Student Entry: Valuable Insights at LAPA Spring Conference, by Pat Margulies

Pat Marguiles

by Pat Marguiles, Winter 2014 – Westwood

Note from Sean Tyler: This entry was crafted by Pat Marguiles who is a current student in the Winter 2014 – Westwood program. She is the first student & guest posting for the Legal Exchange. I would like to thank her for her hard work and thoughtful contribution.

Westwood Paralegal Students Win ALL the Awards!

It’s true! Out of about 75 attendees at Saturday’s Los Angeles Paralegal Association (LAPA) Spring Career Conference, two Westwood students won the two drawing prizes. Congratulations to Alison Camilleri and Erin Benzer!

Was it fixed? Maybe so since Sean Tyler gave a great presentation and Crystal Wilson was also in attendance!

For those that couldn’t make it, here is an overview of the event including highlights of the eight (8) speakers and their career insights.

LAPA’s 18th Annual Spring Career Conference was held at National University on Saturday, May 17th. The conference explored viewpoints on the work arena from practitioners, career trends, and actions to take to find or create the right career fit. Three recruiting firms participated (Rufca Recruiting Services, JHill’s Staffing Services, and Document Technologies Inc.) and promised to review the attendees’ submitted resumes, delivering back comments later by mail.

Newly installed LAPA President, Donna Reznick-Goodich, opened the meeting and quickly turned the floor over to the first speaker, Jennifer Hill.


1. Bottom Line: Attitude + Skills = Employability

Principal-Senior Recruiter at JHill’s Staffing Services, Jennifer Hill kicked off the day’s information exchange with descriptions of traits and actions common to Leaders. She believes that leaders are made, not born and described her own personal path to her current success.

Jennifer’s list of traits and attributes demonstrative of a leader include Conviction, the Ability to Take Action and Fulfill Commitments, Resilience, Tenacity, and an Unstoppable nature when pursuing the goal.

Encouraging the audience to “be indispensable”, Jennifer provided this guidance:

Make the bosses’ and colleagues’ jobs easier Have impeccable integrity
Listen and answer with focus Always be reliable and on-time
Have the boss’s trust when the boss is out Anticipate needs
Know products, clients, & services better than anyone Learn, always
Display a professional attitude Be the one others want on the team


2. Bottom Line: Be a Leader! Be a Mastermind!

Sean Tyler, Summer 2011 - Downtown

Sean Tyler, Summer 2011 – Downtown

Next up, Sean Tyler, our own Program Manager, delivered a humorous and unique take on Leadership and Networking in the move from Student to Leader. Sean identified these concepts and behaviors as those of leadership:

• Have a plan to find your career spot and role; don’t just “fall into it”
• Keep your eye on the big picture goals and vision
• Understand that perception is reality
• Understand that functional power trumps title power
• Understand the fundamental interworkings of the work environment

Networking provides the opportunity to create friendship relationships, not just acquaintances. Establishing a network of the people to whom you provide functional value over the years is effective networking. Sean identifies such a network as a personal Mastermind Group, combining interested and expert-level members that discuss specific topics. As an example of a Mastermind Group, Sean provided a photo of President Obama and the Cabinet – his Mastermind Group.

Building one’s own personal Mastermind Group can begin with outreach to school representatives including the administration and instructors, class friends, and participation in organizations such as LAPA. Colleagues that you will meet at work should be assumed to be ‘going somewhere;’ seasoned professionals should be sought out for their wisdom and years-in-the-making-network; hiring powers such as attorneys, paralegal managers, and HR managers should be added to the mix as you expand your Mastermind Group.


Karyn Schlinkert, (PTP Graduate)

3. Bottom Line: The View from an Independent Provider of Litigation, Discovery, & Managed Support Services

Karyn Schlinkert, Director of Placement at DTI Global, presented legal sector employment trends for today and the near future.
• The Financial Services sector is still the biggest employer of law firms and generally, the Financial Services sector hires the largest firms.
• Litigation is always ‘hot’
• Specialties such as Patent, Trademark, and Corporate Real Estate are also in demand
• Upcoming employment growth is predicted for the Healthcare, Energy, and Regulatory sectors.

