In my short tenure thus far as Legal Assistant Division Chair, I have been amazed at the confusion surrounding the terms "Paralegal" and "Legal Assistant." I continually receive phone calls from attorneys inquiring as to how their "legal assistants" can become "paralegals." It is a common misconception in the legal community, including Utah, that a "legal assistant" is simply someone who assists an attorney, but a paralegal is someone who has formal education, training, and experience to assist lawyers.
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As incoming Chair of the Division, I am proud to introduce to you the newly-elected officers and directors of the Legal Assistant Division for 2003-2004. These talented professionals will continue the LAD tradition of service to its members, to the Bar, and to the Community.
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To get the most from an experienced and trained legal assistant1 in litigation practice, an attorney may need to open their practice to the pain of change. This will however lead to the benefits of change. The benefits are many. The most prevalent is an optimization of two valuable resources in litigation law practice - Cost-Savings and Efficiency. Cost-saving and efficient task delegation to accomplish the law firm's goals are for the benefit of client services. While cost-savings and efficiency are improved, economic and service benefits are realized by your clients.2 Incidental to the process of improving client services is an increase in the law firm's bottom line of potential earnings.
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The Legal Assistant Division's series of articles on utilization of legal assistants is well underway. Hopefully you had a chance to read Robyn Dotterer's overview of utilization issues in the April Bar Journal. As discussed in the LAD's Bar Journal messages these past few months, the Legal Assistant Division will be submitting articles by LAD members focusing on utilization of legal assistants in various practice areas. On the following pages is an article by LAD member Lucy Knorr discussing ideas for utilization of legal assistants in family law practice. Future articles will focus on utilization of legal assistants in litigation, estate planning, probate and other practice areas.
Continue reading "Legal Assistant Division Update" »
Can your family law practice function in your absence? If you find yourself scoffing at the idea of taking time off during the middle of the week to attend a seminar, volunteer at your child's school or ski in the middle of the week, you may find the ideas about utilizing legal assistants in this article especially helpful. The last time the lawyer I work for was gone for a few days, both her secretary and I remained extremely busy, and I billed as many hours as when she was present. Working at that level is very fulfilling because it feels like you are an essential part of a team. Granted, if there was an emergency where a client required immediate legal advice we had another family law attorney who could help. However, the point is, when you utilize your legal assistants effectively, they are happier in their jobs; and it allows you the ability to manage your time and to choose whether you want to service more clients, attend a seminar or take that ski day. In preparation for this article, I spoke with several family law legal assistants to gain additional perspective on legal assistant utilization. Our conversations about utilization fell primarily into the three categories of work delegation, communication and relationship style.
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In the upcoming months the Legal Assistant Division of the Utah State Bar will be contributing articles regarding utilization of legal assistants in a number of practice areas. Our goal is to assist the legal community in understanding the role we can play in all areas of the practice of law. In the December, 2002, issue of the Utah Bar Journal Marilu Peterson, Division Chair, provided the Utah State Bar Guidelines for the Utilization of Legal Assistants.
Continue reading "The Dollars and Sense of Utilization of Legal Assistants" »
As mentioned in previous articles, all members of the Legal Assistant Division work under the direct supervision of a licensed member of the Utah Bar. The opposite is not true, however - many Bar members do not use or employ legal assistants. The principal reason may well be the apparent lack of understanding of a very important part of the entire issue. In other words, the money.
Continue reading "Follow the Money" »
The Division has used this space in the past to introduce its officers and directors, to update Bar members on the activities of the Division, and to comment on issues of common interest including the ethical standards by which we, as legal assistants, are bound, and the utilization guidelines established by the Office of Professional Conduct for attorneys employing legal assistants.
Continue reading "What Can a Legal Assistant Do for Me?" »
I can almost hear the teeth grinding. Something absolutely, positively has to be filed, recorded, delivered, picked up . . . something. But it didn't happen: wrong time, wrong place, just plain wrong. It's pretty easy to just blame the runner or the secretary or the process server or the copy shop or whoever else.
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Of course not you say. Not me, not ever. But are you sure? Let's see you work in a law firm or a corporate legal department. Your supervising attorney is close at hand. So, every thing you do and say is not UPL, right? Maybe, but maybe not.
Elsewhere in this issue, the Legal Assistant Division has arranged to reprint an article from a recent issue of Legal Assistant Today which poses some interesting questions. I found it thought-provoking and I hope you (and your supervising attorney) do, too.
Continue reading "Do You UPL?" »
There seems to be truth in the old saying "You can't sell something to an uneducated buyer." Even though every individual entering into mediation wants to make the "right" decision, sometimes more information is needed for this to happen. To prepare for mediation, it is important for the legal assistant to ask questions, review all documents and stay current on the developments of the case. Keeping the case organized is critical. In a mediation, all individuals are key players and should voice their ideas and concerns.
Continue reading "Preparing for Mediation in Family Law Cases" »
"What is your biggest frustration in your work as a legal assistant?" Earlier this year, a lawyer posed this question to a number of legal assistants when preparing for a luncheon address. When I read the responses, I was struck by the common theme. While I soon realized that these responses could form the basis for an article here, I knew it was important to have input from some lawyers lest this thing take the appearance of lawyer-bashing. Their responses, too, are thought-provoking.
Continue reading "The Legal Assistant’s Lament and the Lawyer’s Reply" »
And the work is progressing very nicely, too.
