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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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Want to Know More About the Law and Your Specialty?

Posted By Allison Streepey, B.A., CRS, PLS, Monday, August 8, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, August 2, 2016

American Bar AssociationAssociate Membership in the American Bar Association Awaits You


The American Bar Association (ABA) now has a new category of membership for those who are interested in the work of the ABA.  The Associate Membership is for paralegals, law librarians, and other non-lawyers interested in the law.  The mission of the ABA is to improve the administration of justice through practical resources for its members through equally serving “our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession.”   


Why should you do this?  If your goal is to become proficient in your chosen specialty, this is the opportunity to sharpen your skills through networking with colleagues, increasing your expertise, and expanding your opportunities.  Associate Membership is $177 per year, beginning in September.  If you join before that, the additional amount will be prorated and included with your annual dues.  For an additional charge, there are specialty groups to join with your membership which allow “more in-depth examination of issues, regulations, and national trends.”  Specialty groups include Business Law, Family Law, Litigation, Real Property, Trust and Estate Law, among many others.  There are forums available for you to “explore and monitor new areas of law as they emerge on a national scale.”  Membership includes the annual subscription to the monthly ABA Journal as well as online resources including the specialty areas.  The ABA website has a directory of ABA Approved Paralegal Education Programs should you decide to continue your legal education with a degree.  For more information, see http://www.americanbar.org/membership/dues_eligibility.html.


Allison Streepey, B.A., CRS, PLS, is currently the Departmental Business Manager for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Office of Educational Development.  She worked in research administration for many years following a legal assistant role in contract, real estate, and estate planning law.  She loves being a member of NALS and learning about the members and the activities of NALS’ legal education.

Tags:  American Bar Association  legal career  legal education  legal professional  legal professional training  membership 

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I Want To Write, But Where Do I Start?

Posted By Allison Streepey, B.A., CRS, PLS, Monday, August 8, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I Want To Write But Where Do I Start?Writing is like a muscle. You have to use it, work it, grow it. Like any other skill, it can be learned but it take lots of practice.  Nowadays, anyone can be “published” immediately through any social media, blog, or YouTube.  Maybe you want more than that.  Think and dream about what your purpose in writing could be.  Is it to report events and activities or to educate others in NALS?  Do you dream of writing the great American novel?
Where do you start to do this?  Start where you are.  You could start quietly by journaling—just for you—and look at it later with “fresh eyes,” i.e., like you have never seen it before.  Or be brave and join the editorial board of your local, state, or national NALS group.  You will see lots of writing and get the hang of it.  Be braver and consider writing for your local NALS chapter.  Talk about something you know and tell us the story.  You probably have something to teach or are an expert on something that has not been presented before and you could really help a lot of people. 
Suddenly, opportunities will appear.  You might notice a topic that has not been covered in your local NALS chapter meetings or the NALS state chapter events.  Maybe you have a different take on a topic or know an easier way to do something.  Maybe there is a subject that you are curious about and want to learn more and would be interested in doing research and interviews to discover the answers to your questions.  Others probably have the same questions and want answers too.
Think of it as a puzzle.  Basically, it is taking an idea and expanding it, giving it purpose.  Sometimes purpose comes first or is in the publication’s plans—sometimes it comes after you work on your information for a while.  Think about what you are trying to accomplish with your article. Are you trying to motivate, ask a question and get the audience to think, or are you just reporting?
Writing is really about editing.  What happens is that you write a while and let it rest, go back and look at it and edit.  Repeat that process many times until you think it is your best effort and the article is complete.  Your job is to make the words say exactly what you mean for them to say.  That is where the work comes in.  Sometimes the information comes to you fast and sometimes it does not.  Sometimes the editing and rearrangement is clear and sometimes it is not.  That is why deadlines help—whether they are self-imposed or from the editor of the publication.
What are you afraid of—that you might be criticized?  Okay.  Think of it as an experiment.  It usually takes many tries to succeed.  Try again.
Start simple and look for an opportunity to write a short article, just a paragraph to report about a class or event you attended for your local NALS chapter newsletter.  Remember that those who were not able to go to the event really want to hear what you have to say.  After producing several short reports, you will find that writing gets easier and you will soon begin to write longer pieces.
There are so many books and resources to help you with your writing.  Having a good grammar base is very helpful.  Use The Gregg Reference Manual [1] or websites like Proof That Blog, [2] written by NALS' Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS -SC, ACP, or Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Grammar Tips. [3]
One of the best books to have readily available is Strunk and White’s The Element of Style, [4] which is simple and beautiful, suggested by many colleges and law schools.
But that brings up another good point—how to grow your skill.  Practice.  A lot of practice. This means you will need time, effort, and a recording device like a tape or message recorder, a computer, a journal, a notebook, or whatever works for you.
You might need to schedule time to write.  Serious writers write every day. (Can you imagine?)  Some have an idea for an article and schedule 30 minutes a day and work on one section at a time.  Some writers use free-style journaling by just letting the words flow and reviewing later to see what comes out of it.  And there are writers that start with an outline or a question that they would like to answer. 
Having someone review and give real feedback (more here, less here, and asking questions like, “What did you mean here?”) is one of the most important parts of writing.  Please understand that the editor’s and proofreader’s jobs are to make you look good.  So you see, advice is always welcome.  Do not take it personally.  Your paper is not about you—it is a thing, a product to be polished enough to shine.
It is good to have a filing system to keep your good ideas and build on them, to have a list of article ideas, to keep articles you are working on handy, and to hold your research.  Some writers never throw out any writing that was edited out of an article, but recycle it into something else.  This would be good if all your work is in one highly defined and unique area—like an expert!
What are you waiting for?  You can do this and you might surprise yourself and discover that you just need to build that muscle.  I know you have something to say and there are plenty of us who want to hear it.  Go for it!  It is an adventure.  Try it, then wait and see what develops from your effort.

