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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, NALS news, NALS Foundation, chapter and members spotlights, and more!


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Figuring Out the Dress Code

Posted By NALS Editorial + Marketing Board, Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Updated: Monday, December 18, 2017

Dear Eula Mae:

I’m new in the legal field and proud to be legal secretary at a small law firm. There are only ten of us. We do not have a human resources office, only a paralegal who also serves as our office manager. I want so much to be the consummate professional and want to look professional too. I don’t know where to start or what will work as a daytime wardrobe. I’m new to the workforce and only have a few pairs of dark slacks and kind of floaty tops that seem to look more casual than my co-workers’ dressy outfits. I need some advice.

--Concerned in California


Dear Concerned:

What a great question! Remember that you now are a representative of your office and need to look the part as well. You could visit with the office manager about what is expected in your wardrobe at work. Before you do that, look around at the professionals in your office.

Like most professions, the clients must have absolute confidence in hiring your firm. If you look sloppy, it gives the appearance that the work will be sloppy. Try to be neat, clean, and polished. That means muted colors (navy, gray, black, white), well-fitting clothes (not tight), and clean (no pet hair, lint). If you look around in your office, you will see that there is no cleavage, no visible tattoos, no face piercings, and no sandals.

Dressing as a legal professional doesn’t take a lot of money, just some carefully chosen pieces that you can blend in to the wardrobe that you have. Start with a navy or black jacket, a skirt and slacks to match. These muted colors can be brightened with a colorful blouse, a colorful scarf, or a little jewelry. Choose your best color and try to find different shirts and blouses in your color to mix-and-match with your suit. Add in a cardigan and some gray, brown, or khaki slacks or skirts and you are done. Shoes need to be reasonable and cover the feet, such as black flats and black low heels. 

When you look good, you feel good and you will do good work too. Good luck in your new chosen profession. I’m sure you will do well.

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Chapter Spotlight: NALS of Northeast Ohio

Posted By Antoinette B. VanSchaick, PP, SC, Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Updated: Monday, December 18, 2017

In 1977, while driving back from a NALS meeting, NALS member Marlene Oiler and her friend, Nancy Suvak, talked about forming a chapter.  Marlene had the knowledge of how to organize and accomplish starting a chapter, while Nancy knew the community.  They invited individuals working in the legal field in the Medina County area to meet.  A few months later, on August 13, 1977, the Medina County Legal Secretaries Association was formed and chartered.  Medina County is located about 30 minutes south of Cleveland and east of Akron.


Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the local membership and Ohio membership were strong.  As life changed, however, so did the membership.  One of the changes occurred in 2008 when the Medina County Legal Secretaries Association changed its name to NALS of Northeast Ohio.


For a chapter with only 16 members, however, it wields a powerful punch.  Sarah Twyford, PP, PLS, SC-Civil Litigation, serves as President; Sarah Wilk serves as its Secretary; Deborah Smith serves as Treasurer; and charter member, Marlene Oiler, PLS Emeritus, serves as Parliamentarian.


Currently, NALS of Northeast Ohio handles all notary testing and renewals in Medina County under the direction and assistance of Probate Judge Kevin W. Dunn.  The revenue raised from this venture is the chapter’s only source of income and is used to provide funding for members to attend seminars and for legal education.  NALS of Northeast Ohio also awards annual scholarships totaling $5,000.00 to two high school or college applicants going into the legal profession and their local bar association has raised its scholarship to match the scholarship award given by NALS of Northeast Ohio.


NALS of Northeast Ohio is also a very civic-minded and charitable organization.  Each year, NALS of Northeast Ohio members nominate local charities that they want charitable contributions made to, and some of their notary revenue is donated to groups such as animal rescue, hospice, and their local drug court.  They also donated a stone at long-time member Rose Costigan’s favorite local wildlife center in her memory after she passed away.  In addition, for the past two years, its members have rung the Red Kettle Bell for the Salvation Army at Thanksgiving and Christmas. 


Not only did Gov. John Kasich recognize NALS of Northeast Ohio as an important resource for legal professionals in Northeast Ohio, but the Office of the Ohio Attorney General also issued a proclamation in honor of NALS of Northeast Ohio’s 40th anniversary!


NALS of Northeast Ohio is proof-positive that you don’t need to be a big chapter to do great things.  I hope you will join me in congratulating NALS of Northeast Ohio on its 40th anniversary and wishing them the best as they continue to engage, inspire, enhance, and promote legal professionals in Northeast Ohio.

