Mentor Blog

Welcome to our mentor blog. Here you will find posts from
industry professionals on such topics as:
  • Resume & Cover Letter tips
  • Interview Tips
  • How to succeed at work
  • How to get a Mentor
  • What every Mentee should know
  • I lost my job. Now what?
  • Healthy habits
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  • 21 Sep 2016 10:01 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    Membership Benefits Create Value for Professional Paralegal Association Members

    , The Legal Intelligencer

    Twenty five years ago marked the beginning of my legal career, at a time when the world was a very different place. The year was 1990, Wilson Goode was the mayor of Philadelphia, the phrase "Google it!" didn't exist, Congress voted for the Americans with Disabilities Act, and President George H.W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed an historic agreement to end production of chemical weapons. I had no idea what a professional paralegal association was or why networking with other paralegal professionals was an important part of my occupation. As I built my career, I quickly found value in the opportunities and benefits that membership in a professional paralegal association provided.

    One of the first steps toward furthering your paralegal career should be exploring the idea of joining a professional paralegal association. You might ask yourself, "How will becoming part of this group help further my paralegal career?" Joining a professional paralegal association may not be one of your top priorities. What paralegal has time for more meetings and activities after working all day with deadlines, charts, and other daily tasks? The answer is that you should make the time; an association is synergistic with your growth. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you." My membership in a professional paralegal association provides me with valuable networking benefits that include, but are not limited to, meeting and interacting with professional contacts, access to a wealth of useful practice information, continuing legal education through conferences and seminars, becoming an advocate of my career, and the opportunity to mentor others.

    Associations sponsor countless events throughout the year that allow you to connect with your colleagues in the paralegal profession. Building such relationships is a fundamental way to establish and ensure that you are working diligently on your career path and consistently improving your skill sets. By attending various association events, you have the chance to socialize with other paralegal colleagues and paralegal students while extending your professional networking opportunities. It's not every day that you have a chance to meet the chancellor of  the Philadelphia Bar Association, or federal, state, or local judges, or some of the prominent members in the legal community and hear them speak on legal issues. Your connections will extend beyond just your firm, but also with paralegals in different capacities such as in-house, government, and nonprofit paralegals. By becoming an involved and active committee member or even chair, you will become a highly valued member in your association. The connections you establish will be invaluable resources in your career. The more people you know, the more people know you, and the more you can learn from them. As Henry Ford said, "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."

    The paralegal profession is an ­ever-evolving practice that requires continued learning and expansion of skills. Every paralegal job has become more sophisticated as new technology continues to be ­introduced. Paralegals need to develop a culture of learning not only in learning the use of emerging technology, but the importance of improving the efficiency of their current legal technology skills. Associations offer several ways to broaden this knowledge. Opportunities include case studies, online courses, career guides, articles and books written by experts in your area of practice, educational conferences and seminars for association members to attend, and free subscriptions to industry magazines, print and online publications, and other informative resources.

    Another important benefit to membership in a professional paralegal association is the career resources offered to members. Many associations offer job listings online that are only available to their members. When looking for job opportunities, your connections with fellow paralegals can offer insights and perspective on a firm's culture and leadership. They may also know of new vacancies being offered even before the job posting appears on social media or in other publications.

    For recent ­paralegal program graduates, establishing relationships with alumni associations also will help you professionally and socially. This is especially true for job offerings from various organizations seeking entry level and experienced paralegals. Furthermore, such associations offer tips on resumes and the drafting of cover letters, strategies on job searching and techniques relating to negotiations.

    Associations provide new paralegals with a chance to market themselves, gain career advice, meet potential mentors, make commitments, update knowledge, and take part in association activities. There are a variety of volunteering opportunities for new members of an association to get more involved. You don't want to miss out on the ­numerous membership benefits that a professional association offers. Ronald Reagan made a statement that "There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination and wonder."

