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The official blog of the NALS docket, used as a timely resource for sharing content from our email newsletter. This includes Grammar Nuggets, Career Corner, chapter and members spotlights, and more! Articles are written and provided by our own members, Resource Center Staff, and our community of legal professionals. All content and articles will be published directly to our NALS.org website and linked to the NALS docket newsletter. This email venue for NALS will inform you of upcoming deadlines and monthly education product highlights from our online store. Copy + paste this link to sign up for updates: https://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin?v=001JH2FKM034UVKDAYd6vkCfwIybKDCjBA-5dH7wJhSTjXN-eWSgRsnK6Q_LdfewGHvnwcVoakgipMvhoKPHed-94e5siy7js7FrJp_sV9e8Aw%3D


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Don’t You Want to Be On the SAGES Team?

Posted By Paula Steffey, PP, CLP-SC, CWCP, Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2019

The name is catchy.  But maybe you’re not sure what it means or what this NALS task force does.  First, the acronym stands for “Someone Who Assists, Guides, Educates, and Schools.”  The goal of the SAGES Task Force is to develop guidelines, curriculums, and educational tools to help members further their certification goals and careers.  This task force also helps to fill the gaps between the Certifying Board and the Manuals Task Force.  

SAGES was formed after the 2017 national conference, and its first few projects were to review educational presentations and create vocabulary puzzles and other word games for an online study course.  Since that time the SAGES team has expanded its work by reviewing and updating the mock exams, beta testing new online exams, preparing PowerPoints and presentations for the Study Hall Live! Series, and assisting with proofing various certification-related items. 

At the time of the 2018 national conference in Phoenix, SAGES had only been around for a year, but the team had collectively worked hundreds of hours to help provide members with the educational tools they needed.  The goals for the upcoming year were discussed at the conference when the leadership teams put together vision boards.  Attached is the vision board developed for SAGES during that session.  The SAGES Task Force is best described as “a suburb of the NALS Community.” You can view our Leadership Vision Boards from 2018 here.

The members of this task force bring experience in certification and support to those who want to further their certification goals.  They are purpose driven and strive to focus on the basics that we all need.

This task force has many opportunities for anyone interested in volunteering their time.  Do you have a passion for a specific area of the law?  If so, maybe you would be interested in hosting one of the Study Hall Live! Events.  These sessions are open to everyone.  You can register online at no charge to exam registrants, but there is a small fee for those interested in participating who need CLE credit.

The possibilities of this task force are endless.  Not everyone’s learning styles are the same.  Some people are visual learners while others may be verbal or kinesthetic learners.  The ultimate goal of SAGES, as well as any NALS task force or team, is to help everyone better themselves and succeed in reaching their goals.  To help YOU define yourself through certification and education.

If you would like more information about the SAGES Task Force or would like to volunteer your time, please contact Helene Wood, PP, PLS TSC-RE, SAGES Chair (helene.wood@nortonrosefulbright.com), Anita Campbell, PP, PLS, SAGES Co-chair (anitacampbell59@gmail.com), or Maria Easterly, NALS Resource Center Certification/Education Manager (cert-edu@nals.org).


Paula Steffey, PP, CLP-SC (civil litigation, personal injury, and criminal), CWCP, has been a NALS member since 2014.  She is currently the Corresponding Secretary and Certification committee chair for her local chapter (NALS of Greater Kalamazoo); Certification committee chair and Publications committee chair for NALS of Michigan; and is on the Editorial + Marketing Board, Manuals Task Force, and SAGES Task Force for NALS.  She also has a secondary membership with NALS of Phoenix.  Outside of NALS, she is a full-time legal assistant to Garold A. Goidosik with Goidosik Morse Disability Law Group and has two other part-time jobs. 


