K A N S A S P A R A L E G A L A S S O C I A T I O N
. . . I N B R I E F
Official publication of the Kansas Paralegal Association
KPA Mission Statement: The Kansas Paralegal Association, Inc. (KPA) is a non-profit, professional organization comprised of three districts in the State of Kansas. KPA affirms the paralegal profession as an independent, self-directed profession in affiliation with the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (NFPA) and maintains working relationships with state and local bar associations. KPA provides a local forum for exchange of ideas, creative development, continuing education, and promotes recognition of the profession as an integral partner in the delivery of legal services.
From the Editor
As Glenda alludes in her article, the year is in indeed just flying by. Please contact Glenda with your thoughts on the Fair Labor Standards Act. She is our representative and will do a fine job of presenting our thoughts on the matter.
Janice Ayers, District II Co-Director, has submitted an excellent article regarding law office technology - food for thought if you are inclined to jump into the world of technology. We also congratulate Sue Macfee on being the recipient of the Ned N. Fleming Award for Excellence. There is also information regarding the new management company for NFPA.
Enjoy the football games and beautiful fall weather.
Kansas Paralegal Association
Topeka, KS 66601
This year is certainly flying by. It's hard to believe it is fall already with the holiday season coming up quickly. Even though we're all extremely busy, I'd like to take a moment to seek your input.
Not only am I your President for this year but I am also your NFPA Secondary Representative and in that capacity, I will be attending the NFPA Region II meeting in Kansas City, Missouri on October 18, 2003. At that meeting, a number of issues will be discussed, including the exempt/non-exempt issue, utilization of paralegals, membership, and fund raising.
In March, 2003, the Department of Labor released proposed changes to the administrative rules issued under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under the current Fair Labor Standards Act, most Americans are entitled to be paid overtime at one and one-half times their normal hourly rate of pay. Under the proposed administrative rules, the Department of Labor is seeking to redefine those who are eligible for overtime pay. Previously, there was no clear cut rule as to whether paralegals should or should not be paid for overtime pay. With these new administrative rules, almost all paralegals will be exempt employees and no longer qualified to receive overtime pay. I know that there are paralegals who want to be exempt from overtime and there are those who want to be paid overtime. Would you prefer the exempt or non-exempt classification?
Effective use of paralegals is an ongoing problem that our profession experiences. Someone recently gave me an article published in the February, 2003 issue of the Altman Weil, Inc. newsletter entitled "First Thing We Do, Let's Reduce the Number of Lawyers: Effective Utilization of Paralegals Requires Breaking the Legal Food Chain" written by James Wilber, Editor. In it he indicates that if there are too many lawyers for an office, they will take work that could be done by a paralegal, leaving the paralegal to do work more appropriate for secretaries--thus resulting in ineffective use of the paralegal. Many lawyers do not know what work to give a paralegal nor do they know how much a paralegal can do. Are you or are you not being utilized effectively? Let me hear from you as the NFPA Region II meeting will be a place where we will be sharing ideas and feedback from our members as to their experiences in their workplace.
As I mentioned previously in prior columns, maintaining members or gaining new members is a problem that all organizations are being faced with due to the economy, etc. When membership is down, so is the "working capital" of the organization. As a result, additional income needs to be found elsewhere in order to properly conduct business.
In the rat race of today's world, most people meet themselves "coming and going." I realize the members of KPA are no different. Even though you may not have time to volunteer for a position within the organization, I know there are members out there with great ideas to help our organization get through these rough times.
Please let me hear from you. I would like to take with me to the NFPA Region II meeting the opinion of the members of KPA to these topics. Of course, I have my own opinions but my job is to share the opinion of the members of KPA not my own as I am your representative. Please let me hear from you by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the 1940’s the modern computer was born. By the 1950’s key developments in document storage and distribution came about. By the 1960’s the earliest computer networks and computer games were born. By the 1970’s the computer innovation boom had begun. By the 1980’s the Internet age was born and by the 1990’s there was mass adoption of the Internet. (http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/digitaldiscovery/timeline_files/outline.htm)
“We are about to reach an inflection point in computing. An inflection point is a dramatic shift where the course of computing suddenly and quickly takes off in a new direction.” (http://www.digital-lawyer.com/digital-lawyer/retrain.html)
I have seen some of this shift myself. I became a paralegal student in 1994. Electronic information and computers were not stressed in my curriculum. By 1998, Internet and computing classes were new and just being added. One class in particular, Management Information Systems, was not a required class and in my opinion should be required for all degree-seeking students. In order to keep up we are all going to need the basic equipment, knowledge of computer systems and knowledge of computer applications in order to survive.
