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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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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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Changing Font and Font Size Globally

Posted By Susan C. King, Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Happening with Fonts

A document has been opened and the fonts are different throughout the document. Why and/or how does this happen? How does one quickly fix the issue?

The problem begins when someone chooses CTRL+A and changes the font and/or font size (a fast and immediate solution, but not for the ongoing editing involved with the document). From this point forward, text pasted into the document reverts to the original normal font and font size format. This is because the Normal Style was not overwritten but manually changed. 

The Normal Style is the base formatting of every editable document. It just starts the process with no indents, bolding or paragraph characteristics. All styles implemented throughout a document start with the characteristics of the Normal Style. 

The following is the process to globally change a Normal Style: 

Insert a RETURN (Provides base—no text paragraph style is applied)

Change the "Normal Style" (CTRL + SHIFT + S)

In the style name box {Type} Normal

CLICK Modify

Change font or font size


Style One 


Microsoft Word Styles 



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:  administrative  grammar  legal education  legal professional training  microsoft word  nals 

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Chapter Spotlight: NALS of Tucson & So. AZ (NTSA)

Posted By Allison Streepey, B.A., PLS, and Wendy Carpenter, PP, PLS, Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Chapter Spotlight: NALS of Tucson and Southern Arizona (NTSA)

About the Chapter 


NALS of Tucson & So. AZ (formerly Tucson Legal Secretaries Association and Tucson Legal Support Association) has over 50 years of history serving the Tucson and Southern Arizona legal community. The chapter’s membership has legal professionals who work for sole practitioners, mid-size law firms, large law firms, the courts, and other related legal areas. At least 10 to 12 firms in the Tucson area are represented. 


What makes this chapter of NALS strong is the diversity of the members’ ages, experiences, legal knowledge, and skills. Each member is unique and special. They learn from each other and are building lasting friendships. (Isn’t that what NALS is all about?) 


There is a lot to learn from NALS of Tucson & So. AZ (NTSA). They keep their association fresh through various educational opportunities, member suggestions, chapter celebration events, meeting other members of the legal community, and working together for charity. 

Service in the Chapter 

This chapter leads by example in holding education of members as one of the central activities. Twenty-two members are certified and most have achieved multiple certifications. NTSA strives to keep everyone sharp by offering many opportunities of continuing legal education for seasoned members and exam preparation for newer members. NTSA holds monthly general/CLE meetings and offers other educational events for their chapter. They also coordinate CLE with other legal professional associations in the area. 


NTSA shares their love of education and the legal profession by holding a raffle at every monthly meeting to support their annual Scholarship Program. This scholarship assists with books, registration fees, and other school needs, as well as awarding a one-year NALS membership. Invitations with the application for the NTSA scholarship are sent once a year to high schools, trade schools, and local colleges that teach legal courses. 


The monthly NTSA email of announcements to members has proven to be very fruitful for the chapter. The newsletter includes an open request for ideas from the members. Some of the members’ ideas include training sessions and valuable brainstorming sessions. The members post the NTSA flyers in their office or share with other staff in their firm. This is a great way to share “what NALS can do for you” with others. 


NTSA celebrates members through annual events like the Awards & Appreciation Banquet and Installation of Officers in April, the Summer Social in August, and the Holiday Mixer in December. These themed events are a way for the members to unwind, play, and visit, free from the pressures of the job. 


NTSA has had success in growing their chapter by hosting an annual membership drive in February and/or March of each year. There is always a theme, such as Mardi Gras, Western, and others, and games such as bingo or legal trivia are played. Influential court personnel are invited to speak at these meetings. NTSA also hosts a breakfast get-together to introduce other legal secretaries, legal assistants, and paralegals to the association. 


National NALS Service 


Many NTSA members have gone on to serve in state, regional, and national positions—even as high as President of NALS. Currently, several members are serving on the national NALS level. Audrey Saxton, PP, PLS, is serving NALS as a Board Member; Bonnie Hole, PP, PLS, RP, CNSA, CPCA, ACP, is serving NALS as the Chair of the Certification Board; and Nancy Anderstrom, PP, PLS, AACP, is serving NALS as the Co-chair of the Certification Board. 