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What Happens After You Reach The Top? A Career in NALS and Beyond

Posted By Allison Streepey, B.A., CRS, PLS, Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2019

Patti Infanti, PP, PLS, Legal Administrative Assistant for Ballard Spahr LLP, has been a legal professional most of her life and a member of NALS since 1995.   In this time she has served in high capacity in her local and state chapters and for all members through NALS national task forces and boards. You can see her natural talents coming out from her service to NALS. In her local chapter, NALS of Philadelphia, Patti served as President twice, First Vice President/Membership Chair twice, PLS Study Group Chair, Bulletin Editor, and Website Chair.  For the state chapter, NALS of Pennsylvania, Patti served as President, President-Elect, Parliamentarian, First Vice President/Membership Chair, Reporter Editor, and Website Chair.  For the national level of NALS, Patti Infanti has been President, President-Elect, Secretary-Treasurer, and Education Director. Patti says the highlight of her leadership service to NALS was winning the 2005 Award of Excellence and taking the oath of office as NALS 2010-2011 President.  The highlight of her career in NALS was “passing the PLS Exam and becoming a NALS member.”

Life has been full for Patti Infanti, and even though her NALS career is continuing, she somehow found the time to start her own daily money management business. “Though I have since closed the business, it was an interesting and enlightening experience.”  She also was the Managing Editor of the Paralegal Today magazine.  I had the good fortune of meeting Patti at one of the Regional Meetings and had a million questions for her.  Here is what she said recently:

NALS Career 

Why Did You Join NALS?

I was teaching an Adult Education Legal Secretary course and the textbook being used mentioned NALS and the PLS Exam. I contacted NALS and obtained information about the PLS Exam. I studied using borrowed books and passed the two-day, seven-part exam on the first try.  After that, I was invited by the Philadelphia Chapter to attend their annual Installation of Officers. I was so impressed with the leadership and professionalism of the officers and members, I joined. The rest is history. 

How does your membership in NALS assist you in your career?

Being a member of NALS and, in particular, attending national events has given me the ability to think beyond my little corner of the world and see the big picture. Being active in NALS can help you understand client issues and business decisions law firms make, how to think ahead and to be prepared for possibilities that could present during a case, and furthers excellence in the legal profession.

What has been your favorite event, service, task in the local and state NALS chapters?  

Website Chair for both NALS of Philadelphia and NALS of Pennsylvania, as well as Parliamentarian for NALS of Pennsylvania.  I also enjoyed being editor of the Bulletin for NALS of Philadelphia and the Reporter for NALS of Pennsylvania.

What were the best fundraiser and membership events?  

Breast Cancer Awareness Secretarial Tea; Secretaries Night Out networking events. 

How about networking – do you have NALS pals that you hang out with?  

Without a doubt, networking with other NALS members, no matter what the Forum, is my favorite activity.  There is a core group of NALS of Philadelphia members who participate in nearly every local and NALS of Pennsylvania event, so we all hang out together.  At national conferences, I catch up with many, many NALS members from across the country.

Who, in NALS, has been your role model? 

My first role models were Janet Greco, PLS, and Beth Cummings, PLS, here in Philadelphia.  They were my early mentors too!  Also, many of our past presidents who exude professionalism, showing me the way.

Do you have a favorite memory from a National NALS event? 

I have so many wonderful memories from NALS national events. Winning the 2005 Award of Excellence ranks as one; taking the oath of office as NALS 2010-11 President is another.  Other than those, (i) being dressed as W.C. Fields at the 2011 Conference in Irvine, California (individual members, chapters, states, or regions made donations to dress any member for a NALS Red Carpet Foundation event); (ii) traveling around Oregon on a bus to visit the Multnomah Falls and Mount Hood (and stopping at a cute little general store along the way); (iii) visiting oh-so-many regions, states, and chapters and meeting so many NALS members during my term as President; 

What is your greatest accomplishment in NALS, besides being President?

Early in my NALS “career,” I was the Philadelphia Chapter’s PLS Study Group Chair.  As Chair, I was thrilled to write an article about the benefits of NALS certifications and invite area legal secretaries to attend an information meeting.  The Philadelphia Chapter’s Study Group was structured in such a way that those studying could easily become members.  We had a large crowd at the information meeting, resulting in nearly 20 participants in the Study Group who also became members.  The Study Group was so successful that it won the Founder’s Award (Jett Awards) that year.  It was thrilling!

