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Bullying in the Workplace: Identifying the Types—Have You Met One?

Posted By Charlene Sabini, CLP, ALP, Friday, November 18, 2016

Bullying in the WorkplaceIs there currently a U.S. law against workplace bullying?


No.
The United States is last among the industrialized western democracies. The U.S. completely ignores workplace bullying in its vast collection of laws.

Is there a law in my state?


No.
No state has an anti-bullying law for the workplace. Remember, there is a big difference between having a bill or bills introduced (potential laws), compared to laws that have been passed by both houses in the state legislature and signed into law by the governor.[1]

These are questions and answers we do not want to see. But we do.

So, don’t we already have federal employment discrimination laws that might also cover bullying? In only 20% of cases do our anti-discrimination laws actually apply. This is difficult to understand. In order to claim sexual harassment, racial discrimination, or hostile work environment, the recipient of the mistreatment must be a member of a protected status group (based on gender, race, disability, ethnicity, religion, etc.). For example, a white female bullied by a white female (or a man of color bullied by another man of color) are not protected. “Technically, bullying is a form of violence—certainly verbal, but non-physical. One of our preferred synonyms for workplace bullying is ‘psychological violence.’ However, violence policies and laws always focus on the acts and threats of physical violence—striking someone (battery), or threatening someone so that they fear being physically hurt (assault). The one exception is the inclusion of verbal abuse in violence policies. So bullying that is verbal, but not physical, is completely legal.”[2]

Let’s further define this kind of bullying:  workplace bullying is a repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more aggressors. It is clearly abusive conduct that is threatening, intimidating, or humiliating. It can also be interference with one’s work or sabotaging of one’s work, as well as various kinds of verbal abuse.[3]

It is often about control—control of the targeted person, not unlike domestic violence. It can be an act of commission or omission (withholding vital resources from the targeted person). It can escalate to involve others, and it ultimately undermines legitimate business interests when the bully’s personal agenda supersedes the work itself.[4]

The specific types of workplace bullying are many and often terrifying. One category is Threats to Personal Standing and can include:

  • Spreading rumors, hurtful gossip, or innuendos
  • Yelling, name-calling, mocking, insulting, or ridiculing
  • Unwanted physical contact or physical gestures that intimidate or threaten
  • Invalid or baseless criticism
  • Accusatory or threatening statements
  • Faultfinding or unwarranted blaming
  • Displaying offensive photos or objects
  • Temper tantrums, mood swings, or shouting
  • Humiliation, public reprimands, or obscene language
  • Ganging up against a coworker
  • Aggressive posturing

Another category is Threats to Professional Standing and can include:

  • Denying access to resources, assignments, projects, or opportunities
  • Stealing or taking credit for another’s work
  • Interfering with someone’s work performance
  • Failing to return phone calls or messages
  • Little or no feedback on performance
  • Withholding information essential to perform one’s job
  • Toxic emails
  • Flaunting status

Yet another is Control or Manipulation Tactics:

  • Failing to invite someone to an essential meeting
  • Threatening job loss
  • Excessive monitoring or micromanagement
  • Assigning tasks that cannot be completed by deadline; setting unrealistic goals
  • Interference or sabotage
  • Ignoring a coworker with the intent to harm or control
  • Treating a worker differently than peers and coworkers
  • Ostracism, isolation, dissociation, or exclusion from others
  • Refusal to take responsibility
  • Excessive, impossible, conflicting work expectations or demands
  • Inequitable and harsh treatment
  • Other objectionable behavior designed to torment, isolate, pester, or abuse

Example:  Angela:  Fired by a Bully

“I worked for the Law School Admission Counsel, the company which administers the LSAT. My boss never liked me and why she hired me is still unclear. She bullied me extensively, yelling at me in front of my coworkers, threatening my job privately in her office, and discouraging alliances with coworkers. She treated people similarly in other departments, yelling at them in meetings. I tried to appease her until she threatened my job . . .”[5]

