News & Events Archive

Volunteer Interpreters Needed at the BASF Justice & Diversity Center

Are you fluent in Spanish or other languages and interested in gaining valuable interpretation experience in an immigration legal setting? The Justice and Diversity Center of The Bar Association of San Francisco invites you to get involved with the longstanding Attorney of the Day Program as volunteer interpreters.

Volunteers will spend 2 - 3 hours at the San Francisco Immigration Court to interpret during attorneys’ consultations with individuals facing deportation who cannot find or afford their own counsel.

There is also opportunities for volunteers to interpret for immigrants that are currently fighting their cases in detention. This opportunity would be more flexible, and you would not be required to attend court.

For more information, please contact Roxana Quintero at rquintero@sfbar.org

To learn more about the Attorney of the Day (AOD) Program, visit BASF Attorney of the Day Program or email AOD@sfbar.org

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

News from SFPA: Volunteer Opportunity for Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California

Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California (formerly Fair Housing of Marin) is a nonprofit agency dedicated to promoting equal housing opportunities in Marin, Sonoma and Solano Counties. FHANC has a current need for individuals for short-term civil rights fieldwork in Marin, Sonoma, and Solano Counties. Must be available Tuesday - Thursday between the hours of 9:00am - 5:00pm, January 2, 2018 - March 8, 2018. Participants must attend an initial three-hour training. Participants will be paid a weekly stipend of $165 for up to 15 hours (may be fewer) of work per week for 6 - 7 weeks. Participants will receive reimbursement for bridge tolls and mileage from the office to field sites (at the Federal Mileage Reimbursement Rate).

Participants must not have had any felony convictions or any convictions involving fraud or perjury in the last 7 years. Participants must be legally authorized to work in the US, have a valid driver's license, and a reliable vehicle. A background check will be conducted.

If you are interested you must complete an application and attend an individual interview (approximately 45 minutes). Selected participants must attend a three-hour training session in San Rafael.

Please email or call Katherine Collado at katherine@fairhousingnorcal.org or 415.483.7516 if you are interested in this position.

 

Volunteer Opportunity from SFPA - Fair Housing Testers for Eden Council for Hope & Opportunity

Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity (ECHO) Housing is a non-profit housing counseling agency seeking Fair Housing Testers for Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. The "testers" act as on-call independent contractors to help uncover housing discrimination. Trained testers will act as home seekers, collect information and report back to ECHO staff.

Testers are paid $45 per test plus travel reimbursement of .45 cents per mile. To be considered, individuals must:

  • Attend a two hour tester training.
  • Conduct a practice test.

For more information on ECHO, you may visit the ECHO website. Please email or call Angie at angie@echofairhousing.org or 510.581.9380, x15 to apply or get more details.

 

BASF Volunteer Opportunity for Spanish Interpreters

Are you fluent in Spanish and interested in gaining valuable experience interpreting in an immigration legal setting? The Justice & Diversity Center of The Bar Association of San Francisco invites students to get involved with the longstanding Attorney of the Day Program as volunteer legal interpreters.

Student volunteers will spend 2 - 3 hours at the San Francisco Immigration Court to interpret during volunteer attorneys’ free consultations with individuals facing deportation who have not been able to and/or cannot afford to hire attorneys.

For more information, please contact Adina at ahemleybronstein@sfbar.org.

To learn more about the Attorney of the Day (AOD) Program, visit BASF Justice & Diversity Center - Legal Services Program.

 

News from SFPA: Volunteer Opportunity at Project Sentinel

Project Sentinel

About Project Sentinel

Project Sentinel is a nonprofit housing agency serving Northern California. We promote housing equality by investigating allegations of housing discrimination and assisting individuals with mortgage foreclosure and delinquency, landlord and tenant disputes, and other housing needs. Project Sentinel has been a HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agency since 1998.

What is Fair Housing Testing?

Fair housing testing is a method used to detect housing discrimination. Testers pose as prospective tenants or buyers by phone or in person, and report on their experience. Testers’ experiences are compared to determine if discrimination has occurred.

Who can be a Tester?

All are welcome. To qualify, individuals must:

  • Attend a tester training and complete a practice test.
  • Pass a criminal history check.
  • Be reliable and committed to civil rights.
  • Be able to write and submit objective reports within 24 hours of completing a test.

People with fluency in Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Tagalog, Hindi, Hmong, Farsi and Russian are encouraged to apply.

Do Testers get paid?

Testers are used when needed and earn a stipend depending on the type of test. Testers earn $15 to $25 for a phone or email test, and $20 to $55 for an in-person test, plus mileage and expense reimbursements.