Allison Streepey, B.A., CRS, PLS, is the Business Administrator for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Office of Educational Development. She has over 15 years’ experience in pre- and post-award research grants administration and in serving as the Senior Grants Administrator for the UAMS Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.  She also served as an IRB Administrator in the Institutional Review Board office for the protection of human subjects in research.  Her current legal experience involves federal and state grants and contracts, employment law, and federal research grants administration. Allison is thrilled to be a member of the NALS Editorial Board and enjoys reading all the articles and writing.


1 Sabin, W. (2010). The Gregg Reference Manual: A Manual of Style, Grammar, Usage, and Formatting Tribute Edition 11th Edition. New York City, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
2 http://proofthatblog.com/about-proof-that/
3 http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl
4 Strunk, W., & White, E.B. (1999). The Elements of Style. London, United Kingdom: Pearson PLC.

Tags:  career corner  editing legal papers  legal access  legal assistant  legal career  legal education  legal networking  legal professional  nals  paralegal  paralegal career  writing legal documents 

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Career Corner: Staying Positive During a Job Search

Posted By Tashania Morris, MSHRM, ALS, CDF, CPC, Monday, August 8, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Career Corner: Staying Positive During a Job SearchI’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed. ~ Michael Jordan

Being in the job market can be hard; it comes with a lot of uncertainties, especially when you have financial obligations.  The butterflies you get during an interview mixed with the anxiousness right after may cause some anxiety.  Then there is the deafening silence—waiting to hear back from the company—anticipating whether you got the job.  You have read every article about how to land your first job, spoken to every mentor, and have been networking like crazy.  Still nothing.

The phone is not ringing and, when it does, it is not from a recruiter—more like a bill collector. Your inbox is filled with emails from companies and it was not because they chose you.  It is a generic email informing you they have chosen to go with another candidate.  This can affect a person’s self-esteem and confidence level.  Let’s be honest.  It is hard to stay positive during a job search that has become stagnant.  You have done everything you can do, having checked all the boxes and still nothing.  

I recently watched an interview with Meryl Streep on The Graham Norton Show talking about her audition for a part in King Kong.  She stated she was brought in to see Dino De Laurentis, Sr. by his son.  Upon seeing her, he asked his son (in Italian), “why did you bring me this ugly thing?”  She responded by saying, “I understand what you are saying.  I am sorry I am not beautiful enough to be in King Kong.”  Luckily she did not hold on to his opinion and let it destroy her to the point of never auditioning again.  She continues to have a very successful career in the film industry and has won many awards since.  During your job search not every employer will see your talent and you might get a lot of no's because you are not what the employer is looking for.  It does not mean that you are not good.  It just means they do not think you are a good match for their organization.  Developing a thick skin, nursing your wounds quickly, and not dwelling on it will do wonders for your career.  It is a learning process. 

