Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Here's a great website ( that will allow you to dictate memos from your cell phone (by dialing a 1-877-... number). The process is ENTIRELY free, very simple, and takes about 90 seconds to set-up. From my tests, it even does a great job at dictation. You essentially call the number, dictate your message, hang-up, and the message is emailed to your preset email address within minutes. It is really that easy.

The only down side is that each dication is limited to 15 seconds (altough you can dicatate several messages back-to-back without any trouble). The email with the dictation also includes a link to the audio file of the dicatation. Its a great way to send yourself a quick memo at the office, or any other use that you can think of.

For instance, I will have an email in my inbox tomorrow morning that reads: "note to self, don't forget to write your article for the March Precedent. It is due no later than TODAY!"

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I’m Studying for PACE: Should I Be Part of A Study Group?

By Debi Neale, R.P.
IPA PACE Ambassador
The fifth in a series of
PACE Ambassador Reports

One of many ways that you can study for PACE is to consider participating in a Study Group. This method of study certainly has many advantages, the primary advantage being that you can find out everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and learn from one another. You can glean the knowledge of other experienced paralegals in areas in which you have less experience ~ turn your weaknesses into strengths in a fun and positive environment ~ and they can learn from you. Everyone benefits ~ helping each other in achieving their goal ~ to pass PACE.

Not only can members learn together, marshal resources, and motivate one another, but they may be able to reinforce discipline and help the members stay focused. Group study can be more interesting than studying alone, and it allows the members to share the stress that they are experiencing. The group can be a sounding board in proof that "two heads are better than one.” They bring to the table each individual member's professional and personal knowledge and experience. Moreover, the group can utilize various media formats that may be unavailable in individual study. Finally, the group is there for support before, during, and after the exam.

If there is not a current Study Group in your area, you might consider organizing one, or contact the Pace Ambassador and we’ll see if we can put one together. Here are some suggestions to help get your Study Group organized.

A. Study Group Organization

1. Determine logistics of Study Group Process(meetings - date, time, location)

a. Determine place and time of first meeting.
b. Prepare an organizational meeting timeline
c. Total length of study process
(1) 4 months? 5 months? Less?
(2) How long to meet? 90 minutes, 2 hours
d. When to meet
(1) Every two weeks for 90 minutes
(2) Every month for 3 hours
e. What time to meet
(1) Morning
(2) Lunch hour
(3) After work
(4) Weekend
(5) During commute

f. Place of meeting
(1) Conference room in a firm
(2) Member’s home
g. Chart time frame

2. Select group leader. Leader should notify PACE Ambassador of names of
group members, meeting logistics

3. Assemble study materials, review resources within the group. Contact
PACE Ambassador for help in locating study materials.

a. Determine who shall lead on each domain of PACE
(1) Study group to do list
(2) Study group list of dates and what is due
b. Determine what to use as study materials
(1) PACE Study Manual
(2) Other reference material from courses, seminars, etc.
(3) Paralegal textbooks
(4) Bar charts
(5) Flashcards
(6) Materials from association’s previous study group, if any
(7) Who is responsible for these materials?

4. Determine if you want guest speakers

a. Law librarian on computerized research
b. Attorneys and/or paralegals on basic areas of law such as:
(1) Corporate
(2) Bankruptcy
(3) Contracts
(4) Real Property
(5) Evidence
(6) Discovery
(7) Calendaring systems
(8) PACE Ambassador on test development
(9) Registered Paralegals to talk about their study experience
or test taking experience
(10)Instructors from local paralegal programs to go over legal
writing and research

5. Decide on how homework assignments are handled

6. Decide on who is responsible for making up sample test questions for each
a. Will each member of the group make up a certain amount of questions each
b. Will the “leader” of the week make up questions?

7. Decide if group is going to take the on-line practice test
a. When will you take it?
b. Will you take it as your second to last session so you can discuss
the results at the last meeting?

