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The Estrin Report

Created for professional paralegals -- not of a certain level, specialty or firm -- but of a particular attitude.

Updated: 2018-02-27T14:18:43-08:00


Sneaky Ways to Break Into the Legal Technology Career


I can’t tell you how many legal professionals have asked me how to break into the legal technology career. Then they tell me all the reasons they can’t get into the field, usually starting with the old “chicken and the egg” story. You know the one: “I can’t get a job because I don’t have experience; I don't have experience because I can’t get a job…” I have another story for you. “If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, walks like a duck, it must be a duck.” Let me quack a bit here. You need to...

Is it time for an alternative career? Lots of options, lots of choices.


It’s that time of the year. You have received your raise and have politely waited a month or so after receiving your bonus. You have looked grateful and appreciative (all the while thinking, you’re giving me this after I worked that?) and now, frankly, you’ve been circling Indeed and quietly checking out job listings. But this time, you are thinking, “You know, am I going to find another job doing the same thing, or am I going to get something different?” The Paralegal career is a terrific career. But let’s face it. For some, it has limits. You aren’t ever...

The Next Illegal Question.....


Don't Get Asked and Don't Reveal..... As of January, 2018, California employers will no longer be allowed to ask candidates for their salary histories. That’s right. You will no longer be required to disclose your current or past salary to get a job offer. A new law, AB 168, goes into effect designed, in part, to eliminate wage disparity in different races, sexes, or ethnicities. This law follows similar new laws recently passed in New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Existing California law prohibits employers from paying employees at rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex...

Are You Calling Me Fat? .....And Other Little Career Mistakes


A few years back, when I was a Paralegal Administrator for a major law firm, the Director of Administration took me to lunch at the Yorkshire Grill. He plied me full of a pastrami sandwich and insisted that I order the potato salad full of creamy, yummy mayonnaise, a big kosher pickle and lots of salty potato chips. A diet Coke went along with it. God forbid I should get too many calories. As we were walking back to the office, he said to me that if I wanted to succeed in the firm, I was going to have to...

"Girls" Just Wanna Have Funds......


"What’s your salary?” becomes a no-no in job interviews. By Chere B. Estrin There’s a hot trend sweeping equal-pay legislation right now and some legal field industry leaders are not too happy about it. New York, Massachusetts and Philadelphia have passed the country’s first law that prohibits employers from asking candidates for their current salaries or salary histories. This is a way to counter pay discrimination that can follow a woman throughout her career when the salary bump she gets with each job is based on pay that’s already lower than that of her male peers. Think it doesn’t exist...

How to Change Specialties: Getting It Right the Second Time


Many paralegals who want to switch practice specialties write their resume with exactly what it is they are doing now, send out a cover letter stating they have lots of experience in their current practice area and are “detail oriented, a team player and a quick learner”. In other words, “here I am, take me as I am and, oh, please train me”. And expect that will get them a new job in a new specialty with a new firm. You have to be kidding. Changing practice specialties is harder than getting your first job - much harder. Your experience...

Fifteen Cent Part


Long before paradigm shifts were in vogue, my dad taught me a good life lesson. I was so young. It was the late 70's and I desperately needed a car. So, Dad and I went down to the local Chevrolet used car lot to pick out the vehicle that was to announce my social status to the world. We picked out a 1962 shiny red Covair with bright red interior and real leather seats (most of you may not have heard of this short—lived classic) for the great price of $400. It was a small car with the motor in...

Quit Kidding Yourself with Boring Cover Letters. Get One That Works.


Cover letters are usually boring, unimaginative or just not taken seriously because there is nothing new in the letter that makes the writer stand out. Typical responses from employers? “Same letter, different sender.” Not exactly the let’s-jump-right-for-the-phone reaction you are seeking. In fact, with all due respect, I'll bet your letter goes something like: “I noticed your ad for a litigation paralegal. I am a paralegal with 10 years of experience. I have attached my resume for your review. I am seeking a challenging position which offers me the opportunity for growth. I have extensive litigation experience and excellent skills:...

Is Hiring a Virtual Assistant Right for You?


Here is an article that appeared recently in the Progressive Law Practice magazine. Written by Tami Kamin Meyer "Virtual assistants are hot whether you are a solo practitioner or work in a major law firm," says Chere Estrin, president and founder of The Organization of Legal Professionals. Moreover, she adds, the more tech-savvy the attorney, the easier it is to work with a virtual assistant, also known as a VA. All of this new-found convenience is due, of course, to the advent of technology and the internet. Lawyers chained to the notion that their assistant must be seated at a...

5 Best Networking Tips for Paralegals Who Hate to Network


It's who you know. Networking. No matter how you tweet ‘em up, link ‘em out or face ‘em down, if you are not professionally networking on a regular basis, you are clearly committing career suicide. And, let’s not leave out the importance of the old-fashioned, rarely done, one-on-one, face-to-face, in-person meeting, the one where you busted your budget by purchasing the latest designer jeans with built-in dirt and precise structured torn knees for the discounted price of $469.00 so that you can send the message that yes, you can and do fit in with the oh—so-influential-wanna-be-Melrose crowd. There's no such...

