What Is A Paralegal? In today's world where terminology is frequently changing, the terms themselves and what is associated with them can often be confusing. In the legal field, an example of this is that while terms such as paralegal, legal assistant, and legal secretary, are all used on a regular basis, it can leave many people wondering what these roles consist of, as well as whether or not there is any significant difference between them. After you have some of the basic facts, you should not find it all to be so confusing. A legal secretary is precisely what the term implies. Up until quite recently, this role was the one which most non-attorneys held in a law office. Legal secretaries, who were usually female, were not much different from secretaries of any other type, with the exception that a legal secretary often had specialized training in order to be more knowledgeable about matters specific to the legal field, resulting in being more effective and efficient at the job. While legal secretaries occasionally had a college degree, it was generally more up to the discretion of the employer rather than due to any professional requirements. In contrast, when legal assistants became an everyday part of most law offices, the entirely different role necessitated more and different qualifications. In taking a much more active role in the law office, a legal assistant needed to be much more familiar with all aspects of the legal system in general. While working as a legal assistant was basically a matter of being a helper to an attorney, it was a job which consisted of a decidedly hands-on approach. These days, the terms legal assistant and paralegal are often used interchangeably. Although many who work in this field tend to prefer the latter term, there is actually not a difference between the two. While the duties of a legal secretary consists primarily of a clerical nature, this is not the focus of a paralegal. The majority of a paralegal's work consists of legal duties; although it is usually required that these duties are assigned and carried out under the direction of an attorney, it is generally a matter of the paralegal lightening the attorney's workload by taking on responsibilities and tasks for which she is qualified. For example, interviewing witnesses for a court case is one such duty. Instead of basic clerical work, a paralegal's duties often include such examples as researching statistics, case information, and other facts which are vital to the attorney's ongoing work. In today's world, the role of paralegal is quite often filled by men. While there are still more women paralegals, many men have also found this field to be both professionally and personally rewarding. Although there were very few male legal secretaries in the past, the widening role and opportunities for paralegals have led many men to find this line of work to be quite appealing. In short, a paralegal is a professional in the law office or other business where he or she works. The paralegal has a distinct role, and the qualifications necessary to be effective in that role. Why The Paralegal Field Needs You! When you are thinking about what you can gain from becoming a paralegal, it is a good idea to look also at the other side of the picture how much you yourself can contribute to this field. As an individual, you have many positive assets which can be a wonderful influence in the office where you work, the field work that you may also do, and both co-workers and clients alike. No one else has a personality quite like yours; and whatever characteristics you possess can go a long way in making your workplace even better. You may have the special ability to sense and help with problems, or you may be outgoing and cheerful, or you may have a unique style of dedication to your work. All of these assets, and others, will help to create harmony in the workplace, and will be a great aid in "getting the job done." Whatever your own unique personality may consist of, you can correctly assume that you have something special to offer, simply because you are an individual. You also have your own unique range of experiences. These, too, can be very helpful in problem-solving, resolving conflicts and other difficulties, and assisting in the process of your office running much more smoothly. Your personal, education, or prior work experiences have given you a unique perspective; and there will be many instances and situations where your perspective is precisely the one that is needed. As a good paralegal, you probably have a considerable amount of interest in all phases and aspects of this line of work; but it is also likely that you have a special passion about one or more of those aspects in particular. Whether your passion is for helping people, or for accuracy and efficiency, or for being a team-player, your enthusiasm will lead you to be much more effective at your job than someone who does not possess these special traits. After you have completed your studies and are prepared to begin working as a paralegal, your status of being well-educated and appropriately trained will also make you a valuable asset wherever you decide to work. You will bring with you the freshness of one who is not only new to the field but is also completely up-to-date in everything that you have learned. While paralegals who have been working for a long time frequently take on coursework to keep their education current, you will already have this matter in hand as a newcomer to the paralegal field. While you will have the chance to learn a lot from those who have much experience, they in turn will be able to appreciate the fresh perspectives and the current knowledge which you can contribute to both them as individuals and the workplace as a whole. You may already be aware of all of the wonderful opportunities that the world of the paralegal will offer to you; knowing that you have much that you can give in return is equally important. How Can You Become A Paralegal? These days there are a number of options open to those who wish to enter specific fields, and the field of paralegal work is no exception. After you have all of the facts in hand, you will then be prepared to decide which particular option will work best for you. One of the first important points to consider before you make this decision is what the result will be from your paralegal training. After you have successfully completed your course of study, you