    Mentoring is the pillar of many professional associations when working with newer members. There is a noticeable difference in paralegals who had a mentor at the beginning of their career. Mentorship does not take much time. A short discussion over coffee or lunch, even a few emails will be suitable. Mentors who share their knowledge, experiences, and connections with newer members of the association will create a sense of appreciation, respect, and pride among colleagues. Giving back can be the greatest reward and benefit. Many mentees are looking to learn from experienced mentors. Mentees need to take an active role, be open, willing to work and be respectful of a mentor's busy schedule. Many mentoring relationships turn into lifelong friendships. My first mentor was my boss when I was working as a library clerk 25 years ago. My second mentor was an attorney that I had a privilege to work with and witness him grow professionally from a summer associate to a firm partner. I have built not just a professional relationship with my mentors but a personal one as well. As Steven Spielberg once said, "The delicate balance of ­mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the ­opportunity to create themselves."

    In closing, regional, state and national paralegal associations provide information on training and certifications for paralegals such as the Pa.C.P. credential offered by the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations [www.keystoneparalegals.org] or the CRP™ and RP® certifications offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations [www.paralegals.org]. Potential employers may favor candidates who have current membership status in an association or who validate their knowledge as a credentialed paralegal. •


  • 28 Aug 2016 9:45 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)
    Greetings paralegal members and followers,
    We are interested in providing you with substantial benefits for your membership and to encourage our followers to join the New York Paralegal Association by rewarding them for reading our newsletter, The Buzz, liking and contributing to our posts on Facebook and Linked In as well as stopping by and checking our website. We will be posting questions on all forms of communication just mentioned. These questions will serve two purposes: to help us with the demographics of our subscribers and followers, and to help us verify that our we are indeed engaging our readers.

    The rewards will be free webinars on a variety of legal topics - that can be downloaded and watched on demand - many of which come with power point presentations with which you can read separately and have. Recipients will have a choice of several each time - and your participation will help us determine what legal areas of interest NYC-PA should cover. This will not be a drawing. All participants will receive a link to view and download.
    Here is an example; On our webiste, An article this month posted by the Treasurer in the Mentor blog discussed "3 Things Hiring Managers Actually Discuss After the Interview". Name one of them
    In order to answer the question, readers must consult the article mentioned on the website. Please submit answers to: research@nyc-pa.org.
    Everyone who submits a correct answer will be sent a link to webinars on one of these topics - their choice:
    • Dispute Resolution
    • Bankruptcy
    • Guardianship
    Here is another exmple:

    Select a Facebook event/webinar announcement from our page and submit a comment on whether you have registered, and why you chose that topic.
    On August 7, there was a webinar about "Tort liability". Did you register or not and why? Did you watch the webinar and/or did you learn anything from it? By submitting a meaningful comment and adding to our Facebook and/or Linked In activity you will earn a link to download a FREE webinar.
    Belline Manopla
    New York City Paralegal Association, Inc.
    Research Coordinator
    Email: research@nyc-pa.org
    website: www.nyc-pa.org
  • 23 Aug 2016 9:22 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    It’s Five O’clock Somewhere: How are your ethics ‘after hours’?

    “What time zone am on? What country am I in?
    It doesn’t matter, it’s five o’clock somewhere.”
    ~ Alan Jackson, ‘It’s Five O’clock Somewhere” recorded with Jimmy Buffett

    It's 5 O'clock Somewhere

    “It’s Five O’clock Somewhere” refers to a popular expression used to justify drinking at any time of day, given that somewhere in the world it’s 5:00 p.m. — the end of the work day for a traditional “nine-to-five” employee.

    While, this might apply to happy hour, it does not apply to ethics rules for legal professionals. Ethics rules continue to apply after the work day ends.

    The Basics:

    • Attorneys are bound by the ethical rules adopted by the state where they practice…usually those ethics rules are adopted by rules adopted by the American Bar Association.
    • A person engaged in a profession, such as medicine or the law, is held to a higher ethical standard than the average person.  This is because the higher standards are necessary to protect the public that the professional serves.
    • In law, ethical standards that apply to the profession also apply to all individuals working in the profession, whether they’re the licensed professional or they are employed by the professional.
    • Members of the legal support staff, not just the paralegals, are held to the same high ethical standards as attorneys.

    Ethics rules are quite clear while you’re at work. Within the confines of the work place, conflicts checks are routine. It’s usually apparent whom the firm is representing. Everyone understands that communications, both oral and written, must be confidential. Privileged documents and communications are evident. It’s obvious that the attorney is the one licensed to practice law. AND, other people are paying attention to what you are doing.

