February 2024 In Brief

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IN BRIEF-VOLUME MMXXIV, ISSUE 1 February 2024 February 2024



ININTHIS THISISSUE: ISSUE: From the President ..... 1 From the President ..... 1 From the Editor ........... 2 From the Editor ........... 2 The Power of Positive Save the Dates ........... Thinking ....................... 42 NALA News ................. 3 Student Education Award ..... 7 4 DistrictInformation I News ............. After TwoII Decades Un- 6 District News ............ der Cover—Rolling Get to Know ................. Stone ........................... 9 New Members ...... 7/15 District Lunch Recap 12 Article: ....................... 8 New Nebraska CPs & Article: COVID .......... 16 ACPs .......................... 15 Student News ............ 17 Careers ..................... 18 CP/ACP Scholarship Information ............... 20 Top 7 Tips for Litigation Paralegals in 2024 ... 22 Save the Date. .......... 32 New Membership Information ....................... 34 Paralegal Humor ...... 37

FROM THE PRESIDENT: Jessica McArdle, CP Happy New Year! Instead of listing what you want to do better this year or change, I challenge you all to list the things you are proud of yourself for doing. Whether it’s something big, like starting a new job (that can be scary!) or hitting a huge milestone in one of the many things each of us do, or something “small” like getting a full night’s sleep for three days in a row (that can be hard for some of us), it’s important to recognize that you are doing great and you are awesome. It doesn’t matter if it’s starting school again, or deciding to take the stairs just that once, a win is a win.

That’s not saying that we shouldn’t have goals. Goals are good. Goals help us to improve ourselves and those around us. One of my goals this year is to find aspects of our organization that haven’t received the type of attention needed and see how we can give those areas a bit of a boost. For example, we have had an amazing group of people work hard on the Audit committee for many years. They have done a fantastic job, and I thank them so much for everything they have done. Some of those members want to take a step back for a while, which means we will need fresh faces to help. Fun fact: the Audit Committee is a short-run committee. They work hard, but it’s for a short time. If you are good with numbers and have an eye for detail, but do not necessarily want to make a year-long commitment as a member on one of the other committees, it may be worth thinking about joining the Audit Committee. If you are interested, please reach out! If you’re not sure who to ask, you can ask me or Kris Krupka, the membership director. I hope you are all able to appreciate both lists. Celebrate your accomplishments. Strive to keep improving. I hope you all have a momentous year, and I hope to see you all at our events. I look forward to seeing what 2024 will bring for all of us!

REGISTER FOR EVENTS AT: http:// nebraskaparalegal.org


March/April 2024 June 2024 August 2024

**If you’d like to attend a board meeting, contact Jessica McArdle at President @NebraskaParalegal .org for details.


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FROM THE EDITOR Thank you for your patience as I worked through a busy 2023. I am going to strive for a more consistent In Brief for 2024. We are always striving to improve the benefits of your membership, and our publications are no exception. If you have an idea for an article or story, or would like to write an article for the In Brief, we welcome your input! We are also looking for a new Publications Editor. If you are interested in that position, please send me a message at publicationseditor@nebraskaparalegal.org or kbrown@smithpauley.com. As always, feel free to reach out to any of our board members with questions, suggestions, or concerns. If you have corrections regarding this issue, please forward them to me at publicationseditor@nebraskaparalegal.org. 2024 PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE MEMBERS Kim Brown, ACP Amber Roberts, ACP Casey Grennan, CP Kim Hansen Susan Willis Samantha Ochoa


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The Power of Positive Thinking and Determination, Amber Roberts, ACP Growing up, I was the tall, smart, slightly over- then putting it back together in the right order. weight kid who had trouble being myself. My Not this time…no tricks…just lots of YouTube® vidfriends weren’t always my friends and I often felt eos. And within a couple days I could solve a Rualone. I exceled in many things…but running bik’s Cube. Then I spent time getting faster. Next wasn’t one of them. I remember thinking to my- was moving on to a 4x4 and then a 5x5 and then self as I was unable to finish the running portion a 6x6. Not only could I do them, but they were of the Presidential Fitness Test within the set time pattern based…and I’m good with patterns. #1 that I was too big and slow and would never be off my Dream List…check! a runner. Next, I set my sights on that 5K. I was determined While the fitness test that so many of us dreaded to TRY again. I got a workout buddy and spent was finally retired after the 2012-2013 school the first couple months just getting stronger. Then year, the feelings stayed with me for many years. I added in jogging…SLOOOOOOOOOOOW jogging. I tracked my progress online with friends It was only after I became a mother that I started and family. I posted all my workouts and if I acworking out more regularly on a treadmill. And complished a personal best. When I managed to even then, it was more about fast walking than jog a steady one mile straight, I was ecstatic! jogging or running. I had convinced myself that I When I made it to 2.2 miles, I could hardly bewas simply incapable of jogging for any real lieve it. Each time I reached one of my goals, I had more determination and confidence. length of time.