will receive either a career diploma, a certificate, or a degree, depending on the school you have chosen and the program that it offers. The reason why this is relevant is that some law firms and other businesses which hire paralegals have specific requirements regarding which they prefer or accept. If you have a law firm or business in mind for where you would like to work, this may influence your decisions. After you have made the decision about which achievement you wish to attain, it is then time to explore your options! For many people, pursuing a paralegal diploma, certificate, or degree, will begin at a nearby university, community college, or specialized career college. There are a number of factors which can influence your decision about pursuing your paralegal course of study in this manner, so it is essential to weigh both the positive and the negative aspects. If you elect to do your coursework at a college or a university, one of the most important benefits is that you will have one-on-one interaction with your educators in the classroom setting. This factor in itself makes classroom learning the most appealing to many people. In addition, when you are in this type of learning situation, you will find it quite easy to request extra help with your studies if you should need to do so. You will also have the added benefit of being able to personally interact with other students who are in the same course of study. For many, however, the two main drawbacks to traditional classroom study are the factors of time and cost. While these are generally lesser issues for younger students, older people who have family and/or job responsibilities may find it quite difficult to make the time for regular classroom study, as well as being either unable or unwilling to take on the obligation of student loans to pay for education in a traditional setting. The best answer to the time and expense factor is distance learning. If you need to fit your coursework into the responsibilities of your daily life, and/or if you would not think it wise to take on student loans, distance learning is the best way to reach your goals. You will be able to schedule your coursework as it works the best for you; and you can do so in the most cost-effective manner. The bottom line is that whatever your personal situation may be, you can find the type of paralegal coursework that will best suit your needs. What Can You ExpectFrom Paralegal Training? Although there are a number of different types of credentials for paralegals, and, therefore, variations in the lengths and types of coursework which one must successfully complete in order to receive his or her credentials, they all have the common purpose of educating the individual to take on an important role in the legal field. This education gaining the knowledge necessary to do the job, and the skills necessary in order to be able to put it into practical use. Both aspects of one's education are equally important. Basic paralegal training generally consists of an overview of the legal system as a whole, specialized areas of practice, and the skills which are applicable to this line of work. Don't make the mistake of letting this brief description give you the idea that there is anything vague or minimal about paralegal training, however, because the coursework is very complete, and quite intense. It is also one of the most interesting and enjoyable types of coursework that you can possibly put your time into studying! After you have completed basic paralegal coursework, you will have learned nearly everything that there is to know about the American courts and justice system. This includes the history of this system, how it evolved into the way it is today, and details surrounding how the courts and justice system operates both in terms of the laws and the roles of legal representation. You will also learn the fascinating details about codes, procedure, both the criminal and civil arenas, and how all of these things are applicable to the workings of the courts and justice system as a whole. During your paralegal training you will also become very well acquainted with specialized areas of law. Business, family, corporate, tax, family, and other specialties are covered in detail. Not only will you learn what these areas are about, but you will also be taught everything you will need to do on an everyday basis if you elect to work in any of these areas. You will not simply learn about the area you may wish to enter, you will be equally prepared for them all. As working in the paralegal field requires one to be more than competent in a number of essential skills, you will enhance the skills you do have and prepare yourself with the others. Working with computer programs, math, written and verbal communication skills, are all basic parts of a paralegal's everyday work life. You will need to know how to conduct interviews, use spreadsheets, operate data bases, and other essentials; all of these skills and many more will be addressed in your coursework. Whichever method you choose to begin your studies, whichever specific type of credentials you wish to work toward, the period of time it will take for you to earn your credentials, or the individual school that you elect to study from, you can be completely assured that after you have successfully completed your training you will be well-informed and well-prepared to begin your exciting new career as a paralegal! Why You Might Like To Become A Paralegal Whether you are young or not-so-young, planning your first venture into a career or changing careers in mid-life, you might like to consider becoming a paralegal. This field will open up a world of opportunities, enjoyment, and personal satisfaction for you! First, if you become a paralegal you will be taking on a very important role in the legal field. As one who has begun training for this career is taught, a paralegal needs to be as aware and up-to-date on laws, procedure, and the legal system, as the attorneys. Assisting an attorney is no small role, for you will be providing some very valuable functions-- in short, lessening the attorney's workload by dealing with many of his or her essential tasks. Second, working as a paralegal will give you the benefit of meeting many interesting people. Whether you are working in the office, providing hands-on assistance with legal cases, or preparing documents, your life will be enriched by the many fascinating