    It’s after hours, when you’re not at the office and no one is watching or listening, that you may let your guard down and ignore the ethics obligations that follow you wherever you go.  All of your actions after hours are bound by the same ethical obligations as when you are on the job. Further, these unethical actions may be just as damaging, perhaps even more damaging, as anything you do at the office.

    Here are some interesting situations for you to consider. Do any sound familiar?

    “Do I need a lawyer?” People will want to talk about potential legal issues. You are not licensed to practice law and cannot give legal advice, even something as simple as telling them that, yes, they need to see a lawyer. Instead, suggest that they make an appointment with someone at your firm so that the attorney can evaluate their case.

    Another issue is that this person is not a client of your firm and, therefore, the conversation you have with him is not privileged and may be discoverable by an opposing party.

    “I have a quick question about my case.” Never engage in conversations about a client’s case (with the client or anyone else) outside the office. You never know who may overhear the conversation. If it is overheard by a third party, the conversation is loses the privilege. And you also owe the client the duty of keeping everything about their case confidential. This is virtually impossible in a public place.

    “Sweetie, I need a simple will and I just can’t afford a lawyer.” Of course you want to help your poor Aunt Pearl and you may think you can draft a ‘simple will’. However, you do not have the ability (or the authority) to make legal decisions for another person.  Only the attorney can use his or her expertise to apply legal judgment to an issue.

    Besides, you may be doing your Aunt Pearl a real disservice. It’s entirely possible that she has some complex estate planning issues that only the attorney would recognize and have the knowledge to give her the advice she needs. Also, this all holds true whether or not you’re paid for helping someone with a legal issue. Giving free advice or assistance is still the unauthorized practice of law.

    “Will you serve on our board of directors?” Is the entity one of your firm’s clients? If so, serving on their board may be a conflict of interest. Discuss this issue with your attorney before you make any commitments.

    “Can we talk off the record about my case?” Your answer is ‘NO’ whether the person is a client or the opposite party. Remember that there are issues of confidentiality and privilege. Also, you cannot have communications with a represented party without their attorney present.

    “I heard Bob and Mary are getting a divorce!” Oh, yes, your firm is representing Bob in his down and dirty divorce from Mary. You know all the sordid details! Keep your lips zippede! Even telling someone that the firm represents Bob is unethical.

    “Hello, Judge!” Communicating with the judge about a case is prohibited and so is any effort to influence the outcome of a case. Also, you must avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

    “I slipped and fell on the ice!” A golden opportunity, right? You’ll get a new client for the firm and look like a hero! Wrong! Staff cannot solicit clients and only the attorney can form the attorney client relationship. So don’t hand the injured person your card and tell them your firm is the best one to handle a slip and fall case. Also, keep in mind the issue of privilege. The person is not the firm’s client and your conversation may be subject to discovery.

    These are just some of the slippery situations and you may encounter. Always be mindful of potential ethics mine fields that await you both in and out of the office. Keep in mind the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as those adopted by your state and any professional association you belong to.  They are not long, nor are they difficult to understand.

    Keep in mind that ethics rules always apply when you’re out with friends, at social events, or in public places. When someone asks you a simple question you’re tempted to answer, you have to handle the situation ethically to protect yourself, your firm, and the client.

    Always remember that your ethical obligations are with you 24/7… they don’t change or end when the clock strikes five.


    ©2016Vicki Voisin, Inc.

    Vicki Voisin ACP, “The Paralegal Mentor.” delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by setting goals and determining the direction they will take their careers. Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She is the co-author of The Professional Paralegal: A Guide to Finding a Job and Career Success. Vicki publishes Paralegal Strategies, an e-newsletter for paralegals, and hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network.

    More information is available at www.paralegalmentor.com where subscribers receive Vicki’s 151 Tips for Your Career Success.


  • 15 Aug 2016 12:36 AM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    Behind the Scenes: 3 Things Hiring Managers Actually Discuss After the Interview


    If you’re like many people I know, you worry about what hiring managers say about you the second you exit the interview. And you therefore probably assume that they nitpick the heck out of your answers and only hire the people with zero faults.

    Well, I can’t speak for every single hiring manager on the face of the earth, but I can say that when I was a recruiter, that was not the case. Sure, there are a lot of conversations that happen before a candidate receives an offer, but the things your interviewers are discussing will probably surprise you.