Then one day, I started thinking about my Bucket And finally, on Thanksgiving Day, I jogged my first List...or rather, my list of dreams for myself. What 5K in 48 minutes. I was so frickin’ proud of myself had I always wanted to accomplish but was too when I finished. Was I the fastest? No. Did an 80scared to say out loud, too afraid I couldn’t really year-old man as well as a grandma pass me? do? So, I started a list in my head. #1 Solve a RuYes. Did I finish in the time I was hoping? Not bik’s Cube. #2 Complete a 5k. #3 Write a book. quite. Am I going to keep at it? You bet! #4 Retire at 55. The list went on. The more and more I thought about the list, the more stubborn and determined I got about it. “I’m a capable woman…why can’t I do these things? What’s stopping me?” I said to my inner most child. And I decided then and there that I would TRY! My oldest daughter asked for a Rubik’s Cube for Christmas, and she got it. Within a couple minutes she had it all twisted up and asked me to put it back to its original form. Growing up, my grandparents had one too. I used to trick my brother by taking it into a separate room, pulling it apart and


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The Power of Positive Thinking and Determination cont. After the dopamine hit from finishing the race, I could it hurt? What’s the worst that could hapadded more fitness goals to my list. The two big- pen?”. And so, I went for it. Did I get the position? gest were doing one mile in 10 minutes or less No. Am I demoralized about it? No. Did it bolster and doing Trek the Tower in under 15 minutes my confidence just trying for something new? (you don’t want to know what 2023’s time was!). Yes. I’m starting to change my thinking from “I’m inSo, I say to you…what’s on your Dream List? capable” to “Why not give it a try?” and “You What do you want to accomplish most in your CAN do this!” life and what are you willing to do to get there? The same confidence and determination I’m Are you willing to TRY? I encourage you to put putting into my Dream List goals are also exyourself out there and pick just one thing to get panding into other areas of my life, including you started. You never know where it will lead professionally. I was recently recommended for a position that was completely outside of anything you! I would have ever thought of doing before. It And if you happen to need a cheerleader…let was nothing I had job experience in. All my rele- me know. I’ve got your back. Now...on to that vant experience came from my volunteer work, book! but I thought to myself, “Why not try it? What


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STUDENT NEWS Nebraska Paralegal Association (NePA) Student Education Award Education Award (two $500.00 awards per year*)

Award Application Deadline NOTICE: Award application deadline is March 1, 2024.

The application materials can be emailed to: nepastudentscholarship@yahoo.com; with any *NePA reserves the right to award $1,000 to one attachments in Word and/or PDF formats, or applicant should there only be one qualified mailed to the following address: applicant in 2024. Qualified applicants must meet all eligibility requirements below, follow the NePA application procedure, and meet the deadline. Student Scholarship Committee P.O. Box 24943 Applicant Eligibility Requirements Omaha NE 68124 The following criteria must be met in order to apply for award: Any application postmarked after the award • Applicant must be admitted to an accredit- application deadline will be disqualified. Incomed paralegal program at a University, College, plete applications will not be eligible for considCommunity College, or Business College locat- eration. Only one award will be given per recipied in Nebraska. ent. The essay submitted with this Application • Applicant must have completed one aca- becomes the property of NePA, and the essay demic term, and be currently enrolled as a par- may be reproduced for publication and publicialegal student. ty purposes. Faxes will not be accepted. Application Procedure Award Announcement Each applicant must complete the following Announcement of awards shall be made in writprocedures to apply for an award: ing to recipients no later than sixty (60) working • Each applicant shall submit a resume with days following the award application deadline. current contact information including mailing Applicants not selected for an award shall readdress; ceive written notice of the same on or before • Each applicant shall submit an official tran- the announcement deadline. Public recognition script of grades earned in the program to date; and announcement of the recipient(s) name • Each applicant shall provide one letter of shall be made at the next NePA Luncheon recommendation from a program director, in- Meeting and at the General Meeting of the structor, or employer. No family member of the Members, and in public notices at the discretion applicant may submit a letter of recommenda- of the Award Committee. tion for the applicant; Payment of Award • Each applicant shall provide an essay of at Payment of the award shall be made directly to least one page in length that describes the applicant's education and career goals and how the recipient by June 1, 2024. award funds will be used to help achieve goals Non-Discriminatory Statement (examples: tuition; books, equipment); • A personal interview or additional docu- Selection of award recipients shall be made ments may be required at the discretion of the without regard to race, color, creed, sex, age, national origin or marital status. Award Committee. All required documentation is to be submitted together.