Building Their Name and Membership 


NTSA works to promote their association to other law firms in many ways. They have a liaison with the Pima County Bar Association (PCBA). This is a reciprocal relationship. The liaison prepares information on NTSA activities for The Writ, the monthly publication for the PCBA members. It is free advertising of all the great things NTSA is doing for the Pima County Bar, opportunities for the NTSA members, and how NTSA supports their community. NTSA also donates time to the PCBA for functions requiring assistance. For instance, the PCBA and the Young Lawyers Division hold an annual Judicial Reception. NTSA has volunteered to manage the registration table at this reception for so many years that the judges and attorneys know the NTSA members by name! 


Relationship With Other Associations 


NTSA has some members who belong to other professional and legal associations and serve to coordinate and share CLE with other legal groups. In 2015, NTSA co-sponsored the Tucson Paralegal Association’s Annual CLE Seminar, which was very well received by all attendees. 


For the past two years NTSA hosted the NALS of Tucson & So. AZ annual December Holiday Mixer. The purpose is to enable professionals from all areas of the Tucson legal community to meet and network in a social setting; to mix, mingle, and celebrate the holidays. NALS of Tucson & So. AZ finds sponsors for the event, generally legal vendors and supporters of the organization, to assist with providing the food and drinks. One of the caterers was Caridad Community Kitchen, associated with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. A group of local attorneys provide live music. 


Another fun event NTSA has is the Collaborative Networking Happy Hour coordinated with the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA), and the Tucson Paralegal Association (TPA). The happy hours are well attended and a nice time to relax and get to know other legal professionals. 


Service to the Community 


NTSA has always had a commitment to yearly charity projects. The NTSA Board gives the members a choice of three to five charities and the members make their collective choice. Then the NTSA members collect items throughout the year specifically for that charity.


One year, the NTSA members chose the Veterans’ Association and collected clothing, books, purses, shoes, personal items, puzzles, wheelchairs, and many other items to give to the local VA Hospital for the veterans. It was a very successful and greatly appreciated project. 


Another NTSA choice for community service was the Bowling for Backpacks! event. This event had members, family, and friends attending a fun evening of bowling after collecting school supplies and backpacks to donate to local area schools in need. This project was enjoyed by all for three years, when it was time to try something new. 


The most recent charity activity for NTSA was Make Way for Books. The mission of Make Way for Books is to provide quality early educational experiences by giving books to under-resourced sites and offering early educational workshops for educators and parents. Each year, MWFB serves more than 30,000 children and families and 700 educators in nearly 300 preschools in the Tucson area. The members of NTSA collected 233 new and gently used books during the year-long book drive to donate to Make Way for Books. On March 30, 2016, Wendy Carpenter, PP, PLS, President of NTSA, and Nancy Anderstrom, PP, PLS, AACP, Parliamentarian and Local Finance Chairperson, delivered the books to the organization. 


Working together on a large project is the “glue” that keeps the chapter going. This core group has a commitment to NALS, to legal education, the legal community, and charity service too. NTSA clearly demonstrates how interesting and fulfilling the journey of NALS can be. 

Tags:  administrative  legal  legal professional  nals  nals chapters 

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Posted By Christa M. Fuhrer-Warrington, PP, PLS, ALP, Tuesday, June 7, 2016

DESK BOOK: DINOSAUR OR DYNAMO?Note: This article will be available in a webinar format. Click here to register today!  

Imagine this: What if your attorney was on the phone with a client and wanted to know the new filing fees at the courthouse but the clerk’s office is closed for lunch and they had not yet updated their website.  Where would you go for that information?  Or one day on your way to work you are involved in an accident—an accident that leaves your return to work questionable and the date of said return uncertain.  Who would take your place and how would they know what to do?  Or, worse yet, what if you are one of those people—like me—who uses check sheets and progress lists to track your projects?  Where do you keep all those productivity tools?  There is one tool that can alleviate all of these anxieties.  It is the humble desk book. 

What is a desk book? 

I refer to my desk book as my “paper brain,” that place where I keep pieces of information, document templates, and forms that I may want or need quick access to.  If you were ever absent from work for an extended period and someone needed to step into your role, a desk book allows them to do so quickly and with minimal training.  Those of you familiar with the concept of a judge’s bench book have a grasp on the concept. 

Who needs a desk book? 

