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Cell Phone Extraction for the Small Firm
November/December 2016 Facts & Findings
by Lauren Doucette, ACP

In our digital age, almost all practice areas have seen a significant shift in the type of evidence provided by clients during the initial client meeting. Family law, employment, business disputes, and personal injury now rely heavily on communications among the parties and witnesses via text message.

Navigating the Waters of Corporate Political Activity
September/October 2016 Facts & Findings
by Steven Krikava

One of the storylines that goes along with media coverage of this year’s elections is the role of money in politics. Specifically, where does all that money come from? The most common answer is: ultra-rich individuals and corporations.

Filming Police in Action
July/August 2016 Facts & Findings
by Tabitha Clark, Esq.

Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Brown. The outcries for justice in the wakes of these individuals’ deaths and others would not have been nearly as deafening had the last few moments of their lives not been captured on film. Whether taken by private citizens, local business security cameras, news outlets, or dash and body cameras, video footage has been invaluably used after the fact to analyze police actions and the consequences that flowed therefrom.

The Evolution of Transcript Management Technology
May/June 2016 Facts & Findings
by Clare Foley

The basic tasks of legal transcription have not changed substantially over the years. Stenographic reporting is still a high-skilled, high-pressure job requiring extraordinary speed and attention to detail and accuracy if the end result is to be a reliable record of who said what and when. While stenographic writers are now paired with laptop computers that output electronic transcripts, and video recording is beginning to be used in some courtrooms, the transcription skillset continues to be in demand in the legal world.

Mediation
May/June 2016 Facts & Findings
by Kristin D. Arnett, Esq.

Divorce is difficult. Divorce is emotional. Divorce is expensive and time consuming. Even if you think that you don’t have a lot of “stuff” or you believe that you and your spouse “agree on everything,” rarely is that actually the case. Even if you don’t own much property, chances are you do have debt, which must also be divided. Whether you have been married five, ten, or fifteen years, you have accumulated things; you have joined two lives into one that now must be separated. This is not an easy task.

Educate, Advocacy, and Awareness
May/June 2016 Facts & Findings
by ToyaJ. Walker, Senior Paralegal

As I prepared my thoughts for the education column in this edition, I pondered on my professional experience regarding family law matters and I thought of human trafficking. What is human trafficking? “According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, “victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex or forced labor.” It exists in rural, suburban, and urban locations. Human trafficking is sometimes known as modern day slavery. “It usually occurs in the United States when people from other nations are brought in illegally to serve as free labor.” Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared January 2016 as Human Trafficking Awareness month in Texas.

The Litigation Paralegal's Trial Survial Kit
May/June 2016 Facts & Findings
by Teresa L. Semerena, ACP

All the pretrial deadlines have been met or have passed, exhibits and witness lists exchanged and next on the list is trial. Unfortunately, the progression orders never include a handy dandy checklist of items and tasks to be completed by the paralegal when proceeding to trial. Here are some of the things I have found essential to survive trial. It is not all encompassing, but it is a start and if nothing else, may prompt you to think of other essentials.

A Bonanza for Lawyers
March/April 2016 Facts & Findings
by Kevin J. Greene, JD, Professor

The proliferation of reality-type television shows, from “Love and Hip-Hop” to “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” has transformed the market for commercial television. Reality television, it is said, “is now recognized as a staple of television that has thoroughly altered writing, production and distribution practices” in the television industry. As the reality television genre has expanded, legal disputes, many as wacky as the shows themselves, have followed suit, no pun intended. The legal exposure of reality TV show, networks, producers and participants alike is real. Indeed, a reality TV participant in the show “Dating Naked” sued the network over “negligently” exposing and displaying the plaintiff’s genitals.

TechnoBits
March/April 2016 Facts & Findings
by Chis Weaver

In order to discuss where technology for the legal department is today, and where it’s going, it helps to review where technology has been and the corresponding philosophies corporate legal departments have employed. Database technology for legal professionals has been around since the 1980s in the form of simple data field screens designed to track legal entity information. These simple systems resided on a particular computer typically used by a small group of individuals. Database technology got more robust through the 90s, but companies were still applying one piece of technology to serve a specific purpose. When attorneys or other departments needed information, a request funneled through a database gatekeeper for each different tracking method: one for entity information, one for litigation, one for intellectual property, one for contracts, and so on.