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After Two Decades Undercover, She’s Ready to Tell the Real Story of Human Trafficking By Alex Morris For years, former FBI Special Agent Nikki Badolato led the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force targeting some of the most heinous criminals. Now she wants Americans to know the truth about underage sex crimes. On an August night in 2003, a young woman who went by the name Paulina sank into the sofa of her modest, rented apartment, opened up her laptop, and began talking about sex with a man she’d recently met in a Yahoo chat group. His name was Stephen Bolen. His first communications had been terse, but he soon warmed to Paulina. It didn’t take long for both of them to begin to open up. For the full story read here: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/fbi-agent-undercoverhuman-trafficking-stings-nikki-badolato-1234923666/

Article referenced in the Nebraska Paralegal Association’s In Brief with special permission from Rolling Stone.


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Hotel & Travel: Louisville Marriott Downtown, Louisville, Kentucky: The group rate is $189 Cutoff date: Monday, June 17, 2024 The group rate link will be provided in the in-person conference registration confirmation email. Complimentary Wi-Fi is included. Nightly parking is discounted to $19/night in the attached garage, based on availability. Located in the heart of Bourbon City, Louisville Marriott Downtown provides sophisticated amenities and a connection via skywalk to Kentucky International Convention Center. Head over to Porch Kitchen & Bar, where you can gather for comfort food and a soulful experience. As a member of the Urban Bourbon Trail, Porch has plenty of your favorite spirit to enjoy. Immerse yourself in the city’s bourbon culture by visiting one of the distilleries within walking distance of the hotel. Nearby, you can enjoy Fourth Street Live! entertainment district and downtown museums. A short drive away, you’ll find Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. After a day on the town, retreat to your spacious room, featuring modern furnishings, plush bedding, and a 55-inch flatscreen TV. After gathering in the 65,000 sq. ft. of event space, find relaxation at the indoor pool, or boost your energy at the 24-hour fitness


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District Luncheon—January 2024 Federal Employers’ Liability Act - by Nolan Niehus, Atwood Law On January 18, 2024, Nolan Niehus presented “Federal Employers’ Liability Act” to the Nebraska Paralegal Association. Kayleigh Mashek, NePA’s District II Director, hosted the event. Nolan presented the basics of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), which is a United States federal law that protects and compensates railroaders injured on the job. Congress enacted FELA in 1908 to protect and compensate railroad workers injured on the job who are not covered by regular workers’ compensation laws. FELA was not intended to be awarded automatically. Unlike state workers’ compensation laws, FELA requires the injured railroader to prove that the railroad was legally negligent, at least in part, in causing the injury. After proving negligence, the injured railroader is entitled to full compensation. Such compensation is usually many times greater than that provided by State Workers’ Compensation for non-railroaders. FELA covers a wide range of injuries, including those caused by repetitive motion, chemical exposure, and hazards on the tracks. FELA also provides for lost wages and medical expenses. For questions regarding FELA or Nolan’s presentation, you may contact him at 402-476-4400.


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Newly Nebraska Certified Paralegals and Advanced Certified Paralegals CONGRATULATIONS to the new advanced certified paralegals from Nebraska!

Jessica McArdle, ACP - Trial Practice The Certified Paralegal (CP) certification is a key to success, respect, and opportunity throughout the legal profession. Here’s why:

• • • • •

Known as a national professional standard for paralegals Acknowledged by the American Bar Association as a mark of excellence More than 47 paralegal organizations acknowledge the CP as the definitive paralegal certification Responsive to the needs of paralegals and the fact that this form of self-regulation is necessary to strengthen and expand the development of this career field A positive, ongoing, voluntary program to encourage the growth of the paralegal profession, attesting to and encouraging a high level of achievement

