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Positive Energy, Goal Setting, and Organizational Skills

Posted By Bianca Moreiras, Consultant and Professional Speaker, Bianca Moreiras & Associates, Wednesday, July 20, 2016

After working 34 years in the legal arena with highly skilled, highly skeptical attorneys, I have learned that keeping ourselves in a positive “can do” frame of mind helps keep your sanity. Executing the feeling is another story.  Each day is brand new even though it might bring challenges or “change.”  Change is inevitable; however, attorneys will try to avoid change at all costs.  How do you stay positive?  How do you focus on the positive outcome when you are working in an urgent environment like a law firm? 

 

Smile! This may sound simplistic.  A smile is very powerful.  It sets a tone that you are in control; it says “I am confident” and your confidence will inspire those around you. Wellness comes from smiling.  Your day will run smoother and, even in adverse situations, a smile will allow you to respond differently and with a positive attitude throughout the day.  Best of all, a smile makes you approachable, allowing those around you to feel comfortable and want to perform at their very best in order to please you and get the job done.  After all, “you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”

 

Buddha said “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.  The mind is everything.  What we think we become.”  Positive energy arises from what you project outwardly to others.  If your thoughts are clear and concise, you will stimulate this energy.  As Buddha said in this quote, the mind is everything.  Attorneys are very intelligent people.  Controlling your mind to find only the positive in each person, each task, and each day will allow you to achieve much more.  Positive thinking and positive energy are like a magnet attracting all those who cross your path.  All people—even introverts—want to be around positive people because positive energy has a way of breathing life into the lifeless.  Your positive energy will change lives.  Most of all, it will change your life.

 

Some say you are born positive.  Not true.  Being positive is a choice.  I believe it is the only choice.  There is no alternative, especially if you want to be happy and succeed in life.

 

It is easy to keep your positive energy level if you set goals.  Goal setting is a very old theory.  Dr. Edwin Locke is a pioneer in research in the area of goal setting.  In his 1968 article “Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives,” he stated that employees were motivated by clear goals and appropriate feedback.  Locke said that working toward a goal provided a major source of motivation to actually reach the goal—which, in turn, improved performance. 

 

When it comes to setting and reaching your goals, today’s technology is superb.  Outlook task, Outlook calendar, or a good management/timeline legal software program such as TimeMatters™ or PracticeManager™ will keep you and your staff on task.  The most important element is recording the goal, making it realistic, reflecting the time needed to accomplish it, and checking the goal off when completed.  Once that goal is achieved, and before moving on to the next goal, recognize with positive reinforcement and praise yourself and those who helped you reach your goal.  By doing this, everyone will celebrate the achievement and move on to the next goal with great energy and a sense of ownership. 

 

Another aspect that will set the tone for positive energy and goal setting is being organized.  Organizational skills can be learned despite what you are feeling as you read this article.  Let’s go back to your mind.  When working on a case or a transaction, how do you organize your mind?  How do you motivate yourself to get organized and get started (set your goal)?  And how do you achieve the highest level of success for your client and, ultimately, the firm?

 

When I have the opportunity to work with an attorney—whether they have just graduated, passed the bar, or are a seasoned lawyer—I try to lead by example with regard to positive energy, goal setting, and organizational skills.  Understanding how to evaluate the task you are undertaking, (new matter, client resolution, an appeal, even turning in or entering daily time sheets, etc.) is essential to successfully accomplishing your goals.  You should ask yourself these questions:

 

  • Do you have clarity as to the assignment, case, or transaction?  If not, ask questions and review whatever is necessary to get you to a point of clarity before you get started or decide to undertake this client’s case, etc.  This will save time, money, and energy which might otherwise be spent to no avail. 

  • How complex is the assignment, case, or transaction?  What resources, tools, and manpower will be needed in order to achieve the best results for your client, corporation, and the firm?

  • What challenges need to be met?  In the case of time sheets, if the time entries are not turned in daily, time, money, and efficiencies are immediately affected.  Firm income and revenue are based on this one factor and if you cannot meet the challenge, stay organized, and set your goal to accomplish this task daily, it will escalate into a multitude of days or even weeks missed and there is no true way to replicate this task.  The results will be costly.

