| Online Store
Community Search
Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join NALS
Community Search
the NALS docket
Blog Home All Blogs
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


Search all posts for:   


Top tags: legal professional  legal  paralegal  legal education  microsoft word  administrative  grammar  grammar nuggets  legal assistant  legal career  legal professional training  nals  career corner  paralegal career  editing legal papers  legal job skills  office procedures  Accredited Legal Professional  ask eula mae  legal access  legal jobs  legal networking  legal office  nals chapters  technology training  writing legal documents  All the best! You are a true picture of what NALS  American Bar Association  and the chapter spotlight is fantastic.  Awesome! Yes this was a wonderful event 

How to Assess a Job Offer

Posted By Partnership with Grammarly.com, Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2018

When you want a job—whether it’s your dream job or you’re simply ready to move on—it can be all too easy to accept any offer you’re given, even if it’s not the right offer for you.

“The number one misstep I see clients take is the failure to step back, take a breath, and meaningfully assess a job offer,” says Karen Elizaga, executive coach and author of Find Your Sweet Spot. “They are almost inclined to jump immediately at an offer.”


So how can you pause to determine whether an offer is really worth it? Luckily, it’s easy to do with Glassdoor’s How to Get a Job guide. It offers a bevy of questions you can ask yourself to assess the offer, gives tips to help you negotiate, and it even provides a complete email script for sending your initial negotiation email you can use word-for-word.

Here, we’ve distilled the basic steps you need to take to assess any offer and how to begin a negotiation with a potential employer. It doesn’t have to be intimidating with these steps!

Ask the right questions.

When you receive a job offer, you need to hit pause long enough to ask yourself questions before you give an answer, according to Glassdoor’s guide—and Elizaga totally agrees.

“It is crucial to take a step before taking a leap,” she says, advising that you first ask, “is this job what you want to be doing? And does it align with your skills, talent, and purpose?”

Glassdoor recommends you assess the company, post-interview to make sure it seems like a place you would like to work. You can ask yourself, “what’s the culture at this company and how do I fit in?” Elizaga recommends, “I have seen clients take a job where the fit—in the context of their skills and talents with the job—was excellent. But in the end, these jobs didn’t work out because the company’s culture did not jibe with their own moral compass.”

You may also want to evaluate what the upward trajectory, in other words, the possibilities for advancement at this company, are, says Elizaga. “You want to consider not only the wonderful aspects of this job, but where you might rise to in the future,” Elizaga explains.


Look at the offer details.

The next step in evaluating a job offer is to move past the job and look at what is also being offered in the pay and benefits package. Glassdoor suggests you ask yourself the questions, “does the salary align with what you were expecting [and] do the benefits offered feel fair and reflect what you were looking for?” With the answers, you’ll know whether to negotiate.

Negotiate like a pro.

The idea of negotiating can be unnerving to many people, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

According to our guide, “one of the worst things you can do during salary negotiation is just make up a number. By backing up your ask with research, you’ll likely feel more confident about making it.” Luckily, you can use Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth™ salary calculator to discover the job’s average pay range. “It’s important to know what is reasonable for the market,” Elizaga agrees. That’s because, in part, “you don’t want to be negotiating for more when, in fact, what you are being offered is entirely reasonable and/or generous,” she says.

Of course, you don’t want to focus on salary alone. Before you begin your negotiation, think about whether the other benefits—vacation, commissions, bonuses, stock options, and so on—are appropriate and appealing, or could be tweaked to make the offer even better off.

Then, “when negotiating, think about what value you bring to the table, rather than how their first offer is deficient or not enough to cover your lifestyle,” advises Elizaga. “Consider the offer from the employer’s point of view. What are they getting for the compensation that they’re offering? If you think you contribute more value than the compensation would indicate, then definitely ask for more.” Or ask for an expansion of their benefits package.

