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The Legal Decree

A Publication of the American Institute for Paralegal Studies' Alumni Association

Spring 2004 Edition Volume 3, Issue 2 Renee R. Sova, Editor

[email protected]


A Day in the Life of a 1 Research Paralegal Editor's Note Should Paralegals Go to Law School? 1 3

A Stress Survival 4 Guide for Overachievers Going Beyond Google The Laughing Corner Graduate Spotlight Faculty Spotlight Legal Research Web Links Meet Legal Research Paralegals...all AIPS Graduates! 6 8 8 9 9 10-11

A Day In the Life of a Research Paralegal

By Pamela L. Crosby, Litigation Support Paralegal, 2003 AIPS Graduate

Law AIPS 11 Graduate's Perspective Calling All Alumni Friends & Family Discounts 12 12

Today I have two research assignments due by the afternoon. The first project entails writing a memo that answers the following question, "Can a defendant in a lawsuit bring a counterclaim against a plaintiff for filing a frivolous lawsuit?" The second project involves researching

the answers to two questions, (1) What kind of statements constitute slander per se, and (2) if slander per se is provable, can a punitive damage award greatly exceed an award for actual damages (which even when assumed may not be easily proven)? If this were 1973

(when I first learned how to perform legal research), I would be using Words & Phrases, Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS), the Digests, and the Reporters to pinpoint and pull cases to answer these questions. It would take most of my day ­ if not the entire day ­

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Editor's Note:

Welcome to the Spring edition of The Legal Decree. We have a great issue for you to read as you watch the daffodils and crocuses attempt to spring from the cold ground! In this issue we have a wonderful article written by Chere Estrin, our contributing author, on surviving stress in the legal workplace. It is a must read for those type A personalities! In addition, we have provided an article for you on some tips in researching the law, the old fashioned way. Does anyone truly remember how? Then, you will hear from some of our graduates who insist their

training using Lexis at AIPS has helped them to secure and maintain their positions as paralegals. The computerized research and advent of the internet has saved all of us time! Lastly, the debate about whether paralegals should go to law school and whether the paralegal training is helpful, is explored. Fred Rouse, one of our alumni, currently attends an on line law school and shares with us some of his knowledge he has gained along the way. We have spotlighted one of our 1995 graduates, Donna Lush, who is currently using her paralegal training to

serve as a consultant in designing a new state wide computer program for Indiana in the Marion County Courts and Indiana Supreme Court. Janet Russeth is our faculty spotlight for this issue. She has been teaching for AIPS in its distance learning program for eight years. Many of you will remember her as one of your instructors, or as the AIPS administrator who provided you with an online tour of our paralegal program.

Enjoy the issue and Spring!

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A Day In the Life of a Research Paralegal

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to simply locate the appropriate cases, analyze the law, and compose a memo. In 1973, this meant writing notes on a legal tablet, editing it by hand, i.e., re-writing, re-writing, and rewriting, or literally cutting and pasting, until I was satisfied enough to put it in final form by typing it up on the electric typewriter. Fortunately, this is 2004. I can now log into a Computer Assisted Legal Research (CALR) program, such as Westlaw, Lexis, Loislaw, or FindLaw, and using either boolean or a natural language, search to locate relevant cases and statutes. I can block, cut, and paste into my word processing program, applicable portions of text from cases located by my search. While case analysis may take the same amount of time, the time it takes to perform the remaining tasks has been greatly reduced by computers and the Internet.

research skills. The constant use of Lexis during all my classes helped me develop a proficiency in Lexis that I lacked before I attended AIPS. I had previously acquired paralegal knowledge in WestLaw, so I tended to use it as a primary resource and avoid Lexis because I did not know how to use it very well. Now the Lexis screens are as comfortable to me as an old pair of pajamas. My search queries have improved, which have led to better and faster results. Finally, having a paralegal certificate has validated my research skills to an extent that I did not think possible. My employer now feels it can market my services without apology to clients. They plan to take advantage of my certificate and skills to improve the development and delivery of legal services, while increasing the bottom line.