  • What kind of commitment will this client, matter, or task require?  You need to understand from the start what the commitment will be to the firm and to you.  What are the required resources (upfront outlay of cost(s), time to achieve result, etc.)?  What are the client’s expectations?  What will it take to achieve a successful result within the required time frame?  When answering these questions, you must also consider the other matters the firm is currently handling and if this matter will get the attention it needs.

  • Who will be responsible for gathering and reporting feedback?  It is necessary to have feedback as each goal is attained.  This will allow the attorney and the team working on the matter, transaction, etc., to remain positive and create energy moving forward to completion.  Feedback will help decide if adjustments need to be made to the matter/project and allows the attorney to reevaluate, regroup, and reorganize the game plan in order to achieve the most positive outcome for the client and the most profitable outcome for the firm.

 

If you want to change the energy level of your practice, following the few ideas and directions I have laid out for you in this article will make a positive change in your practice and in your life.  What do you have to lose?

 


 

Bianca Moreiras has been a leader, mentor, motivator, and presenter in the legal profession for over 34 years.  Her role as administrator, executive director, marketing director, coach, and consultant brings a wealth of knowledge and practical application to any firm, group, or individual.  Her philosophy is to pull up, push up, and lead women and men to their fullest potential one person at a time.  Her company Bianca Moreiras & Associates is ready and willing to “Take Your Business to the NEXT LEVEL.”


Bianca has spoken on topics enriching professionals in the areas of self-improvement, time management, professional etiquette, communication, collaboration, leadership, networking, customer service, resume writing, etc.  In addition to professional speaking, she conducts webinars and has had several articles published. She has successfully coached professionals to achieve status in the business world once thought unattainable.


If you are looking to start or grow your business, Bianca will take your business to the NEXT LEVEL.  For more information email her at moreirasbianca@gmail.com or contact her anytime at 305-986-0905.

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About NALS Board from Board Members

Posted By Nakia Bradley-Lawson and Darlene Howard Holt, Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Do you want your voice heard?  Do you want to make a difference in the future of our Association?  Do you have ideas that will benefit the national level?  If you’ve answered yes to at least one of these questions, then you should consider applying to the NALS Board of Directors.  You don’t need to have prior leadership experience.  You don’t have to travel monthly for meetings.  You don’t have to be certified; although it is encouraged.  All you have to do is be dedicated, willing and passionate about NALS, Inc., our state and local chapters, and the future of our Association.

 

NALS seeks members committed to our mission and ready to take on a leadership position. We’re a growing Association and need members who can actively engage in and guide our efforts to shape and strengthen our Association’s direction, strategic vision, financial stability and presence in the legal industry.

 

Board members develop strong personal networks and influence within their own community and among our constituency – we aim to be people who can open doors, attract others to the cause, and serve as ambassadors to the legal support profession. This initiative extends to the membership as we strive to encourage other members to develop the same networks and influence. As a board member you learn very quickly that it is not just about pointing out problems; we’re a part of the solution to fix them. We look into the future and steer the Association in such a way as to avoid pitfalls that are detrimental to our cause. Thinking outside of the box is encouraged and innovative initiatives admired.

 

Some of the duties of a board member include: recruiting new members, taking responsibility for projects and teams, managing the direction of the Association, balancing the budget and representing NALS at conferences and meetings.  In some ways, many of you are already performing these duties within your state and local chapters.

 

Because board directors are spread out across the country, our meetings are usually held by video conference on the weekends. While there is a time commitment, doing the meetings this way saves time and money. Thus, allowing us to serve the Association in a way that so expensive it potentially excludes possible members.

 

The Leadership Identification Committee (“LIC”) does an excellent job of building a group of individuals who come together to form a cohesive body.  Personally, before my interview with the LIC, I thought board membership was in my future - very far in the future.  I assumed candidates who were in the Association longer, had more knowledge and knew far more members were their target. I thought I just needed to wait until it was my turn.  They saw something in me that I didn’t know was valuable to NALS. 

