paralegal trade associations may establish for their continued membership. Under California Business & Professions Code section 6450(a), all paralegals must certify to a supervising attorney their completion of four hours of ethics courses every three years, as well as four hours of legal training every two years. Supervising attorneys should again remember that they bear the liability for their paralegals negligence or statutory violations. Also, a supervising attorney should have concerns about what might happen in a malpractice case if the paralegal s action (or inaction) somehow contributed to the client s injury, and the attorney failed to require the paralegal to take continuing education courses or meet other requirements of the statute. Attorneys should also bear in mind that failure to adequately supervise employees, including paralegals, can subject them to bar discipline. Especially if a client suffers, an attorney s disregard for a paralegal s continuing education requirement could constitute inadequate supervision and a violation of the ethical rules. In sum, attorneys need to encourage and require their paralegals to meet the statutory mandate for continuing education. Paralegals & Employment Laws Aside from the statutory definition and education requirements, law firms and other legal departments should take note of employment laws affecting paralegals. A. Overtime & Exempt Status As recently as July 24, 2006, the federal Department of Labor ( DOL ) singled out the paralegal occupation for review as to the issue of compliance with state overtime wages and other wage laws. The DOL s California counterpart, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, has not issued a similar pronouncement with respect to paralegals. But because California employers must comply with both state and federal law, those who hire paralegals should pay close attention to the federal issuance, which ruled that a paralegal in a corporate legal department was indeed a non-exempt employee. 14 LAPA JUNE 2007 / VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06 Prior to this most recent pronouncement, on December 16, 2005, the DOL issued an even more instructive Opinion Letter. In that Opinion Letter, the DOL addressed whether an employer can consider its paralegals as falling within either the professional or administrative exemption to federal wage laws, and therefore exempt for purposes of entitlement to overtime pay. The DOL affirmed its prior opinions that state that, with few exceptions, paralegals are not exempt employees and must receive overtime wages. While this was not the first or even the last DOL Opinion Letter addressing this occupation, the Opinion Letter firmly sets forth the DOL s position on non-exempt status since the late 2004 revisions to the DOL regulations that address exemptions. This Opinion Letter is a thorough reaffirmation of continued on page 16 THANK YOU! To All of Our Spring Career Conference Exhibitors Abraham Lincoln University Adams & Martin Group Concord Document Service Davidson Legal Staffing Deadlines on Demand First American Corporation Henjum Goucher HIRE Counsel Kelly Law Registry Kernow Partners LLC Large Screen Displays Legal Option Group Legal Staff Matura Farrington Parasec Providius Robert Half Legal Safe Data Special Counsel

15 VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06 / JUNE 2007 LAPA 15

16 FEATURE ARTICLE- continued from page 14 the DOL s longstanding position on the non-exempt status of this vocation, in light of the new regulations. Attorneys should make sure that they comply with federal (and state) wage laws or risk claims for back wages, meal and rest period violations and for premium pay for failure to comply with these laws. Legal employers who question whether employees would actually pursue such claims need only look at the local court s docket sheet to uncover the numerous class actions filed daily against employers in a cross section of industries seeking recovery based on these same claims. The specifics of the Opinion Letter are as follows: a law firm wrote to the DOL requesting its stance on the firm s classification of its six paralegals, who had differing levels of education but all of whom had significant client responsibility such that the law firm billed out their work to its clients. The firm asked whether the employees could fall within the professional or administrative overtime exemption, meaning that firm need not comply with wage laws such as payment of overtime. The DOL rejected any attempt to deem paralegals as falling within the professional or administrative exemption. As for the professional exemption, the DOL noted that the paralegal position fails the exemption s primary duty test. This signifies that, to fall within professional exemption for purposes of wage law compliance, the position must require advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning, that comes from specialized instruction. According to the Opinion Letter, which cited the federal regulations, the paralegal profession does not meet these requirements because an advanced specialized academic degree is not a standard prerequisite for entry into the field. Instead, even though many paralegals hold a bachelor s degree, the standard for paralegal jobs is two years of college instruction. Furthermore, as for the administrative exemption, the DOL ruled that, although paralegals perform non-manual work, they fail to meet the exemption because they do not exercise discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance. Instead, their work involves the use of skills rather than discretion and independent judgment. 16 LAPA JUNE 2007 / VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06 The exceptions to non-exempt status are few. Exempt status may arise if a paralegal possesses an advanced specialized degree in other professional fields, applies advanced knowledge in that field to the performance of his or her primary duty. For example, if an employee who is a paralegal provides significant scientific advice to a patent prosecution department, the employer should scrutinize the paralegal s educational background and actual duties; if the employee qualifies as a professional, and therefore exempt, the employer need not pay overtime. Also, a paralegal who has risen the corporate ladder to management could fall within an altogether separate exclusion, the executive exemption, and thus not be entitled to overtime. Employers with questions on these legal gray areas should seek advice of an employment lawyer. B. Anti-Discrimination Laws A survey by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations demonstrated that, in 2003, the average age of a paralegal was 40 years old. This is, of course, the age that triggers liability for age discrimination under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, as well as the safeguards that relate to the execution of a valid release by, and the provision of employee benefits to, over-40 workers under the Older Workers Benefit Protections Act. Employers should be aware of these laws when taking employment actions that that may have a disparate effect on legally protected categories. For example, if a law firm or legal department decides it has to downsize its support staff, it should avoid lay-offs carried out on the basis of salary. This is particularly true in California, given that use of salary as the basis for deciding which employees to terminate can constitute age discrimination if use of that criterion adversely impacts older workers as a group. Consequences for discrimination within a law practice go beyond legal penalties. Aside from the legal ramifications, discrimination (based on race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age or disability) that occurs within the law firm or legal department can subject supervising attorneys to bar discipline. C. Employee Benefits Another issue attorneys may face in connection with continued on page 17