Years of practice in research have developed my ability to identify and analyze facts and issues. AIPS has given me a solid foundation in I have tried to maintain my new expertise with legal research and writing. Long before I Lexis by logging in from time to time to attained my paralegal certificate, I could practice boolean and natural language queries research, analyze, and draft a memo or legal (how do they compare with WestLaw searches document. Yet my year with AIPS improved my and do the results differ?). I also practice skills far beyond my expectations. AIPS certain databases and how to use them. There introduced me to aspects of CALR that I did not is so much available! I believe this will realize existed, such as the "Practice Area increase my marketability as a paralegal, and I Pages" feature contained in Lexis. This is a would urge both students and alumni to use practice specific consolidation of Lexis on-line whatever advantage is available at AIPS to rise legal and business resource materials. In to the top of what has become a very addition, the AIPS legal research course gave competitive profession. me proficiency with in-depth research methods I had dreamt were possible, but not "Having a paralegal certificate has Pamela L Crosby probable, in the Litigation Support Paralegal world of billables! validated my research skills to an The course also extent that I did not think possible. My Gibbons & Crosby Dallas, Texas encouraged me to employer now feels it can market my 2003 AIPS Graduate familiarize myself services without apology to clients. Member, Legal Assistants with all the They plan to take advantage of my Division of Texas State Bar resources Associate Member, College available so I certificate and skills to improve the of the State Bar of Texas could continue to development and delivery of legal increase my services, while increasing the bottom line."


By: Ken Husserl, J.D. Chair, Paralegal Studies Department, Berkeley College

Reprinted with permission

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I had to go digging to find the results of an informal study I once conducted. I found in my many years of teaching that more and more of my students were interested in going on to law school. When I started teaching first at Long Island University in 1977 and then at other institutions as well, none of my students ever expressed an interest in law school. This changed dramatically over the years to the point where now it is not uncommon for up to half of my students to be interested. So a few years ago, I did a search on AOL to find anyone whose profile contained the words "paralegal" or "legal assistant" and "law student." I then contacted these people and identified myself as an attorney and paralegal educator in New York who had a number of students interested in going on to law school. I asked if they would be willing to offer any insight as to whether paralegal training had in any way helped them in their law school studies. I got back several responses, all of which were overwhelmingly positive about the experience. This did not surprise me, since I had heard similar comments from my own students who went on to law school. I wanted to share a few sample comments: "I honestly believe that I gained a world of knowledge and assistance from laying

the proper foundation which begins with paralegal training. I have found the most valuable tools I obtained from my studies were proper research methods, how to interpret case law and briefing a case." "Generally, paralegals have an advantage over (other) law students because they know how the system works and have many procedural insights." "Paralegal training is certainly not necessary to succeed in law school; however, it does help pay the bills in terms of employment while one is in law school." "Just being a paralegal gave me a two mile head start over everyone else in my class. It also helped me in obtaining a job after law school. I would recommend to anyone who is thinking about law school to take paralegal courses.." "Paralegal school before law school was the best thing I ever did. I had all the basic skills (research, briefing cases, legal writing, practical experience) I needed before taking the classes in law school, so things were much easier. Plus, I have the legal community which will help me when I begin searching for a clerkship and later for employment." And finally, a comment that was quite different and unexpected: "If I hadn't taken the paralegal training, I never would have had the courage to try law school. It was through the paralegal classes that I realized

how much I love doing research, reading the case law and solving problems. More importantly, I discovered that I, for my entire life, had underestimated my own intellect. Taking paralegal classes was a non-threatening way for me to explore the law and my capabilities in the field." The results of this very unscientific study lead me to believe that, although the programs where I have taught were never specifically advertised as "pre-law" programs, if students want to use them as such, why should we be against it? Paralegal training certainly doesn't seem to be doing prospective law students any harm.

Editor's Note: I attended law school after receiving my paralegal certificate from AIPS and working for 7.5 years as a paralegal. I finished my first year in the top ten percent of my class and "booked" my Legal Research and Writing Class (this meant I received the highest grade out of all first year law students in this course). I credit my wonderful start to law school to the excellent training I received at AIPS in 1983!! Renee Sova, Legal Decree Editor AIPS Graduate

A Stress Survival Guide for Overachievers

By Chere B. Estrin, Ph.D.

