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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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Word Tips & Tricks: Table Tricks & Shortuts

Posted By Susan C. King, Monday, October 17, 2016
Updated: Thursday, October 13, 2016


Microsoft Word: Tips & Tricks Header 



Place Cursor within Table -
ALT + 5 (on numeric pad) + RIGHT CLICK + Table Properties + Alignment to the Right + Change Text wrapping from None to Around


Inserting Tabs & Indents


Insert a tab into a table


Insert an indent into a table



[Hover beside row until the white arrow appears + CLICK = Select Row]


[Hover over column until the black arrow appears + CLICK = Select Column]






Susan C. King, Legal Word Processor, was hired by Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP as a floater secretary in 1994 and soon thereafter advanced into a legal secretarial position. Three years later, she transferred into the Word Processing Department and is continuing her journey toward becoming a software specialist with strong ties to training and macro development.  If you would like Susan to cover a particular Word topic or have any questions, please email her at Susan.King@wallerlaw.com.


Tags:  editing legal papers  microsoft word 

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I Quit! (Do You Really Want to Do That?)

Posted By Charlene Sabini, PLS, ALP, Thursday, October 13, 2016

Who among us has not thought about changing jobs, looking into a new job, or simply walking out on the one we have? Does the phrase “Take This Job and Shove It!” suddenly have meaning? It is normal to feel this way about our work at times, and it is definitely an emotional experience. But quitting a job actually requires emotional control—and the application of practical skills. Len Schlesinger, author and professor at Harvard Business School, maintains that how you end your tenure at a job is just as important as how you begin that tenure.


Something I have done in the past to temper my impulse to leave a job is to actually write down two columns of my current job characteristics: the PROs and the CONs and be really, really honest about them.  If you are questioning your current situation, try stringently screening how you feel about your job. Equally examine the comfortable things about your work alongside the uncomfortable things.


Here are some random things I have asked myself in the past and placed on a PRO-and-CON list:

  • How long have you been on the job? Is that important?
  • Is the pay worth staying for?
  • Does your boss talk more than listen?
  • Are you learning new skills?
  • Have you utterly maximized your learning there?
  • Does this job bring integrity to the legal community?
  • Is your boss (or a colleague) an emotionally troubled person?
  • Do you have coworkers or are you solo in the office? Which do you prefer?
  • Are you being asked to do anything unlawful, unethical, or unhealthy? Are you being threatened?
  • Do you have better options elsewhere?  Or not?
  • Try focusing on the PRO side of your evaluation: pick one or two good things and ask if these are truly valuable.
  • Be honest about the CON side and see if there is ANY room for improvement on your part.
  • Are you allowing emotions to make your decisions? Can you substitute intellect instead?

You may think of more questions to ask yourself. Feel free to create your own list. Meanwhile, experts suggest that you consider some of the following in the process:


Is your job boring? Long-term feelings of boredom at work—or awkward periods of idleness—could be a warning sign that you are not doing what you want to be doing. Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert, leadership coach, and author says, “If you are no longer challenged in your position and have tried communicating with your boss to no avail, this may be a sign that it is time to leave.” 


Is your boss insufferable? As a management professor Merideth Ferguson once said, “Most people quit bosses, they do not quit jobs.” Your boss’s demeanor could affect your personal life as well as your workplace life.


Your skills are not being put to use and you are not growing. This is an extraordinarily frustrating problem in some workplaces. You educated yourself, you have acquired valuable skills, you have ambitions—and there is no place to use them all on the job. This parallels the problem of no-growth on the job. You want to become more and you cannot. It might be time to seek work elsewhere.


You are not being paid enough. It is easy to worry about money, but you do not want that to haunt you every day of the week. If your management does not see fit to raise your pay after a long time with the firm, it might be time to research other employers. If the job is tolerable, however, and the pay rate is good, you might wish to hang in a while to gather a nest egg. If you are not making even a slight profit, consider alternative employment.


You cannot trust coworkers or even your boss. Are they engaged in unethical or illegal activities? Never, ever do anything that could harm your career. Period.


And there is always job burnout. Mental exhaustion from work can lead to many other problems: loss of performance, loss of energy, and health issues. You can only keep up that kind of work for just so long. It is time to take a serious look at the concept of change. You have physical needs, emotional needs, mental needs, and even spiritual needs. Is your job interfering with these?