17 FEATURE ARTICLE- continued from page 16 their paralegals concerns the other side of employment law, that is, employee benefits. Law firms and legal departments must consider the tax consequences when they decide to pay for their paralegals mandatory continuing education courses. The same issue arises for those generous employers who pay for their paralegals to attend law school. While the relevant laws are not unique to paralegals, some legal employers are in the dark about providing these benefits in a way that is most tax-efficient to the employee and the employer. Under the tax code, a legal employer can pay for a paralegal s continuing education courses on a tax-free basis if an employee could deduct the course as a trade or business expense (under 26 U.S.C. section 162) if the employee had paid for it. The tax code considers this benefit a working condition fringe to the employee, who can exclude the employer s benevolent act from gross income. The employer can also deduct the payment from taxable income as an ordinary and necessary business expense under 26 U.S.C. section 162. Providing financial aid for law school tuition, on the other hand, is very different, and for purposes of tax laws, is not considered a fringe benefit. For a legal assistant lucky enough to receive tuition aid for law school from their employer, the paralegal s resulting profession as an attorney would constitute a new trade or business under the tax laws. Because of this classification, an employee could not deduct the tuition expenses from his or her own taxes, and so the employer cannot provide the benefit under Section 132 on a tax-free basis. The legal employer can, however, provide the benefit without subjecting the employee to tax consequences, if it funds the education through an educational assistance program, as defined in tax code. This type of program has many limitations, including an annual maximum benefit amount of $5,250. Despite the vast expense, providing the perk is considered ordinary and necessary, and the employer can deduct it from its taxable income. While addressing the tax consequences of paying for a paralegal s education, a legal employer should examine the question of whether the employment relationship is one that will be enhanced by the employer s providing this type of benefits. Employers may devote considerable resources to consulting outside counsel for advice on a repayment agreement for a paralegal seeking law school tuition assistance, only to discover that the seemingly faithful employee had changed his or her mind about law school -- and working for the employer. Frank, on-going discussion between the employer and deserving employee is necessary in deciding whether such benefits make sense. Privilege & Protection As a practical matter, paralegals frequently confront confidential client information. They also come across the musings of their supervising attorneys, and they document some of their own. Although never considered a slam-dunk, courts tend to extend the attorney-client privilege and work-product protection to paralegals. In California, state statute buttresses the protection of client confidences. A. Attorney-Client Privilege Under the California Business & Professions Code section 6453, [a] paralegal is subject to the same duty as an attorney... to preserve the attorneyclient privilege, codified in California Evidence Code section 954. One California case, entitled In re Complex Asbestos Litigation, addressed the privilege issue at length. There, a plaintiff s firm appealed an order disqualifying it from multiple personal injury asbestos cases given that its paralegal had previously worked with the opposing counsel on the pending litigation. Soon after joining the plaintiff firm, the paralegal served a subpoena on an asbestos contractor, and the company contacted its defense attorney, who then successfully disqualified the plaintiff firm from the litigation. On review, the appellate court approved of the disqualification in cases on which the paralegal worked, given that the previous firm did not provide consent, nor did the new firm attempt to construct an ethical wall around the new employee. The court indicated that either may have sufficed to prevent the disqualification. In so ruling, the court noted that the employee s conduct affected attorney-client continued on page 18 VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06 / JUNE 2007 LAPA 17

