Stories of the days spent in the world of paralegalism, and the journey to something bigger and better.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Educating Our Youth!

I had the opportunity tonight to work with a great group of high school kids from my area on a violence presentation for eighth grade students! It was so much fun, and those kids are truly talented and passionate about making changes in the world!

What bothered me was that these high school students looked at me like an alien when I brought up the need to educate about exploitation and trafficking of children. The average age of entry into prostitution is 12-13 years old according to a study by Shared Hope International (I believe). Aren't those our eighth graders? Why don't our high school seniors know their risk for this? I guess its my "hot topic" right now, and hopefully for longer, but I was shocked that they knew nothing about it. I guess, in retrospect, at 25, I didn't know anything about it either. The women that are victims of prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation are "damaged goods". The violence they face, including children recruited into the trade, is incomprehensible in the light of how our society views prostitutes.

I highly recommend you all check out Somebody's Daughter by Julian Sher. I recently read it, and it sheds a completely different light on the policies and laws in place to protect our children from being pimped out. It touches on each and every aspect of the trafficking industry that should disgust the average person.

This isn't just happening outside of our borders, its happening within. Hundreds of thousands of children are being bought and sold within our borders each year.

....and now its time for supper.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Merry Christmas to Me!!!

Writing from my new iPad! I am so pumped to use tis thing for work and extra circulars! So far I've found FastCase to be an indispensable app. Does anyone have any other suggested apps? Keeping in mind I do bankruptcy and litigation, along with activism in the criminal realm (more policy and procedure and lobbying). I'd love to hear about your favorite iPad apps!

Monday, November 21, 2011

... and for a good laugh....

Jynx decided this weekend to get into the holiday spirit!

Here are a few photos from his photo shoot:

Extra Curricular Activities and Becoming (too) Inspired to Change the World

As my normal work has dwindled down to a slight sputter (whenever the mood strikes for work - not mine, theirs), I have had time and energy to put into my extra-curricular activities.  As some of you may know, I took a volunteer training for my local Victim Services agency last spring, and have been working as a volunteer victim advocate on our local sexual assault crisis line for about six months now.  I love love love helping these people.  I can't describe the wonderful feeling that comes after a successful intervention.

Anyway, through my Victim Services training and meetings, I have gotten to know some great people.  Two of the individuals I met, run an organization called Mission 21.  Mission 21 is an anti-human trafficking organization focused on making survivors out of children entrapped in the sex trafficking industry.  In addition, they make a point of educating the community on the signs, dangers, and all other aspects of the industry.

With that said, I am frustrated.  M21's founders have been working with local government and courts to encourage that prostitutes arrested in our community, on their first offense, are treated as victims.  We recently hit a large roadblock, in that the County Attorney's office has informed the organization that they are not on board with this type of treatment unless the defendant (prostitute) is willing to testify against her trafficker (pimp).

I have a hard time seeing the fair application of justice in this policy.  A first time prostitution arrest in MN is classified as a Misdemeanor.  Why would you not immediately offer a diversion program?  Funding? funding is provided by the diversion program.  Consequences for actions?  The most is a 30 day jail stint, where the woman is not beaten and raped by her pimp - positive if you ask most.

I guess I'm on the search for advice and knowledge as I begin researching protocols throughout the country and world for dealing with victims of human trafficking.  Our international laws essentially let the victim have a 45-90 day "cooling off" period before requiring her to decide if she will testify against her pimp.  For domestic victims, at least here, they are not given any time to "cool off" or explore their options.  It enrages me.

As I finish off for today, I would like to end with an awesome principle from Dale Carnigie's How to Win Friends and Influence People:  I refuse to fret that God did not equally distribute intelligence.

I will just keep telling myself that, as I wade through local government to reach a fair and progressive result for the victims I advocate for.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It's Been A While!

As I have become consumed in the preparation of a Bankruptcy Court trial, I have come to realize how exponentially important it is to utilize paralegals and their skills to their potential.

I work in a firm with a traditional view of the paralegal's role: a glorified secretary.  However, along comes me and a massively complicated and messy exception from discharge case.  I'm not going to gouge the details, but it involves a lot of bad record keeping and a mess of financial documents not well organized.

So, you ask, what is my role supposed to be by firm standards?  Oh, you know, put together the exhibits the attorney asks for, make edits on the documents the attorney writes, and transcribe anything necessary.  Yes, this is very much glorified secretarial work.

In retrospect, I realistically may have preferred that role to the role I took.  I started by analyzing and creating spreadsheet summaries of all of the messy financial documents.  Then, wrote a factual summary that will later be a part of the trial memorandum (in Bankruptcy Court this is kind of like the Attorney's opening statement).  From the factual summary, I plugged in all of the documents and deposition testimony needed to support the allegations.  Then, I've spent the last week in a war room with the attorney, on several conference calls, filling in holes - holes in the factual summary, holes in the attorneys' (yes, this includes opposing counsel) understanding of the facts, and holes in the testimony needed from our witnesses.  I don't have a clue how many hours I've got into this file, but I know its basically an insurmountable number that the client may not be very happy about if they loose.

Now, I sit here, on this beautiful Saturday afternoon, reading through case law and answering e-mails while the attorney continues to work up the trial memorandum.  On the plus side of this, I have been authorized to work from home and work overtime, so its all billable, and I get to enjoy the October record highs, fall breeze, and smell of freshly raked leaves (thanks to the boyfriend).

How does your firm treat its paralegals?  What are some tips on coming into the 21st century when it comes to utilizing paralegals?  If anybody has anything to share, I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Minnesota Paralegal Association - Citations

I have been writing a few small articles for the MPA's monthly newsletter "Citations", since my fabulous co-worker Gena began editing the newsletter last spring.  I have switched gears in my articles from funny celebrity legal stories in the news, to sharing the blogging world with the association.  If you are reading my blog, and would like to be featured, please shoot me an e-mail at: .  Please indicate if the MPA has permission to republish any of your blog posts, or if you are extra proud of one special post, please forward that along, and it may be published.

Thanks all for reading!  I will come back with an update at life in the trenches when I get a few spare minutes (its been crazy around here!).