Who could benefit by establishing a desk book? Just about everyone who serves as support staff to a professional—whether that professional is an attorney, a CPA, or the executive director of a nonprofit—would benefit from the utility of a desk book.  Sadly, desk books are not as widely used as they should be.  I have yet to step into a support staff role where a desk book was already in place.  Every role in the law office, from the receptionist to the office manager, the word processor to the paralegal, lends itself to establishing and using a desk book. If you have information you regularly use, you need a desk book of some sort. 

Why is a desk book important? 

A desk book provides a place to keep everything you may want or need quick access to and in fact will limit stress in harried times.  Let’s say I am working with a form and that form says “circle the number that best represents your circumstance” and then lists one through five.  If I have the form instructions in my desk book, I can quickly turn to them to see what one through five represents so I can pick the best option.

A desk book provides two major benefits to today’s law office.  First, it allows someone to step in during an unplanned worker absence to complete a project that is in progress.  This ability to complete a project without time loss and without cost of extensive training or coaching is invaluable.  Second, an established desk book standardizes your own work process, thereby ensuring accuracy and efficiency.

How does one build a desk book? 

First, determine what needs to go in your desk book.  What do you regularly do?  If you do several child support actions in a week, but a real estate transaction only once in a blue moon, you could be forgiven for not having anything to do with real estate in your desk book; however, everything you use concerning child support actions should be included.  What materials do you frequently use?  If I were doing one or two real estate transactions in a week, in the state of Wyoming, I would have a copy of the Statement of Consideration in my desk book.  What information do you regularly look up or what information changes from time to time such as the form and fees for filing a will with the probate court or timeline, contact information, and fees for a Sheriff’s sale? 

Next, determine how you are going to organize your desk book.  A paralegal who focuses on substantive law could organize her desk book by practice area.  An office manager might organize by timeline with a section for daily tasks (getting the mail), weekly tasks (payables), monthly (receivables), and annual tasks (W-2s and corporate taxes).  An administrative assistant might organize by task, i.e., buying office supplies and then sub-sections for each vendor with a list of frequently ordered item numbers and quantities.

Then, establish someplace to collect the pieces-parts that will become the desk book:  a file folder, a stacking tray, or a digital folder for scanning them into.  For those of you who are technically inclined and not scared of the cloud, Microsoft Office OneNote is tailor-made for this task.  For a period of time—I recommend no less than four and no more than twelve weeks—put a copy of every resource you use into that collection space.  If you print a form, print off two copies.  If you think of something you want to include, jot it on a Post-it® note and drop the Post-it® note in the folder.  This allows you to make building and gathering your desk book more a part of your daily work than a hindrance to it.  Once all of the notes and materials are collected, it becomes a simple task of formatting and organizing the pieces you have gathered up into the framework you decided on earlier.  Yes, this will take some time, but I have always found it was offset in being able to find information faster and easier later.

Do not fear the minutia.  The more detailed your desk book is, the more helpful it will be, especially in your absence.  Every one of my desk books includes instructions for completing a certified mailing.  Why?  Because certified mailings are, apparently, not part of our social consciousness . . . yet.  Think of your desk book as a teacher that teaches in your absence.  Some folks may need their instruction to include “get on the Internet” before “go to irs.gov.”  Remember your desk book is there not only for your convenience, but also to prompt others that are not familiar with how things are done at your desk on a daily basis.

Do absolutely make this fun too.  If you decide that a three-ring binder is your tool, get a cool designer one and have fun with the divider tabs.  Getting in touch with your artistic side serves the dual purpose of making it fun to use and distinctive so your eye can find it quickly, whether it is on the shelf or buried on your desk.  If you do an electronic desk book, have fun with graphics or font types and colors.

Where does one keep a desk book? 

The answer is—that depends.  Are you more comfortable with a digital or a paper book?  Is your practice digitized or paper based?  For quick response, is it easier to right click + print or flip and photocopy?  Do you live or work in an area where power outages are an issue?  If you are responsible for ordering-in lunch on deposition days, a paper book that includes take-out menus might be useful.  If you work in a forms-based practice such as bankruptcy or child support, a digitized desk book may be more practical.  Another factor to keep in mind is how often you might use your desk book at someone else’s desk! 

So when is the best time to build a desk book? 