For over 45 years, NALA’s Certified Paralegal Program has been recognized both nationally and internationally. It has received recognition from both the National Commission for Certifying Agencies and the American Bar Association. On April 30, 2014, the NCCA granted accreditation to our program, making us its only accredited Certified Paralegal Program. Our CP credential has also been acknowledged by the American Bar Association as a mark of high professional achievement. With our acknowledgments, we pride ourselves on our professionalism, while still maintaining lasting relationships with our Certified Paralegals. For more information on the NALA Certified Paralegal program: Certification – NALA. The Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP®) Program is designed to recognize a paralegal’s commitment to continued growth and life-long learning by advancing your knowledge on specific areas of law. An assessment component is part of the curriculum-based program, as well as interactive exercises. The average course is about 20 hours in length and organized into multiple chapters, so you can earn up to 20 hours of CLE for completing an ACP course. These webbased courses are available on a 24/7 basis. Anyone can take an ACP course; you do not have to be a NALA Certified Paralegal. However, the distinguished ACP credential is only available to current Certified Paralegals. Upon successful completion of the program, a CP can earn the Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP) credential and the continuing education hours. The ACP credential has been awarded to more than 3,500 paralegals since its inception in 2006. For more information on the NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal programs: Advanced Certified Paralegals – NALA.


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STUDENT NEWS Do you have any STUDENT NEWS? Please send any news to Kim Brown, In Brief Editor, at publicationseditor@nebraskaparalegal.org. College of Saint Marry Academic Calendar March 11-15—Midterm Week March 18-22 Spring Break for Undergraduate Students Questions about the Paralegal Program at College of Saint Mary’s? Visit the site here.

Metropolitan Community College News Academic Calendar February 27—Classes End March 4—Academic Affairs Day Questions about the Legal Studies & Paralegal Program at MCC? Visit the site here.

VOLUME MMXXIV, ISSUE 1 Careers—Looking for a new Paralegal or Legal Assistant Position? Check out paralegal resources here: Nebraska Paralegal Association Career Page (postings updated as they arrive) Nebraska Paralegal Association Indeed: Paralegal Jobs, Employment in Omaha, NE | Indeed.com Paralegal Jobs, Employment in Lincoln, NE | Indeed.com LinkedIn: (26) Paralegal Jobs in Omaha, Nebraska, United States | LinkedIn (26) Paralegal Jobs in Lincoln, Nebraska, United States | LinkedIn

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INTERESTED IN A SCHOLARSHP? Are YOU interested in advancing your career with the Certified Paralegal or Advanced Certified Paralegal designation? Visit NePA’s Scholarship page at https://nebraskaparalegal.org/ scholarships.php for more information!


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Top 7 Tips for Litigation Paralegals in 2024 - by Ann Pearson These were the top 7 actionable strategies and tips for litigation paralegals to accelerate their paralegal career in 2024. 1. How to Get Up to Speed Fast on Your Cases I think one of the tips for litigation paralegals that could help here is what I had recommended in our three-step roadmap for new litigation paralegals. Even if you’re not new to the litigation practice area, this would help because it can also be a method that you use to get up to speed fast on any new cases. Start by reviewing all of the motions, briefs, discovery responses, and pleadings. Instead of doing the typical thing when someone’s getting up to speed on a case, just reading all of those things taking notes, and then trying to rely on your memory, I suggest that you extract specific information from those documents that you’re reviewing. Take the names and roles of every person who’s identified in them and put them into a player’s list. Extract any dates that you come across during that review and put them into a chronology. As you’re doing your review, create a master to-do list for that case where you can keep notes about the things that you come across. For example, when you’re reading the discovery responses and the other side objects or says they’re going to respond at a future date with more complete information, make a note of follow -up to see if that’s ever happened. Now, you’ve got three documents: a player’s list, a chronology, and a master to-do list for those big cases. That process may seem a little time-consuming but if all you do is skim the complaint and the answer, and you have a few talks with the attorney in charge, you’re not going to know everything that you need to know to proactively manage those cases and to stay on top of them. You’ll just have an overview. You need to get deep into the weeds, but there are three reasons that you do this. 1. You’ll be able to manage all of the information. 2. In an Excel spreadsheet, you can manage the information to filter the data, sort the data, put the chronology into a timeline, etc. 3. You’re adding value to a case by creating a physical resource with key information.


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Top 7 Tips for Litigation Paralegals in 2024—by Ann Pearson If you’re billing for your time, we all know that clients don’t want to pay for a new paralegal to get up to speed on their cases just because the previous paralegal left the firm. And yet, that’s exactly what you have to do to properly manage the cases. However, if you’re preparing something that adds value to the case, especially a physical thing like a players list and a chronology, something you could attach to an email to the client if they wanted to see it, that time spent wasn’t just getting up to speed on the case, it was preparing something that puts all of that information in one place and can later be used for all kinds of things, including getting ready for depositions and getting ready for trial.