8. Determine format of group.
a. Lectures by members of group
b. Lecture by group leader
c. Discussion of material
d. Guest speakers

9. Determine review methodology.
a. Mini test after each meeting
b. Flash cards
c. Share questions with the group

10. Make sure the group stays on schedule, if applicable.

11. Consider these suggestions by NFPA.

a. Have members each make up 5 questions to send to PACE Ambassador to use in
future Study Groups and for use within your group
b. Assign one member of the group to lead discussion and do additional
research and study on the area – i.e., bring in excerpts of textbooks, LAT
articles, NPR articles, seminar handouts.
c. If any member attended special training or CLE, summarize presentation for
the rest of the group
d. Make last meeting a time for entire group to review the application process
and complete applications to take the exam
e. Review the testing process – use the “IPA Cares: Candidate Survival Kit”
f. Allow 3-4 weeks for individual study after the group ended
g. Meet one final time to review questionable material and re-take your sample
questions and answer NFPA’s sample test disk
h. Sign up and take the test
i. Notify the PACE Ambassador if you pass!

B. Maintaining Group

1. Get commitment from each member

a. Allow for emergencies
b. Set guidelines for making up work
c. Set guidelines for maximum number of missed meetings

2. Act as support for each other as it is a stressful time

a. Send e-mails and phone calls for encouragement
b. Help talk each other through special or tough assignments at work

3. Do something fun at each meeting

a. Helps keep concentration high
b. Helps members look forward to each study session
c. Helps keep stress levels down

4. Find ways to minimize stress during study process

a. Walk around the block to clear head
b. Yoga exercises to start or end session
c. Provide snack such as fruit

5. Do something social together after study session ends

a. Schedule a celebratory lunch or dinner when finished studying and before
taking test and/or after passing PACE
b. Go to a movie

Most of all, congratulate yourself for being part of a Study Group that has taken the
first step in developing your professional career and the entire paralegal profession!


March 5, 2007
April 16, 2007
June 11, 2007
July 23, 2007
September 10, 2007
October 22, 2007

The cost of the course is $395. The student must purchase the PACE Study Manual
before the 7 week class starts. Contact Debi Neale, R.P. at or for more information.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

ABA extends discount to early registrants for the ABA Legal Tech Conference in Chicago, IL

With the flurry of legal tech conferneces going forward this year, I would again like to reccomend that anyone interested in legal technology attend the ABA legal tech conference on March 22 - 24. The conference has a special paralegal rate of only $295 for the full three (3) day conference (only $245 if you sign up before February 16, 2007). I personally believe that this conference (especially in the post FRCP change world) should be mandatory for attorneys and highly reccomended for paralegals. I continue to see and hear about attorneys printing off obscene ammounts of ESI, and refusing to even attempt EDD (in state court cases). I believe that this conference, and others like it, will only reinforce the ethical questions surrounding the professional obligation to be familar with EDD and to attempt e-discovery when appropiate.

The conference is really a collection of the best and brightest in the legal tech field. I hope to see you there.

ABA Legal Tech Show

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Paralegals and Smartphones

I am willing to go out on a limb with this one, but I have come to the conclusion that smartphones are quickly becoming a requirement for paralegals. Whether we like it or not, we live in a world of invisible fences and constant communication (as one of my collegues constantly reminds me). Several weeks ago, I finally broke down and purchased the Samsung Blackjack smart phone (I highly recommend this phone to anyone interested in a slim smart phone).

Until that point, I had a long standing line-in-the-sand against smart phones. I felt that cell phones should be used for talking and computers should be used for email. This is of course, not to say that I am technophobic or against consolidation of devices. I like Pizza, and I like ice cream. But I like them much more on their own, rather than mixed together. I also felt that the idea of being in constant contact via e-mail, IM, etc., seemed a bit overwhelming. The point that finally forced me to take the plunge was client contact. I have always believed that paralegals are great client ambassadors. In fact, I have always considered client contact a perk of the profession (well, most of the time at least). One aspect of email that I have noticed over the years is how much people honestly appreciate quick email responses. I routinely receive thank you emails from clients who comment on how much they appreciate a quick email response. I believe that it is becoming an expectation of paralegals, that they will be in near constant contact via email. I have even heard of several large law firms purchasing their paralegals smartphones or blackberry devices.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

When a dozen petabytes is not enough

For anyone who doubts the naysayers' warnings about the growing volumes of data storage, just take a look at this interview the IT Director of Lucas Films, Inc. (click here).