people you get to interact with along the way. In addition, paralegal work provides a valuable service to the community. As there are not nearly enough qualified attorneys available to deal with every necessary aspect of legal work, there are a number of services which can be dealt with by a trained paralegal instead. While these services vary depending upon the specific laws in the state where you reside, many states allow paralegals to serve in some capacity to the community. The range of benefits to paralegal work also extend to income. Although pay rates vary in different areas, the general pay scale for a trained, qualified paralegal is very nice indeed! If you are considering entering this field, you will also be glad to know that in most locations paralegals are much in demand, which will make it relatively easy to get a job as well as the all-important factor of job security once you have been hired for the position. Another wonderful aspect to working in the paralegal field is that it will expand your range of knowledge and will keep you up-to-date with the frequent changes in the courts and legal system. As a paralegal, you will need to stay well-informed and current with the status of laws and procedure in general, but especially those surrounding the specific field of law that your attorney deals with on a regular basis. As you can see, there are many benefits in paralegal work. After you have considered all of these exciting opportunities which will be open to you, it is quite likely that you will decide that it is the career you have been looking for. What other field can hold so many opportunities for doing a type of work that is absolutely essential, playing a large role between an attorney and the public, while giving you job satisfaction, the chance to advance in your career if you wish to do so, and personal enjoyment, all at the same time? The paralegal field offers all of this and more to you! Why The Paralegal Field Is An Excellent Choice For A Career Change There are many reasons why a person may consider beginning a new career in mid-life. You may have dedicated many years to raising your family, or you may have gone into a line of work that you did not necessarily like due to necessity, or you may have been one of the many who simply did not know at a young age what type of work was best suited to you. Whichever one of these categories best describes you, you may now be at a stage where you would like very much to go into a field of work that you will truly enjoy. Whether you are in your thirties, forties, or well beyond, the paralegal field can be an excellent choice for you! This is one field where you will find that the experience you have gained in life really does count, as well as finding that you will be able to learn much, much more. In addition, paralegal work is one field where one's age is not very relevant it it equally appropriate for a "beginner" of forty as it would be if you were twenty. If you are considering the prospect of paralegal work, it will be helpful if you were to first think about the factors that are the most important to you. If your main purpose for seeking a new career is the element of a good income and job security, the paralegal field is currently amongst the highest-ranking in-demand fields. What this can mean for you is that it is not nearly as difficult to acquire a good job in this field as in many other fields, and lay-offs and downsizing which is a concern for many lines of work is not nearly as frequent an occurrence for paralegals. In addition, in most regions the pay rate for paralegals is much more than satisfactory. As there are some older people whose main priorities in a career are other than income-related, this may be the case for you, also. For example, your primary focus may be on simply doing something that is worthwhile. Even if you have already retired from a long career in a very different field, or have completed your child-raising responsibilities, you can gain a high degree of satisfaction from paralegal work. In this field, you will be doing something important, something relevant, something significant, and you will find that the job you do consists of functions that are valuable to the attorney or law firm that you work for, as well as to the community as a whole. You may also be a person who would like to enhance his or her life with the experience of further learning. The paralegal course of study, as well as the experiences you will have working in this field, will give you wonderful opportunities for both of these all-important life-enriching needs! No matter what your own personal reason is for wishing to enter a new career later in life, you are certain to find that the paralegal field can be the excellent choice! Credentials For Paralegals As there are a number of different credentials for paralegals, you may be wondering what the difference is and why it is relevant. Especially if you are now planning to begin your paralegal studies, it is a good idea for you to be aware of these facts so that you can make the decision that is best for you. One of the most important factors in deciding what type of credential you should work toward is your career goal. This factor in turn depends on the workplace in which you plan to eventually work. Law firms, private practice attorneys, various agencies and other businesses which hire paralegals all have their own very specific requirements as to which forms of education and credentials they will accept when hiring a paralegal to work for them. Whether you have a specific workplace in mind yet or not, it is a good idea to check into whichever ones you are considering in order to find out as early as possible the type of credentials they will require you to have. You will find some law firms that will not hire a paralegal who has anything less than a college degree for a specific type of paralegal coursework, businesses which are willing to provide on-the-job training for someone who does not yet have any credentials at all, and virtually everything inbetween. Even if the business where you wish to work does not have strict requirements, it is a very good idea to consider becoming certified anyway. In addition to providing you with better standing in the workplace, becoming certified will open up many new possibilities for you. Although you may be quite satisfied with your job, certification will not only give you the chance for newer and better