People are changing jobs more frequently than they used to. The rise of temporary employment agencies and entirely new technology industries has produced a new approach to employment and entirely new types of careers. According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker today stays at a job for just 4.6 years. That is a long way from the career-long, lifelong factory jobs our forefathers had. This has led to more frequent job terminations and the sensitivity it takes to plan these exits without destroying yourself or burning bridges unnecessarily.  


How to depart gracefully. If you are unhappy with your position, do not overtalk it among coworkers. Do not tell different stories about it to different people—be consistent. Inconsistency can start waves of gossip that will confuse the employer and ultimately cause an atmosphere of awkwardness. Former coworkers, too, are a critical part of your network and you want to maintain and respect those relationships. If it is comfortable to do so, thank certain colleagues who have helped you along the way while you were there. You might even write them a formal thank-you note. Again, gestures like this help cement relationships along your professional journey.


Give at least the traditional two weeks’ notice. You might even offer to work longer if that will create a smoother transition. Notify your boss in person. Ask him or her how best to use your remaining days at the job. That is both polite and professional. Leaving a good impression behind your departure is a good investment in your future. Also, you need not be secretive about where you will be working next. Everyone will find out anyway.


How not to quit. The following 21 job terminations, which easily could have been labeled “How Not to Quit Your Job,” come from a survey of more than 600 HR managers at companies with 20 or more employees in the United States and Canada. The survey was done by Menlo Park, California-based Office Team, a staffing company that specializes in placing skilled administrative professionals:


  1. An employee baked a cake with her resignation letter written on top.
  2. A marching band accompanied one man in his announcement. A worker threw a brick through the window with the words “I quit” written on it.
  3. An employee left a sticky note explaining he was quitting.
  4. An individual sent an email blast to all staff.
  5. A worker threw a cup of coffee and walked out.
  6.  One employee bragged to his colleagues that it was his last day, but failed to let the HR manager or his boss know.
  7. One woman created a music video to explain she was leaving.
  8. A worker sent his boss a text message.
  9. One person quit via Facebook.
  10. An employee submitted a message through the company website.
  11. Someone resigned on a video conference call.
  12. One person made his wife call to say he was not coming back.
  13. A worker sent a text to his colleague and asked her to forward it to management.
  14. An employee’s parents let the company know their son was resigning.
  15. A person went to the bathroom and did not return.
  16. One worker packed up her belongings and walked out without a word.
  17. Someone left for lunch and never came back.
  18. A worker stormed out in the middle of a meeting without explanation.
  19.  An employee said she was stepping out to buy new boots, but was never seen again.
  20. An employee just stood up and said, “I quit.”


Robert Hosking, Office Team’s executive director concludes, “How you quit a position can leave a lasting impression, so make sure to exit on the best terms possible. Doing a great job when you start a new role is expected. Doing a great job as you leave cements your reputation for professionalism.”



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 nearly four years. She has earned three successive NALS CLE Awards. 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.


Inspirations were variously obtained from the following sources:

Sallie Krawcheck, LinkedIn, July 10, 2014, 10:25 a.m.

Aaron Guerrero, Contributor, U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 12, 2013, at 9:35 a.m.

Rebecca Knight, https://hbr.org/, How to Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges, Dec. 4, 2014

Olivera Perkins, The Plain Dealer, February 16, 2015, at 5:15 p.m.



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NALS Congratulates Member for Career Success

Posted By NALS Member Submission, Thursday, October 13, 2016

In the legal profession for over 50 years and a Notary for nearly as long, Shirley Burgess Vanderbeck is known in her legal community as the lucky charm for attorneys.  She has worked for five different attorneys during her career, all of whom were later appointed to the bench.  Perhaps her own passion for education and self-improvement inspired her former employers to rise above attorney status and become judges. 


Shirley currently holds numerous credentials, including Certified Litigation Secretary Specialist (CLSS);  Certified Legal Assistant (CLA);  Certified Professional Legal Secretary (PLS);  Certified Paralegal (PP);  Certified Notary Public (NP);  Certified Notary Signing Agent (CNSA);  Certified California Mediator (CMM); and Registered Parliamentarian (RP).  She also has a lifetime teaching credential from UCLA.  In the late 1980s, while working three separate jobs, she enrolled at Mt. San Antonio College at age 50 and received her Associate degree in legal studies, graduating magna cum laude.  All of this education is not just for her personal benefit.  She has shared her knowledge with other legal professionals for decades.  The list of Shirley's academic and personal accomplishments is beyond belief.  She was selected by an independent panel of judges in 2004 as the National Association of Legal Professionals-Award of Excellence recipient.