Law Firms Increasingly Using Alternative Legal Service Providers


By Tami Kamin Meyers for Progressive Law Practice I was fortunate to be quoted in an article by Tami Kamin-Myers for Progressive Law Practice about ALSPs - Alternative Legal Service Providers. Here is a portion of the article. Please check it out. Thanks! If it seems that ads from businesses offering services supporting the practice of law are popping up on your LinkedIn or Facebook feed more often than they used to, it’s not your imagination. According to a new study (PDF) recently released by Thomson Reuters, Georgetown University Law Center’s Center for the Study of the Legal Profession and...

Meet Joseph Spada: Controversial, Trendsetting Leader, Educator, and Paralegal Career Change Agent


Meet a leader: Joseph Spada, Director of Paralegal Certificate Studies, Boston University. Joe plays a significant role in leading and teaching paralegals who are entering the field. If you think back on significant people who influenced your career path as you entered this field, who might that be? Over the years, hundreds and hundreds of paralegals can point to Joe as a definite contributor to the direction, attitude and success they had as they moved forward in this exciting field. Here's why: Joe, tell us about your background. Let's start with your your education, always good for an educator! I...

Where Do I Go From Here? Alternative Careers for Paralegals


When I ask a paralegal “What's the next step in your career”, they inevitably tell me what they don’t want. “I don’t want a major firm.” “I don’t want litigation.” “I don’t want….” Rarely, can they tell me what they do want other than “a whole lot of money” or “I want to go in-house.” Sometimes, however, they tell me, “I want an alternative career.” Ok, I’ll say, “What does that mean?” And I get driven right back to the, “I dunno.” The most important thing to remember when considering an alternative career is: “By setting a timeline and creating...

10 Steps to Ace Your Performance Review and Get a Mind-Blowing Raise


You’re not reading this article because you’ve gotten the raise of your dreams. You’re reading it because a) you want the raise of your dreams b) you didn’t get the raise of your dreams and need corrective action or c) it ain’t gonna happen. To c), I say, maybe not. But hey, at least I'm honest here. However, there are concrete steps you can take to get the process in motion. Sitting back, waiting for the firm to take all the action is most definitely a career rear-ender. Why? You become a victim to your circumstances. The firm has all...

How to Alienate a Recruiter and Bust Your Career


It’s that time again. We struggle as to whether it’s time to change jobs, hang in there or be thankful we’re in the best firm in the world. Well, maybe the best. OK, the best so far. Working with a good recruiter can make your career. Here’s the inside scoop: Recruiters, and I am talking about the staffing agency kind, hold the keys to literally hundreds of contacts they have built up over the years. They have the ears of the hiring authorities of the very firms you want to get into. Those who don’t understand the power and value...

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Stress?


Stress doesn't really scare me. It is part and parcel of our lives. Why, might you ask, would anyone say that? Probably because in the second half of my work life, I have found the secrets to a relatively stress free career. Article after article has been written about stress. It’s the same old, same old: manage your stress, have a plan, stay positive, visualize your last trip to Hawaii in the sun-soaked terrain, exercise daily and get regular hot rock massages. That, or have a glass of good white wine, get in the bathtub with lots of Evelyn &...

The Newest, Latest Trends in the Paralegal World - Are You Riding the Horse in the Direction It's Going?


It’s a whole new world out there for paralegals. If you are not riding the horse in the direction it’s going, you are going to be left behind. Why? Because whether you are seeking a new position, looking to expand in your role at your present job or merely suiting up and showing up (let’s be honest here), staying complacent and ignoring the trends is, well, death to your career. Here are just a few of the most recent trends of which you need to be aware: Hottest, most requested software package for litigation paralegals: Relativity. Employers can’t get enough...

Refusing to Play Office Politics? You Might Want to Rethink That.


It’s a dirty word. I’ll be surprised if it gets printed here so I’ll whisper: office politics…. (Shhhhhhh!) Your mother may have told you that nice professionals don’t do that sort of thing. Anyone who tells me they “avoid office politics” is really telling me that they are heavy into the game. Politics are an integral part of the world of work. Truth be told, what’s really behind office politics, however, is fear. Fear of what could, might or does happen. No one I know likes to admit that they play office politics or worse yet, that they are pretty...

Highly Paid Successful Workers Compensation Paralegal Tells All - An Interview with Paula Delp, ACP


On occasion, you meet an exception to the rule. This is the case with Paula Delp, one of the highest paid Workers Compensation Paralegals in the country, if not the highest. What a breath of fresh air! Great attitude, smart, dedicated....ok, I digress here. It takes a lot to impress me and believe me, I'm impressed. Generally known as a low paying specialty, Workers Compensation is often under-rated in its complexity of skill sets required. There are two sides of the specialty: applicant and defense. Working with this specialty in recruiting for several well-known, well-respected firms, I have interviewed literally...