18 Celebrate Your Day! Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proclaimed FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2007 California Paralegal Day In our rapidly evolving legal system, the responsibilities of California s paralegals are constantly growing and expanding. So take a moment to reflect on your past accomplishments, consider your future goals, and celebrate your day. FEATURE ARTICLE- continued from page 17 confidentiality, and that, as the employer, the attorney is accountable for the paralegal s acts. B. Work-Product Protection Attorneys certainly know that the investigative work they perform for a pending lawsuit is protected from disclosure to opposing counsel under the attorney-work product doctrine. The California civil procedure rules codify this basic tenet of confidentiality. Is the work of paralegals afforded similar protection? The procedural rules are silent on this issue. But California courts have indicated that there is indeed protection for the work performed by a paralegal. The federal counterpart to the state statute makes explicit that the work-production protection covers an attorney s agent in federal court proceedings. In any event, to ensure adequate protection from disclosure, corporations, firms and other organizations should make sure that the paralegal s work is investigative in nature and is requested (even if generally) by the supervising attorney. Unauthorized Practice Of Law ( UPL ) Because of their profound connection to the practice of law and because many attorneys rely so heavily on them, legal assistants may come dangerously close to violating UPL statutes. Indeed, a legal issue that attorneys quite often reference in regard to paralegals is unauthorized legal practice. The California Business & Professions Code section 6126 makes it a crime for anyone to practice law without a license. Attorneys need to be aware of this proscription because, as set forth above, they are liable for the unauthorized practice of law of their paralegals. Furthermore, the California Rules of Professional Conduct specifically prohibit lawyers from aiding their paralegals in unauthorized practice. 18 LAPA NOVEMBER 2005 / VOLUME 33 / ISSUE 11 But aside from UPL, the California Business & Professions Code sets forth acts that paralegals must not perform. While some of these prohibited acts are patently unacceptable (and often constitute UPL violations as well), the impropriety of other acts is not as apparent. Under California Business & Professions Code section 6450(b), paralegals must not: Provide legal advice; Represent clients in court (although they may appear at some administrative hearings); continued on page 19 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR- cont. from page 3 and awe, a ten foot Genie emerged in a great cloud of blue green smoke. The Genie announced, In gratitude of your freeing me from the lamp, I grant you three wishes. As there are three of you, you each get one wish to make. The paralegal blurts out, I want to be in the Barbados, sipping cocktails with a gorgeous movie star. Poof! The paralegal was gone. The associate, excited by the events, stammers, I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with a professional hula dancer on one side and a Mai Tai on the other. Poof! The associate was gone. You re last, the Genie says to the partner, What is your wish? The partner replied, That s easy I want those two back in the office after lunch! Poof! Proof positive gang we are needed by our employers, though perhaps not always appreciated. That being said dear members, have a safe and sane Paralegal Day, wherever the occasion may take you. In the meantime, I think I hear my boss calling!!!