What has NALS given you?

A clear sense of my contribution to the legal services community; a real sense of professionalism; and a desire for excellence in my career and life.

What would you tell a new member of NALS?

NALS is the single most important, career-altering decision you will ever make for yourself, and getting head over heels involved with NALS is exhilarating and satisfying as you watch your hard work blossom to fruition.  Join and get involved!  

Professional and Personal Life

Do you have a favorite part of your job?

Don’t laugh --- I LOVE making huge documents “pretty.”  I know many people have difficulties understanding Microsoft Word, but I actually enjoy implementing styles to make documents look their best.

How do you spend your spare time?

I sing in my church choir (I am no soloist, but I love to sing); I am a Stephen Ministry Leader; I’m in the process of little-by-little cleaning out the clutter and updating my house.  I also love jigsaw puzzles which I play on my tablet – it’s so relaxing.

I love the Clan of the Cave Bear series of books by Jean Auel.  I have them all and re-read them periodically.

Who (a living person) inspires you the most? 

My sons inspire me.  They are so smart and interesting – I keep asking myself, “When did this happen?  When did they get so grown and wise?”

Do you do any volunteer work?

As I mentioned, I am a Stephen Ministry Leader tasked with building parish awareness of the Ministry, training Stephen Ministers, meeting with care receivers (those people who are ministered to), organizing the twice per month meetings, counseling the Stephen Ministers to keep everyone on track, and a host of other things that go along with that.  

Do you have a favorite project? 

Right now decluttering and updating my home is my favorite project.

Do you have interesting hobbies or plans for the future? 

I will do a little traveling soon, but currently, the church choir and Stephen Ministry is about all I can handle at this time.  

Patti has experienced many of the best and worst experiences that life has to offer.  2018 was a tumultuous year for her and her family.  Her childhood sweetheart husband, Mike, passed away in April.  Two months later, their son Anthony was ordained as a Catholic priest.  Just before Thanksgiving, their other son, Joseph, married Alexis—the daughter she always wanted. Note that, through it all, she continues her service to others through her ministry – in life and in NALS.


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Tips for Hosting Virtual Conference Speakers

Posted By Meredith Ellison, CAE, Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2019


Whether due to budget, schedule, or travel conflicts, it’s not always possible to get the speaker you want to your event. Fortunately, technology can bring him or her to your event virtually. Here’s how it can work in practice.

Many professionals in event management and professional development have had to deal with an impossible challenge: get a high-profile speaker to keynote a conference on a shoestring budget. Sometimes the issue is that the association can’t afford to pay high speaker fees or cover travel expenses. Other times, it’s simply that the speaker can’t make it to the event in person.

How can you get around the challenge of a speaker who can’t be there for your meeting? Answer: technology to the rescue.

There are several ways to incorporate speakers into your program virtually. For example, consider a prerecorded video interview of the speaker by your CEO or board president. This is a great way to involve a high-profile speaker without taking up too much time or incurring a major expense. If they’re comfortable with video, you can also ask a speaker to make their own recording—cellphone technology and video quality have come a long way. Often, you just need a steady hand and a cue-card holder to create a video segment.

More expensive options are available, should your budget allow. Think about the advances in technology that we’ve seen in recent years, like virtual reality and augmented reality. Some associations can and should take advantage of these options.

If you are going to ask a speaker to do prep work for a recorded video, call, or podcast,
develop a run-of-show plan and make sure you have enough time to execute the project.


Successfully presenting a virtual conference speaker takes planning, and you need to start early. If you know that the speaker you want will only be available remotely, involve important stakeholders to get buy-in for a virtual alternative. Talk to your executive, board members, and committee volunteers to gauge their interest and appetite for a virtual speaker. If you are going to ask a speaker to do prep work for a recorded video, call, or podcast, develop a run-of-show plan and make sure you have enough time to execute the project.

Even the best-laid plans can go wrong, so consider and prepare for possible mishaps in advance. What is your backup plan if the internet speed is not enough to support AV needs? What if the internet connection drops midstream? What other technical issues—things like sound, image, or caption quality—might arise?

