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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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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?

 

Sincerely,

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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For Want Of A Comma–The Oxford Comma Update

Posted By Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, Thursday, March 22, 2018
Updated: Monday, March 26, 2018

Nearly a year ago, I wrote an article about a case, the crux of which was the lack of an Oxford comma. Here is the section of that article quoting the language missing the Oxford comma:

Here is the law’s wording about activities NOT meriting overtime pay:


The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.

 

Based on this language, is packing for shipment its own activity or is it packing for the distribution of the three things on the list? If an Oxford comma had separated “packing for shipment” and “or,” the meaning would have been much more clear. According to court documents, the drivers arguing for overtime actually distribute perishable food, but they do not pack it. That argument helped win the case.

The Oakhurst Dairy drivers who brought the case had asked for $10 million. Court documents filed last week indicate the case was settled for $5 million. All for the want of a comma . . .

 

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NALS Member Spotlight: Charniece Rollie

Posted By Allison Streepey, B.A., CRS, PLS, Thursday, March 22, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2018

NALS of Missouri - Charniece Rollie - Legal Professional SpotlightCharniece Rollie started her legal career 25 years ago and joined NALS a few years later.  She began as a legal assistant with experience in pro bono, employment law, and civil litigation. She is now Executive Assistant at Baker, Sterchi, Cowden, & Rice LLC, where she has worked for the past four years. She enjoys coordinating and planning events for the staff and attorneys in the firm.

 

Charniece was first featured in the NALS docket eNewsletter in 2013. A lot has happened in five years. Legal careers can take many turns and experiences with NALS can grow too. Charniece has served in various capacities on the local, state, and national levels of NALS. On the local and state level, she has served as President, Vice President, and Secretary. She was the Membership Director for her home chapter, HALPA, the Heart of America Legal Professionals Association and Editor of The Briefcase newsletter for her state chapter, NALS of Missouri. Her favorite local and state event is the annual meeting when the newly elected officers are installed.

 

She joined NALS because she was interested in the organization and because of old and new friends. She said then she wanted to gain more knowledge about what NALS had to offer and now she continues to take advantage of the educational conferences.  “It is a great tool for furthering your career. NALS helps me to stay in contact with people.  If I have a question about anything, there is a connection, there are resources that I can use either to get my questions answered or just to have a friendly conversation.” 

 

She stays connected with NALS members from her local and state chapters too, and feels that this is the most important part of sharing and growing the organization.  Charniece recommends finding out what made the member join and working as a team in the chapter to customize the offerings and communications. “All our members are valuable and have special talents to bring to NALS.”

 

Charniece is a natural leader with a positive outlook.  Her personal goal with NALS is “to be able to work with an awesome group of people and also to grow as a leader. “  All of this happened when she became a member of a NALS National Committee, where she served on the Webinar Committee and now is on the Leadership Identification Committee.  Charniece feels this is one of her greatest accomplishment at NALS.

 

Charniece says everyone at NALS is her role model because they are there for the same reason that she is and this is very motivational.  At the national NALS conferences, she enjoys the welcome reception where she gets to see old and new friends and participate in the NALS Foundation Raffles. 

 

As if a legal career doesn’t keep Charniece busy enough, she has two children, Jasmine 31, and Jereme 26, and two grandchildren, Mario, 4 and Nichyi, 7.  Any spare time she has is spent reading, shopping, planting flowers, hanging out with family, and going to the movies.  Her favorite book is the Holy Bible, “which builds your character, you find out the plan that God has for your life, and teaches you how you should conduct yourself in your everyday life.” Charniece also volunteers frequently at “Harvesters,” the Community Food Network, and is a “Lead to Read” Volunteer at Garfield Elementary School in the Kansas City, Missouri School District.

 

In 2013, she said, “Leadership is service. Service is leadership. Do what you can wherever you can.” This motto is still serving her well at work, at NALS, with her family, in church, and in the community. This statement truly describes Charniece and her connection to all people.

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