Lastly, “when going in to negotiate, have a strategy and be entirely comfortable with what you’re asking for,” she says. Employers can tell when you don’t believe your own story. You’re much more likely to get what you want when you emphatically believe your value.”



This article was originally posted on Grammarly.com/Blog and reposted with permission. You can view the original source here. 

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)

Why Legal Assistants Are Beneficial To Attorneys

Posted By Teresa M. Garber, PP, PLS, Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2018

"A Well-Trained Certified Legal Assistant Is Very Beneficial to Your Career"

If you are a lawyer just starting out in the legal field and dealing with working with support staff for the first time, this article is for you.  If you are a seasoned legal assistant (lawyers: the term used to be "legal secretary") or paralegal who is trying to figure out how young lawyers work, this article is for you.  I am here to send a message: do not underestimate the benefits of a well-trained certified legal assistant to your career as a lawyer.  

There is a lot of talk about the issue of younger lawyers fresh from law school having to work with legal assistants for the first time and experienced legal assistants having to work around younger lawyers "independence."  Thanks to technology, more and more younger lawyers are doing a lot of work themselves that traditionally was given to paralegals or legal assistants. Also, most lawyers coming out of law school are in their mid- to late-twenties. Many legal assistants are over 40.  The two sides seem to be afraid of the other: one side is viewed as dead set in its ways and unwilling to change; the other side is considered to be disrespectful and not able to appreciate the skills of the other.  Often, communication becomes non-existent between the two.

I am a certified legal assistant, I am now 45 years old, and I have been a legal assistant for over 20 years.  I have worked for several younger lawyers in my time, some of who started their careers with me as their assistant and are now high-ranking partners in their law firms.  I am going to share with you what I told my young associates when we started working together.

First, I have experience in procedures in the area of law we practice in (for me, it is litigation).  Yes, you may know how to state your case in a complaint, but do you know the filing fee in Michigan circuit courts? Michigan district courts? with a motion?  Do you know how many copies to file with the court?  Do you know which courts are more particular than others?  Did you know that the rules in Michigan state courts for citations in court filings are different than what you may have learned from studying the Bluebook?  Do you know that not all courts are open until 5 p.m.?  Do you know which court reporters your firm recommends we use? Which are more expensive?  I know the answers to these questions thanks to the years of experience I have gained.  These are all questions that you will need to have an answer to.

Second, the impression you make on the partners of your firm is critical.  The partners want you to bill as many hours as possible.  However, if a partner sees you at the copy machine making seven copies of a claim of appeal to be filed with the Michigan Supreme Court (which, by the way, you can submit electronically), you are in for a talking-to.  Partners question lawyers who do not dictate large documents for support staff to transcribe (learn to dictate; it helps with thinking on your feet and speaking your thoughts clearly).  Moreover, if your office is a mess with files and paper everywhere, it does not make you look busy to a partner.  It makes the partner think you better get that stuff out of your office and get it to your assistant to organize before you lose something important.  These are all things that legal support can assist you with.  We are here to make you look good.

Also, let's not forget about the clients.  Many in the workforce state that they are being forced to do more with less.  That is what clients expect.  Thanks to technology, clients expect legal professionals to get the job done faster, in a professional manner, and at a good monetary value.  In other words, clients want more at lower prices.  If a client sees a lawyer billing over $250/hour to burn CDs for document production, the client is going to become upset.  However, a client would be amenable to seeing, say, $120/hour for an assistant or paralegal to do the same project.  Clients have no problem taking their business where they can get more bang for their buck.

Last, I am a member of NALS, an association of legal support professionals that is dedicated to providing legal education, certification, and professional development to its members.  I have two ABA-recognized certifications that focus on written communications, ethics, substantive law, legal knowledge and skills, and office technology and procedures.  As an active member, I have contacts across the country if I need assistance with just about anything.  Because of my membership in and certifications from NALS, I can assist you by proofreading documents you send to partners and/or clients for grammatical issues.  If a partner has you working on a case for him in another state, I can find another NALS member who can point me in the right direction if we need to find a court reporter or process server, etc., in that state.  The CLE sessions I attend put me in touch with court clerks, train me in notary rules, expose me to different areas of the law that you may run into in your new practice (and you will encounter an area of law you are not familiar with in these first few years), and so much more.  My membership and active participation should demonstrate that I take my job seriously and am dedicated to excellence.