I don't know anyone in the legal field who considers themselves an underachiever. Your employer may have a different perspective of you, but frankly, just surviving in this highly intelligent, crisis managed, fast-paced, exceedingly demanding, everchanging arena can result in a predictable result: chronic stress! Mark Gorkin, a Washington, D.C. therapist, speaker, and trainer is AOL's "The Stress Doc" and a good friend. Many the nights I've called him to validate my career passions - my emotions psyched up, attention focused, and enthusiasm fired up, only to have him remind me to pace myself and to practice "safe stress". "Harness a lightning-paced business environment," he says. Dang, and just when I thought those cold sweats at night were pre-menopausal not suppressed anxiety. In today's unstable and constantly changing, merging and purging world of "do more with less" work environment, paralegals bridge the gap between attorneys, clients, and supervisors. In fact, it's at the intersection of challenge and performance pressure that legal professionals can find themselves confronted with lack of sufficient control to deal with high pitched and fast paced demands. According to Gorkin, there are a number of paralegal-related stressors: 1. Availability and accountability: The stress factor is double-pronged. While paralegals may exist in a different department, it is hardly an island in law firm waters. All attorneys believe that paralegals should be at their beck and call. If the paralegal totally buys into the rescuer role, taking every problem home at night ­ beware: burnout is less a sign of failure and more that you gave yourself away. 2. Objectivity: The paralegal must be both detached from the rest of the firm and an avid team player. They must also be an objective and concerned advocate for the attorney, client, and various law firm departments and vendors they must bring together. Paralegals must be a robust problem-solving force in the organization or otherwise they flounder about. 3. Multiple Roles: It's not surprising that the paralegal often plays many roles from miniassociate, trainer, conduit, grunt, peacemaker, authority figure, organizer, and concerned advocate.

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And, if that's not enough, he or she must be the back up when there are breakdowns or problems with a) cases or matters b) witnesses c) filings d) communications e) critical deadlines f) assignments and more. 4. Crisis Management: A potential danger is the belief that you are the center of the law firm solar system. All organizational matters of the case or matter depends on your energy source. Paralegals must realize when certain crises are outside his or her sphere of productive "hands on" influence and resist the "solo savior syndrome" role. 5. Confidentiality: An ongoing challenge for all legal professionals interfacing with numerous cases, clients and matters is sharing critical information and upholding the clients' confidentiality rights. Another stressor comes to mind: a paralegal who is unsure how to respond to an attorney whom she believes has behaved unprofessionally (if not illegally). Such a breach is like a virus that can contaminate everyone's operating system and sense of security. 6. Constantly changing technology: Like the rest of the corporate world, paralegals must keep up with new software and data processing systems. New software to ease the pain of litigation, case management, and deadlines appears almost weekly. Getting up and running technologically takes longer than anticipated. Glitch happens! 7. Training demands: California passed AB 1761 which became Business & Professions Code 6450. This code provides for paralegals to complete certain mandatory continuing legal education requirements within specified time frames. California is only one of several states passing new education codes. Paralegals must have enough time to seek out education that not only is required but will enable them to stay updated on laws, technology, policies and procedures. Consider these questions to assess your "stressability": 1) Are you heroically still trying to be all things to all people? 2) Are you servicing a greater number of assignments than ever before? 3) Is there more pressure now than ever

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A Stress Survival Guide f or Overachievers

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before to hit a minimum billable requirement? 4) Are you a slave to deadlines or frustrated from an apparent lack of time? 5) Do you accept too many responsibilities? 6) Are you scheduling more than you can do realistically? 7) Are you reluctant to admit you need or ask for help? 8) Are you afraid to take a vacation? 9) Are you afraid to make a mistake? 10) Are you cynical, callous, feel helpless, or in constant crisis? If you answered "yes" to any of these, beware! Stress can lead to burnout, unhealthy boundaries or poor health. This downward spiral can lead to feelings of being trapped or feeling paralyzed. Remember: hitting bottom means there's no more downward spiral. The task now is to learn how to handle these negative symptoms. Here are five survival strategies I have put together based on Gorkin's philosophy: 1) Balance interdependence and autonomy: Paralegals must strive to project an image of operational objectivity and team player while performing highly sophisticated assignments. At the same time, the paralegal must develop a capacity for "detached involvement," that is, being sensitive to legal issues and concerns while resisting the rescuer role. If you're always taking work home literally or emotionally, your personal boundaries are starting to erode. 2) Reach out to specialists and consultants: Whether you take things too personally, feel overwhelmed on a significant assignment, or are working incredible overtime, don't be that lone Rambo or Rambette. Reach out for expert support, particularly if you are working with the "Green-eyed Monster" in the corner office. Collaborate with an Employee Assistance Program counselor; go to your HR department or a supervisor with the power to help you. For widespread department tension, consider using a corporate change/critical intervention consultant. 3) Balance assignments and human relating: Beware the solitary document reviewer, sequestered in your cubicle! Don't lose the human touch. Periodically, walk around the firm. Swap stories with folks at lunch or breaks. Rotate different hats. The Stress Doc advocates "fireproofing your life with variety!"

