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COLUMNS

Commentary: Leveraging the value of paralegals

It is well demonstrated that paralegals improve a firm’s bottom line. These paralegals may be employed within the firm itself, or they may provide outsourced services in a virtual relationship. Either way, paralegals epitomize the highly effective concept of leverage as a way that law firms enhance their profitability by doing billable work as members of client service teams. In this way, their lower rates, when blended with other team members, boost partner profitability.

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What do you really want? Create your own vision today

In the past we have written a lot about how to do your job better, which got us to thinking about how to feel better about yourself. We have talked to many paralegals out there and the one theme we hear loud and clear is uneasiness about the future. There is a lot of stress out there.

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A mystery unfolds, with few clues on hand

It was a typically muggy August afternoon, indistinguishable from countless other lingering days of summer, trying to hold on before the autumn leaves began to fall. I found myself and Mr. Craig*, the attorney I worked for, walking up the front steps to his office. We had met at the courthouse earlier that morning and this was the first time either of us had made it to the office that day.

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Focus on talents, but don’t let yourself become extinct

In June, I attended the North Carolina Advocates for Justice convention, where Erin Brockovich was the keynote speaker. She began her talk with stories of the movie made about her. As she said, “Everyone wants to hear about that.” According to Erin, the movie came into being because a friend of a friend of a friend knew Danny DeVito and pitched the idea to him. DeVito eventually became a producer of the film. The heart of Erin’s speech involved a message from her mother about the need for “stick-to-it-iveness,” which she defines as perseverance and a quest for the truth that came from her father. Not only did Erin display this perseverance as she pressed for the truth in the Pacific Gas and Electric Company case, but Erin continues to fight for the truth today through her consulting business.

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In matters of ethics, be proactive to uphold principles

I had only been working in the legal profession for a few months when our client Mrs. Jones (her name has been changed to protect her privacy) came into the office with a man, who sat down with her in the chairs next to my desk. I was in a new job and eager to provide quality work. As I greeted Mrs. Jones, I asked if the gentleman with her was her son. She confirmed that he was, although she did not provide his name. I had been expecting Mrs. Jones that morning. I also knew that she did not drive and one of her sons lived next to her. Having read her file, I was aware the son who lived beside Mrs. Jones was to be a witness for her, the defendant in the case.

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Embracing the bond between IT and legal

Corporate litigation is often inevitable, but preparation for that inevitability is controllable. Why, then, during a meeting involving corporate litigation are the legal and IT teams introducing themselves across the table? The truth is that successful companies have embraced the brotherly bond that IT and legal departments share in this age of technology. IT and legal teams should be talking every day. It’s crucial to avoiding document retention problems, e-mail archiving and a host of other complex issues that are crucial to managing discovery.

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