    1. Is This Person Excited to Be Interviewing Here?

    Many employers I’ve come across do everything in their power to hire individuals who are passionate about their company’s mission. A sincere interest in the organization goes a long way—and a lot of recruiters know they shouldn’t have to settle for someone who’s qualified on paper, but has no interest in being a part of the actual team.

    And because this is so important to so many people, your excitement comes up more often than you’d think. Employers know that they’ll meet candidates who don’t know the entire mission or haven’t memorized the founding story, but they do look for people who seem genuinely excited about the possibility of coming to work there.

    If your energy is lacking, that should be a sign that you should probably look elsewhere. Why? Because it's an indication to the employer that they should probably look elsewhere, as well.

    And, if you’re not sure if your enthusiasm came across clearly, use your thank you note to make it obvious just how pumped you are about the opportunity.

    2. Is There Anyone Else We Should Ask This Person to Interview With?

    I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve walked out of an interview and had no doubt that we should pass. But I’ve also lost count of the number of times I left an interview with an excellent candidate and had to ask the hiring manager if he or she wanted that person to meet with anyone else. And if so, when that person would be available.

    As frustrating as lining up schedules was, it became a very real reason that some of the most qualified people I met with got nothing but radio silence from me for an extended period.

    And even worse, I’d been burned enough in the past to know that there was a chance that person would end up at one of our competitors because he or she would assume we weren’t interested in moving forward. So, while it’s totally understandable to be frustrated by a lack of follow-up, take solace in the fact that the delay doesn’t mean you’re out of the running.

    3. How Soon Do We Need Someone to Start?

    You might’ve read this question and thought to yourself, “So, if I catch a company at the exact time they simply need to fill a role, I’ll be in good shape to get it?” Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the truth is that’s not the case.

    If an employer’s pumped to make you an offer, he’ll ask himself how soon he’d like you to start to figure out his internal timeline. Who needs to be alerted? What does the HR team need for your onboarding? When does he think you’ll be able to give your current company notice?

    On the flipside, this question often spurs a long conversation about how good of a fit you are. If you’re not the one, it’s more likely resources will be re-allocated to make up a gap until the employer finds the right person—than he’ll just hire you (and trust me, that’s for the best).

    But more importantly, this forces companies to think deeply about whether they’re excited to hire you, or if they’d only be settling by extending you an offer.

    Some of these talking points aren’t exactly fun. I get that—especially because if it were up to me, every conversation that a hiring manager about me would be incredibly positive.

    But knowing what happens behind closed doors is still a good way to ease your nerves. Employers don’t just make fun of your answers after you leave an interview, or that old blazer you were unsure about (but decided to go with at the last minute). They’re digging into some crucial questions to determine whether or not you’re a fit for the job—and also if the job is something that would make you happy.

    Photo of co-workers talking courtesy of Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury/Getty Images.

    Career Guidance

    About The Author

    Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.

  • 04 May 2015 6:37 AM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    Recently, I was a speaker at the Los Angeles Paralegal Association's 19th Annual Spring Conference. The theme was the Paralegal Career - What's happening today; alternative careers and the ever-talked about licensing, registration and regulation. What can I say? It was informative, lively and eye-opening.

    I was invited to be on the alternative careers panel. Oh, boy. Having taken one of the most unorthodox career paths in paralegal history, this is a topic I knew. There were going to be 3 people on the panel. A litigation paralegal doing something else interesting, a legal administrator who was never a paralegal and me. That meant 20 minutes each for the hour.

    OK! I can do this! I did my research. I got in touch with my network. I interviewed a number of former paralegals all over the world and now had different titles and responsibilities. I poured a lot of hours into condensing a wide topic into 20 minutes. I got those new fangled PowerPoints so I looked on top of things. I went out and bought a brand new outfit at Neiman Marcus. (Spring-like, Tahari, make-you-look-thinner-type of thing.) Ok, it was Neiman Marcus, the outlet and I got it on sale. I even found out salaries (hard to get info). I load up my flash drive and I'm ready to go.