4) Encourage independence by setting boundaries: Here are three boundary-setting strategies that enable you to successfully juggle various roles and responsibilities: a) Delegation: Delegate when you can and when it is appropriate. This critical stress management tool gives others a chance to demonstrate their skills and expertise while you monitor their performance. b) Education: Help others not to be so dependent upon your indispensable knowledge. Train others on assignment related procedures and move yourself up that invisible career ladder. c) Separation: Generate the space-time dynamics for optimal performance as a paralegal. Balance accessibility and boundaries with "closed door" time. Master the stress management mantra: "Give of yourself and give to yourself!" 5) Maximize team meetings: Productive team meetings are essential for sharing an emotionally demanding workload. Meetings need to be more than time and task driven. Build in a fifteen minute "wavelength" segment for group brainstorming and venting around emotionally tough issues dealing with deadlines, strategy, turf battles with other departments, cultural diversity tensions, etc. If you are not in charge of these meetings and are subject to supervisors calling the shots, see if you can get a five minute reporting time to let others on your team know what's going on. Don't use this as a gripe session; use it to come up with new ideas and get valuable input from other team members. In these tough corporate times, being a survivor is not enough. You can get mighty old in quite a hurry if you're giving to your law firm and not to yourself. In that stressed-out mode, you may find those Botox commercials awfully appealing. Remember, we're not human doings, rather, we are human beings ­ the secret to a less stressful and more fun filled life. Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Professional Careers, a Los Angeles based paralegal training and seminar company. She has written 8 books on the paralegal career including The Paralegal Career Guide 3rd Edition and The Successful Paralegal's Job Search Guide. She has been interviewed by Newsweek, Entrepreneur, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and more. Chere is a regular contributing author for The Legal Decree. You can reach her at: [email protected] com;

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Law Librarians Stress Legal Research by the Books


Many young lawyers believe they can find all the law they need online, just by entering a few search terms. But top legal researchers know better. "The best research is done in a combination of electronic and print resources," says Judith Ambler, head of research services and computer-assisted legal research coordinator for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals library. "If you neglect the print sources, you will not do the most efficient and complete research." RECOMMENDED READING Deborah Celle, senior research librarian for the 9th Circuit, suggests these sites. "Thomas," at, includes full text of pending bills and other federal congressional information such as House and Senate reports. The U.S. Supreme Court site, at www., includes the high court's docket and allows searches by case name or number. "On the Docket," at http://journalism., is a Northwestern University site focusing on the U.S. Supreme Court that provides timely and brief commentary about court action. Other appeals court librarians agreed. Many law school graduates don't know how to use the print materials. "In law school, everybody goes to Westlaw and Lexis, and they think that is the way to go," says Karen Moss, circuit librarian for

the 1st Circuit. "For those of us who like books, it is kind of scary." Poor Internet search habits are a big part of the problem. "Law clerks from the best of firms who were first in their class at their law schools miss leading cases because they miss a word," says one librarian who did not want to be named. They don't search online using true Boolean logic, she explains. Often they need to search for one term and exclude other terms. Multiple combinations of search terms and synonyms, as well as words found in secondary sources, must be used. Much of Boolean logic is preprogrammed into Westlaw and Lexis, so newer researchers aren't trained to do proper searches. RESEARCH THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY Many researchers overlook secondary sources, such as encyclopedias and law reviews. A wellwritten law review article often can point a researcher to valuable issues and terms. So can books like Words and Phrases and the Nutshell series. These sources are starting points for precise search terms, as well as for understanding basic legal concepts such as damages and negligence. "If you are not absolutely positive of the language, electronic searching is not effective," Ambler says. "There are too many variables and too many possibilities of falling short of finding precedential materials." Ambler says a great print resource is American Law Reports, which publishes two series, one on state and one on federal cases. "If they cover something that you are researching, they have already done your work for you," Ambler says. "There are so many things that you can find serendipitously through print digests," says Ann Fessenden, librarian for the 8th Circuit. "You can't find everything in Google." For immigration law, Ira Kurzban's, Immigration Law Source Book is hot. Staff attorneys in the 9th Circuit use it so frequently that librarians can't keep it on the

