Has It Been A Year Already?

Today marks the one year anniversary of me starting my freelance paralegal services business, Olvera & Associates.

Saying that it has been a struggle would be an understatement. My income has been “surely” but not steady, I’ve been living constantly out of my comfort zone. However, I wouldn’t give any of it up.

Being self-employed has afforded me things that money can’t buy. It has given me the ability to see my daughter’s smile everyday that I pick her up from school. I have been able to attend professional development events that I previously could not have attended. It has allowed me to volunteer at the court legal clinic. It has allowed me to make more meaningful relationships with my colleagues and those whom I love. It has given me great satisfaction to know that every dollar I earn, was because of the value my work provided to others.

But most of all, self-employment has allowed me to grow. It has been a winding path of self discovery. Opening my own business brought my fears and weaknesses front and center. I had nowhere to hide them.

By facing my fears and having the right guidance (e-books, mentors, family, etc.), I have not given up and I’ve pushed through. I came to a point where I knew that I couldn’t give up because I didn’t want to go back to working as an employee. Also, my kids were watching my every step. They were looking to see how I handled challenges, I didn’t want to teach them to give up the first instance something became “too hard”. Now I know that whatever I’m afraid of, is exactly what I need to confront directly and overcome.

I know that I’m far from where I want to be, but I have definitely come a long way from where I was. I’ve been a year in business. I must be doing something right!

This post originally appeared on my blog at: http://elizabetholvera.com/has-it-been-a-year-already/

Access to Justice

Reports:

STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA TASK FORCE ON ACCESS THROUGH INNOVATION OF LEGAL SERVICES
FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS, dated March 6, 2020

Legal Market Landscape Report, Legal Market Landscape Report (July 2018) by Prof. William D. Henderson

Info re: Task-Force-on-Access-Through-Innovation-of-Legal-Services

Excerpt from State Bar of California Board Minutes of March 12, 2020.

“Proposed Paraprofessional Program Working Group Charter

March 12, 2020
Proposed Working Group Charter

The State Bar’s recently published California Justice Gap Study: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Californians, found that while 55 percent of Californians experience at least one civil legal problem in their household each year, Californians received inadequate or no legal help for 85 percent of these problems. A lack of knowledge about what constitutes a legal issue and concerns about legal costs lead many Californians to deal with problems on their own rather than seek legal help. A thoughtfully designed and appropriately regulated paraprofessional program is an important component of the solution to the access to legal services crisis in California by expanding the pool of available and affordable legal service providers.
The California Paraprofessional Program Working Group is hereby established and charged with developing recommendations for consideration by the Board of Trustees for the creation of a paraprofessional licensure/certification program to increase access to legal services in California. In carrying out this charge, the Working Group will balance the dual goals of ensuring public protection and increasing access to legal services.
The Working Group will develop specific recommendations regarding the following:
1. The eligibility requirements to apply for the program, including the competencies required of licensed/certified paraprofessionals and the ways in which candidates can demonstrate those competencies. In developing these recommendations the Working Group will consider different pathways for licensure/certification for applicants based on their general academic and experiential qualifications, including but not limited to, candidates who might fall in one of the following categories: immigration consultants, Legal Document Assistants, Unlawful Detainer Assistants, paralegals, law school graduates, law students, and/or participants in or who have completed the State Bar’s law office study program.
2. Selection of practice areas that will be included in the program. Practice type decisions should be informed by data sources, including but not limited to the California Justice Gap Study, California Attorney Practice Analysis Study, and court self-help center utilization data.
3. The types of tasks, by practice area, that paraprofessionals will be permitted to perform. The Working Group should consider and propose any requisite changes to the rules and statutes governing the unauthorized practice of law, and any other requisite changes to the rules of professional conduct that may be needed, to permit the performance of these types of tasks.
4. Business requirements, including financial responsibility requirements such as insurance or contribution to a client security fund.
5. A licensing/certification and regulatory model including consideration of rules of conduct for the new paraprofessional licensees.
6. Metrics and data collection methods to enable assessment of the program’s effectiveness and to facilitate possible auditing and other proactive risk-based regulation.
7. Increasing awareness about how to seek legal help.”

 

 

 

 

How I became a paralegal

I have been a paralegal since 2003. I love what I do, it’s rewarding on so many levels and I don’t see myself doing anything else. However, I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a paralegal.

It all began in 2002, when I attended a legal employment training program called L.E.A.P. (Legal Employment Action Program). This vocational training program taught others and I some of the skills that we needed to work in the legal field, but mostly the trainings were about soft skills. As part of the training program, we were given the opportunity to interview at three separate law firms in order to be placed in a three month internship. After a stressful interviewing process at three different firms, I finally obtained a position as a file clerk for a busy trial team handling construction defect cases. The law firm told me that there was not any possibility to be hired permanently, so I planned to learn everything that I could in the short time that I was there.

As a file clerk, I was responsible for distributing the mail, faxes, and pleadings that came to the attorneys. I received training from a legal secretary and a paralegal manager. Because I really loved the people, the environment, and the work that I was doing, I decided to go to night school and become a paralegal. It was great because I was learning how to be a paralegal at night, and practicing the skills by day.

As a file clerk, I read every piece of paper that came through my desk. Because I proved myself and showed them that I was eager to learn and highly motivated, after the internship was over, I was offered a full-time position as a file clerk. I was thrilled.

In December 2003, I obtained my Paralegal Certificate. I asked to be promoted from a file clerk to a paralegal within my firm, and in early 2004, they promoted me to paralegal and gave me a small increase in pay. I’ve been doing paralegal work ever since and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I love my profession and it has afforded me with many opportunities that I may not have had any other way.

P.S. Although this was a successful training program and placed many people in the legal field, unfortunately, the training program no longer exists, due to lack of funding.