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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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Ask Eula Mae: Finding Time to Stay Certified

Posted By NALS Editorial + Marketing Board, Thursday, April 19, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Dear Eula Mae:

I’ve been a legal assistant in real estate contracts for many years and my workload has grown with the company. It’s not too big to handle, but sure makes for a full day. I have my PLS certification, which is about to expire and I’m not sure if I want to stay certified. Part of this feeling is due to the workload and part is due to my busy family life with three teenagers at home. My life is full and my time is limited. I don’t know how I’m going to keep my certification.


—Stay Certified or Not in Cleveland

Dear Cleveland:

Where there is a will there is a way and fortunately for you, NALS has many ways to stay certified thanks to their online presence. There are so many ways for you to get CLE and most of them are on your own time.

Education is something that no one can take away from you. You can lose a job, a house, a car, etc., but no one can strip you of your knowledge. Your certification not only expresses your expertise in the field but your experience—a truly precious commodity in the legal field. You are not just another ‘assistant’ or ‘secretary’; you are a legal support professional—an earnest, worthy investment for any attorney or law firm. By letting your certification lapse, you are essentially cloaking a beacon of legal expertise and education.

First, look at what is required for your recertification and I’m sure you will find a way to get the credits you need. You worked hard to become certified and it is worth it to keep it—for now and for later!

Here are some suggestions:

  • Register for a webinar at NALS. A list of upcoming webinar and continuing legal education (CLE) events can be found at NALS.org/Events.
  • Read the @LAW magazine and take the respective quiz to earn education hours. 
  • Write an article for the NALS Docket eNewsletter. I know you can! You have a lot to say. You could talk about your NALS experience as a non-traditional legal person and what this has meant to you personally and for your job. Tell us about your local NALS chapter’s volunteering experience and your role as an officer. What is your proudest accomplishment at NALS and how has that impacted your life on the job? How can this information help other members? How have the skills that you gained from NALS helped you? How have your connections in the association helped you in your job, in NALS, and in your life? Docket newsletter article are 1000 words. These tend to be more personal in nature, but not necessarily.
  • Write an article for NALS @LAW. These articles are 2000 words about the law in action or the law itself. If you have ideas for an article, members of the NALS Editorial + Marketing Board will be happy to work with you to develop some article ideas. The goal is to get the most out of NALS.
  • Do you have mandatory classes that you have to take for your job? You can always send information on that to the Certification/Education Manager at NALS to see if it qualifies for CLE credit.
  • Teaching a session through NALS or through your chapter. You receive 4x the CLE credit for hosting or teaching a webinar/seminar/or workshop and, yes, this includes prep time.
  • If you enjoy reading or writing, you can always do self-study. You can earn up to 5 CLE credits for doing so.
  • Attend an online membership meeting. They are free and you can earn up to 2 CLE. Visit NALS.org/NOMM for all upcoming dates.
  • Stay active on our NALS social feed. The NALS Certification/Education Manager releases online certification quizzes over various areas of substantive law
  • Attend a conference. NALS conferences are notorious for being fun learning environments for all attendees. You will have time to meet the NALS Board of Directors, NALS Resource Center Staff, and NALS Pals from across the nation! NALS.org/PHX18
  • If you have the time to volunteer, you can join a national task force to earn CLE on certain tasks. 

And if ‘life happens’, just reach out to the NALS Resource Center and request an extension. NALS Resource Center will do anything in its power to help you succeed and maintain your certification.

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#IAMEULAMAE: Spirit of Pioneering

Posted By NALS Editorial + Marketing Board, Thursday, April 19, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2018
The next piece of this series on the Spirit of Eula Mae (stolen from the Disneyland Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln display) is Pioneering. In my mind, pioneering is being innovative and bringing others with you.

Eula Mae Jett, who founded NALS in 1929, was definitely a pioneer. Not only did she start a group for women, she started a group for women employed as legal secretaries. And this was in 1929, the year the Great Depression started and when the majority of working women were employed as maids, telephone operators, teachers, nurses, or clerical workers. I also have a feeling that in 1929, women were expected to have dinner on the table before hubby came home, so finding time to have a meeting to share knowledge and help each other would definitely have been a challenge.