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shelves. In addition to a terrific outline, it has case law, regulations and statutes presented in a readable fashion, says Deborah Celle, senior research librarian for the 9th Circuit. If you are looking for a specific cite, an old-fashioned source can help. The National Reporter Blue Book lists all of the parallel citations for state and federal cases, says the 1st Circuit's Moss. Loose-leaf publications by services such as CCH and the Bureau of National Affairs can be a boon to lawyers. They contain primary sources, such as cases, statutes and regulations, as well as secondary information. But they can be difficult to use because each one is organized differently, says Kay Guillot, 5th Circuit librarian. She suggests taking the time to learn how they are organized. "You will find everything in those books." If your case is pending in a trial court, then the Causes of Action series, now published by West Group, may be what you need, says Dan Cordova, reference librarian for the 10th Circuit. "It's everything you need to know to try a case," Cordova says. "If you are fortunate enough to find it there, a lot of your work is done. If not, you haven't wasted too much time." Similar in nature to ALR, Causes of Action points out jurisdictional differences in substantive law as well as procedural issues. It also includes a practice checklist. MODERN METHODS But circuit librarians don't discount online resources entirely. They may be the best source for codes and regulations because they are generally updated faster than their print counterparts. For example, the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is only updated once a year in print, but Westlaw updates the CFR daily and Lexis is updated within two weeks of the Federal Register's publication of the changes. If you prefer Westlaw and Lexis­­ and your law firm will pay for them­­learn to use the Internet versions, says Gretchen Van Dam, 7th Circuit librarian. The Internet products offer better research enhancements and more intuitive search techniques than their software counterparts. For general Internet research, use multiple search engines. The design of the search engine determines what resources will turn up, so different search engines yield different results, explains Margaret J. Evans, 2nd Circuit librarian. Also, "If

you get 4 million hits, and the page you are looking for is not number 1, you probably need to refine your search. Read the advanced search tips for that search engine," Evans says. Court Web sites can be invaluable. The 7th Circuit's Web site provides opinions and current briefs, and it allows attorneys to hear oral arguments­ ­although not in real time. "It is particularly helpful for people who have not argued before the 7th Circuit," Van Dam says. Other court web sites often link to web-based legal resources and government agencies. Agency links are especially useful since many agencies no longer publish hard copies of their materials. Internet addresses change frequently, though, so test them repeatedly before citing them, says Daniel R. Campbell, head of reference and computer research services for the 2nd Circuit library. Also, make sure a Web site is up-todate before you cite it, warns the 1st Circuit's Moss. And check the fine print. Some Web sites don't archive their information, so what's there today may be gone tomorrow. "See if that information is archived elsewhere," Evans suggests. The Public Access to Court Electronic Records service, or PACER, provides federal court documents and docket information for your jurisdiction - or thousands of miles away for 7 cents a page. POINTS FOR PRESENTATION Even if you get the research right, presenting it to the court can be tricky. Internet addresses often change or were never intended to be permanent. To protect your clients and yourself, describe an Internet document when citing it. "That way, a user may still be able to find the document, even if the address has changed," says Evans of the 2nd Circuit. Even better, keep a hard copy of Web pages you cite in case they disappear from the Web. And check your online citations against print materials. If the two differ, use the print materials. The U.S. Supreme Court requires citation to the text of the official print reporter if other sources differ.

Hope Viner Samborn, a lawyer, is coauthor of The Legal Research and Writing Handbook (Third edition, 2003), published by Aspen Law & Business. Reprinted with permission of the ABA Journal.

Laughing Corner

1. A bicycle can't stand alone because it is two-tired. 2. What's the definition of a will? It's a dead giveaway. 3. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit


I am currently working for the Marion County Prosecutor's Office and the Clerk's Office in conjunction with the Marion County Courts and Indiana Supreme Court to design a state-wide computer system. The Indiana Supreme Court is flies like a banana. leading the effort to standardize our legal proc4. A backward poet writes inverse. ess. We are currently preparing to go live in the 5. In democracy it's your vote that counts; In feu- Marion County Civil Courts this year. We will bedalism it's your count that votes. gin coordinating efforts for criminal implementa6. She had a boyfriend with a wooden leg, but broke tion in the next month or so. The implementation for Criminal Courts is scheduled to take place in it off. 2005. 7. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