An American Hero Right Here in the Paralegal Field


American Heroes. They are among us. Look to the right. Look to the left. Looking right in front of us is Conni Hebert, ACP, smack dab in the paralegal field whom I had the privilege of getting to know. What an astounding background. A paralegal for over 23 years, Conni developed an interest in the legal field while serving active duty in the U.S. Air Force. She is a Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran and received the National Defense Service Medal and the U.S. Air Force Achievement Medal for her contributions to the Gulf War mission. In a nutshell,...

5 Biggest Networking Mistakes Guaranteed to Stall Your Career


Networking is an Art. Networking. How many times have we heard it? It’s like saying, “Bless you” when you sneeze. It has, in a sense, lost its real meaning. How you network can make all the difference in your career success. If you want to get ahead, your networking skills have to be sharp, savvy and yes, leveraged in such a way to propel you forward. Otherwise, you pretty much run the risk of getting overlooked for promotions, considered as a great candidate for a new job or advancing your current position. When given a choice, people will always do...

The British are calling.....the British are calling. UK magazine reaches out for interview.


"Don’t be afraid to get shot down. I’ll never forget one of my first successes. I had just passed the successful entrepreneurial mark. I went out and bought a Mercedes. Giggling like two girls, we got in. We rubbed the real leather, we moved the seats back and forth. We played with the radio and didn’t understand all the switches. We loved it. I finally said to her, “Well, Mom, what do you think of your girl?” She looked at me for a moment and she said, “I think this is great, honey. Is this a Toyota?”

Weight! Weight! Are You Sabotaging Your Career? Those Extra Pounds May Be Holding You Back


While many victims of weight bias have suspected their appearance has been hurting their careers, two past studies analyzing decades' worth of research showed just how pervasive the problem is. The bulk of research has shown that the bias tends to be felt most by overweight white women, who are battling both the glass ceiling and the stigma of being heavy.

Here's How Legal Technology Expertise Can Make or Break Your Career


"eDiscovery and Litigation Support Project Management are the hottest areas paying some of the highest salaries and offering challenging and upwardly mobile career opportunities. It is not unusual to see salaries for Senior Litigation Support Project Managers in the upper $150,000 at major law firms or at Top Tier Legal Support Providers."

Do In-House Paralegals Get More Respect?


Aretha Franklin sang to the world about it. The subject is included when employees, girlfriends, wives, husbands, boyfriends, grandmothers and pets are asked how they want to be treated. I’m talking about respect. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, as Ms. Franklin would put it. In my travels across the country as a paralegal educator, speaker, author and staffing expert, I noticed a difference between the temperaments of law firm and in-house legal department paralegals. Was I imagining it or did most in-house paralegals seem more at peace, less stressed, easier to get along with while law firm paralegals seemed tougher, ready for battle, and...

Where Do I Go From Here? Leveraging Your Background Is the Smartest Career Move You Can Make - Just Ask Chuck Smith


One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your paralegal career is to not leverage your background. In fact, when faced with either entering the field or changing positions, the words "transferable skills" sometime seem to make a beeline for the exit as candidates get it into their heads that obscure skills in their past are not related to current positions. What am I telling you to do? I have witnessed construction workers become litigation construction paralegals. Who better can read blueprints? Entertainers become entertainment paralegals. Who understands royalties better? How about travel agents, food servers, airline stewards (do...

Donald Trump loves me! (Huh?) What You Need to Know Right Now: Ethics and Social Networking


LinkedIn With Donald Trump! (Legal Ethics) "Donald Trump loves me! It is certainly clear that he can spot a winner – a leader in the profession, at the top of their game. I'm sure that describes me, and must be why he has requested to join my massive and influential LinkedIn network (of a moderate, real-world scale, of course)."

Dear Son: Don't Forget to Stand Out


You may remember Jamie Collins—one of our top writers. Today I'm pleased to feature one of her posts on The Estrin Report. I am excited to announce that Jamie is not only writing in the legal genre these days, but also recently launched a personal blog called: Just Being Jamie. So what is this new blog? It’s pretty much Jamie writing on a wide variety of topics, with no set rules, Just Being Jamie. She never hits the page lightly. One day she’ll make you laugh. The next day, she’ll make you weep. (She really does. You should give it...

Mentoring Can Be the Biggest Mistake of Your Career


"No one goes through childhood saying, “When I grow up I want to be a mentor.” That’s like saying, “When I grow up, I want to be an actuary.” When given a chance, believe it or not, not everyone wants the awesome responsibility for someone else's career."

Should Attending Law School Be Kept a Secret From My Employer?


Nothing is worse than making a mistake that could be a career buster.”