How Do I Sign Up?

For more information about fair housing testing, or to sign up for an upcoming tester training, contact Margarita Maiz at mmaiz@housing.org or (408) 749-1856. To learn more about Project Sentinel, visit Project Sentinel.

 

Volunteer Opportunities for Paralegal Students

The following is a call from Michele Hays of the Coalition of Concerned Legal Professionals (CCLP) for volunteers to help people in danger of eviction.

CCLP is an all-volunteer, private membership association of attorneys, paralegals, working people, and small business owners who are working together to fight for meaningful legal recourse for the lowest paid workers in our community. We work with associations of farm workers, service and domestic workers. We are completely independent of government funding or any other funding with strings attached.

CCLP brings together those who desire to make change in the legal arena a reality and those denied legal recourse due to lack of sufficient wages to purchase the legal assistance they need.

CCLP volunteers learn to be advocates and to organize “Know Your Law” sessions and free-of-charge Legal Advice Sessions with volunteer attorneys providing the advice and education.

CCLP enables its members, volunteers and benefit recipients to take on legal battles affecting thousands of low-income workers in the Bay Area and around the state. Most recently, CCLP attorneys and advocates have been assisting residents of HUD-subsidized housing in Hunters Point who have been suffering from the lack of management resulting in uninhabitable conditions, including rat, bedbug and roach infestations. Last week on October 12, management retaliated by issuing 350 10 day eviction notices to the residents. Your help is urgently and immediately needed to assist the residents who wish to stand up for what is rightfully theirs – to live in a safe and habitable environment.

Through our systemic organizing methodology, CCLP allows you to play an instrumental part in solving day-to-day problems and fighting the courts, halls of government and our communities to end policies that destroy the lives of not only poor and minority people, who lack the economic resources required for a legal battle, but also attorneys who want the chance to take on those fights!

Please contact CCLP at 415.614.0978 to find out how you can participate.

 

Internship Opportunities

A message from program director, Pat Medina:
This is a great volunteer opportunity for all paralegal students that can count for internship credit. If interested check it out and email me with any questions you have.

The Legal Advice & Referral Clinic (LARC) of the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco is seeking volunteers in the following areas:

  • Intake Interviews and Drafting/Research
  • Interpreting

 

SFPA: Justice John G. Gabbert Historic Oral Argument and Lecture Series

In 2009, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the creation of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, in 1929 and to honor of the 100th birthday of retired Associate Justice John G. Gabbert, Presiding Justice Manuel A. Ramirez and the associate justices of Division Two announced the first of the Justice John G. Gabbert Historic Oral Argument and Lecture Series, a series of reenactments of historic oral arguments of cases that shaped and defined the country.

To date, there have been four reenactments of historic oral arguments.

The cases:

Korematsu v United States
Brown v Board of Education
Mendez v Westminster School
Nuremberg War Crime Trials

You can watch all four of theses reenactments on the SFPA website using the links above.

David Goldstein Memorial Scholarship for Criminal Law Students

A message from program director Pat Medina:
Last year the David Goldstein Memorial Scholarship was established in honor of our long-time criminal law teacher. It is open to all students planning a career in criminal law and to international students. We will award two $3,000 scholarships this semester. Details on how to apply are below. Student essays are due on November 3, 2017. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. - Pat

Fall 2017 application deadline: November 3

David Goldstein taught Criminal Law in our Paralegal Studies program for 30 years and was a strong advocate for social justice in criminal law. A scholarship has been established in his memory by his family. We will be awarding two scholarships of $3,000 each spring and fall semester.

The criteria for applying is as follows:

  1. Students must be certificate students who have completed at least one semester with a 3.5 GPA in Paralegal Studies courses
  2. Students must have taken or be enrolled in our Paralegal Studies Criminal Law class and/or completed an internship or volunteer work in criminal law
  3. International students are also eligible to apply
  4. Students must write an essay detailing their career plans for working as a paralegal or going on to law school to continue to work for social justice in criminal law
    1. The essay should be 2 - 3 pages typed in 12 point and double spaced
    2. You do not need to include legal research. It should be a personal statement
    3. International students are encouraged to focus their essay on the differences in the criminal law system in their home county and here in the U.S. discussing challenges faced in working for social justice
    4. Students must also self describe financial need and how this scholarship will help them complete the Paralegal Studies certificate

Deadlines:

  • Fall 2017 scholarship application deadline: November 3
    • Essays should be submitted to Pat Medina, Paralegal Studies program director
    • Essays will be judged by a committee of three Paralegal Studies faculty

 

Internship Opportunities

A message from program director, Pat Medina:
This is a great volunteer opportunity for all paralegal students that can count for internship credit. If interested check it out and email me with any questions you have.