Do not give up

No matter how hard it gets DO NOT GIVE UP.  Keep applying, networking, and remaining persistent.  When I decided to change my career and start over, I was really motivated by an alumnus who spoke at one of our monthly events.  She encouraged us not to get deterred by the no's and I have not forgotten this.  She reminded us if we stay in the game we will eventually get a yes.  She was right.  Apply for jobs even when you do not feel like it.  Tell people in your network you are looking even if you are a little embarrassed.  Whatever you do, do not give up. 


Create a strategy

Creating a job search strategy can be very effective.  Confront it like a challenge you must win.  Simply put, this should become your full-time job until you find a job.  Think about the different avenues that you want to take and the companies you want to work for.  Get organized and keep track of the jobs you are applying for.  Target companies and research the hiring managers.  Get creative—this is a game you must win.  Get dressed as if you are going to work and take your laptop to the nearest Starbucks and/or library and do your job search there.  A change of scenery might do wonders for your attitude.   

Tell everyone and network

Let everyone know you are actively looking for a job.  For some, this is the hardest part, especially if you are an extremely private person.  If you keep it to yourself, how will anyone know that you need help?  Tell your friends, family, and the people with whom you do business.  You would be surprised how many people your barber or beautician may know.  They might be able to introduce you to a few connections. 

Get outside of your comfort zone.  Networking is a great way to meet people and make some valuable connections.  Some of the people you meet along the way might become instrumental in your job search, in mentoring you, and in coaching you.  Networking should be genuine; it should not be self-serving and/or superficial.  People can sense this a mile away.  While networking, be ready to help others as well.  Do not network only when you need a job—do it periodically throughout the year because if you only show up when you need a job, your credibility might be questioned.  Be intentional about the people you meet.  Some networking events are free.  Try attending a couple of the free events if you cannot afford the paid events right now.  Here are some great sites that might help you when looking for a networking event.  Sometimes being with like-minded people can give you a well-needed energy boost.

  • Meet up.  This consists of a number of different groups in a number of different areas.  Think of a group and it is probably on the website.  According to their website, they currently have 26.57 million people—248,265 meet up groups in 182 countries.  Their website boasts they currently have 606,096 monthly meet-ups, 3.82 million RSVPs, and 2,185 meet-ups happening now.  Search for groups and opportunities on this site that might be good for your career.  http://www.meetup.com/
  • Eventbrite.  This is an amazing resource for free events that are currently happening in your city.  According to their website, they host at least 2 million events yearly.  Networking with people inside and outside of your industry is a great idea because you never know where your connections may lead.  www.eventbrite.com

  • Network after Work.  These are networking events with a varied group of people representing different industries.  The cost is normally $15 if paid in advance or $25 at the door.  www.networkafterwork.com

  • Local Bar Associations.  Your local bar associations will also host networking events.  This might be a great way to network and meet other individuals within the industry.  Use this link to access the various bar associations in the United States:  http://goo.gl/eEyfui

  • Local Paralegal Associations.  If you are a member of your local paralegal association, you might be able to meet people there as well.  Paralegal Today has a listing of local paralegal associations and their chapters:  http://goo.gl/Rki2YG 

  • NALS…the association for legal professionals also has local chapters that you may want to visit.  It is a great organization with a lot of resources for its members.  http://goo.gl/zmcm7v 

It is hard to stay positive during a job search if you keep applying and nothing is bearing fruit.  You have gone on a couple of interviews and nothing.  Napoleon Hill once said, “Everyone faces defeat.  It may be a stepping-stone or a stumbling block, depending on the mental attitude with which it is faced.”  Having the right attitude can make a big difference.  If you go on an interview with a bad attitude, the interviewer can sense it.  Surround yourself with friends and family who can help to motivate and bring out the best in you.  Avoid being around negative people.  Make sure you have the right expectations.  Not every job lead or interview you attend is going to be successful, but do not get bogged down by the no's.  Remember, perseverance will take you places that talent will not.  There are many talented unsuccessful people who do not have the drive or will to go out there and grind.  Try to stay positive even when it becomes difficult.  All the best on your job search.

