Home / Expert Opinion / Paralegal Perspectives: Paralegal of the Year nominations; CLE overview

Paralegal Perspectives: Paralegal of the Year nominations; CLE overview

At the annual meeting of the Paralegal Association of Rochester in May 2013, the Paralegal of the Year Award will be given. It is an award that is given to a paralegal who is a member of the Paralegal Association of Rochester, and who is being recognized for his or her achievements and given the honor of receiving the Paralegal of the Year Award.

Over the past couple of years there have been very few nominations for this award, which saddens me. I know there are plenty of very worthy people who deserve an award such as this. One year there were no nominations whatsoever! Even as busy as we all are, it is hard to believe that employers, co-workers, peers, etc. cannot take a few minutes to write a nomination for a very deserving paralegal from their company or someone they know.

Receiving this award is a phenomenal experience and a fabulous boost that shows everyone how appreciated and deserving of a paralegal you are for the work that you do.

So with that being said, there are still certain requirements and criteria that need to be met to qualify for this award: The nominated paralegal must be a voting member of the Paralegal Association of Rochester Inc., and a member in good standing. They must have been employed for at least one year as a qualified paralegal who performs substantive legal work on a day-to-day basis. The paralegal cannot nominate themselves for the award. The individual, however, may be nominated by a peer, a client, a supervising attorney, a co-worker, a paralegal manager, an association member or by any organization.

The person submitting the application must submit a letter describing in detail the assets, contributions and commitment, academically and/or professionally, that this individual has made to the legal profession.  (Please keep the letter to no more than two pages, in at least 12 point font, spaced at no less than 1 ½ spaces per line.)

Nominations are to be received in the form of an application that can be downloaded through PAR’s website at www.rochesterparalegal.org. You can also request a nomination application by contacting PAR President DeAnna Martelle at dmartelle@hblaw.com or (585) 295-4465.

Completed applications should be forwarded to the Paralegal Association of Rochester Inc., Attn. 2013 Paralegal of the Year Award, P.O. Box 20106, Rochester, NY, 14602. The deadline to submit a candidate for this award is April 16.

The nominations will be reviewed and you may be contacted if your candidate is chosen. The award will be kept confidential between you and the nominating committee until the annual dinner scheduled to take place in May.  The recipient will be notified shortly before the Annual Meeting and Dinner so they may attend.

Some of the other past recipients are: Patricia Sexstone with Forsyth & Forsyth, DeAnna Martelle with Hiscock & Barclay LLP; Deborah J. Wilcox Mabry with Nixon Peabody LLP, and Magdalyn Cygonovich with Boylan Brown.

Please help us decide who will be the recipient of the 2013 Paralegal of the Year by nominating your candidate and downloading, completing and submitting the application today.

On Feb. 21, the Paralegal Association of Rochester hosted a CLE at Nixon Peabody LLP.  Retired Assistant Attorney General Carlos Rodriguez presented a relevant and engaging seminar on the Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL).

A person is guilty of UPL if they engage in “any act forbidden by law to be done by any person not regularly licensed and admitted to practice law in New York state.”

What does this mean for today’s paralegal or non-attorney? Effective Nov. 1, the unauthorized practice of law will be prosecuted a s Class E Felony pursuant to Judiciary Law section 485-a. The attorney general can commence a civil or criminal case against person engaged in the UPL. Prosecutors’ offices and consumer affairs agencies and bar associations have reported a growing volume of complaints of consumer fraud and abuse arising from UPL scam artists.

Carlos reported that here in Rochester, the Attorney General’s Office investigated businesses ranging from non-attorneys performing real estate closings, mediators who were providing legal advice and counsel, and even non-lawyers appearing in court representing clients.  With or without the client’s knowledge, by November of this year, these acts will now carry a much heavier consequence than before.

Carlos kept the audience fully engaged. He set out some of the do’s and dont’s for paralegals and non-lawyers and I believe he tried to impart on this audience the importance of adequate supervision by an attorney. He did his best to explain the degree of supervision required, taking into account the experience of the person whose work is being supervised, the amount of work involved in a particular matter and the likelihood that ethical problems might arise in the course of working on a particular matter.

Quite a few paralegals in attendance were concerned with making sure their roles were properly defined within their offices. Many thought that the attorneys working with non-lawyer staff should also attend a similar CLE on this topic with the objective being that the attorneys are not asking their staff to violate any laws.

I would also like to pass on some upcoming activities going on with the Paralegal Association. April 12 is the 4th Annual Charity Casino Night at the Knights of Columbus in Webster. This year’s charity is the Monroe County Legal Assistance Center. For further information about this fabulous event, please contact Michele McKay at mmckay@harrisbeach.com.

Stay tuned for information concerning the Annual Meeting and Dinner in May.

Stefanie Medina is a paralegal with Fero & Ingersoll. Deborah King is a paralegal and PAR’s primary representative to the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.

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