The Legal Advice & Referral Clinic (LARC) of the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco is seeking volunteers in the following areas:

  • Intake Interviews and Drafting/Research
  • Interpreting


Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) Paralegal Section

A Message from Pat Medina, Program Director

The Paralegal Section was started in 2015 at the suggestion of one of our graduates who worked on organizing it with the support of her boss. It has been very successful and is a great resource for networking and job contacts. Paralegal students can join for $70 and then attend all meetingsand special events free of charge. Scholarships are available for those students who need financial help. Contact Raquel Cabading at rcabing@sfbar.org for scholarship information.

Vickie Newman has chaired this section for the first two years and is looking for paralegal graduates to join the SF Bar Executive Committee. You will gain great networking opportunities and add real experience to your resume by volunteering. Contact Vickie at vnewman@sbcglobal.net for more information. Check out the BASF Paralegal Section page for more information on how you can be a part of the executive committee.

I encourage all students and graduates to begin professional networking and highly recommend joining the SF Bar Paralegal Section. Check out the BASF Paralegal Section Calendar of Events page for upcoming meetings.

Be a part of BASF's Paralegal Section Leadership

At this time we have a couple executive committee positions openings. We are currently accepting inquiries and resumes. If you are interested in learning more about the section and the executive committee visit the BASF Paralegal Section page. You may also contact Vickie Newman our 2017 Chair vmnewman@sbcglobal.net. Please forward resume and letter of interest to rcabading@sfbar.org and vmnewman@sbcglobal.net. The Bar Association of San Francisco Paralegal Section's mission is to instill an ethos of professionalism in all legal paraprofessionals, which include but are not limited to paralegals, legal assistants, legal nurse consultants, and other non-attorney legal professionals, especially those who have chosen to make a career in the legal field. Accordingly, our focus is education:

  • Educating the legal community about the various and ever-evolving roles paralegals can play in the practice of law, and helping practitioners in guiding and mentoring their paralegals and other support staff
  • Educating the legal community about Business and Professions Code §6450, et seq. and its mandatory CLE requirements, and providing MCLE classes for paralegals to meet those requirements
  • Educating paralegals about various certification programs while fostering opportunities for peer-to-peer support and learning, and providing encouragement and resources for people interested in pursuing a paralegal career
  • Educating the community at large about the role of paralegals in the legal profession.

To put these goals into practice, the Section will organize and sponsor MCLE classes and social events each year, and provide support to on-going pro bono efforts. Thus, Section members will enjoy the following benefits:

  • Access to quality MCLE programs through live attendance or webcasts
  • Ability to attend other BASF programs at BASF section member's rate
  • Subscriptions to BASF publications
  • Access to BASF member benefits, such as judicial council forms
  • Variety of pro bono activities to utilize and develop your professional legal skills
  • Networking opportunities through MCLE programs, socials and pro bono activities

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Capitol Weekly: Paralegals Could Help the Attorney General's Office Increase Savings

"Should AG hire more paralegals?"
Capitol Weekly
April 28, 2011
By Malcolm Maclachlan

In the months since he became governor, Jerry Brown has aggressively targeted waste in an attempt to make the state government more efficient. This includes a bill he signed last month, SB 78, designed to get state departments to more efficiently manage the money they use to get legal services from the office he used to run as the state's attorney general from 2007 until this January.

This, in turn, raises the question of how efficient an operation he left behind. Like all state agencies, the Department of Justice has sustained significant budget cuts. Over the last three fiscal years, the AG's office has had to reduce costs by a cumulative $110 million.

But there appears to be one cost-cutting trend in the legal industry that the AG's office has not kept up with: hiring more paralegals. These are lower-cost employees who can do much of the support work for attorneys, including some tasks that are often carried out by attorneys.

"There has been a push, and clients have forced the push, starting in the early or mid '90s to lower the costs of their legal bills and use as many lower-level, inexpensive people as they can," said Tom Chase, owner of Chase Legal Professionals Inc. in Folsom.

"Paralegals are definitely part of that process," added Chase, who is not an attorney but has managed four different law firms. He also taught a course on law firm management at the University of the Pacific's McGeorge Law School from 1989 to 2004.

The legal industry was influenced by the 1992 roll-out of the "DuPont Model." Seeking to lower their legal costs, the chemical giant increased the number of paralegals on their legal staff from six to 40, and radically changed the ratio of attorneys to paralegals, going down to two-to-one.