When Eula Mae set out to get together with others in her profession to make everyone smarter, better at their professions, and better legal professionals, she truly had the spirit of a pioneer. She did something that hadn’t been done before in her profession.

NALS itself continues to be a pioneer. We have access to people employed in the legal field in all positions—not just one. We have members who are paralegals, legal secretaries, legal assistants, administrators, docket clerks, receptionists, filing clerks, people who work in title companies, banks, real estate companies, nonprofits, and others. NALS is THE premier association for legal support staff—ALL legal support staff. We aren’t exclusive, we don’t deny membership to those who qualify, and we have education that everyone can learn something from. 

I am so glad that NALS pioneered its way through the changing legal support profession and has maintained its position as an association that Eula Mae would be proud of. We can always use more people with the pioneer spirit to help NALS meet its goals. By volunteering on a committee, attending national conferences, special events, online webinars, online membership meetings, local meetings, authoring articles for the docket, inviting coworkers to participate, using your NALS network to impress your employer, and myriad ways that I haven’t even thought of, you can be a NALS pioneer. We have an obligation to help those following behind us to find their way in the legal profession. What better way to do that than through NALS?

Be like Eula Mae—be a NALS pioneer.

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Are Entities Singular or Plural?

Posted By Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, Thursday, April 19, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2018

As we've learned before, a verb must always agree in number and person with the subject. See “Singular Verb, Plural Subject, Both . . . and, It's All About the Agreement” in the October 2014 NALS docket. But what if the "person" is an entity? Do you then use a singular or plural verb?

Typically, if you are talking about the entity as a unit, you use singular verb:

  • The committee meets on the third Thursday of each month.
  • The firm has earned many accolades.

If the entity is a company, it is usually treated as a unit. Just be sure that you carry the treatment as singular or plural every time you are talking about that entity. For instance:

  • ABC Corporation has ended its lease term. It is now looking for new office space.
  • NOT: "ABC Corporation has ended its lease term. They are now looking for new office space." This example is inconsistent in treatment. If you are going to treat ABC Corporation as a single entity, then it is looking for space.

If you want to emphasize that the members of the entity are acting independently, then a plural verb is correct:

  • The committee left the meeting together.
  • The staff have successfully staggered their vacations.
  • The jury left their notes in the jury box.

To help figure it out, replace the entity with "it" and replace members of the entity with "they" to make sure you are using the right verb. Using the examples above, replace the entity with the word in parenthesis to see how it works:

  • The committee (it) meets on the third Thursday of each month.
  • The firm (it) has earned many accolades.
  • The committee (they) left the meeting together.
  • The staff (they) have successfully staggered their vacations.
  • The jury (they) left their notes in the jury box.

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What Does A Strategist Do?

Posted By NALS Leadership Identification Committee, Thursday, April 19, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Strategist is defined as a person who is skilled in making plans for achieving a goal or someone who is good at forming strategies.  So the question is: What can a strategist do for your membership? It is a vital competency for any organization. 


A strategist must set the stage for why strategy is an essential leadership responsibility while providing support and structure to any vision and concept.  Leaders with this quality want to develop the framework to use what is meaningful and adapts with change.


A strategist brings forward a plan and challenges other leaders to embrace it as a core value accompanied by enduring action. Strategy is not something to hand-off to someone else and it is not a shelf article, safely stored away.  Strategy and leadership need to be filled with purpose, consistency, and dynamism. Many leaders have not thought about their own strategies in a very deep way. Often, there is a curious gap between their intellectual understanding of strategy and their ability to drive those insights home.


Some leaders view strategy as something others do, something a consultant does.  If different levels within an association are to know what to do, how to do it, and why they should do it, then leaders need to develop a real, meaningful strategy that is attainable and actionable.