Once you have talked through these potential issues, make sure you know how to handle them quickly and appropriately. Be prepared to work with the AV company, meeting venue, and any other key contractors to ensure your bases are covered.

There is no reason why physical presence should be required for that one special speaker you want your conference attendees to hear. When you find creative ways to incorporate your ideal speaker into your meeting, you not only deliver a valuable viewpoint to your attendees, but you may end up with some new and enduring educational content for the future that can be shared with your entire community.


Meredith Ellison, MBA, CAE, is vice president of programs at the National Sleep Foundation in Arlington, Virginia.


Copyright ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership (December 10, 2018), Washington, DC.

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Tech Tips for Microsoft Word

Posted By NALS Editorial + Marketing Board, Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2019

Typing in MS Word? What if you couldn’t use your mouse?

You can use sentences for the basic actions without your hands leaving the keyboard!

Remember there are many ways to do the same actions. 


Here are some suggestions:


Highlight a Section to Reformat

This action will probably be used the most.  If you need to highlight a section of the document to change the font or indent or move a paragraph, place the cursor up to where you need to start, then press and hold Shift and arrow across (for a word) or down (for a paragraph).  You will see the text become highlighted.  You can bold it (Ctrl + B), underline it (Ctrl + U), or italicize it (Ctrl + I).


MS Word Copy and Paste

You can copy and paste without your hands leaving the keys.  Think of the sentences “Alt, Edit, Copy” and “Alt, Edit, Paste.”  Now highlight what you need to copy and paste by pressing Shift, Ctrl, and the appropriate arrow key.  Then press Alt, E, C, (Alt Edit Copy), then arrow to where you want to insert text and press Alt, E, P (Alt Edit Paste).  By the way, Alt, E, U will “Undo” what you just pasted (Alt Edit Undo).


Moving a Paragraph

To highlight the paragraph or section you need to move, start with the cursor at the beginning of the section.  Press Shift and arrow down.  Then think of your actions in sentences– Alt Edit Copy, (Alt, E, C), Alt Edit CuT (Alt, E, T), move the arrow to the new location and type Alt Edit Paste (Alt + E + P). If oops, think of Alt Edit Undo and type (Alt, E, U).


MS Word File Save and Exit

Even though MS Word has an automatic save feature that you can set the time on, what if you were interrupted and didn’t want to lose what you just typed?  Think of the sentence, “Alt, File, Save” and press Alt, F, S.  If you need to close the file, think “Alt, File, eXit” and press Alt, F, X.  The program may ask you if you want to save it.  Press “Y” for Yes and the file will save and close.


Indent Left Side of Paragraph

To indent just the left side of a paragraph, Highlight the text and move the arrow up to where you need to start. Then touch Tab, the whole paragraph will move to the right.  To undo this action, move the arrow to the left of the first word and touch Backspace.  Or type Alt Edit Undo (Alt, E, U).


Indent Both Sides of Paragraph

To indent both sides of a paragraph takes a little more reading.  Highlight the paragraph by placing the cursor up to where you need to start, then press and hold Shift and arrow down. Press and let go of the Alt key and on the toolbar you will see little boxes with letters in them. Press Alt then P to go to the Page Layout tab.  Then press Alt, P again, you will see little boxes with letters. Use the tab key to go to Indent Left.  Type in 0.5 for a ½ inch margin to the left. Repeat Alt, P, tab over to Indent Right and type in 0.5 to move right margin ½ inch.

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The Art of Planning a Membership Drive

Posted By Marie Schoenfeldt, PLS, CLA, Garland County LSP, Arkansas, Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2019

Whether planning a wedding or an organization event, you need a plan, a schedule, a list—something to use as a guide. Planning consists of setting goals.  However, don’t plan out of your reach so that expectations are impossible to attain right from the start. Goals should be realistic and challenging, but not set so low that there is no incentive. 


