After a competitive interview process, Durham Technical Community College student Sara Brickey got the phone call she hoped for this week–she’s their newest paralegal intern at Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Pittsboro office. Sara, a Paralegal Technology student nearing graduation, will begin her internship in January.
Legal Aid of North Carolina provides free legal services to low income people. Since the program’s focus is on civil matters, Sara will gain experience in areas relating to housing, employment, income, and family law. Legal Aid of North Carolina also runs six statewide projects. The LANC Pittsboro office covers a six county service area: Alamance County, Chatham County, Lee County,Moore County, Orange County and Richmond County.
The next Paralegal Club meeting is Thursday, December 5th from 2pm -3pm in White 35.
Merrell Williams Jr. in 1996 (photo credit: Lee Celano, For The LA Times)
You might be asking yourself, who is this person and of what importance is he to the world of the paralegal? Perhaps you remember, back in the early 1990’s, the very publicized lawsuit against four of the largest tobacco companies in the country. The case was made against the tobacco companies for hiding evidence that these companies were well aware of the facts that cigarettes were not only addictive, but also led to many health problems. Merrell Williams Jr. was the paralegal who was instrumental in “blowing the whistle” against these companies. Mr.Williams worked for a law firm who represented a big tobacco company. He copied company files containing evidence that tobacco companies covered up findings by their own research scientists that raised issues about the harm of smoking tobacco. The law firm in which he was working when he discovered the files accused him of theft and abusing attorney-client privilege and filed suit against him for theft, fraud, and breach of contract. His defense argued that the documents he copied showed proof of criminal activity. Mr. Williams did use the evidence he found as grounds to sue the tobacco companies and won.
Whether or not you agree with the ethics behind Mr. William’s actions, the case made this former paralegal very well known. Merrell Williams Jr. died from a heart attack on November 18th in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. You can read more information on his story here.
- Traci Ruffner, DTCC Paralegal Student
In the business world, finding a job is often more about who you know rather than what you know. This is very important to those of us who are finishing up our Paralegal degrees and will soon be hitting the pavement searching for the perfect job. Websites such as www.linkedin.com are very helpful for setting up a professional profile and beginning your network of business professionals. You may have success finding the right job this way, but there are other options to consider as well.
A fantastic way to meet others in your field as well as get to know the “ins and outs” of companies in your area that may be looking to hire people with your expertise is to practice a type of networking known as informational interviewing. A good definition of an informational interview is “a meeting between you and a professional. The purpose is to help define your career options or research a company where you want to work. It is NOT a job interview. Do not expect anyone to make you an offer.”
The first step is to find places in your area that you want to learn more about and would be interested in working. Next, find someone you would like to interview. This could be a paralegal with the company, a lawyer, or an administrative professional. There are several articles available on how you should approach the person you choose to ask for an interview.
Once you have the interview you should compile a list of questions to ask. These could be questions about the firm or company in general, what the interviewee’s favorite part of the job is, what the interviewee’s credentials are that enabled them to get the job, and many more. You should have a different set of questions for different interviews depending on the person’s job. Some very good sample questions can be found here.
Hopefully you will have gained some good insight to the business at the conclusion of your interview. Be sure to ask the person you are interviewing if they know of others in the field who would also be interested in allowing you to interview them. This is about networking and building connections with others in your field, after all. Soon after the interview, you should follow up with the individual by sending a card, thanking them for their time. If one of the connections suggested by the interviewee helps you to land a job, it would be a good idea to let that person know and thank them again.
I hope you consider trying this method of networking and that it brings you success. Happy job hunting!
-Traci Ruffner, DTCC Paralegal Student
Big Brother is watching you—from your cell phone.
Do you turn your WiFi off when you go to the mall? Unless you do, as you move from store to store, from counter to counter, your cell phone is constantly sending out signals that track your location. And just who is interested in these data? Retailers, for one, and “MLACs,” for another–mobile location analytics companies. MLACs make their money by selling the data to others. A problem?
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York thought so. His efforts resulted in the October 22, 2013 introduction of a new code of conduct for the mobile location analytics industry designed to bring this data collection more into line with the FTC requirements of “notice and consent.” According to an article in the North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology (NC Jolt), however, as of November 12, only “some” MLACs, and no retailers, had signed up. Still, you may begin seeing notices about opting out of this surveillance via a central website in the coming weeks or months.
For more information, see this article in North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology.
- Barb Stenross, DTCC Paralegal Student
The North Carolina Certified Paralegal exam is scheduled for April 12, 2014. The application deadline is January 15th.
Certification is a big deal for paralegals–both the NCCP and NALA exam help paralegals stand out in the crowd. Stay in touch with important dates about certification by checking out the blog’s certification page, which will be updated when there’s any new information. That page lists the requirements to sit for certification, and contact information needed for registration.
It’s never too early to start preparing for these exams!
The next paralegal club meeting will be Thursday, December 5th, from 2pm – 3pm in White 35.