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

Monday, August 29, 2011

OneNote is Ah-mah-zing!

Aha!  The days of creating the dreaded trial notebook-three-ring-binder-tabbed-out-too-many-documents-and-crap-to-deal-with is officially behind me!

There's a trial on Sept. 19th and there's a mess of financial statements and checks and other garbage to go along with it.  Me, being brilliant (not only self proclaimed, but third-party proclaimed as well), started a notebook in OneNote, and it is going to be perfect for bankruptcy court.  Not only does the court only use electronic evidence anyway, now the attorney will have all of the electric evidence, notes, research, charts, spreadsheets, financial statements, and other junk on the computer screen.

OneNote allows you to create, basically, a giant three ring binder.  You create the notebook, you create tabs in the notebook, you create tabs on the tabs of the notebook, and then you can create outer tab "groups".  You can print anything to OneNote, including .pdf, websites, word documents, etc.  Spreadsheets fit nicely onto the pages, and best of all, you can insert little notes to yourself or others anywhere on any page.  Word up, this is awesome!

Now, I may be behind on technological advances, my office has had OneNote since January, and I just last week figured out how to use it.  However, now rather than spending my Wisconsin vacation bulking up for the paralegal-ish duty of hauling boxes and boxes and boxes of paper copies into the courthouse, I will be enjoying me some adult beverages and the hotel's hot tub.  This is my way of avoiding the dreaded burnout.

I'm Recommended Reading This Week!

:) :)

I can't believe my foolishness got me recognition!  Or maybe I can, because I solved the problem, which is what us paralegals do!

Friday, August 19, 2011


If its one thing I've learned in my short paralegal career, its that when you make a mistake, you can almost always fix it.  That being said, I almost had a heart attack Monday morning when I learned the Reply Brief sent out Friday for filing with the MN Court of Appeals was filed a day late!

A day late.  My rookie mistake.  I could blame a lack of training or guidance, but I can't, I neglected to read the rule.  Plain and simple, I made a big f'up.

Monday morning, I had a call from the Appellate Court clerk informing me the attorney needed to file a Motion to Accept Late Filing.  Great.  I tell him, I tell him not to be too mad at me, and draft a motion; this time reading the rules.

Needless to say, the extension was approved.  I still feel bad, as the attorney called it his own "rookie mistake", taking the blame, and blemish on his reputation.  However, I have learned my lesson, have someone who knows what the hell they're doing double check the docketing if I'm not sure.

With that being said, most mistakes in the legal world can be corrected.  Often times, in Bankruptcy Court (which is where most of my work is), it is a simple e-mail to the Judge's clerk.  The clerks have been there, and they are usually willing to work with you.  Court clerks should be your best friend as a paralegal, they are almost always willing to help you do it right, because they don't want to fix every time you do it wrong.  So, ask them if you are unsure of a filing, deadline, or document format.  Remember, they can't give legal advice (just like a paralegal), but they can help procedurally.

Also, if you do make the big f'up, like I did, work your ass off to correct it.  Remember, correcting your mistakes is not billable time, and the attorney's work on the project should be limited as much as possible.  Of course, they still need to know what is going on and are responsible for the final product, but they're not going to be happy loosing revenue while fixing your mistake.

Finally, remember, the attorneys do carry malpractice insurance, but they still have large deductibles and a law license to worry about.

In summary, be aware of preventing mistakes, the effect of those mistakes, and that you will need to fix those mistakes.  We are all human, and it will happen to everyone at some point (thanks to my co-workers for reminding me of that on Monday when I was a total wreck).  Life goes on, so don't beat yourself up.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A little respect if you may...

So, I don't plan to spend a lot of time on this blog complaining about my personal life, BUT since this is "law" related, I wanted to share.

Back in January, my ex-boyfriend "Ken" was arrested for violating the OFP I have against him. "Ken" is schizophrenic, and was off his medication.  He had called and talked about women being chopped up and other nonsensicle things.  I called OCSD because I was worried this man had completely lost his marbles.  Sounds like I was right.

I was impressed with OCSD and RPD's efforts to find and arrest Ken that night.  Since, Ken has been in custody - first in jail and then in a mental health facility.