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What Does NALS Leadership Look Like: A series to discuss leadership characteristics

Posted By Leadership Identification Committee, Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Updated: Monday, December 18, 2017

Leadership can mean many different things. To some, it is a state of being or a position, but to others, like the NALS Leadership Identification Committee (“LIC”), it is a demonstrable characteristic of actively guiding a group or an organization. The LIC was created to identify potential future leaders for service on the NALS Board of Directors and assist leaders (NALS members) in finding other leadership roles within the association as committee and task force chairs and/or members. To that end, the LIC has identified a short list of desired attributes for future leaders of the organization that will best allow NALS to thrive. We as an organization need people who embody each of the following:

  • Financial Guru
  • Strategist
  • Relationship Builder
  • Tech Savvy
  • Visionary/Innovator

In order to help the membership better understand what each of these characterizations means and how they fit into the future of NALS, the LIC will be hosting Zoom Calls (https://zoom.us/) in alternating months. We will introduce you to the LIC and our role in identifying and preparing future leaders of the organization. We will also provide tips about developing the leadership qualities within each of us and honing them for use within NALS.


Our first introduction call occurred on Thursday, November 30, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern/12 p.m. Pacific via Zoom meeting. Listen below to our introduction to this series. 


On each call you will hear from an LIC member who cares about and is invested in the future of the organization and you will be able to ask questions about where you can help. The meetings will be brief—under 30 minutes for those who will need to join over a lunch hour—and informative. If you believe you are a leader, want to become one, or have been told you have what it takes, we hope you will join us.


If you have questions, please contact us (Brandi Hobbs, ALP; Kerie Trindle Byrne, PP, PLS, CP; and Sherry Baran) at LIC@nals.org

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Member Spotlight - Myria Ross, Legal Secretary

Posted By Allison Streepey, B.A., CRS, PLS, Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Updated: Monday, December 18, 2017

Myria RossMyria Ross, Legal Secretary, joined NALS…The Association for Legal Professionals in 2017 at the suggestion of her employer. After searching different organizations, she was impressed that NALS was originally named the National Association of Legal Secretaries. Myria was moved that there is an organization full of secretaries. ”This is home!” was her first thought.


Myria has been in the legal field for 18 years for the City of Detroit Law Department. She is now the Senior Legal Secretary in the Labor and Employment Section and Appeals Section. Although there are over 100 attorneys who work for the City, Myria works with 7 attorneys directly. She has been there so long that attorneys call her for assistance in every section outside of her own area, including the Contracts Section.


Myria loves her work as a legal secretary. Her job requires her to be efficient, reliable, and independent. She is responsible for receiving a document and “making it look pretty.” Her goal as a legal secretary is to have error-free documents to present to her attorneys. Besides typing and proofreading other documents, Myria performs a variety of tasks such as filing legal documents with the court, delivering judge’s copies to the judge, sending faxes, answering phones—“the usual secretarial tasks.” As a supervisor over other legal secretaries, Myria also coordinates assignments between attorneys and support staff. Her natural leadership qualities shine through in how she works with co-workers. “I believe that employees should be able to come to me for any issues and I tell them to ‘never stress over any of your work. Give ME your stress.’ They are always thankful to have help whenever they need it.”


The highlight of Myria’s career (so far) is receiving the Legal Secretary of the Year two years in a row from the City of Detroit Law Department. Myria describes the award as “no higher honor than being voted the best of the best!”


Currently, Myria is a member of NALS of Detroit and the state chapter of NALS of Michigan. She is such a new member that currently she doesn’t hold a leadership position; however, “The inspirational vibe that I receive from current leaders and members makes me believe that leadership status is definitely possible for those who aspire, even me!” She feels the gains from membership in NALS will help in many ways. “Life expectations were always very high for me and once I joined NALS, I began to gain a new appreciation and understanding for the very important roles that support staff play in the success of a legal practice.”


Myria believes that membership in NALS will certainly help her career.  “The education and certifications offered will increase the trust between me and my attorneys.  It assures them that I take pride in my work, I am serious about my job, and I can deliver immaculate results.  NALS provides me with constant mental stimulation that I wear as an armor of confidence while performing my job daily.”


Myria has been married to her husband for 13 years, they have one daughter, and she enjoys spending quality time with family and friends. She serves on the Usher Board at her church and volunteers as Team Mom for her daughter’s t-ball team. Her hobbies are ballroom dancing, playing board games, and snuggling up to watch a good movie.


Kathy Sieckman met Myria at the NALS Conference in Norfolk in October and was impressed by her big personality. As we learn a little more about her, it is easy to see why.  Myria will be a leader to watch.

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Member Spotlight: Tara Jean Brown, PP, PLS

Posted By Allison Streepey, B.A., CRS, PLS, Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tara Jean Brown, PP, PLS, of Greenville, South Carolina, has been a very active and dedicated member of NALS since 2004.  Her local chapter is the Legal Staff Professionals of Greenville (LSPG).  She has served in every office on the local and state level and she has in some offices many times.  It was by attending one of LSPG’s great membership opportunities that Tara decided to join NALS.  LSPG engages members through fundraising drives such as fashion shows, chocolate soirees, family bowling socials, family picnics, dinner and a play, and other social events. 