And it is not unusual that the company bullies are visible to other employees in the company. They are the proverbial “elephants in the room,” not unlike perpetrators of domestic violence. In their battering way, bullies minimize, deny, sidetrack, and blame their targets, hoping to avoid accountability for their actions.[6]

Anton Hout, founder of OvercomeBullying.org, identifies eight bully types:

  1. The Screaming Mimi. This is the most easily recognizable type of workplace bully. Screaming Mimis are loud and obnoxious, and their abusive behavior is meant to berate and humiliate people. They thrive on the notion that others fear them.
  2. The Two-Headed Snake. To a coworker’s face, this employee acts like a trusted friend or colleague. However, when the coworker is out of earshot, this person will destroy his colleague’s reputation, stab him in the back, and even take credit for his work.
  3. The Constant Critic. This bully’s goal is to dismantle other people’s confidence through constant—and often unwarranted—criticism. A critic will look for any possible flaw in someone’s work and labors tirelessly to kill that person’s credibility. Impeccable work? No problem:  this type of bully is not above falsifying documents or creating evidence to make others look bad.
  4. The Gatekeeper. Every office has at least one employee who gets off on wielding his or her power over others—regardless of whether that power is real or perceived. Gatekeepers deny people the tools they need—whether it is resources, time, or information—to do their jobs efficiently.
  5. The Attention Seeker. This type of bully wants to be the center of the action at all times. They will try to get on their superior’s good side through consistent flattery and even come on as kind and helpful to their peers—especially the newer employees. However, if coworkers do not provide the right amount of attention, these bullies can quickly turn on them.

    Attention seekers are often overly dramatic and relate everything to something that is going wrong in their own lives to garner sympathy and control. These bullies also have a tendency to coax personal info out of new employees—only to use it against them later.
  6. The Wannabe. This is an employee who sees himself or herself as absolutely indispensable and expects recognition for everything. But Wannabes are not usually very good at their jobs. To compensate, these bullies spend a majority of their time watching more competent workers and looking for areas of skilled workers’ performance to complain about.

    Wannabes will demand that everything is done their way—even when there are better ways of doing things. Because they are automatically opposed to others’ ideas, they will do everything in their power to prevent changes to their work processes.
  7. The Guru. Generally, there is nothing wrong with this bully’s work performance. In fact, it is not unusual for a Guru to be considered an expert in his or her own niche area. What these bullies offer in technical skill, however, they severely lack in emotional maturity.

    Gurus see themselves as being superior to their coworkers. As a result, they do not consider how their actions will affect others, are not able to fathom the possibility that they can be wrong, and do not accept responsibility for their own actions. In addition, because these bullies feel as though they are “above it all,” they do not always feel compelled to follow the same rules as everybody else.
  8. The Sociopath. Intelligent, well-spoken, charming, and charismatic, sociopaths are the most destructive bullies of all. Reason: They have absolutely no empathy for others, yet they are experts at manipulating the emotions of others in order to get what they want.

    These bullies often rise to positions of power within the company, which makes them extremely dangerous. Sociopaths tend to surround themselves with a circle of lackeys who are willing to do their dirty work in exchange for moving up the ranks with them.

The best defense a company can have against workplace bullying is a clearly worded policy that prohibits any type of bullying behavior.[7]

Clearly, workplace bullying can take many forms and wear many guises—all unpleasant and all destructive. There is no federal law that applies to bullying specifically. In some cases, when bullying is based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion, “bullying” overlaps with harassment and schools are legally obligated to address it. Here in Oregon matters of workplace bullying overlap somewhat with bullying phenomena primarily at schools and universities:  the terms used in the Oregon anti-bullying laws include harassment, intimidation, or bullying, and this covers cyberbullying as well. The following groups are listed under Oregon educational anti-bullying law:  race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, familial status, disability, and source of income.