Ideally, when you start a new position, your predecessor will have one in place and it will only need a personalizing tweak.  If you are not so fortunate, or you are in a new role with the office, I advise giving yourself a month or two to settle into the position and learn about both the job and the office a bit, then start collecting your materials as outlined above.  This should have your desk book completed within the first six months.  For someone already in their role and who already has a grasp on the necessities of the job, it is just a matter of collecting materials and assembling them and may only take a few weeks. 

Which begs the question, when is the best time to update the desk book? 

When do you update your desk book?  The short answer is whenever something changes.  But, we all know that is neither realistic nor reasonable.  The long answer is the bigger the change is and the more it directly affects your day-to-day work, the sooner that change should be reflected in your desk book.  Code changes should be reflected immediately.  Internal changes, such as billing rates, should be updated within a shortened timeframe.  Inconsequential changes, such as the operating hours of your favorite office supply store, can be made by hand in the paper book or at your leisure in a digital book.

A Few Miscellaneous Tips . . . 

Designate an area in the book for update materials.  I reserve the back pocket in my three ring binder as “update materials.”  If you keep forms in a paper book, it is helpful to keep one original and one copy to use.  The original should be marked as such—I like to mark it with yellow highlighter.  Yellow does not show on a copy machine, whereas other colors such as green, pink, and blue will copy.  Do not think that keeping two books is overkill.  I always have one paper copy and one electronic copy.  The paper book keeps things like menus from local restaurants, while the electronic copy keeps items such as letterhead, envelope templates, and pre-built notary blocks.

So let’s revisit our scenarios:  If your attorney needed those updated filing fees ASAP, it would be as simple as a page flip or a mouse click to access them.  The desk book provided instant answers for your attorney, instant value for your client, and instant credibility for you. 

If you were in an accident that kept you from work for an extended period of time, anyone could step into your role because you could direct that person to your desk book for guidance.  Even more important, you could focus on your recovery and healing instead of being worried with issues at work. 

What about those checklists, progress sheets, and task matrices?  Well, one could be forgiven for thinking desk books were almost purpose made to corral all those sheets and other tools. 

While they may seem like Jurassic-era technology, desk books are as relevant today as they were at the dawn of the legal profession.  I encourage everyone to look at how they can utilize a desk book in their role in the law office.


Christa M. Fuhrer-Warrington, PP, PLS, ALP, is a resident of Elko, Nevada, with her husband Shawn and son Levi.  She is a paralegal and holds certifications through NALS as a Professional Paralegal, an Accredited Legal Professional, and as a Professional Legal Secretary. She is also a notary public. Christa holds a bachelor of arts in social sciences from Washington State University with a major in sociology and a minor in psychology. She also holds an associate of applied science with honors in paralegal studies from Columbia Basin College. 


Christa began her career in the legal field, first with a prominent, local personal injury attorney as a legal research assistant and later with a top construction law firm. She learned the ropes of being a paralegal on everything from developer/contractor disputes to large public transportation projects. Christa plans to continue her professional education by earning her credentials as an alternative dispute resolution mediator.

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Word Tips & Tricks: Hard Drive Folder Shortcuts

Posted By Susan C. King, Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Microsoft Word: Tips & Tricks

Microsoft Word: Tips & Tricks Header 


Here are two forms of shortcuts to access folders on the hard drive:




CLICK on the folder at the bottom ribbon of the Desktop.  


Microsoft Word: Tips and Tricks 


Locate a favorite folder.

Microsoft Word: Tips and Tricks


CTRL {Hold} + CLICK on folder.

 Microsoft Word: Tips & Tricks

LEFT CLICK {Hold} Mouse and scroll up to hover over Favorites.

Microsoft Word: Tips and TricksRelease  

Folder will be listed under favorites.  

Select “Favorites” and double click your favorite folder.    

Note:  Folder on bottom of ribbon will open to the last folder accessed.    





CLICK on the folder at the bottom ribbon of the Desktop.  


Microsoft Word: Tips and Tricks 


Microsoft Word Tips & TricksMinimize Window {This will keep your folder window but also give access to the Desktop – you will need to minimize or shut down all other applications.}  


On Desktop, scroll to Folder which needs the shortcut.  

Microsoft Word: Tips and Tricks 



[CTRL {Hold} DRAG Folder to the Desktop + RELEASE.]

Shortcut for folder is now on Desktop.  DOUBLE CLICK on Desktop Folder to access Folder and files.


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:  administrative  legal education  legal professional training  microsoft word  technology training 

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