    I arrived to find there were 5 people on the panel - 2 extra who were invited by mistake which meant if it ran precisely on time, not one second over and no questions, there would be exactly 12 minutes each. Oh, dear. I had a lot to say. Which 8 minutes would I cut? Obviously, some of the folks on the panel weren't too happy to see me either. When we sat down, someone next to me told me that I wasn't supposed to have PowerPoints. This was after all, she said, a panel discussion. She was practically hissing. I didn't know who she was but she certainly seemed annoyed with me. Great. I squirmed in my chair. If I squirmed any harder, my new Neiman Marcus Tahari all linen beige pants might split right down the middle. Then, of course, I wouldn't be able to get up. It's always something. All I could say was, "Oh."

    I frantically searched my memory. It was totally blank. Totally. I had no notes and wasn't sure if I could do the presentation minus 8 random minutes without the prompting of the PowerPoints. I mean, I'm an experienced national seminar speaker and all but hey, I'm up there in front of 200 people being told the show has suddenly changed in the last minute and a half and some one who thinks I've taken her spot is chastising me under her breath. I think I'm in trouble. My palms started to sweat. Not a pretty picture.

    Just then, as I am sitting there wiping mud off my face, Bobby Rimus, the most wonderful association president in the world, comes over to me and tells me I'm scheduled to go last and we would put on my PowerPoints and we'll go over the hour. Don't worry about a thing. Somehow, I am no longer warm, wonderful and charming. At least for just a second. I set a Cheshire grin on my face and turn to my colleague. I don't say a word. I just grin. But truthfully, I was really glad I had given myself an extra dose of Secret that morning.

    The other four panelists turned out having interesting things to say. The Legal Administrator, Luci Hamilton, had originally immigrated from Brazil to the US without knowing one word of English, spoke six languages and ended up leading one of the most prestigious boutique employment firms in Los Angeles. She stressed how paralegals were generally lacking financial skills. If they had that knowledge, combined with management skills, ability to size up situations, work with difficult personalities, and team skills, they were solid candidates for good career paths in HR and administration.

     Kai Ellis, a senior litigation paralegal talked about her foray into paralegal teaching. Here was an opportunity to exercise the benefits of your experience, gain the satisfaction of knowing you have assisted someone in their career and just feel great. Teaching also has upward career movement - besides writing opportunities, you can become head of a paralegal program or more.

    There were two paralegals from a well-known major corporation, Disney. They talked about working for The Mouse. In-house legal departments have always caught the interest of paralegals from law firms. The myth is that the job is easier than one in a law firm. The reality is the job is not necessarily easier but the level of stress and politics is different. There are few, if any, billable hours, so the pressure on attorneys to make partner based upon how many clients they bring to the firm is non-existent resulting in less pressure on non-attorneys.

    One of the in-house paralegals, Tamara Loveland, was in a hot, hot arena: technology. She rose from paralegal to head of the Litigation Support Department. This is a well-paying arena ripe for paralegals for a couple of reasons: professional technologists who also have a legal background are frankly, very hard to find. While paralegals have user friendly backgrounds, heavier technology skills are not that easy to find. Throw in management skills and the position becomes one that pays very well. I mean, very well.

    The other paralegal, Yvonne Kubicek, spoke about the paralegal manager position. This is an interesting position as the job has changed over the years. Paralegal managers now have additional responsibilities than in earlier years. They may be in charge of other departments, They may have financial control over sophisticated budgets. They have more personnel responsibilities and certainly have more control over the workflow process and project management. It was interesting to hear her take on what it took to get into paralegal management. It is no longer the paralegal who does the best work who wins. It is now the paralegal who can demonstrate the best HR skills and understanding of the big picture - not an opportunity every paralegal is offered. This is one position a paralegal will probably have to seek training on their own.

    It was timely that I was on the alternative career panel as I am adding an additional career avenue to my own career path: that of a job search strategist. With over 20 years in paralegal management, staffing, executive management, CEO and author of 10 books on legal careers, I realized this was something that I knew a lot about.

    So, I have launched a new website, LegalJobSearchRx.com. I am consulting with just a few select clients on job hunting strategies. Using the latest techniques to match the new norm job market, I have been coaching clients on the new way to write resumes, cover letters, answer tough interview questions, beat age discrimination, negotiate for the highest salaries, write a compelling LinkedIn profile, create a network that works and get your dream job.

    So far, I have a 95% success rate. One person hadn't had a job in a year. Within one month, she had a job in a Fortune 1000 corporation. Another hadn't had an interview in months. With the new cover letter, she had 4 interviews lined up for the following week. I can't tell you how excited I am. Alternative careers can give you a boost even when you don't think you need one.