“Although a number of states have considered anti-bullying legislation, none has yet to pass such a law. That does not necessarily mean bullying is legal in every situation, however. Bullying is illegal when it violates federal or state laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the workplace.” (These laws protect employees from harassment based on the previously mentioned characteristics.) “If a workplace bully is targeting an employee based on a protected characteristic which could qualify as illegal harassment, the employee would have a ‘hostile work environment’ claim if the unwelcome conduct is severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person would find it to be offensive, hostile, or abusive. To date, neither federal law nor the law of any state prohibits workplace bullying outright.”[8]

 


  1. http://www.healthyworkplacebill.org/faq.php, The Healthy Workplace Bill, by Gary Namie, Director, last viewed October 22, 2016

  2. Ibid.

  3. http://www.workplacebullying.org/individuals/problem/definition/

  4. Ibid.

  5. https://www.thebalance.com/types-of-bullying-2164322, Sally Kane, July 25, 2016, last viewed October 22, 2016

  6. Ibid.

  7. http://www.hrmorning.com/8-workplace-bully-personality-types/, Tim Gould, July 19, 2016;  last viewed October 22, 2016

  8. http://labor-employment-law.lawyers.com/employment-discrimination/workplace-bullying-the-meanest-of-the-mean.html, Lisa Guerin, J.D., Boalt Hall at the University of California at Berkeley, last viewed October 23, 2016


Charlene Sabini, CLP, ALP, is legal assistant for attorney David Vill in juvenile law matters in Eugene, Oregon. She is Director of Education for her local chapter, NALS of Lane County in Eugene, and has enthusiastically occupied that position for over four years. She is editor of her chapter’s bimonthly newsletter, NALS in Motion, which has been published unfailingly for nearly four years. She has earned three successive NALS CLE Awards and plans to sit for the PP exam in March 2017. She is a proofreader on the NALS Editorial Board and has contributed articles/essays for the NALS docket and @Law. Charlene is an affiliate member of the Lane County Bar Association and was responsible for initiating that level of membership with the bar for nonlawyers in 2014. She also petitioned the Oregon State Bar Association to allow guest speaking attorneys at nonlawyer education meetings to receive CLE credit (which was formerly not allowed in Oregon) and was successful. She is also a 13-year volunteer with the Lane County Sheriff’s Office in Eugene, has served as the county sheriff’s newsletter editor, and is currently serving as the county jail librarian. The Oregon State Sheriff’s Association/Jail Command Council awarded Ms. Sabini the Jail Volunteer of the Year award in 2009.

Tags:  legal  legal assistant  legal career  legal education  legal job skills  legal jobs  legal office  legal professional  legal professional training  nals  office procedures  paralegal  paralegal office 

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Ask Eula Mae: Work v. Law School Decision

Posted By NALS Editorial Board, Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Ask Eula MaeDear Eula Mae:

I have an ALP certificate and work part time for an attorney as an office clerk but lack the hours needed for a four-year law study program in lieu of going to law school.  Most of my duties are as a personal assistant and I do not have much to do.  I am taking the Multi-State Professional Exam (MPRE) this week “just for fun.”  How do I get my foot in the door without much legal experience?  Should I bite the bullet and go to law school or stay on my current path and hope to find work in a more robust office?

New Hampshire Newbie


 

Dear New Hampshire Newbie:

Well, you have a lot going on and a lot of questions!  This is good!  There are several things in your letter to consider:  (1) you need hours for a four-year law study program, (2) you need more to do in your job, (3) it sounds like you really want to work in a law office, and (4) you are trying to decide whether or not to go to law school.  Let’s take these one at a time.  

  1. You need hours for a four-year law study program.  Are you in college or looking for certification hours?  Either way, if you love the law, you can find classes to attend through professional organizations such as NALS, technical schools, or online classes at your local university.  

  2. In your current job, start with the boss.  The boss needs to know you need more to do and you are willing to learn.  Bosses are a great resource for legal professionals for career ideas and maybe as a mentor.  You could interview the boss about his experience in law school.

  3. If your goal is to work in a law office, there is much to learn right where you are.  If you have exhausted the resources there (after talking with the boss, of course), then it might be time to move on to a busier office.  Legal work can take place in many areas.  You can work directly for an attorney at hospitals, corporate offices, title companies, insurance companies, utility companies, etc.  As your own research project to help you decide your next step, it might be good to look at other areas that have legal assistants.