8. If you don't pay your exorcist you get repossessed. 9. With her marriage she got a new name and a dress. 10. Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I'll show you A-flat minor. 11. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds. 12. The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered. 13. Every calendar's days are numbered. 14. A lot of money is tainted. 'Taint yours and 'taint mine. 15. A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat. 16. He had a photographic memory which was never developed. 17. A plateau is a high form of flattery. 18. The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large. 19. Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end. 20. When you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall. 21. Those who jump off a Paris bridge are in Seine. 22. When an actress saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she'd dye. 23. Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis. 24. Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses. 25. Acupuncture is a jab well done. 26. Marathon runners with bad footwear suffer the agony of defeat.

The computer system will be used to connect each county to one another and provide information regarding cases across the state. The new system will have web access and feature e-filing. E-filing will have a major impact on the way business is handled by attorneys and paralegals in our state. The system will provide easy access for case preparation and filing. Paralegals will be able to file new cases, file motions, track service and event updates without having to leave their offices. One of the key points to the system is to standardize the legal process. The standardization process should make it easier for attorneys and paralegals to conduct business in all the different counties of Indiana. The next issue for the project is to design a training program to ensure all users understand the system and are able to use it when implemented. This effort will include training for government agencies and private agencies as well. I graduated from AIPS, Inc. and began working for the Marion County Prosecutor's Office in 1995. At the Prosecutor's Office, I worked as a court paralegal and as an Administrator before leaving in 2002. In 2002, I worked as an Office Manager at a criminal defense firm, J. Edgar Law. In November 2003, I was hired by the Prosecutor's office and Clerk's office as an independent contractor to work on the new computer system program. Donna Lush Marion County, Indiana AIPS Graduate, 1995

FACULTY SPOTLIGHT....JANET RUSSETH My name is Janet Russeth and I have been an attorney since 1993. Throughout law school, I worked for the Cook County Public Defender's office in the murder task office. After graduating law school , I worked as a personal injury attorney for one year and then switched over to my life long interest and passion in Criminal Law. I worked as a private Criminal defense attorney for 1 year and then went to work for the Kane County Public Defender's office. I worked as a criminal defense attorney in the Public Defender's office for 7 years until my husband was transferred out of state from Illinois to Indiana. At the Public Defender's office I was a Felony Assistant Trial Attorney in the violent crimes division. My cases varied from criminal sexual assault, robbery, and murder. Most of my time each day was spent in the courtroom and jail. On my last day of work I received a "not guilty" verdict for an attempted murder case. What a great way to exit! I have been with A.I.P.S. as a computer mediated distance learning instructor since the program began 8 years ago. Prior to the distance learning program, I taught several of the courses for AIPS in a traditional classroom. Since we moved to Indiana, I have dedicated most of my time to AIPS as both a faculty member and as an Admissions Representative. In addition, part of my role as an admissions representative is to provide prospective students the opportunity to take an on-line tour of the paralegal classroom. I graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelors in Political Science with an emphasis in Public Law. I graduated with my Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School in Chicago. I am an avid reader and enjoy my book club. I also enjoy staying health by running everyday. I have two wonderful sons. Tyler is 8 years old and my cautious child that always thinks about the consequences of his actions. Blake is 5 years old and thinks about how he can live in the moment and have a great time. My husband, Scott, is an Area Controller with Allied Waste Industries and often travels for his work. In addition he is my personal computer guru!

LEGAL RESEARCH WEB LINKS Following are a few great web sites where you can improve your research skills:

(download the legal research guide at

I am a legal assistant to an attorney specializing in health law. As such, I help locate federal regulations, state and federal statutes and pertinent periodical articles regarding health care issues. I research the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) on patient information privacy. Acquiring knowledge of these issues allows our enterprise to provide exceptional healthcare to children. Sometimes our research can be pinpointed with a specific regulation or statute. Other times, our research begins with very broad term searches trying to find obscure information. For instance, our local newspaper recently ran an article reporting on Florida Governor Jeb Bush's proposal on affordable, accessible healthcare. I tracked down the actual proposal via the internet so that senior leadership and legal department associates would have the proposal to read with the news article. Depending on how and when we present the research information, I either help to create a rough draft memo, which the attorney fine tunes, or I simply highlight the information for the attorney to refer to. We use Westlaw or Lexis-Nexis for our research, but sometimes you just can't beat a good old Google search! If I were to offer any advice on research, I would say not to be afraid to be creative in your searches. Use all means possible to find your information. Be persistent and learn to recognize when you have done enough research and STOP. Also, be sure to cite your reference material for your readers. I am currently employed by The Nemours Foundation in Jacksonville, Florida. The Foundation's mission is to execute the Wills of Alfred I. duPont and Edward Ball with prudence and effectiveness in perpetuity. The Foundation operates non-profit health care institutions to accomplish its mission. It provides health care services to the children of Delaware, Florida and the surrounding states; and selected health services for the elderly of Delaware.