Soft Skills to Excel in any Environment
January/February 2016 Facts & Findings
by Mary L. Wagner, Esq.

To get a job, and keep that job, you must have a repertoire of hard skills, aka, those techinical skills that we all think of when polishing up our resumes. Things such as typing ability, proficiency in Microsoft® Word™ and Excel™, ability to write and research, knowledge in a particular area and other skills. The hard skills necessary will change depending on the nature of the job, size of the firm, and area of law. Hard skills are also things that any number of people can be trained to do. It is your soft skills that will set you apart and allow you to thrive in any employment situation.

Working Smart
January/February 2016 Facts & Findings
by Kitty Bice, ACP

There is no such thing as a typical day for a paralegal, or even one that goes as planned. No matter in what area of law you work, there are days that your plan for the day is quickly changed. In order to meet deadlines, you must not only work hard, but you also must work smart. Working smart is not something that is learned from books and seminars. Working smart is a skill combining both mental and physical know-how. Working smart may incorprate different skills for different people. One needs to determine what works best for you. For me, to work smart I must incorporate organiation, prioritization, delegation, and time management. 

Becoming an Invaluable Member of the Legal Team
January/February 2016 Facts & Findings
by Nickie L. Stewart, CP, FRP

Whether you are new to the paralegal field or are a seasoned paralegal, I have some tips that may benefit you in your career. Consider what you can do to assist on each file on which you have been asked to work. If you know that records need to be requested or certain documents need to be drafted, go ahead and take the initiative and prepare a draft for your attorney to review, rather than waiting for your attorney to tell you to do so.

Wanted: Soft Skills 
January/February 2016 Facts & Findings
by Kimberly A. Grabbe, ACP, FRP

Wanted: A litigation paralegal with a minimum of five years experience, familiar with all facets of litigation from Initial Complaint through to Jury Trial. Must be flexible, goal-oriented, an excellent communicator and must have a sense of humor. Wait, a sense of humor? Based on your resume, you are a top notch researcher and writer. A master of office technology, organization, document and file management and your attention to detail is impeccable. Check, check and check. On paper, you appear to be a prime candidate, fully capable of adequately performing your job. So you think to yourself, when did having a sense of humor become so important? What kind of circus are they running?

Potential Pitfalls of Using the Same Expert Witness
January/February 2016 Facts & Findings
by Ingrid Vinci, Esq.

So much of business is built on relationships. If time is money, especially legal timekeepers who are compensated based on knowledge and experience acquired throughout our careers, then it makes sense to build a professional network of people you can depend on. But anyone working in the legal field is well aware of the inevitable last minute changes that arise, requiring agility and cat-like reflexes to adapt and persevere. Sometimes it’s critical to branch out. So, without belittling the personal investments of time, energy, and experience that culminate in trusted business connections, today I want to discuss some of the potential pitfalls of always working with the same experts.

ABLE to Save
September/October 2015 Facts & Findings
by Jillian L. Sherman, ACP

Financial planning experts suggest that individuals should save three to six months of expenses in an emergency fund. Until recently, individuals with disabilities receiving need-based benefits were limited in how much they could save before their benefits would be affected. Frequently, savings accumulated by the families of these individuals were also counted. Then on December 19, 2014, Congress enacted the Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (ABLE). 

To Plan or Not to Plan: That is the Question!
September/October 2015 Facts & Findings
by Lynn B. Aust, Esq.

It is wonderful that so many people are blessed with longer lives but with longevity comes a higher risk of mental and/or physical incapacity. If the public understood the importance of having valid Durable Power of Attorney and Healthcare Surrogate documents in place, then guardianship cases would be greatly reduced. The cost of these documents compared to the cost of Guardianship is a factor of ten. It is impossible to accurately calculate the enormous benefit to the family and the client when these documents are in place and guardianship is avoided.

Shaping Seniors' Lifestyles
September/October 2015 Facts & Findings
by Mary Merrell Bailey, Attorney, CPA, MBA

It's a staggering thought that the nation's baby boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day. And as they do, they are approaching their golden years with a firm mindeset about the type of life-style they want. Aging baby boomers plan to blaze their own trails during retirement. For them, it's mostly about aging in place, and it's "not your parents' retirement."