2. What Litigation Software or Applications Should I try to Learn to Help Me Work in Litigation? There are two categories to this answer when sharing tips for litigation paralegals on this: 1. What software or applications can you learn now that you have access to and can continually use to keep those skills sharp while you’re trying to find a paralegal position. 2. What will you be expected to know, but you maybe don’t have access to now? Even if you did have access to that software, it might be different than the one that you learned. More importantly, even if you found a free trial or free training on these software products if you don’t put them to use in the real world, then you probably won’t retain much of what you learned. Check out these 3 Microsoft Excel Tips for Litigation Paralegals. Learn These 3 Softwares Now Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Adobe. I know they’re not sexy or exciting, but those three software tools are the ones that you must have more than just a basic knowledge of as a litigation paralegal. You’re going to use them regardless of the type of employer that you end up working for, regardless of what practice area you go into in litigation, and what other tools are available. Those three software tools are ones you will use for your entire paralegal career, no matter where you go and you can get access to all three of them right now. Take training online, keep using them, and keep advancing your skills. The Truth About Learning Litigation Technology Tools For the litigation technology tools that you will use as a litigation paralegal, even if you’ve got some kind of trial access or student access to it now if you’re just playing around in the software and doing some demos and not putting what you’re learning into real-life practice, you’re probably not going to remember most of what you learn because you can’t apply it to anything.


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Top 7 Tips for Litigation Paralegals in 2024—by Ann Pearson I’ll list them, but I think your time is better spent getting to an advanced level of Microsoft and Adobe applications. 1. Westlaw and LexisNexis, are legal information databases, which you probably got student access to while you were in school. 2. eFiling, the application that allows you to electronically file your pleadings, motions, briefs, and other court filings. Back in the old days, there was no such thing as electronic filing. When something needed to be filed with the clerk of court, we had to get in our car and drive to the clerk’s office or hire a courier to do it for us. Hopefully, they covered eFiling in your technology class in your paralegal certificate program. 3. A document management system that organizes the electronic version of everything in the case, like the Microsoft Word documents that you’re drafting, memos, etc. This is very specific to the employer so it wouldn’t be helpful for you to learn any of them. 4. eDiscovery software, which is used to process, review, and produce discovery in cases.

This software is also very specific to what the employer uses. One of the eDiscovery tools, Relativity does have free online training, but first, you don’t know if the firm that you’re going to go to work for as a litigation paralegal has Relativity or if they have some other application. You don’t know if they have a specific trial presentation software either, so it really wouldn’t be a good use of your time to go out and try to learn all of these different case-specific or firm-specific software products when you might have to learn a completely different application. 5. Deposition software applications 6. Trial Technology All of these are very specific to the employer type and the practice area. For example, let’s say you find yourself at a solo practitioner or a very small firm that doesn’t go to trial that often. They might use an app and an iPad at trial compared to another firm that might have a more expensive system designed for their team’s specific needs. That’s why it wouldn’t do you any good to go out and learn those specific litigation software tools, only to find out that the firm doesn’t even use them. My tip for litigation paralegals – stick to category one and learn everything you possibly can at a very high level in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Adobe. Here is a 3-step plan to accelerate your paralegal career.


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Top 7 Tips for Litigation Paralegals in 2024—by Ann Pearson 3. How to Become the Information Manager To elaborate on the first tip for litigation paralegals I shared, I want to reiterate how you can become the information manager of your cases. As a litigation paralegal, it’s easy to get sucked into the never-ending cycle of document management or document chasing. Where is that hot document? Do you have a copy of that revised contract that’s part of this dispute? Can you get me a copy of that email so that I can use it as an exhibit to a motion? That’s where you have to be careful as a litigation paralegal, because you’re more than just a document manager. You are an information manager. By focusing on managing the information, you’re going to be able to proactively manage your litigation cases. So, in order to do that, you have to know what’s going on in your cases. Which means You have to review everything that comes in related to the case. All of the things coming in on a case eventually go through somewhat of a funnel to determine what’s relevant that’s going to prove or disprove the allegations in the complaint. And only some of it becomes potential evidence for trial. But it all has to come into that funnel. It’s information that’s found in pleadings and motions and discovery responses, deposition testimony, and the documents and data that gets produced. If you only focus on the documents and data, you’re going to be missing half of what’s going on in the case. So, we’ve essentially got a couple of different categories. We’ve got the pleadings and motions. Now, they don’t become evidence in and of themselves, but when you put them through that information funnel, there could be citations to evidence within those pleadings and motions. There could also be exhibits attached to those motions or the briefs that support them. And those attachments or exhibits are what could become evidence. That’s the information, along with affidavits and declarations that might be filed in the case. It’s the same with discovery responses, such as interrogatory answers, responses to requests for admission, and of course, the documents that get produced as part of a request for production of documents. Too often, all of these things come in throughout the life of a case and they get filed away. Instead, what if you reviewed everything and extracted the key information and put that information in one place and then filed it away? In doing so, you’re going to know everything that’s happening on the case. You’re going to know who the key players are, what the key dates are, what the upcoming deadlines are. You’re going to know what the attorney needs before they need it. That’s what I used to do when I was a litigation paralegal. Now this was back before there was fancy case management software, which was nice to use. I used to use an Excel spreadsheet, and you know what, depending on how user-friendly your case management software is, it might be easier for you to use an Excel file, even if you do have access to expensive software.