  4. A big decision such as whether or not to go to law school is not one to make quickly.  There are many reasons for this and the main one is to absolutely know why you want to go to law school.  It is a big commitment.  First, you will have to finish your undergraduate degree and then secure the funding to pay for law school.  This is a job in itself.  Then you will need to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).  All of this could take some time, but that is really not a problem because you can go to school any time in your life.

 

What makes your main question difficult is the fact that there are so many options!  Now, how to make a big decision:  make a comparison chart with a list of what you could do (law school v. legal assistant, paralegal certification, etc.).  For each item, make columns of time involved, resources available and needed, costs, and list the positives and negatives of each.  You have plenty of time to decide.  You can always go to law school and working as a legal assistant until you are ready will better prepare you for law school.  The real answer to your question is for you to follow your heart.  You will be fine whatever you choose to do.

 

Eula Mae Jett

 

Submit Your Questions To Ask Eula Mae By Clicking Here.

 

 

Tags:  ask eula mae  legal  legal education  legal job skills  legal jobs  legal professional  paralegal 

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Grammar Nuggets: I Feel Good But Not Well

Posted By Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, Monday, September 5, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Grammar NuggetsI don’t get sick very often, but every once in a while something comes along to kick my butt and force me to slow down a little bit. The latest “cold” has done just that. Being sick opened a whole new topic!

Good and well are misused a lot.  Good is an adjective.1

  • She did a good job on the project the boss gave her.

Well is usually used as an adverb2 with action verbs, but can be used as an adjective when referring to someone’s health.

  • She ran well

It is not proper, however, to say “She ran good” because “ran” is an action verb.

  • He said he didn’t feel well when he woke up that morning.

Good can also be used with linking verbs. For instance, in the response to “How are you?” it is perfectly acceptable to answer “I am good” when they are asking about your general status. If you are recovering from a long illness and someone asks how you are, saying “I am well” lets them know that you are healthy.

To feel well means “to be in good health” and to feel good means “to be in good spirits.” Think James Brown. I don’t think his song “I Feel Good” was about being healthy, I think it was about being ready to party.

Once I get completely over this illness, I am hoping to be a healthy person. Healthy means to be in good health and healthful is to promote health (like healthful food).

One more illness-related set of words that are confused a lot are nauseous and nauseated. Nauseous means to induce nausea so a pile of something disgusting in the corner makes you feel nauseous. If your stomach is upset, you feel nauseated.

So I am good, I feel well (at least better anyway), and I do not feel nauseated. Things are looking up!


1 A word that modifies or describes a noun.

2 A word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb and answers one of the questions How? When? Where? and Why?


 

Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, has been a member of NALS for over 30 years, is the current President of NALS of Phoenix, and is the Vice Chair of the NALS Editorial Board. Kathy has a blog on proofreading tips at http://proofthatblog.com. If you have specific grammar issues you would like covered in future issues, please send them to Kathy at proofthatblog@gmail.com.


Tags:  editing legal papers  grammar  grammar nuggets  legal  legal professional  microsoft word  writing legal documents 

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Rules of Engagement

Posted By Kerie S. Trindle Byrne, PLS, Monday, August 22, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Rules of EngagementI attend continuing legal education for my career as a paralegal—a lot of continuing legal education. Besides being a requirement of the two legal certifications I have, I am also a member of my professional association, and involvement in the association means participation in the events we present. I am a natural sponge and love learning about new topics, exploring new ideas, and finding new ways of doing things. I like to try on concepts, see if they fit me like a comfy pair of pajamas or if they are like an itchy wool sweater in Phoenix in the middle of summer. Luckily, most of the continuing legal education seminars and meetings I attend are interesting, but there are those that are not. I find, however, that if my mind begins to wander off of the topic I am listening to, typically it wanders to a grocery list, work or life to do list, or my next vacation. Sometimes when I am really not engaged, my mind wanders to those big ideas I have. You know the ones, the goals that have not seen any action in a while. Those really big life altering projects I wish I would start chewing on a bite at a time. When those things start to happen, I remember there are rules of engagement that require me to buckle down and plug back in. These concepts do not apply only to continuing legal education, but to any situation in which you are not fully present—meetings, presentations, seminars, driver’s education training, educational classes, phone calls, and webinars. I will share my rules of engagement here with you, so the next time you catch yourself checking out, you can reconnect and impress not only your boss, teacher, or coworkers, but yourself.  