Practice Section CLE. Over the last several months, Shari Faulkner, CLA, our Bar Sections Liaison has been in working with some of the sections on issues involving CLE and possible non-voting membership. Thanks to Shari's efforts and with the support of these sections, Legal Assistant Division members will now be included in CLE mailings for the Litigation Section, the Family Law Section, and the Business Law Section. In addition, our members are eligible for non-voting membership in the ADR and Collections Sections, and in the Franchise Law Section subject to the approval of its chair. As most of us are aware, the CLE offered in the sections is practice-specific and often the source of very current and helpful practice aids and support. In the meantime, Shari will continue working with the other sections and the Young Lawyers' Division on similar arrangements.
Continue reading "The Legal Assistant Division: A Work in Progress" »
At its annual meeting on June 7, 2002, the Legal Assistant Division elected and installed its new officers for 2002-2003. As I considered the topic for my first article here, I realized the importance of introducing you to the leadership of the Division. Then, as I contacted each of them to gather the information for this article, I was amazed at the extent of their experience, professionalism and dedication. These are our leaders for the coming year.
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The issue of delivery of legal services at an affordable rate is a current hotbed of discussion, not only in the State of Utah, but across the nation. A committee formed by the Utah Supreme Court is currently looking into a myriad of options to help meet the need of affordable legal services. Proper utilization of legal assistants is one way to help meet this need. The Bar has even established guidelines for utilization of legal assistants that can be found on the Bar's website at http://www.utahbar.org/rules/ html/legal_assistant_utilization_gu.html.
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In honor of “Legal Assistants Day”, the Legal Assistant Division of the Utah State Bar and the Legal Assistants Association of Utah are pleased to sponsor three Legal Assistant Day luncheons, listed below. All three luncheons will qualify for one hour CLE credit. Invitations will be sent in April to all members of the Legal Assistant Division and the Legal Assistants Association of Utah based on geographic location. However, all legal assistants, legal secretaries and their supervising attorneys are invited to attend any of the luncheons.
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The Legal Assistant Division (“LAD”) needs you! The LAD and our profession are facing significant challenges in the areas of licensing, independent practice, the unauthorized practice of law, compensation, liability insurance, benefits, and the like. This is your profession, and these challenges and the changes wrought thereby will affect you and your career. I urge your participation in the business and leadership of the LAD. There are numerous director positions open this year. There is a lot of work to be done on both new and on-going projects. Perhaps the position as Chair of the LAD is not something you envision for yourself; however, there are many other opportunities to serve on the Board of the LAD and, as a member of the Board, to actively participate in the development of plans to deal with the various projects and challenges of the LAD and our profession. Not only that, it is an excellent opportunity to meet other members of our profession.
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2002 . . . . hard to believe that a new year is underway! As with each new year, many of us make resolutions to try and improve ourselves, within and without. As resolutions are made let's not forget to include our careers. It is time to start out with a fresh, new perspective and to set realistic career goals. Some suggested career resolutions are:
* Be on time
* Organize your work area to make yourself more efficient
* Create checklists for routine procedures
* Get CLE in an area in which you do work
Continue reading "Message From the Chair" »
Happy Holidays from the Legal Assistant Division. What a great time of year this is. A chill is in the air . . . football games are everywhere you turn . . . and lots of goodies to share!
I want to thank everybody that attended the 1/2 day CLE sponsored by the LAD in late September. The turnout was great. It is your participation that makes these events worthwhile for everyone. We will keep you posted of upcoming CLE events.
The LAD is in the process of compiling a current membership directory and hopes to send it out during December. Sort of a "gift" from the LAD. I know that I use my membership directory all the time, so I am looking forward to an updated version. I hope all of you find the directory useful, as I do.
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I have fielded numerous questions during my short tenure as Chair of the Legal Assistant Division ("LAD") regarding qualification for membership in the LAD. One of the following standards must be met in order to qualify for membership:
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Another year of the Legal Assistant Division (“LAD”) is in full swing. A lot has been going on behind the scenes. This will update you on forthcoming events and goals that the LAD hopes to accomplish this year.
Be sure to mark your calendars for Friday, October 26, 2001, for a full day seminar that the LAD is sponsoring. This is an opportunity that includes a great lineup of CLE topics and speakers. The CLE credit will count towards the annual 10 hour CLE requirement of the LAD.
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On Friday, June 8, 2001, the Legal Assistant Division (“LAD”) held its annual members meeting at the Utah Law and Justice Center. In addition to the meeting, 6.0 hours of CLE were provided. Between the meeting and CLE, over 50 people attended. Robyn Dotterer, Sanda Kirkham and Cynthia Mendenhall were elected as new Directors.
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All members of the Legal Assistant Division should mark their calendars for Friday, June 8th for the LAD Annual Meeting and Seminar. In addition to a great lineup of CLE topics and speakers, members will be able to participate in the LAD Annual Meeting and voting for new Directors. At the Annual Meeting, members will get the opportunity to meet their new Chair, Deborah Calegory, and to volunteer for committee assignments. We hope to involve many more of our members in the operation of the LAD this coming year.
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by Ann Streadbeck
Much has been happening with respect to the Legal Assistant Division ("LAD"). Current projects include the following:
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by Ann Streadbeck
Thank you to those in the legal community who participated in the Legal Assistant Division/Legal Assistant Association of Utah joint “Utah Legal Community Blood Drive,” held statewide October 16 through October 20. As of the writing of this message, we have not yet received the final tallies from the donor centers. Although we did not reach the goals set by the American Red Cross, with participation at donor centers in Ogden, Salt Lake City, Provo and St. George, our preliminary indication is that the response was great (especially in the St. George area). Thank you to those who joined us in giving life!
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