Change is the only constant. So strategy should be able to be adapted as conditions change. A strategy needs to be agile, re-visited, and made a part of an ongoing conversation and action. The strategist's responsibility is to ensure its adoption throughout the organization.  A strategist creates and supports a productive plan that incorporates members' interests in ways that promote leadership development.  The structure and forces of the association  will not change just because the strategist wants it to.   A strategist  needs to incorporate the structure of the membership in which they serve and determine how to navigate the plan of action.  The structure may not change, but membership can adapt. So, when the strategist makes decisions, he or she needs to be humble and seek out new perspectives.  Securing buy-in for any new plan is crucial to the strategist's success.  He or she knows the dynamics of the association and that failure could be an option, but the strategist refuses to accept failure as he or she works through the obstacles to produce a new plan. Remember courage creates change.


The LIC is looking for courageous strategists to serve at every level within NALS.  


If you have questions, please contact Brandi Hobbs, ALP; Kerie Trindle Byrne, PP, PLS, CP; Sherry Baran; Cathy Zackery, CLP; and Charniece Rollie at LIC@nals.org. 


If you or someone you know is interested in serving on the NALS Board you can find additional information along with the application here. Deadline August 1, 2018!



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Ask Eula Mae: Where Do I Begin? Some Basics of Becoming a Legal Secretary

Posted By NALS Editorial + Marketing Board, Thursday, March 22, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Dear Eula Mae:


I’ve worked as a temp for a long time as a data entry person, receptionist, and typist for various legal offices.  Recently I had the opportunity to fill in for a few weeks at a law office as a legal secretary and as it turns out the person I was covering for won’t be back. The office has just hired me as a legal secretary and I’m so excited!  I want to do a good job and feel like there is so much to learn to succeed in this position. Can you give me some advice on where to start to build a career in a law office?



So New in New York



Dear So New:


It sounds like you have a natural ability to become a great legal secretary and the fact that you care will guarantee you a wonderful career in this interesting profession.  The first thing you need to know is what is expected of you in the office where you work. That means you need to have a conversation with your immediate supervisor and the office manager and/or human resources person.   


The next step is to read the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct because your attitude and behavior reflects your boss and the office.  Your attorney boss is responsible for your conduct and strictest confidentiality must be kept in your work. 


It is a good idea to have access to the Rules of Civil Procedure and your local rules, found on your county and state courthouse websites. One crucial skill to focus on is proofreading. You have to be exact on dates, grammar, and punctuation within the various court guidelines.  For a quick reference, see the current edition of the Gregg Reference Manual and http://proofthatblog.com/ by Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP. As part of proofreading, you will also need to know the proper way to type citations.  For this, refer to The Bluebook.  These are books and resources that you need to have at your desk, along with Black’s Law Dictionary.


One of the greatest resources is to get involved in your professional organization, NALS…the association for legal professionals.  Your local chapter will help you establish connections with other legal professionals and provide educational opportunities too. The NALS website gives you access to publications, upcoming classes, reference materials, and great networking opportunities.  You can arrange for a mentor to guide you in your work and your career.


Examples of other resources include The Paralegal Mentor, Vicki Voison’s website; Paralegal Today Magazine, which should be later on your list, and remember to check to see if your local college has a paralegal studies program; the podcast, The Paralegal Voice, with NALS' own Carl H. Morrison, PP-SC, AACP; and various Facebook groups including NALS local and state associations and other groups that you can find by searching for 'paralegal.'


From time to time, NALS offers wonderful training events, The Basic and The Advanced Legal Training Programs, which you should take in order. These programs will teach you about the law and your role as a legal assistant as well as prepare you to test for certification through NALS. The NALS Paralegal Certification is a program that is approved by the American Bar Association.


All the best to you in your new chosen profession. You will love it. Every day there is so much to learn.

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more Calendar

11/1/2019 » 3/31/2020
NALS Recertification Amnesty Period

11/17/2019 » 3/16/2020
NALS Fall 2019 Legal Olympics

12/1/2019 » 12/31/2019
December 2019 Online CLP Exam


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