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Leave it to the lawyers

The stakes are about to get higher for individuals engaging in the unauthorized practice of law (UPL) in North Carolina. A new law taking effect Oct. 1 will empower individuals harmed by UPL to bring a private cause of action against a defendant. Criminal penalties already are in place: In South Carolina, a UPL violation constitutes a felony, while in North Carolina it’s a Class I misdemeanor. But the added layer of personal liability makes this a good time for paralegals to safeguard themselves against common pitfalls that can lead to UPL.

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Bar members seek credit for for paralegal continuing ed

More than a dozen State Bar of Wisconsin members are seeking permission from the state’s highest court to earn Continuing Legal Education credit for teaching a legal specialty course in a paralegal program. Attorney Richard Opie, coordinator of the paralegal program at Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wis., filed a rules petition on July 28 to amend Supreme Court Rule 31.05(3) to expand the authority of the Board of Bar Examiners to award CLE credit.

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Plaintiff No. 1: Paralegal brought issue to light of pollution in Missouri

ST. LOUIS, MO — As the lead smelter’s gray smokestack towers above her, Brenda Browning walks toward a grassy hollow next to the low-slung Herculaneum City Hall building. A paved driveway leads to nowhere. Two white clothesline posts stand absently nearby. This used to be her home. Now, like the plaintiffs who achieved a stunning court victory against the corporations running the smelter, she lives someplace else, her lead-tainted home abandoned and eventually razed.

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Pro bono renovation brightens CourtCare facility in Portland

For young children whose families are tied up in court hearings, sometimes nothing is more comforting than playing with other kids or crawling into a small, safe space. In the Multnomah County Courthouse, in downtown Portland, children who may otherwise have to attend hearings can find respite in a former jury room that the Multnomah Bar Association converted into a free, drop-in child care center run by Volunteers of America.

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Economy prompts lawyers to consider trying paralegal work

Paralegal positions, while less lucrative than starting associate jobs, are becoming an attractive option for unemployed lawyers looking for work. “I would say for every five resumes we receive today for paralegal positions, two are from either recent law school graduates or experienced attorneys,” said Mary Arnberg, chief human resources officer at Milwaukee-based Quarles & Brady LLP.

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Paralegal website results in unauthorized practice of law charges in Rhode Island

Faced with what increasingly is becoming an issue for bar associations across the country, the state Supreme Court has determined that a Texas paralegal services company was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in Rhode Island. The Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee conducted an investigation into Low Cost Paralegal Services and its operator, Dominique M. Salazar, after the defendants used Internet advertising to target Rhode Islanders for legal services.

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New site gathers school, pay data for paralegals

A new resource for paralegals, www.howtobecomeaparalegal.com, was put online this summer by its creator, Shelby Crockett. In addition to comprehensive information about paralegal schools and programs throughout the country, the site also offers Crockett’s take on the 25 most popular software applications for paralegals and the 25 essential reference books for the profession.

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An alternative path

In a bad economy, it doesn't hurt to have a Plan B. As many law school grads continue to find job pickings slim, paralegals who have gone on to earn their juris doctor degrees are facing a choice they might not have considered before the Great Recession. If there are no attorney jobs available now, would they continuing working as paralegals?

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Estate planning lawyers get a new gift in new tax law – tons of work

The new tax law, which contains changes to estate, gift and income tax rules, should keep estate planning attorneys busy advising clients on retirement planning for at least the next two years. The changes packed in the tax law signed by President Barack Obama on Dec.17 present lawyers with an opportunity to reach out to clients to review their estate plans. If change is good, big change is better, and the new rules make some major alterations.

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Spotlight – Candace Russell

Candace Russell, a paralegal with Nexsen Pruet's Charlotte office, recently received her advanced certified paralegal designation from the National Association of Legal Assistants. Russell is also a participant of NALA's 2011 Leadership Enhancement and Preparation class and an officer in the Metrolina Paralegal Association.

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Attorney: Thank you, paralegals

In a recent Q&A interview with Lawyers Weekly (a sister publication of CPN), South Carolina attorney Marcy J. Lamar made a special point of acknowledging how hard paralegals work. Here's what she had to say: Q: Which job would you not want to have and why? Lamar: The legal job I would not want to have is that of a paralegal as I believe their job is much tougher than that of an attorney. Paralegals must know all the particulars of the rules and procedures of the field of law in which they are working. They are responsible for knowing every deadline and making sure their attorney is properly notified of all deadlines.

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