    Oh, as for the paralegal on the panel who had the hissyfit, she didn't exactly apologize (which upon reflection, she probably didn't owe me). However, she did ask for a copy of the PowerPoints. I mean, what more can you ask for? My new BFF.

    I have a free eBook I've prepared on alternative careers for paralegals. I'd be happy to send it to you. For a free copy, drop me an email at chere.estrin@paralegalknowledge.com. You just never know. A little spice here, a little spice there. It's good for the soul, believe me.


    Chere Estrin is CEO of the Paralegal Knowledge Institute, a national online continuing legal education organization and President and Co-Founding member of the Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP), providing legal technology training for lawyers, litsupport professionals and paralegals. She has written 10 books in the legal field and has been interviewed by the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other publications. She has written the blog, The Estrin Report since 2005. Chere is a Los Angeles Paralegal Association Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient. She can be reached at chere.estrin@paralegalknowledge.com

    This article was reprinted with the permission from Chere Estrin. http://www.estrinlegaled.typepad.com 

  • 23 Oct 2014 3:17 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    This article was reprinted with permission from The Paralegal Society
    a forum created to educate, motivate and inspire paralegals.
    Be sure to check it out at:

    By: Jamie Collins
    Alright, I really can’t help myself here. There are certain times when I feel so compelled to write on a particular topic that I simply cannot go one more day without sharing a little industry wisdom and a few pearls of personal opinion with our readers. The day has come, my friends. Today’s [Read More]


  • 21 Jun 2014 11:09 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    By Chere Estrin, Co-Founding Member & Managing Administrator at Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP)

    Read More at: http://joom.ag/4Veb

  • 23 Apr 2013 5:49 AM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    By: Barbara A. Bessey, CP

    This article was reprinted with permission from The Paralegal Society
    a forum created to educate, motivate and inspire paralegals.
    Be sure to check it out at:

    Greetings, TPS Nation! It’s great to see you on this absolutely fabulous Monday morning. Here’s the deal – it’s either going to be a fabulous Monday or we’re going to go down in a big blaze of legal glory trying to make it happen! Today, Barbara is stopping by to share a guest post on the topic of mentorship. What do mentorship and mining have in common? You’ll have to keep reading to find out.

    I connected with Jamie Collins through the NALA group as an active member of NALA. Jamie had shared some of her articles that she posted on TPS with the NALA group. The first article I read of Jamie’s was a very interesting article about paralegals being planners and the run-away train that we end up on each day trying to derail us. I then read Jamie’s article regarding TPS, how her vision began, and what mentoring meant to her. It stayed with me; I woke the next morning thinking about what I wanted to post as a comment.

    I sat down to my computer, logged into LinkedIn, went to my Groups’ listing, clicked TPS, and low and behold there was Jamie’s current article about a writing contest. Great! I thought, “I’m going to develop my comment into an article for the contest.” Life is sometimes a run-away train and my best laid intention to do something that is career related just sat on the hard drive of my computer partially started as a random thought process. I know the contest is long over and we had some amazing winning articles [insert applause!]. But, I felt compelled to finish my thought process and submit a guest blogger piece to help my dear friend Jamie find some precious extra time to spend with her family.

    I believe many of us have come across the occasional paralegal at work or in our local association that feels that her best asset is to hang onto the “golden nuggets” of knowledge – a miser. I’m not sure if these paralegals have a fear of losing their job or losing certain projects if they share their experience and talents with “newbie” paralegals. I call them “golden nuggets” of knowledge because they are the things that a paralegal won’t find in a textbook sitting in a class. They also may not be helpful words spoken by an attorney because most attorneys don’t really know the exact intricate steps paralegals take to get their work done. It is up to paralegals to share their knowledge and experiences with others.

    Even though I have 20 plus years of legal experience, starting as a receptionist at a small law firm of brothers, I still feel like I am a newbie in certain situations as most TPSers likely can relate to. Every time I have changed jobs, I’m the newbie learning the office culture and the office’s intricate internal procedures. Sometimes, I am also a newbie learning a new area of law.