Vanderbeck's dedication to helping her community extends beyond her profession.  She contributes a considerable amount of her free time volunteering for an array of lineage organizations (notarizing applications for membership free of charge), including the Los Angeles Food Bank;  Ronald McDonald House, House of Ruth for Battered Women & Victims of Domestic Violence,  USO Ontario Airport, providing toiletries for men and women being deployed for military service.


At the law office where Shirley works, her attorney, Sandra Baldonado describes her as “indispensable” because she goes out of her way to accommodate the needs of her employer and all of the attorney's clients.


In Shirley's spare time, she pursues her interest in genealogy.  Her own roots can be traced back to the first settlers of Jamestown, Virginia, as well as ancestors who came to America on the “Mayflower.”  Through her mother's lineage, Shirley is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and can trace her Native American ancestry to Chief Pushmataha, who served as chief of the Nation from 1800 to his death in 1824.  He fought in the war against the Creeks and the British in the War of 1812.  He negotiated the “Treaty of Mount Dexter” with the United States on November 16, 1805, and met Thomas Jefferson during his term as President.  He was elevated to a Brigadier General status and is the only Native American buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.  The list of accomplishments in Shirley's family is apparently embedded in her genes.  Her sixth great grandfather was George Ross, lawyer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  The National Notary Association is proud to announce that Shirley has been selected as a National Notary of the Year Honoree.


If all of the above and more is not enough, Shirley was also a competitive roller skater in the 1950s and won numerous medals and trophies for her dance skating ability.



Pictured above: Shirley Vanderbeck with Thomas Heymann, President and Milt Valera, Founding Editor & Publisher of the NNA Magazine taken on June 7, 2016 at NNA's Annual Convention in Anaheim, California.  I was one of four national finalists for National Notary of the Year.

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Making a Difference 101

Posted By Charlene Sabini, PLS, ALP, Monday, October 3, 2016
Updated: Monday, September 26, 2016

Making a DifferenceWe frequently see, read, or otherwise hear about people who have single-handedly “made a difference” in their communities, their counties, their states, or even at the federal level. Motivated by some compassionate force, a sense of fairness, or even personal desperation, they took it upon themselves to lobby for changes in laws, rules, regulations, or some similarly bold project at the legal or legislative level. Some have altered laws concerning their environment; some have altered laws protecting children, women, or the elderly; some have created new laws establishing fairness or expansion that benefit large groups of people. We might wonder how they did it and whether we, ourselves, are remotely capable of such large-scale projects—and do we have the patience and fortitude to see them to completion, accomplishing what we intended. The inspiration to do this seems to come from the wellspring of the human spirit and a sense of utter dedication to make changes that seem to solve problems or fill a need for the good of the many.


Having recently been influenced by two inspirations relating to my legal community, both local and statewide, I embarked on the following dedicated quests.


Two years ago I spearheaded a personal campaign to persuade our local Oregon Lane County Bar Association (“LCBA”) to create an “Affiliated Member” status of membership for nonlawyer legal support professionals.  This would allow membership in the LCBA, the ability to receive credit for CLE meetings they present, and admittance to other LCBA events, social or otherwise. The main purposes for the campaign were to expand ways of attaining CLE credit, because NALS requires us (not unlike attorneys) to maintain a certain level of CLE over a certain number of years for those of us holding certifications; and, where possible, to broaden our abilities to network with attorneys on their turf and be recognized as important—and visible—parts of the legal community.


I contacted the then president of the LCBA with the concept and she immediately favored the idea, and it went directly to discussion by their board of directors. The board then assigned the monitoring to one of their attorneys and board members, who dutifully interfaced with me for a couple of months while the concept was in committee sorting out bylaws changes and constructing new forms. 


On October 10, 2014, I received an email from then current Lane County Bar Association President Judge Mustafa Kasubhai confirming that an Affiliate Membership had been created for us, and we nonattorneys could now receive credit for seminars attended and would be able to attend other miscellaneous LCBA events and meetings as would any other member of the LCBA. 


So, after a little diplomacy, much enthusiasm, and a dollop of patience, NALS members and other legal support personnel in Lane County, Oregon, are now free to join the Lane County Bar Association—and reap the benefits—for a modest annual membership fee. I was thrilled at the success of the project and pleased to see that the Lane County Bar Association welcomed us so warmly.  It is a milestone, yes, but surely a win-win for all concerned as well.


