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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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Want to Work Fast

Posted By Rachel Daeger, Thursday, March 12, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Dear Eula Mae:

I’ve been in the legal support field for a few years now. My previous position as a data processor/typist was all about production and speed and it is a little different now that I’m a legal assistant. I want so much to do my job fast but I’m having to go back and correct little things almost daily. I get frustrated by handling the same documents over and over. This really slows down the process and I’m sure my boss is not happy about having to look at these documents over and over too. I don’t want him to think he made a mistake in hiring me for this job. I want to do well as a legal assistant and need advice on this.

--Want to be Speedy

 

Dear Speedy:

It seems like everything in the world today is all about speed, however, in a legal office, it is more important for the work to be exactly correct. The rhythm of the legal assistant’s job is different than a production position like a typist. The legal assistant is required to take exceptional care in handling clients’ information. This means a lot of reading and proofreading which takes time.

The work needs to be perfect before it leaves the office. My best advice to you is to be sure you have the right resources (grammar books and websites marked) and skills (which can be developed) in order for you to do the best job that you can. At the desk, a legal assistant’s job is about dependability and accuracy. After you type some documents, take a moment to occupy your mind a different way--take a short walk around the office, go get a cup of coffee, do some copying or filing—anything that is different than what you just typed. Then come back to the document and read it backwards from the end of the document to the top.

There is something about how the brain works when doing this that will help you spot any mistakes. But before you turn the work in to the boss for signature, try reading it out loud (silently of course) one more time to look for any other corrections needed. You can learn to slow down in the office with the goal of having the best outcome possible in your work.

It will take you a little effort to do this, but you will be very happy with the results and your boss will notice the improvement too.

Tags:  ask eula mae  docket 

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February 2020 Docket - Ask Eula Mae

Posted By Rachel Daeger, Thursday, February 13, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 2020
How to Prioritize a Mess

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 to handle.  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!   

To get started on 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 twofold—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 there to get ready for your boss’s return.  Be brave.  You can do all of this and more.
 

Tags:  ask eula mae  office procedures  paralegal career 

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Ask Eula Mae: Work v. Law School Decision

Posted By NALS Editorial Board, Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Ask Eula MaeDear Eula Mae:

I have an ALP certificate and work part time for an attorney as an office clerk but lack the hours needed for a four-year law study program in lieu of going to law school.  Most of my duties are as a personal assistant and I do not have much to do.  I am taking the Multi-State Professional Exam (MPRE) this week “just for fun.”  How do I get my foot in the door without much legal experience?  Should I bite the bullet and go to law school or stay on my current path and hope to find work in a more robust office?

New Hampshire Newbie


 

Dear New Hampshire Newbie:

Well, you have a lot going on and a lot of questions!  This is good!  There are several things in your letter to consider:  (1) you need hours for a four-year law study program, (2) you need more to do in your job, (3) it sounds like you really want to work in a law office, and (4) you are trying to decide whether or not to go to law school.  Let’s take these one at a time.  

  1. You need hours for a four-year law study program.  Are you in college or looking for certification hours?  Either way, if you love the law, you can find classes to attend through professional organizations such as NALS, technical schools, or online classes at your local university.  

  2. In your current job, start with the boss.  The boss needs to know you need more to do and you are willing to learn.  Bosses are a great resource for legal professionals for career ideas and maybe as a mentor.  You could interview the boss about his experience in law school.

  3. If your goal is to work in a law office, there is much to learn right where you are.  If you have exhausted the resources there (after talking with the boss, of course), then it might be time to move on to a busier office.  Legal work can take place in many areas.  You can work directly for an attorney at hospitals, corporate offices, title companies, insurance companies, utility companies, etc.  As your own research project to help you decide your next step, it might be good to look at other areas that have legal assistants.

  4. A big decision such as whether or not to go to law school is not one to make quickly.  There are many reasons for this and the main one is to absolutely know why you want to go to law school.  It is a big commitment.  First, you will have to finish your undergraduate degree and then secure the funding to pay for law school.  This is a job in itself.  Then you will need to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).  All of this could take some time, but that is really not a problem because you can go to school any time in your life.

 

What makes your main question difficult is the fact that there are so many options!  Now, how to make a big decision:  make a comparison chart with a list of what you could do (law school v. legal assistant, paralegal certification, etc.).  For each item, make columns of time involved, resources available and needed, costs, and list the positives and negatives of each.  You have plenty of time to decide.  You can always go to law school and working as a legal assistant until you are ready will better prepare you for law school.  The real answer to your question is for you to follow your heart.  You will be fine whatever you choose to do.

 

Eula Mae Jett

 

Submit Your Questions To Ask Eula Mae By Clicking Here.

 

 

Tags:  ask eula mae  legal  legal education  legal job skills  legal jobs  legal professional  paralegal 

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Avoiding Conflict of Interest

Posted By Ask Eula Mae, Wednesday, October 26, 2016

 

Dear Eula Mae:


Good morning.  I am a new receptionist and typist at the biggest law firm in our city.  My goal is to be a paralegal, so I spend lots of spare time observing, reading, and preparing to take the NALS ALP exam.  My boss is out of town and our caseload is being monitored by a paralegal in our office until he gets back.  Today we had several people come into the office to meet with various attorneys and paralegals.  I recognized two of these visitors and, of course, spoke with them in the lobby.  I know I need to report to my boss if I know anyone who comes in the office.  Since my boss is out of town, whom do I need to tell that I know these people?

 

Learning in Louisiana

 

 

Dear Learning in Louisiana:

 

That is a very good question because that can be a difficult situation.  Reporting you know visitors to the office is one of the first things you should have learned as a receptionist.  In this case, you will need to report to your paralegal supervisor as soon as possible that you know the visitors.  If the paralegal is not available, report this to the office manager or human resources director as soon as you can.  The point is to keep the client’s information confidential, so do not be offended if you are not allowed to work on their case.  Imagine if you were in their shoes.  Confidentiality is of utmost importance for all legal personnel.  See Rule 1.6, Confidentiality of Information in the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

 

Eula Mae Jett

 

Submit Your Questions To Ask Eula Mae By Clicking Here.

 


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