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Top 7 Tips for Litigation Paralegals in 2024 - by Ann Pearson 4. As a New Litigation Paralegal, How Do You Know What to Do on Your Cases? In this tip for litigation paralegals, I want to share with you how you can know what to do for your cases, without waiting to be told what to do by the attorney, especially when attorneys aren’t known to be the best delegators. This is the key to having a successful and rewarding career without having to wait the 10 to 15 years that everybody says it takes to get there. If you’ve been following us for a while, you know, that I’m on a mission to bust that “learning curve” myth. You don’t have to put your time in like it’s a jail sentence. I developed a framework that I call the Litigation Paralegal Career Accelerator Framework that started as a simple Venn diagram that had what I knew were three of the main categories. I wanted to help with mindset behaviors and skills. And then I said, what are the three most important areas in each of those three categories? And more importantly, what are the three in each of those categories that would have the biggest impact on a paralegal’s career? It’s not like there are only three in each category effort that you ever would need to know, or a total of nine. But what are the three in each category that are critical? If a paralegal wants to change the trajectory of their career and not have to wait a decade or two to enjoy a successful career, what if there was a quicker path? A better path? What if it didn’t have to take 15 years? What if you could do it in less than half of that time? You can. I absolutely promise you that you can. Let’s talk about what’s in each of those categories. 1. Mindset The first is mindset. The three areas within mindset are: 1. The mindset that you don’t have to just put in your time. You can be a rockstar paralegal. Right now, not a decade or two from now. 2. You own your career, the mindset that this is your career and you get to choose how successful of a career you have. 3. The mindset that you own your cases. You are the project manager of your cases and you’re taking the lead on proactively moving these cases forward. In other words, you know what the attorney needs before they know they need it. 2. Behaviors The next is behaviors. The three areas within the behaviors category are: 1. Master time management. 2. Pay attention to detail at a whole new level. 3. Be Proactive.


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Top 7 Tips for Litigation Paralegals in 2024—by Ann Pearson 3. Skills Last but not least, the third main category in that Venn diagram is skills, and the three areas inside the skills section are: 1. Master the discovery phase of litigation. 2. Level up your trial prep skills. 3. Sharpen your technology skills. That’s the framework to accelerate your career as a litigation paralegal. Learn more about the Litigation Paralegal Accelerator Framework here. 5. Making Up For Lack of On-the-Job Training If you’re not getting on-the-job training that you thought you would, or you’re not getting any, you have three options. 1. Get the training that you need. 2. Keep struggling and wait for someone to find the time to provide you with the training. 3. Keep doing what you’re doing.

That’s just the cold hard truth. I hate to say it. And for that third option. The Downside of Continuing Without Proper Training Try not to make too many mistakes or ask too many questions. Or ask as many as you can without being overbearing and hope that the attorney is patient and understanding. But I’ve seen that third option not go so well. Some of us luck out, right? And it works out for us, but a lot of times it doesn’t. You probably have seen it too. At least if you’re in any of the social media groups for paralegals or LinkedIn groups for paralegals, you’ve probably seen it. Let me read you a couple of them that I found in a Facebook group. One wrote, “The lawyers I worked for never trained/taught me or gave me any direction, was upset the way I did things, so I was fired Monday. I’m beyond upset to the point of just giving up in the legal field. I do a dang good job doing it on my own and now this.” Another one said, “After a brief experience at a law firm after graduation, they gave me no training and everything I did was wrong. I asked questions and asked to be trained, but they wouldn’t help, and said I should know what I’m doing, but I didn’t, so we parted ways.”