My question is, have any of you looked into this matter (assuming you do not currently have a local Affiliate or Associate Membership available to you)?  If you do not, would you be willing to suggest it to your local bar association and make your case persuasively?  It is something to think about.


My next grassroots effort was far more daunting and bore far greater, wider-ranging ramifications. It involved attempting to convince the Oregon State Bar’s Minimum Continuing Legal Education Committee (“MCLE”) to alter their rules to allow our NALS education meeting speakers to earn one CLE credit for teaching our hour-long NALS monthly education classes. The MCLE assists and advises the Board of Governors on issues relating to the MCLE Rules and Regulations and operation of the MCLE program. The MCLE Committee consists of six active Oregon State Bar members and one public member appointed by the Board of Governors. Members serve three-year terms. The MCLE Committee reviews decisions of the MCLE Administrator that are challenged by members or sponsors. It also recommends changes to the MCLE Rules, Regulations, and operating procedures to ensure that the program is efficient and effective.


My CLE credit concept was a project that actually began much earlier in time, when one of our guest speakers assisted me and wrote a letter to the MCLE Committee on our behalf in support of the CLE credit concept. There was essentially no substantive resolution to the inquiry. End of discussion—for the moment. I did not feel defeated, however. Moreover, our guest speakers sometimes asked if they could receive credit for teaching our NALS education classes, and I very much wanted to someday tell them YES.


As you can guess, this task was a bit more complex and challenging a project than chatting with my local bar association principals and discovering that they are fully supportive of us as Affiliate Members. This MCLE project was a rather rarified state-level bit of business with highly qualified perfect strangers, with several levels of approval needed, and requiring a clever, dignified approach on my part. I composed a serious written proposal, a hopefully persuasive writing, explaining why the concept was valid and why it would benefit both our meetings’ attendees and our guest speakers alike. I cited some examples of current Rules where the benefit could conceivably be inserted or where some creativity could be applied to allow the benefit. In the course of my research, I discovered that many states’ bar associations did NOT allow teaching credit when nonlawyers were the recipients of the teaching. I found this a bit astounding, but that made the effort all the more important and passionate. Oregon has been a vanguard for many other state-level issues (its environmental stance being no exception, as well as its residents’ commitment to volunteerism), so why not on the legal stage. For some reason, Idaho has long offered teaching credit to its attorneys who instruct nonlawyers:

An attorney who teaches an accredited course shall receive three (3) credit hours for each hour of teaching. No credit will be given for preparation time; time spent in introductory remarks, coffee and food breaks, business meetings, or other activities that do not involve educational aspects of the CLE activity; presentations by attorneys that include the promotion of goods or services; or CLE activities for which the attorney is directly compensated other than as an honorarium or for expenses. An attorney who teaches an activity that meets the accreditation standards under Rule 403(a) that is directed primarily to nonlawyers shall receive only one (1) credit hour for each hour of teaching.

This sets a fine example and a decent precedent for the Pacific Northwest. I urge Washington State NALS chapters to approach their state bar association and lock up the Pacific Northwest as a progressive and dynamic region when it comes to the value of pro bono teaching to nonlawyers.


The growth of the legal assistant/paralegal profession is now, in some firms, greater than merely a secretarial slot. We are no longer simply assistants to a profession—we are a profession unto ourselves. The gradual expansion of the position has not only influenced NALS to evolve over the years, but has inherently changed the legal support professional’s relationship to his/her attorneys and his/her local and state bar associations. Change is healthy. Laws change all the time. Allowing a closer relationship between support professional and the persons they answer to—beyond the office—is the direction the industry is taking. I was counting on this to support my petition to the Oregon State Bar.


On April 19, 2016, after the long wait, and the necessary deliberation of the powers that be, the MCLE Program Manager forwarded me some of the areas of the Rules which had been altered. The following is the pertinent Regulation that applies to the credit available to those persons teaching nonlawyers.


Regulation 5.300 Category III Activities.

(b) Other Volunteer Activities. . . . volunteer activities for which accreditation is not available pursuant to Rules 5.3, 5.4, 5.6, 5.7, 5.8, 5.9, or 5.10 . . . may be claimed at a ratio of one credit hour for each two hours of uncompensated volunteer activities provided that the MCLE Program Manager determines the primary purpose of such activity is the provision of legal services or legal expertise. Such activities include but are not limited to:

               (iii)  Teaching a legal education activity offered primarily to nonlawyers high school age and older.