opportunities, but can also help you in gaining a higher salary where you do work. In the paralegal field, becoming certified is one of the most important examples of how putting a small amount of time and your serious effort into something will benefit you in the longrun. When you are thinking about what form of credential you wish to work toward, it is also in your best interest to keep in mind your thoughts regarding career advancement. Even if you have a specific place in mind where you plan to work after you have completed your studies, you may later decide that you want a better or different job. This possibility in itself is a good enough reason to not settle for the least that your prospective employer requires you to have, for it will prove to be much easier, less costly, and far less time-consuming in the longrun if you gain the highest credentials that you can in advance. In other words, even if your prospective employer does not need you to have anything more than a career diploma, it can very well be in your best interests to aim for a degree-- or, at the very least, certification so that you will have the opportunity to get an even better job later on if you decide to do so. Knowing the requirements of the place where you want to work is important; but assessing your own future goals and the possibility that those goals may change is a very important, additional factor. Would Becoming A Freelance Paralegal Be A Good Option For You? When you are thinking about a new career as a paralegal, there are a number of options which you can consider. You might decide that being a freelance paralegal is the way that you wish to pursue this field. You can begin by weighing the pros and cons of this exciting new way of working in the paralegal field; and you may decide that it is the best option for you. If you are the type of person who is less than thrilled with the prospect of working in the same office, day after day, eliminating this form of routine is one of the most important highlights that you can receive from freelancing. When you hire yourself out as a freelancer, each and every job assignment that you take on will be a new adventure. Not only will the work environment vary, but you will also have the opportunity to meet many more interesting people. This factor alone is one of the main reasons why many paralegals prefer freelancing over committing themselves to one specific workplace. Freelancing can also result in a big "plus" regarding your income. Instead of having to settle for the specific salary that is offered by the one law firm that you work, you have a great deal of leeway in setting your own pay rates. This factor can result in considerably more money for you. When you elect to freelance, you will also be in charge of your own schedule. Instead of being bound to the nine-to-five work day of most law offices, both your daily schedule and your calendar as a whole will be largely up to you. Whether you need to take time off, or whether you wish to take on a heavier workload, freelancing will meet your needs. There are, of course, some negative points to freelancing. One important point is that if you work as a freelance paralegal you will not be eligible for the types of benefits that you would have in working for a law firm or a private attorney. If you feel that such "perks" as general health insurance and other such benefits are essential, freelancing will not give you these benefits. If job security is high on your list of priorities, this is another factor that is not provided by freelancing. Many people need to be assured of steady income, at a rate that they can count on, in order to keep their bills and everyday living expenses up to date. Freelancing will not provide the job and income security that you would have from being on the staff of a law firm. In order to be successful with freelancing, it is necessary to be self-disciplined, motivated, and organized. If you elect to take the route of freelancing, you will need to be able to seek and obtain prospective jobs, be very effective in scheduling your time, and have good math skills for the purpose of billing and taxes. Working as a freelance paralegal has factors in its favor, and factors that are negative to some people. If a sense of adventure and excitement in your work life is what would suit you the best, freelancing could be a great option for you! Considering Specialized Fields Of Law As A Paralegal One very important fact that you may not have thought of in your preparations to become a paralegal is that while attorneys have a number of wonderful options in specialized fields of law, so will you! This will be an excellent opportunity for you to work in the specific area which interests you the most and your personal interest will help you to develop your talents, so that you can bring even more enthusiasm to your job! When you are thinking about this, the first step you should take is to check into what is available in the location where you plan to work. You will probably find a number of law firms and private practice attorneys who deal in general law, some who deal with a combination, and some who specialize in specific fields. While all of these have positive aspects, wouldn't you gain much more satisfaction from your job and your everyday work experiences if you decide to choose the one that appeals to you the most? There are many options, but you should not find it difficult to focus on the one which peaks your interest. There are private practice attorneys and law firms which specialize in criminal law, business law, family law, tax law, and a variety of others. Your initial decision to become a paralegal likely had some degree of bearing on interest in the legal field, so you will probably find it quite likely that one specific type will catch your eye almost immediately. There are some very good reasons to think about selecting a speciality. One reason is that your job will give you the unprecedented opportunity to learn first-hand nearly everything that there is to know about that specific field. When you are working on an everyday basis, you will not only have hands-on experience in the area of law that interests you the most, you will also have the benefit of working with the attorney who practices solely in that area. There is very little that has the potential to give you so much satisfaction as working at something in which you are truly interested. Another reason for