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Top 7 Tips for Litigation Paralegals in 2024—by Ann Pearson There are dozens more that I could read. It’s sad, but I have to get back to the cold hard truth because I’m not here to placate people. Remember, the mission of this blog is to give you actionable strategies and tips for litigation paralegals to fast-track your paralegal career. Own Your Paralegal Career and Go Get the Training You Need Assuming you don’t want to choose option two, or worse yet, just throw up your hands and leave the paralegal profession altogether, then your actionable strategy is to go get the training that you need. This is your responsibility. This is your career. The training doesn’t have to come from the Paralegal Boot Camp. It can come from anywhere. But you have to go get it. Look, I’d love to blame the attorneys who don’t take the time to train you, even though they knew when they hired you that you had no experience. I’d also love to blame the senior paralegal down the hall who’s stingy with her knowledge because she has this scarcity mindset and doesn’t really want anyone else but herself to succeed. Here’s why the scarcity mindset in the paralegal profession isn’t good for anyone. But I’m not. I can’t blame them. Because for every one of those paralegals down the hall who doesn’t want you to succeed, there’s another paralegal down the hall who really does want you to succeed. But they have to do their own job. They have deadlines that they’re not going to risk missing just because the two of you set a time to meet so that she could show you how to put together a deposition notebook. And now she doesn’t have the time. Remember that your attorney, those fellow paralegals, they are not a training company. They’re not in the business of educating. I know they should have a training program if they’re going to hire junior paralegals, but we can’t blame others. We have to decide. This is what we got ourselves into. Remember what it was that initially motivated you to go get that paralegal certificate? Go back to that feeling. You were motivated. This is what you really wanted to do now. Are you going to just give up or are you going to sit around blaming people? Cause we could even blame the schools. I’d love to blame the schools for not having a more comprehensive training program, but I can’t do that either because they can’t show you what it looks like to work in a particular practice area in a particular firm for a particular lawyer. Every one of them is going to be different. Who do we get to blame? No one. We take the responsibility for it ourselves and decide if we’re going to be cut out to be a paralegal and part of that is being resourceful enough to figure it out and find the training that we need to do a good job.


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Top 7 Tips for Litigation Paralegals in 2024—by Ann Pearson Find out what your paralegal school may have forgotten to mention. 6. How to Have the Confidence to Speak Up Have the confidence to speak up when something’s going off the tracks. That’s what I’m talking about. What I mean by that is when something is happening in a case, in a transaction, on a file, and you know from your experience or from the feedback you’re getting, the training that you’ve received, or your experience that something is going to go wrong, and you just put your head down, try to get the work done, and hope that you can pull through. It never happens. We always end up finding ourselves where the train has gone off the tracks and now we’re being held responsible for it because we are the paralegal on the case, the file, etc. Try to Prevent or Point Out Recipes for Mistakes Let me give you a specific example for litigation since we’re going over tips for litigation paralegals. Although you could use this for any of your files, your transactions, real estate closings, etc. But let’s say you’re a litigation paralegal and you’ve got a document production coming up. You are prepared to meet the deadline. You have it all scheduled out on your calendar. You set aside time every day to review the documents to get them produced in time and to do a quality control check before the end. But let’s say the attorney keeps adding on more and more documents or asking you to do more and more things for every document, like instead of just reviewing for privilege, you’re going to review and tag hot documents. You’re going to review and find documents that are for a specific deposition coming up. They’ve increased the scope, but you haven’t increased the time. You still have to complete them by that same deadline. To do that, you skip past quality control or you rush through it. And we know when we’re rushed, we make mistakes. In the end, what happens – maybe a privileged document gets produced to the other side. When the attorney comes upon that mistake, it’s going to be your fault. What are they going to say? Why didn’t you say something? Why didn’t you tell me that you were overwhelmed and didn’t think you were going to complete this project on time? Why didn’t you tell me that because of all of the extra tags and things that I was having you do to these documents, that you might not be able to do a good quality control check?


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Top 7 Tips for Litigation Paralegals in 2024—by Ann Pearson If that’s what they are going to say, then why not speak up ahead of time? Have the confidence to speak up when you’ve got the opportunity. While you still might have to take the blame, at least you spoke up and you were able to say, this is going to cause this potentially and I just want you to be aware that this could cause a potential problem down the road. 7. eDiscovery is a Mandatory Skill for Litigation Paralegals Here is an excerpt from an interview I had with Michael Quartararo, the President of the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS): “It used to be a plus if a litigation paralegal had eDiscovery experience. To me now, it seems like it’s mandatory. How can you be a litigation paralegal and not know your way around eDiscovery? I don’t know a litigation matter that doesn’t involve some electronic document. Whether it’s a text message, a Word document, a PDF, a spreadsheet, a presentation, etc., two parties are opposed to each other in litigation. There’s an obligation to collect any relevant material and that material is going to be on a computer somewhere or some other device. You can’t navigate a litigation case without understanding how to properly collect, process, review, and produce electronic information.