Legal assistants and paralegals: I am here to tell you that most new lawyers are great to work with.  The young lawyers I have worked for have been some of the nicest people I have met, and they are good lawyers—smart, hard-working, honest, and ethical advocates.  Regarding one of the young lawyers I worked with, I sat down with him in his office just after he started and told him all of the information I stated above.  My lawyer was not aware of what I was able to do to help his career and, despite the assurance of my benefits to him, was still a little uneasy about using my services.  He changed his mind quickly when he had to draft his first summary disposition brief a couple of weeks later.  On my annual evaluation (which took place four months after he started), my lawyer wrote that my citation skills were top notch, that I was always willing to take on extra work, and I never made him feel as if his work was less important than the work of the two partners I also worked for at that time.  That associate and I had a good working relationship, and it is all because I demonstrated to him what I could do to help.

Legal assistants and paralegals here are some food for thought; millennials do not want to be bosses; they prefer to work as a team.  Sometimes newer lawyers find it difficult to give assistants work because they feel it is not their place to do so, that it makes them look bossy.  I am all for being a member of a team.  As with any team, each member of the team brings unique skills to the task at hand.  For a lawyer-assistant team, the lawyer's skills may be the knowledge of the law and negotiation skills.  The assistant's skills may be organization, grammar, etc.  When all members use their skills together, great things can happen with the project.

Also, there may be an excellent reason why newer lawyers do not give work to legal assistants or paralegals.  Many more modern lawyers are not working generally with their support staff just because the lawyers either (a) feel the support staff have too much to do for more senior lawyers; (b) feel it would be quicker to do the project themselves; or (c) just simply do not know what work to delegate to support staff.  This is where a lawyer-staff heart-to-heart is going to help.  I assured my young lawyers that I prioritized based on real urgency.  If my associate hands me a brief that needs to be filed today, the partner's memo to the management committee is put on the back burner.  If you think it will just be quicker to do something yourself, think again.  You can be working on other (billable) matters while I am copying documents or scheduling hearings.  If you do not know what kind of work to give to support staff, ask.  We will let you know what we can and cannot do.

Lawyers, you may work with an assistant who knows the rules and sticks to them.  Many legal assistants love regulations and work with them consistently in the form of court rules, etc.  Many assistants are used to a much more formal atmosphere in the law office, and where lawyers may not have formal training on how to type or run a copy machine, everyone worked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a lunch break Monday through Friday, and everyone's role was evident.  With a loosened structure and lawyers taking on tasks they would not have done in the past, it leaves the legal assistant feeling unsure about their place in your practice and the firm as a whole.

Now, if you are a newer lawyer and are paired with an inexperienced assistant (even an experienced assistant), I cannot begin to stress the importance of encouraging your assistant to join NALS.  I was in the same boat 21 years ago, and NALS made a tremendous difference in my career.  Having your assistant study and sit for a certification exam helps them learn to operate in the daily life of a law office and provides a solid foundation on ethics, legal technology, judgment, and many other areas.  Encouraging your assistant to attend CLE puts them in contact with people who can help your assistant and your practice.  Also, what a thing to brag about: having a professional legal assistant or paralegal working with you, someone who takes your career, and their own, seriously.

Lawyers: legal assistants and paralegals are your friends.  Legal assistants can provide so many helpful skills to aid in your practice.  Do not let our tough exterior fool you.  We want to help your practice grow and cement your status with the firm.  Get to know us, get to know our abilities, and encourage our professional development in NALS.  You will not regret it!