Three skills needed by the Modern Lawyer to capitalize on new developments in information technology are:
1) electronic information retrieval skills;
2) skills in electronic communication; and
3) skills in electronic publishing.
Electronic Information Retrieval Skills
“This new power at the desk-top, combined with almost universal access to the Internet will have a transformative impact on the legal profession – particularly that sector of the profession that serves individuals and small business – the bread and butter of solos and general practice firms…The convergence of these technologies, (personal computers with universal access to the Internet and powerful search engines), provide the foundation for new legal information services that threaten and challenge the existing configuration of the law practice. While lawyers computerize more and more of their work, the use of information technology in the delivery of legal services is not limited to automating existing law practices. Technology is reforming the world and at it will transform the delivery of legal services, in ways not anticipated by today’s legal profession. The technology that is being used to automate law practice is about to escape from the control of lawyers, no longer the lawyer’s servant, and become a tool that anyone can use. Like many aging industries, the legal profession is slow to perceive external threats and slower still to respond to totally new patterns of service delivery.”
Lawyers are relying on their support staff to keep up with this technology. It will be up to the paralegal to lead the office toward the digital age.
Skills in Electronic Communication
“Electronic documents such as E-mail are playing starring roles in legal investigations and lawsuits, but extracting relevant information from them can be time consuming and expensive. Electronic-discovery is requiring a different mind-set for an industry of largely non-technical professionals, but at least the tools are getting more user-friendly.”
(E-Discovery Eases The Paper Chase, by Mary Hayes with Paul Travis,
“The emergence of evidence in electronic form, and the emergence of entirely new forms of evidence, present a number of cultural, practical, and legal challenges to both bench and bar. Unlike a paper document, which will usually be found in an identifiable file cabinet, the digital document can, and will, be found anywhere. Since these digital documents take up virtually no space, little effort is made to destroy them when they are no longer needed. Unlike conventional discovery of paper documents, the sources of electronic documentation, the storage systems, and the mechanisms of retrieval are not readily visible, and most lawyers and their clients are unfamiliar with the workings of their own desktop computers, let alone a computer network.”
“…the evidence takes a new form. E-mail, chat room transcripts, databases, spreadsheets, web browser history files, and information derived from system back up tapes are replacing conventional paper documents. … e-mail is routinely mishandled or ignored by businesses and government agencies as a records management issue… Therefore, while e-mail may be relevant and important to the issues of the case, e-mail databases usually have no useful organization or structure to aid discovery efforts. In larger disputes, when one or both parties is utilizing computerized litigation support, this bias in favor of paper has resulted in a dis-economic pattern of ‘electronic to paper to electronic to paper,’ in which producing parties print out their clients’ electronic documents to allow inspection of the resulting paper, and requesting parties digitally scan the paper, ultimately printing out the images for trial preparation.”
“Second to e-mail in the electronic discovery literature is the use of the World Wide Web.”
(Is Digital Different? Electronic Disclosure and Discovery in Civil Litigation, by Kenneth J. Withers http://www.kenwithers.com/articles/bileta/elecdisc.htm)
“Lawyers were one of the first professions to use technology for automated information retrieval through bulletin board services, which was the genesis of information retrieval technology that exists now on the Internet. Unfortunately, the legal profession has been slow to embrace law office technology. The concept of automating traditional tasks is foreign language to many lawyers. This malaise over the merits of educating ourselves on the law office technology, and how it will transform the practice of law is in part due to human nature, which encourages us to resist change, almost instinctively. Lawyers who have taken the time to educate themselves on automation will clearly be prepared for courts that convert to electronic filing, for clients who expect prompt email response to inquiries, for clients who expect to pay less for office overhead like faxing, messengers and long distance charges, and of course, for clients who expect lower fees in the delivery of services, because of efficiencies gained in deploying law office technology.”