    I was also a newbie when I joined the executive board of a paralegal association by volunteering from the floor for a vacant position. It was a total unexpected “knee jerk” response from me, the classic shy introvert, to raise my hand and volunteer. I really felt like a newbie in unchartered waters when I became elected chair of that executive board several years later (upon encouragement from a now past president of NALA while having lunch with her the last day of an annual conference). I led by example of women I felt had leadership qualities in “aces of spades”. True mentors. I attended national conferences as a newbie. Talk about needing that “20 seconds of insane courage” that Jamie has talked about to learn the “practice of networking” [insert positive nod of head].

    Even if a paralegal has years of experience in one way or another she/he continues to be a newbie. We all need mentors of one kind or another throughout our careers as paralegals. We all become better paralegals by sharing the “golden nuggets” of knowledge.

    Mentoring is like mining. The golden nuggets are there to be extracted from the legal community whether it be from individuals in the workplace, an association, or an online group, which has formed as a “mineralized package”. The miners (newbies or veterans) might find some of the golden nuggets just under the surface; however, more often than not it might take a little bit of work to harvest the most valuable pieces. Don’t give up. Sometimes the miners might have to “sift through a whole lot of sand” to extrapolate the real gems. Keep digging. The internet has an abundance of blogs and articles undefined take as little or as much information as needed that works for you.

    Mentorship should be a valuable and integral part of the workplace. It has to be. And if mentors are not prevalent in a paralegal’s workplace then she/he needs to find mentors in other places. Keep searching. Knowledge is meant to be shared and paid forward, not buried or secreted in the “ore body”. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes, like the landscapes of Mother Earth. Mentors may be like river beds, beach sand, or unconsolidated materials (placer deposits) or be like veins, layers, or mineral grains of solid rock (lode deposits). Either type, golden nuggets are extractable by different techniques. Keep trying. Not all of the “golden nuggets” come from deep within an “ore body”; some of the best “pearls of wisdom” are tucked deep inside a protected shell in the soft body waiting for the right person to open that shell to release it. It might be your next “aha moment”.


    Don’t give up.
    Keep digging.
    Keep searching.

    …until you find those precious golden nuggets of mentorship.

    Just like Barbara said, “It might be your next ‘aha moment.’”

    Remember, good day or blaze of glory undefined either way, we’ve got it covered! Make it fabulous. We’ll see you soon.

    © The Paralegal Society – All Rights Reserved – Reprinted with Permission


  • 14 Apr 2013 8:51 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    LinkedIn Endorsements: What You Need to Know
    By Vicki Voisin, ACP


    If you have a LinkedIn account, you’ve probably received email messages with the news that someone, often a complete stranger, has endorsed your skills.

    Sometimes the endorsements are in areas where you actually have minimum skills.

    Since so many people are using this new tool, the question becomes, “Do endorsements offer value?” Hopefully the following 10 points will help you understand endorsements and then use them so they are helpful to both you and your connections:

    1) First a word about LinkedIn recommendations. LinkedIn members have always been able to recommend their connections. These are written references supporting you and your work and are almost always written by or for someone you know and/or have worked with. Receiving a recommendation is special in that it takes time and effort for a person to write it and it represents the person’s opinion (usually positive) about you.

    2) What is an endorsement? Endorsements represent skills and expertise that someone knows or thinks you have. They are a “one-click” way to give praise to a connection and are based on the skills you entered in your profile. LinkedIn allows anyone to endorse anyone for their skills.

    3) How do endorsements happen? When LinkedIn connections view your profile, they are asked if they want to endorse you for any of the skills you've listed. If they choose to do this, they will be asked if they want to endorse skills from other contacts. Under your “Skills and Expertise” section, LinkedIn lists all your skills along with how many have endorsed you for each one and who did the endorsing.

    4) Should you reciprocate? There is no official LinkedIn endorsement etiquette but this is a social network, so you may want to get into the spirit of reciprocity. If you know the person who endorsed you, take a look at their profile and endorse the skills you know they have. You will be giving a little bit back to that person. You certainly don't have to endorse the same number of skills, but you may endorse all the skills you know are accurate.

    5) Why do you want endorsements? Since your connections are verifying your skills, people who review your profile will know you didn't just list skills to get noticed. The result is that your profile has more credibility. While it’s difficult to know if specific endorsements will influence potential employers or networking partners, it is safe to say that (a) endorsements can't hurt your profile and (b) the lack of endorsements may make people questioning both your skills and your social media savvy.