It is not solely the presenter’s job to entertain you and keep you engaged. Don’t get me wrong. There are things a presenter can do to keep her audience engaged in the topic, and maybe I will write about that next, but it is not solely her job. There is a part that each member of the audience must play. The onus is on you, the audience member, to stay committed and focused. Chances are you are there for a reason. Either you are being paid to be there, in the case of a work meeting or phone calls from clients; you are required to be there, in the case of driver’s education training or school; or you are paying to be there, in the case of continuing legal education, seminars, or webinars. No matter the reason for you to be there, be there and be an active listener.


Active listening is an art form that, once mastered, will keep you connected to people in a way that will enhance your professional and personal life. Active listening involves being present in the moment and taking in everything the other person has to say without waiting for your own chance to speak or interject. You are not just listening for the words the other person is saying, but you are listening to understand and retain the concepts. Watch body language, listen to intonation, rate of speech, and other nonverbal cues that the person is using to convey their message. Look at the other person and let them know you are engaged and focused. If you agree with something, nod your head. If you think of something or you have a question, write it down quickly and go back to listening. Smile and use other facial expressions to communicate that you are actively listening. It will make a difference.


If you are starting to feel your mind wander, figure out what is in it for you. To do that, ask yourself a series of questions. I start off by asking myself, “How does this apply to my daily work?” Could this topic be tangentially related to the work I do on a daily basis in the future? If the answer is no, or it is yes but it is still not enough to keep me motivated to actively listen, then I move on to my next question. 


How does this apply to my personal life? For instance, I have found myself sitting in on more seminars about estate planning than I care to attend. I am not an estate planning paralegal. I am not close to retirement age and feel as though I do not have enough assets to worry about estate planning at my age. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen; however, my parents are both close to retirement age. Is there something in the estate planning continuing legal education that I can learn that would make me better situated to help my parents navigate retirement?


If I am still unable to find a way that the interaction relates to my work or personal life, I ask myself how it relates to my extracurricular activities. Maybe I am a member of a homeowner’s association and need to learn about city ordinances. Maybe I am a member of my kids’ Parent/Teacher Association and need to know about school zoning. Maybe it is not the topic itself that pertains to my extracurricular activities, but the manner in which it is being presented. Did the presenter tell you about some computer program or tool you could use? If asking these questions does not reengage your brain, I have some other tips.   


Treat the interaction as a class. If you do not understand the concept, or you are unable to relay key facts, ideas, and principles to someone else by the end of the interaction, you have failed. This appeals to my competitive nature. I feel it is my job in the world to know as much as I can about as many things as I can. So, if someone is talking to me on the phone and I am having difficulty staying focused, I will sometimes employ this tactic. If they mention a word or phrase that I have never heard before, I ask them what it means. This happens all the time in the legal world, especially with acronyms. People use different words and phrases and I do not always know what they mean, so I ask. Also, if I think I have understood what someone is saying, but I want to be sure that my brain was engaged the whole time, I will repeat the key phrase or concept back to them and ask them to verify that I got it right. Asking questions frequently during an interaction is another way to trigger your brain to stay in the game.


Take notes. When I find myself disengaging, this is the singular thing that helps me stay engaged. I take voracious notes. Sometimes, I test myself to see if I can write down everything that is said. When I am participating in a client meeting, I am listening not only for the facts of their case, but I am also listening to subtext instructions from my attorney. I sometimes come out of an hour-long meeting with a client having gone through an entire legal pad. This helps me not only to stay focused on what is being discussed, it also helps refresh my memory when something from that meeting comes up again during the case. 