Cindy Crossland, Paralegal, Nemours Foundation, Jacksonville, Florida, AIPS Graduate, June, 2001

Legal Research Paralegal.......Cindy Crossland

My name is Dina Newton and I'm an April Legal Research Paralegal.......Dina Newton 2002 graduate of AIPS. I reside in Salt Lake City, Utah and have been employed as a Paralegal with Bennett Tueller Johnson & Deere ("BTJD") for approximately four years. I have over twenty years of experience in the legal field. At BTJD, my primary focus is the foreclosure of mechanic's liens and related construction litigation, collection/ foreclosure for non-payment of homeowner association dues and assessments. On a daily basis, I am preparing asset reports, locator information, gathering information on bank accounts and employment records, and determining if a bankruptcy has been filed. My databases include the county recorder's office for locating property records; the internet site of to locate individuals and run motor vehicle reports; PACER for bankruptcy and federal court actions; and Courtlinks for local court action. I also use all kinds of reporting agencies to locate any other necessary identifying information. Additionally, I cross over to the corporate department for UCC-1 searches, registered agent information, and other corporate records. These records are available on Lexis, through your state's division of corporations, or your Secretary of State's corporate depository. In the recent past, I have used Lexis for the following: a. b. c. d. e. State code citations with annotations; Shepardizing case citations; Locating causes of actions and the elements required for the preparation of a Complaint or Petition; Lawsuits filed against a manufacturer of a pharmaceutical drug, which helped me in locating the distributor for the drug. This was extremely helpful because it located a class action lawsuit filed against the distributor. Lawsuits filed against a world-wide securities/insurance company and the court rulings on these lawsuits;

In addition to my duties as a paralegal, I am the Manager of Wasatch Lien Service (check out the website that I developed at Wasatch Lien Service files contractor notices, mechanic's liens, performance bond claims, and other public notices for contractors, subcontractors and material suppliers in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado and California. I use Lexis almost daily to research statutes governing the preparation and filing of documents in most of these and other Western states.

Dina Newton, Paralegal, Bennett Tueller Johnson & Deere, Salt Lake City, UT, AIPS Graduate, April 2002

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Legal Research Paralegal.......Chris Tibbits

Prior to taking the program at AIPS, I had no experience in the paralegal field. I started school in September, 2002. In March, 2003 I started interning for Columbia Legal Services in Wenatchee, Washington. I was the only paralegal in an office of four attorneys. Among my many duties, I did quite a bit of research using Lexis. If it weren't for AIPS, my knowledge of Lexis would have been non-existent. I did well and soon all the attorneys were using my skills to research case law and statutes.

Most of the attorneys in the office are "old school" when it comes to legal research. They prefer to go to the law library hunting and researching the old fashioned way. Having learned Lexis through AIPS, it has allowed me to be quicker and more efficient with my time. Since the budget would not allow for any new additions, I was not formally hired, but I am still volunteering until the grants I have applied for come through. My goal is to work 20 hours a week as a paralegal for the Domestic Violence Center and another 20 hours a week as a paralegal for the Court Appointed Special Advocate otherwise known as CASA.

