Some Things Aren’t True, Even on the Internet

February 23, 2015

Please save me from idiots who claim to provide accurate information about paralegal careers, whether they be traditional, freelance, independent, and/or virtual.

This morning I received a comment for moderation. This one was linked to Note to Self: Just Let it Go to Voice Mail“:

new comment 2-23-15

On its face, the comment is complimentary – ignoring, of course, the fake email address, the author’s inability to correctly type/spell “a lot”, and ending a sentence with a preposition. (Yes, I know, we all do it; it’s something I strive to avoid.) BTW, how exactly does one ‘wonder a question’?

Still, I was intrigued and clicked on the link. Could it be that the author had assembled helpful, shareable information?

In a word, no.

The site – one that shares no contact, about, or other site related background information – purports to educate the reader about careers in 2015. I can’t speak to any other careers they might be ‘splaining, but they sure as hell didn’t get ‘paralegal’ right.

To clarify, they got the basics mostly right, then went horribly off track.

I’m not comfortable with ‘paralegals as legal agents’, but that is the least of my concerns. The site attempts to define freelance, independent, and virtual paralegals and their duties. They got enough of it right to be incredibly problematic. Yes, freelancers are business owners and they market their services (preferred over the phrase ‘marketing themselves’) – to law firms; however, it would be more correct to say that they (we) market our services to attorneys.  The term ‘law firm’ feels a bit restrictive.

The author then ‘defines’ independent paralegals as follows:

horribly wrong info

On the next page, Paralegal Duties, the author enters the twilight zone:

horribly wrong info 2

NO! NO! NO! and HELL NO!

Every word in that definition is wrong! Independents, a term that includes freelancers and virtuals, do not:

  • act as or form law firms;
  • provide services directly to clients (okay, we provide services to our attorney clients);
  • represent clients in court, and
  • they (we) N E V E R provide advice

unless under very specific guidelines in a limited number of jurisdictions or in certain administrative fora.

Those descriptions scream of UPL.

Allow me to clarify, a legitimate independent, freelance, virtual paralegal ONLY works for, and under the direct supervision of, an attorney and never gives advice. (see disclaimer above for possible exceptions)

How difficult is it to get it right? As Mulder would say, ‘the truth is out there’. I know. I have written several articles, blog posts, and comments on the topic, including “To Boldly Go . . . Outsourcing to Virtual Paralegals” (GPSolo Magazine) and “Two Words: Virtual Paralegal” (Paralegal Today).



Note to Self: Just Let it Go to Voice Mail

February 11, 2015

. . . seriously, you’d think I’d know better by now . . .
(then again, it makes great fodder for my blog 🙂 )

The phone rings.
It’s a local number <le sigh>.
C’mon, it could be a new client.

Just let it go to voice mail.
If it’s important, they’ll leave a message.


I answer.

“StarrParalegals, this is Pamela Starr, how may I help you?”

Um, so, you’re a paralegal … attorney, right? I need some legal advice.

<Oh Lord, another one. Must.Resist.Urge.To.Blurt.Out. “CAN’T YOU READ??!!?? Resistance is futile. Shut up! I’ve got this!>

“Yes, I am a paralegal; not an attorney. I cannot give legal advice.

 But I have a question.

 <Of course you do. You were smart enough to find me! How is it you’re too dumb to read and/or comprehend the disclaimer that is plastered all over my website? You know the one that CLEARLY states: “Our services are NOT provided to the general public.” It’s right there, under the phone number that you just dialed!>

“I am a paralegal; not an attorney. I cannot give legal advice or answer your question. You will need to contact an attorney.”

An attorney?

<Good grief. It’s a simple concept. I feel a little like Anne Sullivan – Helen Keller’s teacher and companion. Alex, I’d like to buy a clue for $200.>

 “Yes ma’am. You need to contact a lawyer. As a paralegal, I cannot answer legal questions or provide legal advice.”

Well then, what ‘can’ you do???

 <Say WHAT???>

At this point, my jaw drops. I’m sitting there with my mouth wide open – catching flies as my momma might say – using every scintilla of willpower to keep from laughing out loud. I’m pretty sure a chortle or guffaw escaped my lips. The possible responses are running rampant in my head. It’s amazing how many thoughts one can process in just a matter of seconds!

  • Are you kidding me??
  • Look nitwit …
  • just hang up the phone
  • Asked and answered.
  • Seriously, are you farking kidding me?!?
  • Move along now kid, you bother me.
  • Phasers on stun!

“What can I do? What can I do?? (the laughter almost broke through) I can do just about anything, but unless you’re an attorney, I can’t help you. My company only works with attorneys.”

Well, uhhhhh…

“Yeah. Okay. B-bye.”


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