This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)

How to Speak Up and Find Your Voice in Meetings

Posted By Kelly Konya, Grammarly Blog Writer, Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Meetings are like going to the dentist. Nobody really enjoys being there listening to the facilitator jibber-jabber like an adult in a Charlie Brown special.

The nightmare setup looks something like this . . .

You are the last one to walk into the companywide meeting on Monday morning. There are no donuts left. The only open seat is next to your boss. The atmosphere is, somehow, already tense—and you’ve forgotten to bring your report.

What’s worse: this meeting or having a cavity filled?

Okay, so maybe meetings aren’t always that bad. But they aren’t always the easiest place to express your opinions, either. If you’ve ever felt self-conscious speaking up in a meeting, you aren’t alone.

Meetings are the most common workplace setting where people are rendered speechless by nerves. But don’t write yourself off as an introvert just yet. Even people who regularly voice their concerns can struggle with being ignored or overpowered by bigger players in the meeting room.

With these tips, you can learn to articulate your thoughts and convey your ideas, no matter the meeting’s situation.

Master Your Meeting Prep

Once you have the meeting’s agenda, find something on it that you can speak confidently and passionately about. If you have a budding opinion about one of the agenda items, develop it into an insightful, practical statement. This way, you’ll feel more self-assured going into the meeting. Strive to put a new idea out there first.

If you’re absolutely stumped going into a meeting—well, first, maybe you shouldn’t be there. Second, you can offer one of these three typical meeting-style responses as you partake:

  • Ask a question
  •  Repeat what’s been said in your own words
  • Comment on what you’ve heard

Armed with a prepared response, you should arrive five to ten minutes before the meeting kicks off. Make small talk, find a seat, and settle in. You’ll be more comfortable with your own voice if you are comfortable in your surroundings. Once you’ve already spoken with people in the room, you’ll be more likely to speak up again.

Don’t Put Yourself Down

As human beings, we’re prone to speaking in negatives. Psychology calls it our brain’s “negative bias.” Think of how many times you’ve heard someone begin a statement with, “This might not be relevant, but . . .” or “I’m not sure this is right, but . . .”

When you begin a statement with a negative phrase, you automatically cast doubt upon your words. If you don’t believe in yourself and assert your ideas, nobody will. Think about it: whom do you look up to or view as a mentor? We bet they speak passionately, igniting an urge within you to believe and discover their same opinions.

While we are hardwired for negative bias, we don’t have to let this predisposition eclipse our words. Every meeting gives you a chance to reinvent yourself. Even if you’re not the office optimist, you can express your ideas any way you’d like. Be affirmative and tell it like it is.

Avoid Those Qualifiers

In a similar way that speaking negatively deflates your words, qualifiers add another, subtler layer of doubt.

Do you use words that lessen the impact of your ideas and opinions? Words that limit or enhance another word’s meaning are called qualifiers. Overusing qualifiers affects the specificity and certainty of your words, leading people in the meeting to dismiss your opinions.

Be aware of the qualifiers you use—both in e-mail and in conversation. Using the following words will automatically weaken your statements:

  • Actually
  •  Just
  • Almost
  • Kinda / Sorta
  • Sorry
  • Maybe
  • I think / I feel

Voicing sentences ridden with qualifiers will immediately make people question your credibility. Have a coworker listen to you speak. If your statements always include an unconscious qualifier or two, you should make a conscious effort to dispel them from your speech.

Practice Makes Persuasive

If you’ve really struggled to find your voice, start small. Speaking once or twice each meeting is good practice. Even if you’re in a smaller meeting, you can still challenge yourself. The more you speak over time, the more confident you’ll become.

Once you banish negativity and qualifiers, adopt some phrases that are clear and commanding. Phrases that are direct, like “Here’s my idea” or “I recommend,” will make a big difference in how people respond to you. Be mindful of your tone, but know that your thoughts are worth sharing.