In her local chapter, Tara has served as a member and Chair of the Probate Court Committee and Chair of Community Projects and of the Financial Review Committee. Currently, Tara is the Chairperson for the Annual Greenville County Probate Court’s continuing legal education.  She says there are about 100 attorneys and paralegals who attend these events.  This is work that Tara loves because of the benefits of learning more about the areas of law that her law office practices.


On the state level, Tara served the Legal Staff Professionals of South Carolina (LSPSC) as Director of Membership and of Certification, Chair of Community Projects, Co-Chair of the Finance Committee, and as a member of the Financial Review Committee. Luckily for NALS, Tara has served as a member and Chair of the NALS Industry Certification Task Force Committee and recently as the Norfolk 2017 Conference Chair.  


Her favorite activities in NALS are the Tulsa and National Conferences because of “making so many friends all around the country. Everyone is always so friendly—it’s a family.  Tulsa is always so energizing and gets the motor running for the next year.”


Tara has dedicated her time to helping other members have continuing legal education and enjoys working behind the scenes on huge projects. The latest project has her as Chair in preparing the NALS National Conference in Norfolk.  She feels it is so important to have members join in conference planning projects because of all that it takes to "get a huge conference to completion—coordination with the NALS staff, speakers, and members.”  This is an example of “You will get out of NALS what you put into it.”  Tara recommends that we all “Get involved! Don’t sit on the sideline.  Invest in yourself and your career.  This is how you do it.”


All this activity shows that Tara has accomplished many goals that she set out to do since joining NALS for “the professional growth and to network with others within the legal community.”  Tara believes that NALS has assisted her in her legal career by “Keeping me sharp with what’s going on in the legal field.  Learning about updates on procedures, technology and the networking can’t be replaced.  It also makes me strive to do better as I watch others within the Association achieve their goals and certifications.  I also love to hear about other types of law that our office does not do and knowing who to call if I need something in other areas of law.” 


The pursuit of knowledge is Tara’s ultimate goal.  “So many NALS members are my role models.  I am always in awe as to how passionate the members are.  I watch people like Tara Hughes, Kathy Sieckman, Carl Morrison, just to name a few, and I am amazed at how knowledgeable and involved they are.  How do they have time to achieve so many certifications?”


Tara has worked in the legal field for 24 years with the Greene Law Firm, PA, where she currently serves as a Paralegal and Office Manager.  She loves her job and the chance to help people. “It is important to walk with the individual you are helping. Helping the client work through a very stressful time is rewarding and so is the sense of closure for the client when the case is finished.”


The highlight of Tara’s legal career was “getting my NALS PLS and PP Certifications along with becoming a South Carolina Certified Paralegal.” (South Carolina is one of the states that has recognized paralegals as a profession through voluntary certification through the State.  NALS has been following the emergence of professional paralegals as a new career option for a few years through webinars and articles in the @LAW magazine.)


Besides her legal life, Tara has a full life with her family, community, and church.  She enjoyed watching her children grow up playing sports, and loves traveling with her husband and spending time at the beach or in the mountains with her friends. She has been very involved within her church, Saint Andrews Presbyterian, as a member of the Fellowship and Finance Committees, an Elder of the church, and in the choir. Tara is also a Treasurer for the Wade Hampton High School Football Booster Club as well as a member of the Greenville County School District Booster / PTA Club Advisory Board.  In the midst of all this activity, Tara enjoys scrapbooking with friends, just hanging out or traveling, and reading Lisa Scottoline legal thriller books.


When asked what she has gained from her membership in NALS, Tara says, “So much.  It has given me purpose, pride, friendship, professionalism, and family. The most valued gift from NALS is the friendship with the others in the legal community all over the country.  Some of my closest friends are NALS members.  Also, the leadership skills I have developed are due to NALS.  Before being a member of NALS, I would never have thought about being a president or a treasurer or any other office within an association.”


Tara found a NALS mentor through Elaine Sumeral, who has “been a driving force in my NALS career.  She is a constant voice of reason.” She also sees her state association members as “all mentors to me.  They have always been there, they push, they pull, they hug, they support each other and me, both professionally and personally. All the accomplishments in my professional life are from having a supportive home chapter. We really work as a team to accomplish what is best for the Association.”

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more Calendar

3/21/2018 » 9/15/2018
NALS Traveling Gavel Challenge

3/21/2018 » 3/21/2019
NALS 2018 Online Leadership Course + Discussion

4/1/2018 » 6/30/2018
NALS Foundation Full Circle 5K

4/16/2018 » 4/16/2019
Online ALP Exam

Amylyn Riedling PP PLS-SC2018 NALS Board of Directors
Nakia A. Bradley-Lawson2018 NALS Board of Directors

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