    6) How to get the right endorsements. It's important that the endorsements you receive accurately match your skills and experience. You can almost guarantee by including a wide variety of critical skills and knowledge in your profile there are ample options for endorsements. Include as many skills areas as possible within your target career or job, particularly if you are transitioning to a new area of the law or another career field.

    7) Do endorsements have value? The value of endorsements on LinkedIn has been questioned because this takes so little effort and often isn’t accurate. Since there seems to be a race to collect as many endorsements as possible, their overall value and professionalism may be diminished. Some bloggers have predicted that LinkedIn will drop endorsements by the end of 2013 with, perhaps, everyone realizing they are worth as much as the effort it took to award them: zero.

    8) Turning off endorsement messages. If you don't want email notifications regarding the endorsements you receive, you can turn off the email messages by following these steps:

    • Click on Settings (under your name on the top right side of the page
    • Click on Email Preferences
    • Click on Set the frequency of emails 
    • Scroll down to Endorsements
    • Select No Email (you can also opt for a Daily Digest)

    9. Turning off endorsements. You can't stop someone from endorsing you. However, you can stop them from showing on your profile by following these steps:

    • Click on Profile
    • Click on Edit Profile
    • Scroll down to Skills & Expertise
    • Click on the pencil icon

    10. What if you don't want to be endorsed for some skills? People may endorse you for skills you really don’t have and you don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking you do. For example, I’ve been endorsed for Public Speaking and that's valid. I’ve also been endorsed for PACER and product liability. While I know a bit about both, I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking I’m an expert in those areas.

    Your Challenge: Be sure your LinkedIn profile accurately reflects your skills. Then decide if you want to play the endorsement game. This should be based on the value you believe they add to your profile. Take a look at the profiles of connections you know and endorse the skills you recognize they have. Do not endorse just to be endorsing. Endorsements certainly can’t hurt so long as they are accurate. They may even be helpful in expanding your network and employment possibilities.


    © 2013 Vicki Voisin, Inc.  Do you want to use this article in your newsletter, ezine or Web site? You may do so so long as you include the following attribution language:

    Vicki Voisin, "The Paralegal Mentor", delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by setting goals and determining the direction they will take their careers. Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She is the co-author of The Professional Paralegal: A Guide to Finding a Job and Career Success. Vicki publishes Paralegal Strategies, a weekly e-newsletter for paralegals, and hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network.

    More information is available at www.paralegalmentor.com where subscribers receive Vicki's 151 Tips for Your Career Success.

  • 13 Jan 2013 11:39 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

    12 Tips to Help You -- and Your Career -- Thrive in 2013
    By Vicki Voisin, ACP

    As you kick off the New Year, instead of "resolutions" look for "real solutions" that will help you grow and flourish in the 12 months ahead.

    Here are 12 tips to help you make 2013 one of your best years ever:

    1.    Look for the opportunities and be prepared to take advantage of them.

    2.    When you make plans, back them up with action. A plan without action is just a wish.

    3.   Doing what's right may not be the easiest way, but it is the best way.

    4.    When you encounter negativity, respond with education instead of anger.

    5.    Nourish your mind every day with new information that educates, motivates and inspires you.

    6.    Deliver on your promises and exceed expectations.

    7.    Always ask, “What can I learn from this situation?”

    8.    Do not be a follower. Instead, find the courage to be your unique self.

    9.    In addition to work that pays, do work that matters.

    10.    When you start a project, always be working on the end result you want.

    11.    Avoid fixating on disturbing news and disasters that you can do nothing about.

    12.    Rather than complain, create a solution.

    What would you add to this list? Follow this link to leave a comment at my blog.


    © 2012 Vicki Voisin, Inc.  Do you want to use this article in your newsletter, ezine or Web site? You can, so long as you include this entire blurb with it:

    Vicki Voisin, "The Paralegal Mentor", delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by setting goals and determining the direction they will take their careers. Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She is the co-author of The Professional Paralegal: A Guide to Finding a Job and Career Success. Vicki publishes Paralegal Strategies, a weekly e-newsletter for paralegals, and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network.

    More information is available at www.paralegalmentor.com where subscribers receive Vicki's 151 Tips for Your Career Success.

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