Now, I need to remind you that I am a victim of a felony violation of OFP.

Yesterday, I looked at the Court's docket and to my surprise, the County Attorney dismissed the charge under Rule 30.01 - in other words, it was dismissed in the "interests of justice".  I remembered back to a few weeks ago when I had a call from a victim/witness coordinator with the County Attorney's office, which I returned with a voice message, and was never called back.

Today, I started by calling the victim/witness coordinator again.  Voice mail.  I left another, with a reminder that she didn't return my call two and a half weeks ago, and I wanted to know why this case was dismissed.  I gave her the entire morning, and she never called back.

After lunch, I called my victim advocate at the Women's Shelter.  She was in the process of writing me a letter to let me know the charge had been dismissed, but again, didn't know why.  She suggested I call the Assistant County Attorney assigned to the case....

I call the main number for the County Attorney's office, because direct lines are not listed on the web.  The receptionist refuses to put me to the voice mail of the ACA, and instead sends me back to the voice mail of the victim/witness coordinator!!!

I then called and left a message with my contact at Victim Services, I'm hoping she can give me some answers, at least I know she will call me back.  I also sent a strongly worded e-mail to the victim/witness coordinators' general e-mail box, suggesting I may just retain my own attorney (me?  retain a lawyer?  hahahaha!).

So, that is that.  It is frustrating being a victim in Olmsted County's system.  I had better luck with services in Ramsey county, which is known to be the most-behind-the-times county there is.  I'll keep you all posted if I actually get any information.  I assume that the charge was dropped due to incapacity.  However, when they sent him for mental health evaluation, I was told they would seek Civil Commitment, in the alternative, if they were unable to proceed with the criminal charge.

UPDATE:: I got a call back the next morning from the CA's office.  Apparently, my threat of hiring my own attorney got their attention.  Anyway, they have "Ken" civilly committed and medicated.  Hopefully it lasts.  The Women's Shelter also sent me a cute letter saying the case was "dismissed" with a copy of the court docket.  Perfecto, that really explains things.

Monday, August 8, 2011


GeoTagged, [N43.86052, E92.47949]

My insomnia has magically reappeared! Back to Tylenol pm I go!

So, here I am at home, redlining a depo summary.

On the amusing side.... I've attached a photo of Jynx with the remnants of the paper bag he attacked!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How to Volunteer.

Nothing will look better on your resume than giving back to your community.  NOTHING.  Promise.  Rochester has a LARGE number of unemployed paralegals, thanks to the factory over at the Minnesota School of Business.  What MSB forgets to tell their students is that experience is everything, and the only way to pick up that experience is to volunteer.  Yes, work for no pay.

A few ideas for you are:

(1)  Take the Victim Service's crisis line training this fall.  Work the crisis line, and learn about a whole other aspect of the criminal justice system!
(2)  Volunteer with the Landlord-Tenant Hotline.
(3)  File clerk with the Third District Public Defenders' Office.
(4) Get creative - call local firms, organizations, or county agencies and ASK if they need help.  Most businesses and agencies are still recovering from the recession and are understaffed and overworked.  Use your cahones and pick up the phone.

I understand the whole children, work, etc. excuses, BUT - if you want to stay in Rochester and work as a paralegal, put the excuses away - they're like assholes, everyone has one.  Suck it up and get involved with your community.

Interesting Article on Sex Assault and Domestic Assault Victims

As you may or may not know, I am a volunteer sexual assault advocate with Victim Services, and am a domestic assault victim.  This article talks about how the justice system treats victims.

Google for Instructions Next Time.

I made the biggest rookie mistake last week....

"Hey, summarize that huge, full of farmer speak deposition for me, would ya?"

... and so I begin.  Writing a summary of what is contained within the 230 page deposition.  After the first day and a half, I decide Google might be resourceful, you know, to confirm I was on the right track.  Wrong.  So wrong.  You need citations to the deposition contained within the deposition summary, something I forgot.  Whoops.

So, I paid myself back by spending the rest of the week re-writing farmer speak into coherent, factual sentences.  ... and my weekend, redlining the stupid thing for no pay!

Lesson learned.  Google for instructions next time.