When I am attending a seminar for my professional association, one way for me to stay engaged is to be a force for marketing. I can easily connect to Facebook and/or Twitter, which I have linked to each other, and type quick 144-character key concepts about the seminar I am attending. So long as my device is charged and I am not actively engaged in another way, I am likely engaged in social media marketing for my association. If I am listening for the concepts I think other people might be interested in, they may read my Facebook post or my tweet and decide to attend our next event. It is a way for me to stay plugged in, engaged, and do something proactive. Sometimes, I post something that leads to questions I can ask the speaker in real time and respond to on social media. This type of engagement keeps me focused on the interaction and allows me to feel like I am sharing important information with my contacts. Understand, this type of engagement is not appropriate in many situations, so use your best judgment.


Remembering these rules of engagement can help you get the most out of every interaction. Focusing on being an active listener, determining how the interaction relates to your work life, personal life, or extracurricular activities, treating the interaction as a class you must pass and not fail, taking notes, and marketing when appropriate will keep you focused and help you soak up as much information as possible. The next time you find your mind wandering to what you need from the store, what work deadlines you have to complete, or your next European vacation, consider employing one or more of these methods to keep you involved and help you be all there.


 

Kerie S. Trindle Byrne, PLS, has been a legal professional for 19 years and has worked in many different capacities in the law firm environment.  Through determination, hard work, and on-the-job training, Kerie gained the background knowledge and skills to perform as a legal support professional.  Believing education to reinforce her skills was important, Kerie attended Phoenix College and earned her Associate of Arts Degree in Paralegal Studies, obtained her PLS certification from NALS, and obtained her CP certification from NALA.  Kerie has practiced in many areas of law and is currently employed as a family law paralegal with David Horowitz of May, Potenza, Baran & Gillespie, P.C. Kerie is a self-proclaimed Disney addict and when she is not working, teaching, or volunteering with NALS, she is spending time with her husband, kids, family, and friends at Disneyland. 

 

Tags:  CLE  CLE sessions  continuing legal education  legal  legal professional  paralegal  volunteerism 

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It is Never Too Late to Certify or Anything Else, For That Matter

Posted By Charlene Sabini, PLS, ALP, Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Never Too Late - NALS CertificationThinking of NALS certification?  Haven’t done so yet?  Think it is too late because of . . . your age?  How wrong you are!  We are ALL living longer than ever and changing jobs or vocational practice areas as often, sometimes, as our shoes.  A lot of “older” people are working or volunteering (or both!) more than ever, have every reason and every right to enhance themselves, manage gainful employment, and continue education in any way they choose. It is a well-established fact that mental activity contributes to health and prevents mental fuzziness in people of all ages. What employer would not want a clear-minded, educated, mature worker?  So, what are you waiting for? You are still working but think you are too old to achieve certification with NALS? Nonsense.

 

Moreover, many of us are working and studying in our so-called golden years because we want to. We cannot envision a rocking-chair retirement and we have intellectual and financial ambitions. Meet the hottest demographic in the labor market: men and women working not only past traditional retirement age but into their 70s, 80s, and sometimes beyond. Over the coming decade, they will be the fastest-growing segment of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among 65- to 74-year-olds, labor force participation is predicted to hit 32 percent by 2022, up from 20 percent in 2002. At age 75 and up, the rate will jump from 5 percent in 2002 to 11 percent in 2022. Meanwhile, participation rates among younger age groups will be flat or will even fall.”[1] Now is the time to prepare for this.

 

I finally finished college in my 40s and changed major career paths two or three times (or more) between then and now. “Now” happens to be age 73. I only began my legal assistant journey a few short years ago and just found an appropriate new job last September—at an age when some people have either already quit the “day job” routine or are thinking about it. However, there is no quitting for this lady. I am excited about my work and my parallel involvement in NALS—and I am certified! “Many people now working into their late 70s and 80s have careers with a lot of variety that helps keep work interesting and enjoyable . . . Certain professions are notably friendly to their oldest practitioners . . . white-collar professionals in fields such as the arts, medicine, law, education, or business.”[2] The reasons we keep working into our older years vary, but it is common for us to work in order to stay psychologically active and engaged in our communities. There are many opportunities in the legal community for education, actual employment, and for volunteering.