Be aware of how quickly you speak and try your best to enunciate. In combination, practicing vocal clarity will translate to a newfound vocal confidence. Slowly but surely, using “power language” instead of passivity will give you new authority in meetings.

This article was originally posted on Grammarly.com/Blog and reposted with permission. You can view the original source here

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)

NALS Member Spotlight – Heidi S. Hopper, PP, PLS

Posted By Allison Streepey, B.A., CLP, Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Heidi Hopper, PP, PLS, made such a good impression at a recent national NALS event that she was recommended as a Member Spotlight again! This is good news because a lot has happened in four years, which lets us know what is possible as we make our way through our legal careers with the support of NALS.


Heidi works as a legal assistant at Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC in Lansing, Michigan, where she has been for eight years.  She generally works in litigation and has back-up knowledge in municipal finances.  She describes the move from municipal finance to municipal litigation as a career highlight and says “but every day is a highlight.” After 20 years in the legal field, she has had many highlights in her career and the best ones are the most recent.


The first boost in her legal career when she was about to get a promotion in her job from receptionist to secretary at Dickinson Wright, PLLC in Lansing. “My boss at the time suggested that I join NALS to learn more about the legal field and to get acquainted with those in the legal community. I am forever grateful for her suggestion.”  This membership in NALS has allowed Heidi to “have a broad range of legal education and, through networking, has opened doors to friendship and sponsorships that may not have been otherwise possible.”


Her career in NALS has been highlighted in her service in the three levels of the association.  Currently, in her local chapter, NALS of Lansing, she is the Treasurer.  She has also been President twice and served as Vice President, Treasurer, and on several committees. The local chapter does many community service projects. “This year we will be visiting the Capital Humane Society as well as serving a meal at the Advent House, a ministry that brings together people of all faiths to give hope to impoverished and homeless people.”


In the state chapter, NALS of Michigan, her service is similar to the local chapter. She is currently Treasurer (for the second time), has been President, and has served on several committees. Heidi feels her greatest accomplishment in NALS is being state president and before that receiving the NALS of Michigan Legal Professional of the Year Award in 2017. Another highlight on the state level was working with the state chapter to produce the Visionary 5K Challenge that initiated and promoted the NALS of Michigan Scholarship Fund. Heidi said it “was a lot of work with marketing, planning, and hosting the event.”  Heidi says, “The Vasa pathway in Acme, Michigan is a beautiful area and a ‘must see’ while in Michigan.”


Heidi’s favorite project was when NALS of Michigan hosted a Murder Mystery CLE camping event in Covert, Michigan. Engaged members and guests had to solve the mystery, which included evidence gathering, jury voir dire, and putting the pieces together to determine who the murderer was—all while camping in a rainstorm!


On the national level in NALS, Heidi is a Cheerleader! The year Kathie Amirante was introduced as president in Tulsa, Heidi lead the cheer:


Here ye (yeah); here ye (yeah)

This meeting shall come to order.

What multi-level organization

That is sweeping the nation?

NALS; Hear it again, NALS


If you are looking for legal education

Or professional certification

Where do you go? You know!

NALS; Hear it again, NALS


With their online learning sessions

And their networking opportunities

NALS offers it all in one great fashion.


I am a member, he's a member,

She is a member, we're a member

Wouldn't you like to recruit a member today?


Be a member, be be a member.

NALS (Yeah)


Heidi describes what she has gained through NALS membership, especially as a leader, “has personally assisted me to understand what makes a good role model and how to interact with others.”  Heidi loves to mingle at NALS events. “I like meeting people and enjoy hearing stories of our members and guests on which roads led them to where they are today.”


Heidi’s favorite activity in all of NALS is education, especially learning new technological advancements, as she remains a student at heart. She feels that NALS has given her a second family and says that “participation is key to your success.”  The best advice she has been given in legal work is to not take anything personally and to remember that “everyone has an ego. It’s what you do with it that matters.”