19 CAPA CORNER- continued from page 6 of what each Section is offering and provide a statewide voice for paralegals. Currently the Liaisons participate in the Solo Practice and Small Firms Section (C. Yellis - OCPA), the Litigation Section (R. Reid - LAPA), the Law Practice Management and Technology Section (K. Ellis - LAPA) and the Public Law Section (M. Tice - VCPA). CAPA is currently investigating if it should send a liaison to the Intellectual Property Section. CAPA s RECAP Editor has put the Spring edition to bed. Once released, we will be able to let you know when its been posted for Members on LAPA s website see what s happening with the profession on a statewide platform and what s new and available at paralegal associations through out the state. If you attended the Spring Career Conference, each attendee had a chance to participate in a drawing for a complimentary registration to the upcoming CAPA Conference and the lucky winner has been notified. It will be a great day in the Harbor Island area of San Diego to participate in a full day of law related seminars, an opportunity to meet your ethics requirement, listen to some great speakers, meet some of the Service Providers that can become a part of your busy day and of course, meet with colleagues through out the State of California, all great resources for any paralegal. So, don t forget to register on line with CAPA for Sailing Towards Educational Success held Saturday, June 23rd at the Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island and hosted by San Diego Paralegal Association (SDPA). A full color Conference brochure is available at CAPA s website and at The latest.get your raffle tickets, more prizes added weekly. We have been informed that the hotel room block has been released, so if you need accommodations, we may have some suggestions. Be sure to check soon as the location is a popular summer destination and a great way to relax after the event. Remember to check out CAPA s website for additional information or call any of your CAPA Representatives, we are listed on page 23 of the Reporter. See you on the 23rd! MEETING SUMMARY- continued from page 4 was originally discovered, provided LAPA uses only the text from the article and not any portion of the article that can be attributed to any prior publisher of the article. It was noted that the articles in the newsletter have been substantive and high quality, which has allowed the newsletter committee to increase the number of pages. School Reports Donna Reznick-Goodich reported that she spoke to the paralegal class at UCLA on April 23, She was given a speaker gift afterward which was a portable executive desk, which she passed around to the Board members. The Board discussed that this type of gift would be nice for LAPA to consider giving the speakers at the October conference. Rhonda Reid reported that she spoke to the paralegal class at the College of the Canyons in Valencia to provide them with information about LAPA and membership benefits. She also provided them with newsletters and information regarding the upcoming LAPA events/seminars. Events and Projects October Conference Bobby Rimas announced that the next October planning conference meeting would be held at Morrison & Foerster LLP on May 10, Holiday Benefit Gala A summary was provided to continued on page 21 FEATURE ARTICLE- continued from page 18 Draft, explain or advise the use of any legal document to anyone other than a supervising attorney; Establish the rates that a law firm charges to clients for the services performed; Agree to perform paralegal services under anyone other than an attorney. Induce anyone to make an investment, purchase a financial product or service, or enter a transaction from which income or profit may be derived by the paralegal. Legal employers need to make themselves aware of the laws and rules that address and affect the employment of paralegals. These laws are not burdensome, and compliance with them will likely improve the practice of law for supervising attorneys, and at the same time, advance the occupation of these valued employees. continued on page 20 VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06 / JUNE 2007 LAPA 19

20 FEATURE ARTICLE- continued from page 19 1 Ms. Llaurado is an attorney who practices labor and employment law exclusively at the Los Angeles office of Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold, LLP. She may be reached via at Paralegal Compensation and Benefits Report, Executive Summary (2003) (available at 3 Business & Professions Code 6452(b) (emphasis added); cf. Hu v. Fang, 104 Cal.App.4th 61, 65 (2002) ( The attorney is the professional responsible for supervising the work of his or her legal assistants, and thus Code of Civil Procedure section 473 attributes paralegal errors to the attorney). 4 [A]wards of attorneys' fees for paralegal time have become commonplace, largely without protest. Sundance v. Municipal Ct., 192 Cal.App.3d 268, 274 (1987); see also Citizens Against Rent Control v. City of Berkeley, 181 Cal.App.3d 213, 232 (1986). 5 Business & Professions Code 6455(a). 6 Business & Professions Code 6455(b). 7 See Chefsky v. State Bar, 36 Cal.3d 116, 123 (1984); Palomo v. State Bar, 36 Cal.3d 785, 795 (1984); Gassman v. State Bar, 18 Cal.3d 125 (1976). 8 DOL Opinion Letter, FLSA (July 24, 2006). 9 DOL Opinion Letter, FLSA (Dec. 16, 2005). 10 See, e.g., DOL Opinion Letter FLSA (Feb. 4, 2005). 11 See Opinion Letter FLSA at 1 (Dec. 16, 2005). 12 Id., at Id., at Id., at Id., at Id., at Id. at Paralegal Compensation and Benefits Report, Executive Summary (2003) (available at U.S.C. 621, et seq. The Older Workers Benefit Protections Act amended the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. 20 Govt. Code See Cal. Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule (Prohibited Discriminatory Conduct in a Law Practice) U.S.C See, e.g., Howard Richard Pedolsky, TC Memo (1982) U.S.C U.S.C Cal. App. 3d 572 (1991), 27 Id. at , 597, 28 See Cal. Civ. Proc. Code 2018, et seq. 29 See, e.g., Insurance Co. of North America v. Superior Ct., 108 Cal.App.3d 758 (1980)(memoranda and notes of paralegal not discoverable). 30 Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b). 31 Business & Professions Code 6452(b). 32 See Cal. Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule (Unauthorized Practice of Law). PEANUT GALLERY- continued from page 11 great resume will undoubtedly open doors for the advancement of your career. Best of luck on your search! Keep an eye out and take advantage of the Resume Tune-Up at the upcoming LAPA October Conference! Get directed advice on your resume from professionals in the know. Cherisse Heidi A. Cleofe is a Placement Director with SPECIAL COUNSEL, a recruiting and placement agency with locations throughout the nation. She can be reached at (213) , by Fax at (213) , or by at 20 LAPA JUNE 2007 / VOLUME 35 / ISSUE 06

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