You’re not really working in litigation if you don’t know eDiscovery.” Advice for Litigation Paralegals Who Say Their Small Firm Doesn’t Do eDiscovery “I’m sure there’s still paper documents involved in litigation. The challenge that arises is when you print something out and then re-scan it. You lose all the metadata, the searchable text, and some of the functionality that we have available. In the eDiscovery industry, the technology has gotten so advanced that we’re using machine learning and AI and tools like those to parse through large volumes of data. Even if you’re a small firm and you have small matters and a small number of documents, why wouldn’t you want to capture those electronic documents in a way that makes it much more efficient to work with them, search them, categorize them, or even simple things like creating, a witness book for a deposition? It just makes so much more sense to do it with today’s computers and technology. You can lose too much and there’s a good chance you might. The federal rules talk about producing electronically stored information in a way that is usable and if you’re printing out documents and then just scanning them and turning over images or PDFs, it’s not really usable to the other side, in today’s world anyway. You can get some pushback from opposing counsel or even perhaps the court, so I would say it’s a waste of time. You’re spending more time doing it.


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Top 7 Tips for Litigation Paralegals in 2024—by Ann Pearson But I think maybe they are “getting away with it” because the other side is also not pushing back. And that’s maybe the only reason why they’re able to get away with it. Some firms, certainly smaller firms don’t have the internal resources or the training resources, or even the technology in -house and so they’re relying on an outside vendor to do the eDiscovery work. Regardless, if you’re a paralegal or a case manager, or frankly an attorney for that matter, and you’re responsible for moving a matter forward, you have to know how to manage that vendor. You have to make sure that the vendor is doing the right thing. But there are really simple tools out there that’ll just hold your documents in a safe, secure place, keep them organized by matter, enable you to do some searching, sorting, filtering, and find things that you need very quickly rather than going to a case room and pulling a box off a shelf, and rifling through it with post-it notes and all that. That’s the world that we used to live in. It’s, it’s just much more efficient today to do it using computers. There are exceptions, but I think they are few and far between. At the end of the day, as so many people I think like to say in the industry, you’re not doing litigation if you’re not doing eDiscovery. That’s the bottom line.” Check out the whole interview here.

Ann Pearson is the Founder and Director of Training at the Paralegal Boot Camp®. Ann develops training programs exclusively for paralegals and a unique hands-on practical approach designed to provide practical skills for working in law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies. Before founding the Paralegal Boot Camp in 2010, Ms. Pearson had 20 years of experience in the legal industry, first as a litigation paralegal at a boutique law firm in Sarasota, Florida, and then as a litigation paralegal at Holland & Knight LLP. She later became the paralegal manager at McKenna, Long & Aldridge LLP (now Dentons). She managed the paralegals and case assistants in their Atlanta, New York, and San Diego offices. Connect with Ann on linkedin.com/in/AnnPearson



Learn more about the Paralegal Boot Camp: https://Paralegal-BootCamp.com/about-us.


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Save the Dates

Virtual District Luncheon Forensic Meteorology February 20th 11:30am https://nebraskaparalegal.org/ events.php?calendarid=139

NePA Spring Seminar & Mid Year Meeting - April 19, 2024 8:00am - 4:30pm

6th Annual Diversity Event - June 12, 2024 11:00am - 4:30pm


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Want to become a member? The Nebraska Paralegal Association ("NePA") is a growing organization that always welcomes new members. You'll find a vibrant community of paralegals who benefit from each other's expertise and the resources that only a committed group can provide. NePA is committed to building a strong community of paralegals in Nebraska. How We Support Our Members NePA supports paralegals through continuing education programs. We disseminate information about the profession, offer a job bank for employers and those seeking employment as paralegals and publish an e-zine, the In Brief. We hold regular membership meetings featuring educational programs and social events. NePA fosters communication among paralegals and serves as a forum for the exchange of knowledge and ideas. Our association promotes the educational, professional and ethical standards for paralegals. We provide networking opportunities for members, as well as legal assistant students and other legal professionals. Learn More About NALA

NePA is an affiliate of NALA, The Paralegal Association ("NALA"). NALA is composed of over 18,000 paralegals, through individual members and through its 90 state and local affiliated associations. NePA supports NALA's certification and advanced certification program (Certified Paralegal and Advanced Certified Paralegal). NALA offers continuing legal education almost daily through its NALA Campus Live! program and it also hosts an annual Convention, Institutes & Exhibition each year. Please visit NALA's website for more information relating to each of its programs. NOT A MEMBER YET? Check out all the details and download an application at: https://nebraskaparalegal.org/join.php


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Ending with a little work humor…..

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