Heidi is “married to a loving supporter, Michael Hopper, for 19 years and they have one child, 10-year old Taylor, unless we count our one cat, Tom, and one dog, Tiger.  My son and I are planning an overnight hike and kayak trip this summer.” Her spare time is spent with family—camping, biking, skiing, eating and playing games. She also likes to unwind with a book and a glass of wine.  Her favorite book is The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. “It gives a perspective of life through communication, love, loyalty, and hope between pets and family.”


Heidi has other interesting hobbies too.  She plans to do a wood painting and transfer a picture of her father for his gravesite. She would love to create concrete hummingbird feeders for friends.  In the immediate future, she wants to build a bench to sit on while soaking her feet in the pool.


One thing has not changed in four years. This quote from Heidi’s NALS Member Spotlight, March 2014:


Heidi says “NALS remains top notch in a competitive market for legal education which, in turn, will provide and improve opportunities to enrich staff, legal secretaries, paralegals, attorneys, human resource administrators, and others in preparing them to perform well in their jobs. The value of my NALS membership is never ending—from legal education, social marketing, social outings, and the available information from those across the country is simply priceless! Thank you NALS for allowing me to be a part of this significant family!”

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (1)

Ask Eula Mae: How to Prioritize a Mess

Posted By NALS Editorial + Marketing Board, Thursday, June 14, 2018
Updated: Monday, June 25, 2018

Dear Eula Mae:


I work in a relatively small law firm with three attorneys and three legal assistants.  Two of the bosses were out of town today when one of the legal assistants was fired.  I was assigned the duty of getting her files and other tasks in order before her boss comes back.  It turns out that she was a real mess, disorganized and only did what she had to do and didn’t file anything back in the file room.  I even found unpaid bills!  I’m worried that I won’t be able to get all of this straight with the duties that my boss assigned me before he left.  Can you help?


--Afraid in Alabama

Dear Afraid in Alabama:


Sometimes you just have to face what has been given to you.  I can tell you that it will probably take more thinking power than doing power to get things in order.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could get it done and ready for signatures by the time the attorneys get back? You can do it!   


The most efficient way to begin tackling this mess is to put like items together before processing.  You will need a space to spread out the stacks of paperwork, some sticky notes, and a pencil. Gather all the things that need to be done from the fired person’s desk and try to think about how you can group all of the documents and files into categories such as bills, documents to proof and sign, ready to file, ready to mail, etc. Write the category name on a sticky note and make room to build groups of like items. Pick up one document or file at a time, write the due date in pencil on the top right of the first page and place in the appropriate named category for processing. If there is no due date and it doesn’t fit in any of the categories and must be processed before going to the file room, make a separate stack for that. If there is no due date needed (not urgent), it will need its own stack too. This is the one that you will do last.


Then you will gather up each category in a stack for processing.  Pick up a stack and organize it in date order from oldest due date (on the top of the stack) to the newest (on the bottom of the stack).  Do that with every stack.  Look for the oldest date of all the stacks.  That is the category that you will complete first (urgent). Items for the file room are not as urgent and can wait a little longer.


The purpose of this process is two-fold—you will feel like you are in control of the situation and you will only have to think about the steps for each task one time. There is something about repetition that will help you move through the stack with ease.  After you have completed your part of all items in that stack, then take it where it needs to go for the next step, which is usually the boss’s office. 


Next, look for the oldest date in the remaining stacks and start again with that one.  The stacks with no due dates are not urgent, but still need to be handled.  For the one that still needs processing, assign a date to complete it.  For the final stack that needs to be filed in the file room, schedule 30 minutes at the end of the day on Friday to file these documents.


After you get a grip on the paperwork you inherited, it will probably make your job look easier. You will know exactly what to do to get ready for your boss’s return.  Be brave.  You can do all of this and more.

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)
Page 3 of 25
1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  >   >>   >| 
Amylyn Riedling PP PLS-SC2019 NALS Board of Directors
Nakia A. Bradley-Lawson2019 NALS Board of Directors

Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal