Monday, November 29, 2010

The Most Politically Correct Office Gift (Well, Depending On The Title)!

Chronicle Books is having their national Holiday Friends & Family Sale!

From today through Dec. 5, customers will receive 35% off plus free ground shipping on their website:

Use promo code FRIENDS.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Not Your Mother's Court Reporter

Atkinson-Baker introduces their new service, "Mobile Transcript", which delivers deposition transcripts to smartphones.

Mobile Transcript is an app that provides you with the ability to fully utilize deposition transcripts on your smartphone. Atkinson Baker uploads your transcripts to the Mobile Transcript website, which in turn downloads the transcripts to your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Blackberry devices. And it doesn’t cost you anything.

Mobile Transcript allows you to:

* highlight and flag text;
* bookmark;
* jump to next highlight;
* keyword search;
* jump to page number;
* e-mail transcripts from within the transcript;
* e-mail transcript in PDF with or without your yellow highlights;
* finger swipe feature to move from page to page;
* use enlarged page arrow keys which are repositioned under user's thumbs when holding the device horizontally; and
* increase the screen viewing area to review and annotate the transcript.

For more information, contact:
Atkinson-Baker Director of Client Services


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Where's the Glamour?

By Lindsay Valek

Ten years ago, my favorite southern belle, Shelby (a/k/a Julia Roberts), lit up the big screen portraying a woman that I, for one, had never heard of. As a result of her performance, everyone in America got a taste for the paralegal profession’s sexy, mysterious, and seemingly thrilling job description. The year was 2000 and Erin Brockovich had stolen our hearts.

Hollywood had created an illusion of intrigue, suspense, passion and the notorious tug of war wherein good triumphs over evil, the big company crumbles, children are saved, the mother dies to protect them, and Erin Brockovich gets a big fat check. Sitting in my first “Introduction to Paralegal Studies” course at the local community
college, I just knew that I, too, would soon be sneaking into secret file rooms to discover smoking gun documents for which my boss (and the entire town) would be forever in my debt.

And then I got a gig as a Paralegal.

Within two hours of being on the job, my fantasies were viciously ripped to shreds. I spent my first morning learning how to create a WordPerfect macro to print Bates labels and my afternoon two-hole punching correspondence. Somehow, I didn’t think I’d be getting an Oscar nod anytime soon. What happened to my grand ideas for saving the innocent and sticking it to the man? After a few weeks in, I was seriously considering demanding the community college refund me for that Tort Law course which I obviously would not be using anytime in the near future.

Over the course of my career as a paralegal I have learned many things:

I’ve learned that original stock certificates are priceless and that attorneys’ handwriting mimics that of some of the most notorious serial killers to date.

I’ve learned that the most important thing I can do in my job is to keep 712,423 documents organized, indexed and housed in one file room and that I should never, under ANY circumstances, count a federal holiday while calendaring responses to Requests to Admit.

I’ve earned an honorary certification as a copy repairman and have recently considered submitting my application for a stunt artist as I have mastered the art of delicately balancing 7 boxes, 2 laptops, and a cup of coffee on one dolly while wearing heels.

I’ve learned that this job is not always pretty.

At some point, you will find yourself in a situation like I was once in: Outside a courthouse on a cold, January morning, unpacking a Tahoe filled with bankers boxes, briefcases, a projector, and a portable screen, left alone to lug it all inside and through security as your bosses hurry into the building bundled warmly in their wool coats.

You will swallow your pride and call a clerk’s office three times to ask the same question, three different ways and, yes, the clerk will speak to you as though you’re a moron.

You will fetch everything from coffee to dry cleaning to your boss's wife’s dog from the parlor, and you will get to experience what it’s like to not eat lunch for 4 days straight.

You will make mistakes and hold back tears as you tell your boss that you accidentally filed a complaint without the exhibits attached.

All of these things WILL happen ~ and then some. Sounding too good for you yet? Fear not, as while you’re busy perfecting of all of these seemingly un-glamorous jobs, you will also become a mind reader, a computer genius, a forward thinker, a confidant, a source of information, a point person, and the most organized human being on the planet. You may not realize you’re becoming these things until it smacks you right in the face but trust me when I tell you, you will begin to change.

Working in the trenches as a paralegal will not just get your hands dirty, but will expose you to worlds that you never imagined being immersed in. You will no longer be just a paralegal. You will become an expert on oil companies, timber cutting, land development at the shopping mall, the inner workings of a bank, and what happens to a child’s skin when a cigarette lighter’s safety device is installed improperly.

There will be times when you will wish that you did not know certain things ~ like how many times your insurance agent emailed his mistress or that when Social Services took your client's child, she was drunk as a skunk, had cocaine in her purse and a toddler in the front seat of her car.

I once had someone tell me that some of my articles weren’t particularly “pleasant,” which highly offended me because A) I’m southern and B) my mother happened to raise my brothers and I a wee bit on the sensitive side (just ask our significant others). Feeling a little pessimistic, I perused the comments I’ve received in recent months and it got me thinking: Some of my articles aren’t pleasant but by God, they’re real and from the looks of things, every paralegal, legal assistant and legal secretary from Illinois to Florida to Arizona has either thought or felt the EXACT same way.

Welcome to the paralegal profession. This gig isn’t as glamorous as many (ahem….my mother) likes to imagine but with the right background music, the payoff is something straight out of a movie. As the theme song crescendos, I sit perched at my desk, 31 years old, single, childless and oftentimes wondering where my life is going and how this journey is going to turn. And then, I realize that I’m living it right now. The fantasy? There’s no glamour. The reality?

Wouldn’t change a thing.

This article was originally published in Know: a Magazine for Paralegals.

(Reprinted with the author's permission)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Law of Attraction" by Allison Leotta

"As newly minted Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., Anna Curtis has already developed thick skin to deal with the brutality she encounters with her daily stack of domestic violence cases. Yet when Laprea Johnson walks into Anna's life - battered by her boyfriend on the morning after Valentine's Day - there's something about this particular case that Anna can't quite shake, something that reminds the prosecutor of her own troubled past."

(From jacket flap)

I opened this book on the train on my way to work this morning. By the time, I departed the train, I had just finished Chapter Six and I knew that I was hooked."

Stay tuned for complete review.

Law of Attraction: A Novel
(Touchstone Hardcover/Simon & Schuster)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bullying - It's Not Just For Kids Anymore - "Workplace Bullies" by Laura Casey (C)

The article below was authored by Laura Casey of the Bay Area Newsgroup. It appeared in today's Oakland Tribune and is reprinted with permission.

Workplace Bullies Ruin Lives
By Laura Casey
Bay Area Newsgroup

Kim is being stalked in the halls by her supervisor. Her every move is scrutinized, judged. Every day, she is berated with personal insults suggesting that she's just not good enough to work anywhere.

The yelling and unfair accusations do not simply make her hate coming to work. It has led to more serious health issues.

Kim, a 29-year-old medical office worker, who didn't want her last name used, has fallen into a depression. She's losing weight, having panic attacks and, two months ago, had to take a leave of absence from work. The Berkeley resident is hoping to transfer to another office, but in the meantime, she's going to counseling to heal. She dreads returning to her workplace and her bully.

"It's like I'm stuck," she says. "I don't know what to do. I am sick, and I can't change this person. I don't want to lose my job."

Bullying is a growing concern across the country, yet workplace bullying is a life-altering threat that rarely gathers the attention that schoolyard bullying does. Still, workplace bullying can prompt feelings of stress, depression and anxiety, and some say it can cause heart attacks and even lead to suicide.

There are no laws on the books in any state against workplace bullying and no easy legal recourse to embark on when bullying ruins lives.

Psychologists and spouses Gary and Ruth Namie have heard thousands of stories as heartbreaking as Kim's since 1997, when they developed an anti-workplace bullying organization in Benicia. Now called the Workplace Bullying Institute and headquartered in Bellingham, Wash., the center offers support and counseling to people who are victims of what the Namies call verbal violence in the workplace. They also commission studies to find out whom is being bullied at work and how bullying affects the workplace.

The Namies got into this business after Ruth Namie became a target for a bully at a Bay Area mental health center. Shortly after reporting to her job, she says she was screamed at in the halls, picked on by her boss and isolated from her co-workers.

"I felt I had done something wrong," she says. "I did so well in my other jobs and never had a problem. I had a very good career. I just wanted to work. But I kept feeling like I was doing something wrong. I was ashamed, and I didn't want to tell anybody."

She was eventually put on administrative leave, and she and her husband made it their mission to fight workplace bullying.

"I am so worried about this," says Gary Namie, visibly shaken during a recent seminar in South San Francisco where a young woman in tears shared that she had been bullied two years before. "You don't typically read about the suicides that are related to this, the health problems. Yet we tell (victims of bullying) that if you don't take care of your health, it will harm you in innumerable ways, and it could cost you your life."

Workplace bullying can happen in any workplace, Namie says, and the targets are usually people who simply want to do their work undisturbed. The bully can be a boss, co-worker or supervisor. According to 2010 research by Zogby International, 35 percent of workers have experienced bullying firsthand, what amounts to 53 million people. The study says that 62 percent of bullies are men, while 58 percent of targets are women. Women target women 80 percent of time. Workplace bullies are usually jealous of the target's accomplishments and drive, the Namies say.

"You're sport," Gary Namie says. "Targets are the salt of the Earth, and it gets you snookered."

Peralta College District math professor William Lepowsky had been teaching at Laney College in Oakland for 32 years when bullies started targeting him in the early 2000s.

"It was something I was absolutely ignorant of until I experienced it," he says. The bullying started after Lepowsky wrote and self-published a statistics textbook used at Laney. He was accused by an administrator of acting improperly and, even after being cleared of any wrongdoing, Lepowsky says he was threatened with the loss of his job.

"A good analogy to (workplace bullying) is that it's like a mugging. You go to the theater and you're walking home, and they steal your purse or something," he says. "It's obviously a huge violation, something no one is looking for. It comes out of the blue and prevents you from enjoying going out to the movie or whatever you were going to enjoy."

Lepowsky fought back by gathering support from co-workers and won, eventually receiving a written apology from the then-Chancellor of the District for the "stress and strain" caused by actions of other administrators. A change in leadership at the college and District made him feel comfortable at work again.

Lepowsky talks openly about his experience because he wants to help others. He never sued the district nor got a settlement.

But if he had chosen to sue because of the bullying, he would have faced a daunting problem: The practice is not illegal in the workplace if it's not based on discrimination and doesn't fit the legal definition of harassment. Therefore, if a target chooses to take legal action they rarely win cases against their employers.

"They have no legal recourse because it's not against the law," says Michelle Smith, a Sacramento-based workplace advocate trying to gather support for the Healthy Workplace Bill. The bill, which has been introduced in several states and has died in committee in California, would define an "abusive work environment" and hold both the bully and the employer accountable for the harm workplace bullying causes.

So what can be done if you are a target of bullying?

The Namies assure targets that they are not alone, that they didn't cause the bullying to happen.

"Bullying is domestic violence where the abuser is on the payroll," Gary Namie says. And, like in cases of domestic violence, the victim is simply that, a victim.

In their book "The Bully At Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job," (Sourcebooks, $16.99) the Namies suggest ways of taking care of your needs first. See a therapist or work with a Workplace Bullying Institute expert to develop strategies for coping with the bully. In some cases, asking an employer to fix the problem is appropriate -- but it could backfire. According to Workplace Bullying Institute research, in some cases the complaints are either ignored or the bullying is intensified.

In a worst-case scenario, if your health is being severely harmed, they suggest taking time off work or looking for alternative workplaces.

"I think your health is much more important than working at a job that can potentially kill you," Ruth Namie says.

Screaming Mimi: This bully isn't afraid to yell at you. She controls through fear and intimidation, even throwing objects around the office.

Constant Critic: The critic is an extremely negative nit-picker and aims to destroy confidence in your competence. He makes unreasonable demands for work with impossible deadlines and expects perfection.

Two-Headed Snake: This bully is passive-aggressive, dishonest and indirect. He smiles to hide aggression.

Gatekeeper: She controls all the resources you need to succeed, including money, staffing and time. She keeps her target out of the loop and makes new rules on a whim.

Excerpt from "The Bully At Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job," by Gary and Ruth Namie.