Responding to questions from attendees, Karyn provided some resume tips:
• The resume should be brief
• Don’t be creative; use the same font throughout
• Use action words … prepare, analyze, draft
• Chronological format preferred
• Use LinkedIn and include your contact information in your profile


4. Bottom Line: Ride the horse in the direction you are going.

Chere Estrin is likely a name you’ve seen before as she is a paralegal powerhouse leading Estrin Education, Inc., a company that trains, publishes, and partners with other legal industry training and education providers. Recalling her own twenty years plus in the field, Chere noted there was little discussion about “what am I doing tomorrow?” and that it is important to think about the future and know what YOU want and what YOU may not want in the career.

Chere’s primary tactic to being ready for what tomorrow brings is education. Noting that very few firms have in-house training, Chere said take advantage of continuing education courses and if the firm will not pay for the training, make an investment in yourself, and take the classes.

Specialty training in areas such as Elder Law, Information Governance, Corporate & Real Estate, Paralegal Management, and Legal Technology applied to Litigation eDiscovery, Labor & Employment, are needed to get ahead today. Chere predicts eDiscovery will become more complex in the future and a more necessary employment skill.

In a very interesting portion of Chere’s talk she asked what the ‘disrupters’ were for the legal profession, particularly the attorney and paralegal. LegalZoom was the epitome of the biggest disrupter so far – DIY [“do it yourself”] law. At the same time, therefore, that transactional service demand for law firms may be reduced, attorneys and paralegals have more sophisticated assignments and the paralegal – individual and profession – are ‘promoted,’ as from grade to grade.

But of course disruption brings opportunity. Chere described the Virtual Assistant job title — not technically supervised by one attorney but rather several as ad-hoc clients. A Virtual Assistant must be #1 in the field with deep understanding of the profession. The Hybrid paralegal, another new title, is a reaction to downsizing where multi-skilled paralegals fill multiple roles, such as: Paralegal-Office Manager; Paralegal-Head of Records; or, Litigation Paralegal-Litigation Support Analyst.


5. Bottom Line: Pro Bono Supports the Underserved and Delivers a Wealth of Experience to the Intern and Volunteer

Bobby Rimas (PTP graduate), former LAPA President and current Paralegal Teacher, Pro Bono Activist, and LAPA Board Advisor, spoke next about the upcoming LAPA Pro Bono Fair, Saturday, August 16th from 9 to Noon at National University. Bobby demonstrated accessing the Pro Bono information on the LAPA Website.


6. Bottom Line: Stay Relevant and Keep Up through Education

We next heard several LAPA Board members, including:
• Michelle Tabb, VP Membership & Policy and NALA liaison;
• Kari Wenger, Director at Large and coordinator of LAPA review courses supporting the NALA’s certificate program;
• Susan Oder, Esq., Advisory Board, former paralegal turned attorney; and,
• Tammi Loveland, Director at Large, LAPA instructor for California and Federal eDiscovery, and Litigation Support Specialist.

Throughout the program, the speakers identified certain functions as possibly providing higher employment growth in the future:

• eDiscovery and specifically its use in Litigation Support – the Paralegal-Litigation Support Specialist is a title now in use and it’s a job area with expected growth
• Legal Technology as well as specific software such as Relativity, NextPoint, or Concordence
• Intellectual Property
• Information Governance
• Elder Law
• Corporate & Real Estate

Each of the final speakers stressed the resources of LAPA, NALA, and other options to encourage ongoing commitment to the profession through education, demonstrated leadership, and professional excellence. Modes of training vary by provider and media — from online webinars and self-study courses through in-person classes. NALA also welcomes proposals from individuals interested in developing and teaching new courses.

After final remarks by Donna Reznick-Goodich, LAPA President, the program was brought to a close.

Links: Speakers

Chere Estrin:

Jennifer Hill:

Tamara Loveland: Linkedin

Susan Oder: LinkedIn

Donna Reznick-Goodich: Board of Directors (LAPA)

Bobby Rimas: LinkedIn

Karyn Schlinkert: LinkedIn

Michelle Tabb: LinkedIn

Sean Tyler: LinkedIn

Kari Wenger: LinkedIn




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