We could start a movement nationwide. If your state bar association’s rules do NOT happen to allow your education meeting speakers to receive CLE credit for teaching nonlawyers, it is time the topic of that credit was persuasively presented to them. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Imagine the incentive you can offer your professional speakers that was not there previously if your persuasiveness is taken seriously. Locate someone in your chapter who likes to write and let them be your vanguard with this concept. It is so very simple. If I can do it, anyone can.  




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 nearly four years. She has earned three successive NALS CLE Awards and plans to sit 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 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.

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Grammar Nuggets: Answers to NALS Webinar Questions

Posted By Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, Monday, October 3, 2016
Updated: Monday, September 26, 2016

On April 26, I did a NALS Webinar entitled “Proof That! Improving Your Proofreading Skills One Typo At A Time." Due to some technical difficulties, I was busy running the webinar all by myself and could not answer some of the questions attendees were asking. While I have been negligent in answering those questions, I want to answer them here.


1. Are the terms “per se” and “duces tecum” italicized?


Foreign phrases that have been so integrated into English as to be established as part of the English language are no longer italicized. Finding a comprehensive list of such phrases is difficult. According to Gregg Reference Manual, ¶ 288, “per se” is specifically listed as a frequently used expression that does not need to be italicized. The California Style Manual lists phrases that should no longer be italicized and another list of those phrases that should be italicized (http://www.sdap.org/downloads/Style-Manual.pdf at pp. 146-48). That resource specifically lists “duces tecum” as not italicized. I think those phrases are both used so much in English to be considered part of the English language.


2. How do you know if a word has been incorporated into English usage? Would a dictionary help?


One article I found (and an easy gauge) said that in American usage, check Merriam-Webster because if a foreign word is included there, it need not be italicized. I assume it is because Merriam-Webster has become the dictionary that best reflects English vocabulary. If the writer feels that his/her intended audience will be unfamiliar with the word, it may be easiest to italicize the word.


3. Does résumé really need the accent marks?


The Gregg Reference Manual lists “résumé” with both accent marks. It seems to me that it is helpful to differentiate it from “resume” (to begin again after stopping). I realize that context would make that obvious, but your goal is to make it easy for your reader. It is also the first preference in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, which then lists “resume” and then “resumé.”


4. Why does a comma not go after “M.D.’s” and “Esq.’s”?


The example in question here was


–Jim Jones, M.D.’s diagnosis

–Jim Jones, Esq.’s opinion letter


In researching an answer to the question, I find that I was in error in these examples (it does happen!). BOTH of them should have the professional title surrounded by commas, so “Jim Jones, M.D.’s, diagnosis” and “Jim Jones, Esq.’s, opinion letter” are correct. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.


5. I see that your example of “attorney Jim Jones” was different than what I would have thought to be correct. I would have used “Attorney Jim Jones.” Which would be correct?


While personal titles (such as Mayor or Attorney General) before a name are capitalized, the term “attorney” is more of a job description than a title, so it should not be capitalized. It would be more like saying “paralegal Susie Smith.” You would not capitalize “paralegal” in that instance, so you should not capitalize “attorney” used the same way.


6. You said capitalize the names of documents already filed. What if the original document was “Motion for Summary Judgment or in the Alternative Motion to Dismiss” and your attorney refers to it as the Motion to Dismiss? Does the document name have to be exact to be capitalized?


According to The Bluebook, the title of a court document where the document has actually been filed in the specific matter and the reference is to the exact title or a shortened form thereof, it should be capitalized. You would not capitalize a reference to a generic name of a court document. My concern with the specific example above is that it is a “Motion for Summary Judgment” and only titled a “Motion to Dismiss” in the alternative. But if the attorney specifically indicates that the “Motion to Dismiss” is the shortened name of the specific document, it should be capitalized (although it might be helpful to define it as “Motion to Dismiss” in parentheses and quotation marks to be safe and make it clear to your reader).


Thanks to everyone who attended the Webinar and I have included the link for anyone who did not get to attend, but would like to view the replay (at no cost to members).


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 is currently the Administrator-Arizona for Sacks, Ricketts & Case in Phoenix, Arizona. Kathy earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Legal Assisting (with distinction) from Phoenix College. In her spare time, when she is not spending time with her husband, two kids, and seven grandchildren or celebrating something with friends, Kathy writes a blog on proofreading tips at http://proofthatblog.com

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