According to a 2009 report by Tracy Wymer, senior research director at the Pennsylvania-based staffing firm Knoll Inc., current industry ratios generally call for no more than nine attorneys to one paralegal, though four is close to the ideal for many firms - and some have as few as two attorneys for every paralegal.

The ratio of attorneys to paralegals is often more of a "cultural" issue within a firm than just a practical matter, said Wymer when reached at his office in San Francisco. It can also involve mundane considerations such as office space, since law offices must have meeting spaces and keep huge volumes of paper records around.

"I wish there were industry standards you could say you were above or below, but that's really not the case," Wymer said.

As of July 1, 2010, the AG's office had 149 legal analysts or senior legal analysts, their equivalent of paralegals, and 1,122 attorneys, according to figures from state controller John Chiang's office. This ratio of 7.5 attorneys for every paralegal would place it within industry norms, though likely on the more top-heavy end.

These figures also cover both filled and open positions, so they may not reflect the true ratio within the AG's operation. There are also individual units of the AG's office that have much higher ratios. In an Oct. 4 letter to the California Medical Board, senior assistant attorney general Carlos Ramirez noted that the Health Quality Enforcement Office (HQE) in Los Angeles had three supervising attorneys general, 22 deputy attorneys general - and a single paralegal, meaning the office had a ratio of 25 to one.

According to a spokesperson for the AG's office, the state has a hard time competing with private law firms to hire paralegals at the approved pay rates. A legal analyst for the state makes a salary of between $46,000 to $56,000. A senior legal analyst tops out at $67,400.

But, according to 2008 figures from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, this places the state well within industry norms for the profession. The national median salary for paralegals was $46,120, though most of these people worked in areas with a lower cost of living than California. Paralegals in the federal government actually had a higher median salary, $58,540, than those in corporate firms, $55,190.

A lower salary scale than the private sector is also an issue when the AG's office needs to hire lawyers. A beginning deputy attorney general can make as little as $56,000 annually, with the top scale going up to $94,000. With a few years of experience and a couple promotions, they can move up to $126,000, according to job vacancy data listed on the AG's website.

Attorneys also face three years of graduate-level schooling to get a degree and student debt loads that can easily top $100,000 - putting them under pressure to make money. And they must pass a bar exam that is widely considered the nation's hardest. In 2008, 46 percent of first-time test takers failed, the highest rate in the country. Several notable people in California political history failed their first time out, including former Stanford Law School dean Kathleen Sullivan, whose name has come up in connection with US Supreme Court openings under the Obama administration, and Brown himself.

By contrast, the 33 paralegal programs in California that are recognized by the American Bar Association generally take about a year for applicants who already have a bachelor's degree. And even though the Bureau of Labor Statistics recognizes paralegals as one of the fastest-growing jobs in the country, with openings slated to grow 28 percent between 2008 and 2018, new graduates often have a hard time getting their first job, Chase said. Paralegals aren't usually a hot commodity in the private sector until they have some experience, he said.

There are 10 job openings currently listed on the AG's website, but only one for an attorney and none for paralegals. The agency lists three spots for criminal supervisors in the investigative branch, and two for legal secretaries - a job that sometimes has overlap with paralegals, according to Chase.

The spokesperson for the AG also said that the litigation-heavy nature of their work limits the numbers of paralegals they can use. Many law firms do most of their work outside of court—filing real estate or tax documents, or other work that does not involved the inside of a court room.

But Chase says the law firms that hire a lot of paralegals are often the same ones that do a lot of litigation. Paralegals often sit in on depositions and summarize them, or organize exhibits for trial.

It's not that the AG's office is expensive compared to a comparable law firm. The Department of Justice charges $170 an hour for an attorney. Private rates for attorneys with comparable education and credentials can be significantly higher. While there's no set industry standard, rates at many firms can easily run $225 to $300, though many firms are lower - and some are higher.

The AG's office charges state agencies $120 for an hour of a paralegal's time. In 2004, the rate was $132 an hour for attorneys and $91 for paralegals - meaning the hourly rate for each has grown by about a third over that time.

 

ABA Journal: Paralegal Is Better Job than Lawyer

Paralegal Is Better Job than Lawyer, Ranking Says
ABA Journal
January 6, 2011
By Debra Cassens Weiss

A paralegal job outranks lawyer in a new rating of 200 jobs by a career website.

The job of paralegal assistant is in 13th place, while the job of attorney is in 82nd place on the list by CareerCast. The ranking is based on five criteria: physical demands, work environment, income, outlook and stress.