considering a speciality is that the enthusiasm that you generate will be very positive to your attorney and anyone else who works in your office. As enthusiasm is contagious, the fact that you have a significant interest in what you do will lead your entire work environment to be much more pleasant. Even the most routine tasks which you conduct on a daily basis will not seem like dreary or boring chores when you truly love the work that you are doing; and this enthusiasm will have a very good effect on your supervising attorney and co-workers alike. When you choose a specialty, you will also rightly feel that you are making a very important contribution. Instead of simply doing a job, you will be actively promoting your field just by doing it well. If you wish for your job to contain a wide range of basic experience, general law can be perfect for you; but if you have a particular interest in mind, working as a paralegal in a specialized field of law may be the right decision for you! Where Can You Find Good Resources For Paralegals? As a paralegal, it is essential to have good resources. This is true whether you are still studying, or whether you are already working in the field. Everything from the regions which offer the most jobs, particular hiring processes, salary information, and regulations surrounding educational requirements, are all topics that it is wise to keep up-to-date with their current status. There are a number of good resources which will help you to stay well-informed on every aspect of the paralegal field. All you really need to do is make a bit of effort in making them an ongoing part of your life. One form of resource is a discussion group. You may wish to form or join such a group in your own locale; but branching out to the types of discussion groups that you can find online will provide you with a much wider range of perspectives from paralegals all over the United States. In this type of discussion group, you will also have the opportunity to get to know many people who are in different stages of their paralegal careers-- from students to beginners to those who have worked in the field for many years. You will see that each person has his or her own very unique experiences, feedback, and viewpoints to contribute. If you take part in a discussion group on a regular basis, it will be a very positive experience. On a wide scale, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations and the National Association of Legal Assistants are excellent resources. As most states have at least one and usually more associations for members of this field, most of these groups are connected with either one or the other of these nationwide Associations. In addition to providing a wealth of information regarding the essential aspects of the paralegal field, you can also find assistance in continuing your education and gaining a higher tier of certification. Becoming a member of either NFPA or NALA is one of the best decisions you can possibly make toward enhancing your career. In addition to these interactive resources, subscribing to a trade magazine will also help to keep you well-informed and current in your field. "Legal Assistant Today" is one which you might like to consider. Although this widely-circulated magazine is available in print form, you can also find it online, which will give you the opportunity to check into the prior issues in the archive, as well as the current edition. As the paralegal field is not an isolated type of work, seeking out all of the resources which are available to you will be a wonderful aid to your career. As this is a field where the more you know the better your chance of success, as well as the need to stay updated with all of the changes in the field, it is unwise to try to navigate all of the necessary information without electing to use a number of relevant resources. Whether you choose magazines, Association membership, or a combination of resources, you will find that they are a very positive influence on your career. A Paralegal's Workday One of the most interesting facts about becoming a paralegal is that one work day is never like another. There is always different tasks to perform, different information to deal with, different people with whom to interact. This fact alone makes working in the paralegal field a very appealing prospect, for a paralegal's workday is not a boring one, not a routine one at all. This is the case regardless of whether you work in a specialized area or with general law, and regardless of whether you work for an individual attorney in his private practice, a large law firm, a community agency, or another type of business. In a paralegal's work day, there is always something to do, and even tasks which would appear to be basic are all important. Depending on the place where you work and the area that it covers, you may find yourself doing anything from taking statements from someone in a capital-murder case, assisting in the process of someone who is buying a new home, doing the paperwork for clients who are forming a new business partnership, or operating spreadsheets for tax purposes. If you work in a firm which specializes in a specific area, the focus of cases may be much more concentrated than one which deals in general law, but even if the cases are specialized you can be assured that you will never find your work to be boring or routine. The basic facts that every case is different and each person you will deal with is unique will make this obvious to you from the very beginning. The wide range of experiences which you will encounter in your work day is highlighted by your paralegal studies. Rather than placing focus on any one particular aspect of paralegal work, you are provided with broad yet detailed information so that you are adequately prepared for nearly anything that you may encounter in your job. After you have begun working in this exciting field, you will see how quickly and how regularly this will benefit you. In short, the more you know and the more prepared you are, the more effective you will be; and this includes your ability to do the job well, the ability of your daily work to keep your interest and hold your enthusiasm, and, ultimately, your success. Whether you intend to work as a paralegal for a short period of time while furthering your career, or if this is the job you wish to do on a longterm basis, it is one of the best choices that you can make. There