Tashania Morris, MSHRM, ALS, CDF, CPC, started her career as a paralegal.  She has over six years’ experience in the legal field specializing in the areas of foreclosure and bankruptcy.  She recently completed her master’s degree in human resource management which has equipped her with the tools needed to think strategically and develop creative solutions to problems in the workplace.  As a Certified Professional Coach and Career Development Facilitator, she loves all things career and personal development.  She is able to recognize people’s skills and abilities and enjoys working with individuals to figure out their “why.”  Her mission is to engage, empower, educate, and promote change from within.  If you have any questions about any of the articles written, suggestions about something you would like Tashania to write about, or enjoyed reading the article, send her a quick note.  You can reach Tashania at Tashania_m@hotmail.com.

NALS Career Center

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NALS Member Spotlight – Paul Withrow

Posted By Allison Streepey, B.A.,CRS, PLS, Wednesday, July 20, 2016

NALS Member SpotlightPaul Withrow’s legal support career started a few years after college. He attended Frostburg State University in Maryland and played on the men’s soccer team.  He is also an accomplished snow skier and worked as a ski instructor while in college. 


After graduation, Paul taught English in South Korea for two years which he says “was a great experience.”  He then traveled the world and visited over 30 different countries.  After being out of the United States for three full years, he returned to Washington, D.C., and began working in the legal industry.  His career started in sales of e-discovery and litigation support services.  Three years later Paul switched over to the court reporting side of the industry and his career has been building ever since. 


Paul’s entire family is from Nashville.  He moved back there a few years ago when he was offered his current position as Business Development Director, specializing in court reporting sales, at Vowell Jennings & Huseby, now known as Huseby, Inc.  “I love my job and I love the city of Nashville.  I have gained many new friends and met many important people such as judges and the mayor of Nashville.  It has also been interesting to learn the cultural differences within the legal community in Nashville compared to Washington, D.C.”


Paul joined NALS Nashville in 2015 in order to network within the legal community.  This decision has made a big difference in Paul’s life, professionally and personally.  He was “always interested in getting out and helping” and started right away as their 2015 Marketing Director.   NALS Nashville “welcomed me with open arms and always encouraged me to be involved.”  


Joining NALS helped bring about the highlight of Paul’s career in successfully increasing business within his first year at Huseby in Nashville.  He had a “lot of help from the owners Jim Vowell and Gene Jennings,” but also worked very hard to accomplish this and to meet his personal goals at work.  Part of this success is due to his involvement with NALS Nashville and meeting more members in the legal community.  “I really enjoyed every day and wouldn’t change a thing about it.” 


He is now serving as the NALS Nashville Chapter President for 2016-2017, which he feels is an honor and a privilege.  “I am really grateful for the support and encouragement that I have received from everyone, and I can honestly say that I am a better person because of each member of NALS that has crossed my path.”  

Paul’s theme this year is “Team Up With NALS & Navigate Your Future” because he believes that “when we join together and work for a common goal we can be a strong and powerful force. Not only will our coming together continue to support legal professionals in the Nashville community, but we will have the tools needed to navigate our future to whatever professional level we desire.”


“NALS is not only an organization that gives back to the community, but also one that improves legal professionals as individuals.  NALS Nashville Chapter is a nonsectarian, nonpartisan, nonprofit, and nonunion organization of legal secretaries, paralegals, and others in the legal support industry.  We promote quality education through monthly Lunch & Learns, three levels of certifications, and have interesting and informative articles in our monthly newsletter, The Verdict.  We have opportunities to network with people in the same field, share information on career opportunities and pro bono activities in our city.”


“NALS helps me to network within the legal community at all events.  It also helps me to understand and learn the role of legal professionals, which helps me better understand my clients’ needs.  NALS is ultimately what you decide to make of it.” 


Allison Streepey, B.A., CRS, PLS, is currently the Departmental Business Manager for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences' Office of Educational Development. She worked in research administration for many years following a legal assistant role in contract, real estate, and estate planning law. She loves being a member of NALS and learning about the members and the activities of NALS' legal education.

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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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Amylyn Riedling PP PLS-SC2019 NALS Board of Directors
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