Stenographer/court reporter is ranked 31st, while judge is ranked 53rd.

CareerCast lists an income figure for each job that is based on estimated midlevel income and income growth potential. For paralegal, the income score is $47,153. For lawyer, it is $113,211. The website also lists a hiring outlook that is based on expected employment growth, income growth potential and unemployment data. For paralegal, the hiring outlook is 23.53, while for lawyer it is 10.11.

The top-ranked job is software engineer, with a hiring outlook of 27.40 and midlevel income figure of $87,140, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports. Last year's top job, actuary, dropped to third place, behind mathematician. The lowest-rated job was roustabout.

 

California Alliance of Paralegal Associations Celebrates the 10th Anniversary of Business and Professions Code 6450 + Earn MCLE Credits

Learn the background of BPC 6450, and why California paralegals should be proud of this legislation, in the following article:

"CAPA CELEBRATES BPC 6450'S 10TH ANNIVERSARY" (PDF)
By Carolyn Yellis, ACP

It is the responsibility of California Paralegals, to obtain and maintain their MCLE credits. The minimum requirements (4 hours of ethics and 4 hours of generalized or specialized law) must be met by December 31, 2010. You can come and join CAPA in its 10 year celebration of Business & Professions Code 6450 et seq. Earn your MCLE credits and join in the fun of meeting paralegals from throughout the state. For more information please go to California Alliance of Paralegal Associations.

 

Program Director Pat Medina Profiled in SFPA's At-Issue Newsletter

Paralegal Studies program director, Pat Medina, was profiled in the February 2009 At-Issue newsletter, published by the San Francisco Paralegal Association (SFPA). Learn more about Pat in the article below.

 

What Paralegals Do
(and What Lawyers Shouldn't Do?)

Source: AAfPE Information Exchange Listserv

"Several years ago I found the attached article when doing some Internet searches on paralegal tasks. Some of you may find this interesting and useful. It was compiled by a group of in-house lawyers. If memory serves me, the purpose was to alert other in-house counsel to what they should be paying outside law firms to do at paralegal rates, rather than at associate attorney rates."

 

Statistics Showing Demand for Paralegals

The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics is a good resource. Their 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook describes the following about the outlook for the paralegal profession:

This occupation attracts many applicants, and competition for jobs will be strong. Experienced, formally trained paralegals with strong computer and database management skills should have the best job prospects. In addition, many firms will prefer paralegals with experience and specialization in high-demand practice areas.

Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 17 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Law firms also are attempting to reduce billing costs due to pressure from clients. Paralegals can be a less costly alternative to lawyers and can perform a wide variety of duties, including tasks once done by lawyers. This will cause an increase in demand for paralegals and legal assistants.

While law firms will continue to be the largest employers of paralegals, many large corporations are increasing their in-house legal departments to cut costs. For many companies, the high cost of lawyers and their support staff makes it more economical to have an in-house legal department, rather than to retain outside counsel. This will lead to an increase in the demand of legal workers in a variety of settings, such as finance and insurance firms, consulting firms, and healthcare providers.

 

"The Paralegal Puzzle" Explains Paralegal Billing

Three recent legal decisions make it more important than ever for law firms to hire well-trained paralegals. Learn more in the Daily Journal article , "The Paralegal Puzzle" (PDF).

Learn more paralegal billing in the San Francisco Daily Journal article, "Focus: Billing Paralegals Revisited" (PDF).

 

"Paralegal Pitfalls" Explains Employment Law

The article "Paralegal Pitfalls" (PDF) by Mireya A.R. Llaurado (The Recorder, May 30, 2007) explains the need for all organizations that hire paralegals and legal assistants to understand paralegal-related employment practices & laws. Download "Paralegal Pitfalls" (PDF)

 

"The Paralegal Puzzle" Explains the Need for Qualified Paralegals

Three recent legal decisions make it more important than ever for law firms to hire well-trained paralegals. Learn more in the Daily Journal article, "The Paralegal Puzzle".

 

Paralegal Studies Director Profiled in SF State CampusMemo

Learn about the director of the Paralegal Studies program, Pat Medina, in the SF State CampusMemo. "Pat Medina - Running the best" is featured in the "People on Campus" section of the May 24, 2004 issue.

Photo: Pat Medina, Paralegal Studies Director

 

You will need to download Adobe Reader to view the PDF files on this page.

Accessibility Note: These PDFs do not meet accessibility standards. If you encounter problems accessing the information, please contact us.