“Lawyers who insist on continuing to do things the way they always have are at risk for extinction.”
(Law Office Technology – Transforming the Legal Profession, Created by The ESQlawtech Weekly, http://www.mylawtips.com/lawofficetechnology.htm)
Skills in Electronic Publishing
“Law has been based on print technology. Print technology has been the basis of creating informational boundaries around the legal profession. The separation of print materials into separate law libraries, required special intellectual tools to navigate [and] help make law into a separate discipline. Lawyers came to have exclusive control over this informational space, and citizens were easily excluded from this domain. Conversion of legal print materials into electronic media, and the invention of searching tools that can find anything within this media with great precision, reduces the control that lawyers have over this informational space.”
I researched some paralegal web sites regarding law office technology and electronic information. I was alarmed that nothing was said regarding the paralegals ever increasing role in the information age. I use technology everyday, from Microsoft Office products to Internet and Intranet communication tools, and none of this was addressed while taking classes at Washburn. Fortunately I work for an office that embraces technology and actively trains and/or offers training to its employees.
If lawyers are behind the game on information technology as the articles mentioned here indicate, then we, as support staff, need to educate ourselves with the knowledge needed to bring our attorney/employers into the information age. As it was quoted earlier, we can’t sit back and do things the way we used to, the technology is here, it is moving forward and it is not waiting for anybody. Either get on board or watch from the sidelines as it passes you by. I am on board and that is why I continue to have a job.References
A History of digital Data Creation, http://cyber.law.harvard.edu
Law Office Technology – Law Firm Management, Transforming the Legal Profession, Created by The ESQlawtech Weekly, http://mylawtips.com
Paralegals and Advice Offices – Training of Paralegals, Why do we need Paralegals?, http://www.paralegaladvice.org
Re-Training Lawyers for A Digital Age by Richard S. Granat, http://www.digital-lawyer.com/digital-lawyer/retrain.html
E-Discovery Eases The Paper Chase, by Mary Hayes with Paul Travis, http://www.informationweek.com
Electronic Discovery, Is Digital Different?, Electronic Disclosure and Discovery in Civil Litigation by Kenneth J. Withers, http://www.kenwithers.com
The Lawtek Group – Information and Consulting, http://www.well.com
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure – Digital Discovery, http://cyber.law.harvard.edu
By Traci Girrens and Tera Prickett, Co-Directors
Our next meeting will be October 9 at noon at the Epic Center. Liz Unruh of IKON will introduce a new program called Scan-To-File that is designed to promote greater efficiency in managing the documents associated with complex litigation.
New Members Recruitment Program
Machelle Scoggin 7
Beth Remington 6
Brenda Willett 6
By Diane Ellis, Director and Janice K. Ayers, Co-Director
Richard T. Martin, J.D. was our speaker for our September 18 luncheon. Richard discussed about the Legal Studies program at Washburn University, the enrollment trends, needs of incoming students and the progress on the possibility of a four-year Legal Studies program at Washburn University. Richard T. Martin, J.D., is an Associate Professor, Legal Studies Program, Washburn University and has taught courses in the Leadership Institute and the Criminal Justice Department.
District II is still looking for KPA members to volunteer for the KPA-WLAS mentor project. Each year WLAS submits a list of Washburn University paralegal students wishing to participate in the mentor program. KPA then tries to pair up KPA members with students (in their field of interest). Our hope, in becoming involved with the students, is to help the students succeed, graduate and become members of KPA. If you are interested in mentoring a student or want more information, please contact Glenda VanSyoc, RP.
Our October luncheon has been changed to Wednesday, October 15 - the day before National Bosses Day.
Our November luncheon meeting will be a discussion on the changes in the “power of attorney” laws by Scott Sumpler.