 

If you have ever thought the Board might be of interest to you, NOW is the time to apply. There is no need to wait. I encourage you to submit your application today.


 

Deadline August 1
For more information and to apply today, please visit
http://www.nals.org/?page=boardinfo

 

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Grammar Nuggets: Things Are Coming to a Head[ing]

Posted By Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Grammar NuggetsThere are two types of headings—a run-in heading and a freestanding heading. A run-in heading is one where the substance of the paragraph starts immediately after the heading. Run-in headings are usually set off by bold font and/or underlining. A freestanding heading is one which is on a line by itself, sometimes as part of an outline in a document.

 

run-in heading will always be followed by a form of punctuation depending on the type of heading. If the heading is a question, it will end in a question mark. However, in a freestanding heading, use no punctuation unless you need to use a question mark or an exclamation point because the heading demands it.

 

As for capitalization, under the Gregg Reference Manual rules, you should capitalize all words in the heading over four letters and capitalize all words in the heading under four letters EXCEPT:

a an and  as
at but by for
if in of off
on or out nor
the to up  

Of course, as in all things grammar, there are exceptions to that rule. If a word on the “don’t capitalize” list begins or ends the sentence, it should be capitalized. If a word on that list comes after a dash or a colon, it should be capitalized. Capitalize short prepositions like upinon, and for when they are used with prepositions having four or more letters.

Rafting Up and Down the Colorado River

Driving In and Around the City

New Store Opening On or About March 1

I have printed this list of words that should not be capitalized except in special circumstances and taped it to my work computer so that it is easier for me to remember. I honestly think titles look better with each word capitalized, but who am I to argue with Gregg? If that is the rule and my attorneys do not have a problem with formatting headings “by the book,” then I will adjust. But are there different rules under the BlueBook? Hmmm. We will check that out the next time.


 


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:  grammar  grammar nuggets  legal assistant  legal education  legal professional  legal professional training  microsoft word  nals 

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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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Grammar Nuggets

Posted By Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Grammar NuggetsFont Size Does Matter

 

I am always amazed at the amount of information I receive at the NALS Annual Education Conferences. One of the things that really stuck with me from the conference I attended in Portland was a name that perfectly describes something I see a lot—Frankenbrief. A Frankenbrief is a brief that has had many people working on different parts of it and then it is all put together into one document. There are many problems with a Frankenbrief, including the flow of the document from so many different styles of writing by different authors, consistency with defined words and capitalization, justification issues, and different font sizes. When working on a Frankenbrief, you should automatically check the big things like the defined terms and consistency issues, but it is also important to check the little things, including justification or non-justification (being consistent with author preference) for each separate paragraph and font size. There may be just a slight difference between 12-point and 13-point font, but someone who looks at a lot of typed documents (like a judge or a law clerk) can tell when there are different font sizes. If you get a judge who is a real stickler who might find some 12-point font mixed in with the 13-point font required by the court rules, the possibility does exist that he or she would not accept your document and reject it as deficient because of the font size. It is just one more thing that makes a difference and shows the reader that you are paying attention to the details that will make their task of reading your document just a little bit easier.

 

Also while we are talking about fonts, do not assume that all courts are now using 13-point font. If there is one thing I have learned from ECF filings in many different courts, it is that there is no “common” rule about anything. Even federal courts in the same state differ on rules such as font size and courtesy copies to judges. You need to review the local rules for the jurisdictions you are working in. I usually make a checklist of the things I need to remember in order to format a document to be filed outside of my local court. Actually, I have checklists for those courts too since I electronically file in several jurisdictions and do not always trust my memory with those details. It makes it easier to confirm details such as if your font size is correct, that you do or do not use the word “[Proposed]” with Orders, and that you deliver the judge’s courtesy copy in the correct format. 

 

Details such as the size of font really do matter. A document that switches size or style of font throughout a document is difficult to read and detracts from the actual message in the brief. It is not difficult to make it easy for your reader to comprehend what your lawyer is telling them if they do not have to struggle with how your document looks overall.


 

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:  grammar  grammar nuggets  legal  microsoft word 

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