 

And here is something we can plan on and take advantage of: as the population ages, older Americans will play an increasingly important role in our economy and America’s leadership in the world marketplace. By 2019, over 40% of Americans aged 55+ will be employed, making up over 25% of the U.S. labor force. The Committee on Economic Development indicates that employers rate older workers high on characteristics such as judgment, commitment to quality, attendance, and punctuality.[3] So we seniors already own a lot of built-in credibility, and it will be wise for us to continue building on that credibility.

 

“Mature workers made up 8.9% of the unemployed population in the U.S. in 2014. In 2015, 33 million Americans aged 55+ were employed and 1.3 million were actively seeking work.”[4] And having that innate sense of purpose, a connection to one’s community, and suitable education or qualifications to match employers’ requirements is as important now as it was when we were younger. But “an AARP study revealed that nearly 1 in 5 of the 65-to-74 age group say job enjoyment is the single most important reason they still work.”[5]  I can relate to that enjoyment and camaraderie which accompanies some workplace situations. I happen to work in a tastefully refurbished heritage building in our downtown core, containing many small offices. Many of the tenants are attorneys and other similar professionals. Even though I work alone much of the time (when the attorney is in court), the friendship of all the other legal assistants and administrative support persons “down the hall” has been rewarding and reinforcing. Most of us are at an age where someone with less ambition would have retired long ago, but we are taking advantage of job enjoyment, educational enhancement, and financial security. And virtually all of these hallway friends know about NALS and have expressed their approval.

 

I joined NALS only recently (five years ago) and dove into the deep end of the pool with back-to-back terms on the local chapter’s board of directors. I created our successful bimonthly newsletter (900 recipients) four years ago and am enjoying my second year on the NALS national editorial board. I sat for the ALP exam and PLS exam in rapid succession over the past couple of years, and I am now thinking seriously of sitting for the PP exam in September 2016 or March 2017 and who knows what I will do after that! Too old? You have got to be kidding! I believe I have a long way to go and a lot more wonderful things to do and accomplish within my local community and with my NALS Pals across the country.

 

One way you can extend your youth—and your personal value—is not only by maintaining meaningful employment but by continuing your occupational education, enhancing your legal professional status, and going down the road, in this case, to NALS certification. It is a great experience and a reward you can give yourself—and your employer—for being the professional that I know you are. NALS certification exams occur at periodic times through the year, and the study materials and information you need are listed on the NALS national website, www.nals.org.


  1. Mark Miller, Take This Job and Love It!, AARP The Magazine, February/March 2015;  http://www.aarp.org/work/working-after-retirement/info-2015/work-over-retirement-happiness.html
  2. Ibid.
  3. National Council on Aging, Mature Workers Facts, 2016; https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/mature-workers-facts/ 
  4. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  5. Miller, loc. cit.


 

Charlene Sabini, PLS, ALP, is legal assistant for attorney David Vill in juvenile law matters in Eugene, Oregon. She is Director of Education for her local chapter, NALS of Lane County in Eugene, and has enthusiastically occupied that position for over four years. She is editor of her chapter’s bimonthly newsletter, NALS in Motion, which has been published unfailingly for four years. She has earned three successive NALS CLE Awards and will be sitting for the PP exam in September 2016. She is a proofreader on the NALS Editorial Board and has contributed articles/essays for the NALS docket and @Law. Charlene is an affiliate member of the Lane County Bar Association and was responsible for initiating that level of membership with the bar for nonlawyers in 2014. She is also a 13-year volunteer with the Lane County Sheriff’s Office in Eugene and has served as the county sheriff’s newsletter editor and is currently serving as the county jail librarian. The Oregon State Sheriff’s Association/Jail Command Council awarded Ms. Sabini the Jail Volunteer of the Year award in 2009.

 

Tags:  Accredited Legal Professional  legal  legal professional  paralegal career 

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