Chris Tibbits, Paralegal Volunteer, Columbia Legal Services, Wenatchee, WA, AIPS Graduate, March 2003

LAW SCHOOL.....An AIPS Graduate's Perspective

My name is Fred Rouse. I'm a Certified Financial Planner, Certified Estate Counselor, and a Business Finance Consultant. I'm the Managing Director of Financial Management Group, UBO. We're Business, Personal Tax and Financial Managers that specialize in increasing the cash flow and profits for select individuals and small businesses with 0 to 6 employees. We coordinate all the tax and financial aspects of a client's life, both business and personal, to maximize their after tax dollars, privacy and control of their lives. I'm based in a small town in Pennsylvania approximately fifteen minutes northwest of Philadelphia, PA. Due to some research into constitutional, common law, and taxes, I felt a need for a stronger legal background and better skills in legal research. That's why I began the program at AIPS in May of 1999. AIPS is the single most organized, well structured, and well run learning institute that I've seen to date. AIPS was a great start for some legal information that I needed. I've continued my education with online schools due to time constraints. I started Concord University Law School but had to stop due to some scheduling problems. They have a very structured program that requires a good thirty plus hours a week of study. The sheer volume of information is mind boggling. The entire idea of law school is to train someone to be able to argue the merits of either side of a position. Law school training is different from EVERY other type of education. It is much more than just memorizing the black letter law. They assume that you can regurgitate all the legal facts. The concern is that you apply these facts in a given situation. This is what makes law school more demanding. Most people have to dramatically change how they study, as well as how they think, when they go to law school. I restarted law school at British American University Law School in their non bar program. This allowed me to get the information and education without as many time restrictions. I already have a business so I am not looking to pass the bar and practice law. In addition, I wouldn't be allowed to "practice" law in the states of Pennsylvania or New Jersey because I studied from an online law school. There are several online schools in California. At this time, the price ranges form $2,500 to $6,000 per year before purchasing text books. This will add an additional $500 to $600 per year. Because most of the online law schools do not have an onsite requirement, they are not approved by the American Bar Association. Since they're not approved, there are only a very few states that will allow you to take their bar exam. Some of the online law schools in California are four year programs, and upon completion, will qualify a student to sit for the California Bar and subsequently perform federal, agency, and administrative law work in most any state. You'll also have to go to California to take a first year law school exam (FYLSE), or baby bar, at the end of your first year. Pass rates range from 10 to 50% on this exam. I hope this helps those interested in attending an online law school! Fred D. Rouse III, CFP, PhD, DBA, Financial Management Group, UBO, Dresher, PA AIPS Graduate, April 2000

The Legal Decree

A publication of the American Institute for Paralegal Studies' Alumni Association The Legal Decree is published four times per year. Copies of previous issues may be found at The Institute is licensed by the states of Michigan and Illinois, and accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET). (see: ACCET is a national accrediting agency recognized by the United States Secretary of Education. (see: offices/OPE/accreditation/natlagencies.html) Copyright 2004 by the American Institute for Paralegal Studies, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems without permission in writing from the American Institute for Paralegal Studies, Inc.

Calling all Alumni!

We are looking for alumni to submit articles to the editor for publication in The Legal Decree. The article is subject to approval by the editor. By submitting your article you are giving AIPS permission to reprint it. If you are selected, AIPS will publish the article and submit a framed copy of the article to you for a keepsake. Please send all entries in Word or WordPerfect to [email protected]

WE'RE ON THE WEB! 1-800-553-2420 A Leader in Paralegal Education since 1978

Don't forget about Friends and Family discounts! These are discount certificates which are available to your colleagues, associates, or family members interested in taking the AIPS program. If you are interested, cut out the attached certificate and complete the name of the person you are referring to AIPS. Then fill in your name and address as well. Then mail to the address listed on the certificate. We will take care of the rest! After your friend or colleague completes their first month with AIPS, we would like to thank you by sending you a $100.00 gift certificate from We give it to you with our heartfelt thanks and appreciation. As you know, our success in obtaining future students hinges on our success in educating and preparing our current students. When you refer a colleague to us, we want to have a way of thanking you for placing your trust in us, once again, by referring a friend or colleague. Please accept our sincerest thanks!

By the way, we are celebrating our 26th year of delivering superior academic quality paralegal courses! 1978-2004!

American Institute for Paralegal Studies' Alumni Association Renee Revall Sova, Alumni Director Toll Free: 1-888-233-2019 [email protected]

Date This certificate entitles:

Friends & Family Gift Certificate

This certificate can be applied toward tuition by mail or fax by returning it to: American Institute for Paralegal Studies 17W705 Butterfield Road, Suite A Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois 60181 Fax: 630-916-6694

to a $250.00* discount.

*Not redeemable for cash. Redemption value not to exceed $250.00.

American Institute for Paralegal Studies' Alumni Association

Authorized by Referred by: Name of Alumni or Current Student Alumni or Current Student Address Phone #

Alumni Association

E-mail Address


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