In planning a membership drive, your ultimate goal should be to improve membership by recruiting and retaining members. Identify what must be done first, second, etc., what can be postponed till later, what needs to be done now. What are the best methods to get to the end result?  Make your “to do” list starting out with your first priority. As you add to your list, rearrange priorities if necessary. Determine the methods of going from your first priority to the last item.  Set deadlines for each facet of your plan.


Your first priority is to select a committee. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Delegate! Set a date to meet with your committee members at a time convenient for everyone. Discuss your goals.  What type of membership drive is best for your chapter and the legal community? Have a discussion on where to get the information you need to plan your event effectively. Encourage your committee members to offer their suggestions. Be especially cognizant of the potential of all of your members and get them involved. Ask them to set a personal goal to bring at least one potential new member to your membership event. 


Follow the same rules that apply to writing: what, when, where, who, why, and add a how. 


WHO. Our Association consists of legal professionals - secretaries, legal assistants, paralegals, file clerks, project assistants, law clerks, firm administrators, and office managers as well as attorneys. In addition to law firms, legal professionals will be found in law departments of corporations, trust departments of banks, legal departments of hospitals, etc. Reach out to all of the various areas involved in the legal field - court personnel (including court administrators and court reporters, circuit and county clerks) as well as city/municipal personnel, and process servers.  Don’t forget the local schools, (community and vocational). NALS offers a student discount.  


WHAT.  In addition to marketing our multi-level Association to legal professionals, we are also marketing our “products,” which include:

  • certifications,

  • legal education,

  • networking,

  • professionalism,

  • improvement of individual performance,

  • learning ways to do a task better,

  • learning to be a leader,

  • support of other members.

Prepare potential member packets with information about your chapter and the state and national associations. Brochures and other informational documents are readily available from NALS.  Include information about the certification programs and upcoming legal education and other events.


WHEN.   Determine the best time to conduct your membership drive - timing is crucial.  Early fall or after the first of the year have proven to be the best times—seasons of beginnings–when potential members are inclined to consider their careers and are conducive to improving themselves, in their employment and in their personal lives


WHERE.  Have your committee members check out possible locations to host your event.  The location should be readily available to potential members as well as current members.  Perhaps sponsor a social gathering at a local restaurant after work or at lunch in a quiet separate section. Remember members and potential members have responsibilities to their employers as well as their families.  Consider furnishing refreshments.


WHY.  If we don’t market our Association, how can we expect to get new members?  This should be an ongoing process.  All members should be proud to show that they are a members of a great professional association and let others know about our Association.  Members should always be aware of recruiting new members.


HOW.  There is more than one way to reach people.  Determine the best way for your chapter to reach potential members through direct correspondence and personal contact. Try educational events, direct mail, phone solicitations, in-person visits, staged recruitment events, and pro bono or community activities. Distribute brochures with information about your chapter and your state association (NALS also has many types of brochures available).   Place an article in the local newspaper regarding your upcoming membership drive with at least two contact people listed.  Choose a theme or slogan that is easily recognizable and easy to say and remember.  


Contacting the employers is a must.  Let them know why their support staff should be members of our Association and reap its benefits.  Market our products directly to them.  Get the employers’ assistance to encourage their staff to join and participate.  Let employers know that NALS offers a one-stop source for training, educating, and developing a professional staff who will be committed to their legal careers and to them.


Prepare a flyer outlining our Association’s benefits, indicating why one should consider membership.  In addition to our “products,” employers will have a “one stop” source for training, educating, and developing a professional staff who will be committed to their legal career and to the employer.  Set out the date, time, and place of your membership activity.  Fax the flyer to the various offices (law firms, trust departments, etc.) with an email reminder a few weeks later or hand deliver your information.  These methods are at no cost to the chapter.


Project enthusiasm about our Association and the benefits you have received.  Determination is needed to gain members who are enthusiastic, positive, and eager to be a part of NALS.  Those who look at their job as a profession will see NALS as a stepping stone to achieve their goals.


Now is the time to start planning to increase your membership!

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Amylyn Riedling PP PLS-SC2019 NALS Board of Directors
Nakia A. Bradley-Lawson2019 NALS Board of Directors

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