By Madonna C. Moranville, Director
CASA volunteer advocate, Linda Steele, will be the speaker at the District III luncheon October 16, 2003 at Old Chicago in Overland Park. Linda’s topic will be “Legal challenges for children in the juvenile court system.” Linda has been a CASA advocate for three years and is currently working with four children who have been involved in the legal system for two years.
Our condolences go out to Mary Dalton on the recent death of her father. We would like to take this time to let her know that our prayers and thoughts are with her during this difficult time.
By Tara Schuck
Johnson County Community College is needing speakers for a December 11 panel. Please contact me if you are interested. E-mail: email@example.com
Susan Macfee, adjunct professor in legal studies at Washburn University School of Applied Studies and Kansas Paralegal Association member, received the Ned N. Fleming Excellence in Teaching Award in April at the Faculty and Staff Recognition Ceremony for the School of Applied Studies.
Kay Rute, Legal Studies chair, described Susan as an exemplary instructor who consistently receives excellent student evaluations and serves as a positive role model for students in the Legal Studies Program.
Susan has served as an adjunct professor in the Legal Studies Advisory Board for two years.
In addition to teaching part-time at Washburn, Susan is judicial executive assistant to Chief Justice Kay McFarland of the Kansas Supreme Court. Before joining the Supreme Court staff in 1997, Susan held paralegals positions in the Topeka community in both the public and private sectors.
Susan has served as a director and officer in the Kansas Paralegal Association. She has published a chapter for the National Federation of Paralegal Association’s PACE Study Manual and is working on another chapter for an upcoming edition. This marks her eighth year to serve as a proofreader for the NFPA’s journal the National Paralegal Reporter.
Reprint permission granted by Washburn University Career Lines Fall 2003
Susan Witherspoon, RP
If you have been thinking about taking PACE and wanting some help or know of someone that is looking at the CALE course,
please tell them that the next session is set to begin on Monday, October 13th. We are in need a couple more participants for
this session to run. If you need more information, please feel free to contact me or to review information on the NFPA website
- www.paralegals.org and then click on PACE. The next session is scheduled for November 17th.
Susan Witherspoon, RP, PACE Coordinator SKWDayton@aol.com or telephone (937) 495-4859.
By David L. Stumph, CAE, Managing Director
Cantrall & Associates is pleased to have been selected as the new management firm for the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. Formed in 1989 as a public relations and communications firm, Cantrall & Associates continues to focus on marketing and growth of the organizations we serve. In addition, we offers such services as strategic planning, fundraising, government relations, and publishing along with full association management services.
Cantrall & Associates' founder, Richard Cantrall said, "Adding NFPA to the group of associations that we manage is a milestone for us because it marks a shift in the type of clientele that we serve. Until now, our business has focused on medical and healthcare related associations. It has been our goal for some time to diversify and expand our services to other groups. NFPA signals the first in this new direction."
As the new managing director for NFPA, my experience encompasses a diverse cross section of industries and professions. This is one of the primary reasons I was recruited by Cantrall nearly two years ago. I have worked with legal, architectural, retail, and construction related associations as well as medical and healthcare groups in the past. This broad experience affords me an understanding of all aspects of association management.
The primary goals that we have for NFPA is to support the organizations' new strategic plan and to provide guidance in helping the Federation meet its objectives. Specifically, we will be working with the board to focus on membership growth, public awareness, and designing an infrastructure that supports and encourages growth. We are currently in the process of shifting to a new web hosting service that will enhance the functionality of NFPA's online services. One of our goals is to provide online capabilities to member associations and individuals to access their database records so that corrections and updates can be made directly to their record. Such a system will offer significant improvements in the efficiencies of the services that we offer and allow us to concentrate on the organizations growth.
On behalf of Cantrall & Associates, I am pleased to welcome NFPA to our group.
KANSAS ASSOCIATION OF LICENSED INVESTIGATOR presents
DIGITAL EVIDENCE PHOTOGRAPHY
NOVEMBER 14-15, 2003
Holiday Inn Holidome
605 S.W. Fairlawn
If you have trouble accessing these forms, please contact Debra Christy