are few other fields in which every work day will feel like a new adventure, bringing some unique experience and sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. You can work as a paralegal for a year, or you can choose it as your lifetime career; but whichever prospect suits you the most, you can be assured that when you have begun working as a paralegal, every work day will present positive experiences for you. Paralegals And Notary Public Services If you are a paralegal, or are planning to enter this career field, you might also like to consider becoming a Notary Public. Although states vary in their requirements for this, if you live in an area where your paralegal training also qualifies you to carry out the duties of a Notary Public, you will be providing a very valuable service to your community. Whether you live in a large city or a rural location, you may have had the experience of not being able to find a Notary Public when you needed one. In addition, many Notaries are located in banks, post offices, and within other such businesses which often do not have business hours that are as convenient as many people need them to be. If you are qualified to provide this service, it can be both a very helpful way of assisting others, as well as a rewarding experience for you yourself. Although the classifications of Notaries vary, also, providing this service generally includes the basic duties of administering oaths, being witness to the signing of a variety of legal documents, and placing your Notary Public stamp on each document to verify that you have personally carried out these tasks. As each state varies in its laws regarding qualifications necessary in order to become a Notary Public, as well as differences in the processes for doing so, if you are interested in providing this service it is essential that you first find out the facts specific to your state. To illustrate how important it is to make certain of your state specific laws well in advance, it is interesting to note that while some states require nothing more than an application and an accompanying fee, others require a licensure examination, and yet others require a prospective Notary Public to be bonded before becoming able to practice. If all of this appears confusing, it need not be; all you really need to do is find out where your state laws stand, meet its requirements, and follow its procedure. Although it is not likely that you can earn a comfortable living solely by providing Notary Public services, it is a great option to consider in addition to your regular paralegal job. If you are currently working for an attorney, he or she will probably be more than willing to help you get the information that you need regarding the requirements, regulations, and process for becoming a Notary. If you have ever needed to get an important document notarized on short notice as most of us have! you are already well aware of the need for more people who are willing to provide this service, and willing to provide it at convenient times, in convenient places. If you are considering taking on the duties of a Notary Public in addition to your regular job as a paralegal, you may be further spurred toward making the decision to do so when you realize exactly how essential this service is to the community. Networking: An Excellent Tool For Paralegals In many fields, networking is a wonderful tool. This is especially true for those in the paralegal field. If you have tried networking in the past, or with other lines of work, you may have thought that it was little more than asking people about prospective job leads. Networking provides not only this, but much, much more! When you decide to network, it is one of the most excellent ways to find a good job. Not only does the more people that you know result in a better chance to find the job that is best suited to you, it is also one of the easiest ways to find jobs as soon as they become available. When you network, you can get tips about prospective jobs even before they are open. This is certainly a better method of job-seeking than having to rely on classified advertisements. In addition to being made aware of jobs, good networking can also help you to land the job that you want. If you know someone who is already working for a specific law firm, the person may be able to put in a positive word for you, or at least serve as a reference. Having a reference who is with the firm where you wish to work is definitely a "plus" toward landing that great job! You will have a much better chance of getting hired than if you had merely filled out an application or requested an interview completely on your own. Networking, however, can give you other benefits that are not directly associated with finding and getting hired at a job. Networking can give you many opportunities for positive interaction with others who are in your field. Comparing notes with other people who are in the same line of work will help both you and them to stay up-to-date with such all-important factors as changes in paralegal regulations, hiring trends, and opportunities for further education. When you network, sharing your experiences with others can be beneficial to all concerned. What you and they like the most about the job, or the line of work in general, problems which need to be resolved, the variety in courses of paralegal study, and future goals within the field are all aspects of a paralegal's everyday life which can be greatly enhanced from discussions with other paralegals. You may be able to offer your objective input or opinion on something that another person has been struggling with; and you will find others who can do the same for you. Networking does not have to be limited to interacting with other paralegals. The wider of a range of people whom you know is a great asset. You may find job opportunities, information about education, and wonderful new friendships, in places that you had not even considered before. Whether you are still in the process of your paralegal studies, looking for or already in a job, networking can open up a whole new world of possibilities.
Paralegal Study Through Distance Training While many traditional colleges and universities now offer distance learning programs, there are many find schools which deal only in this type of education. If you are thinking about doing your paralegal program through distance learning, it is a good idea to consider some facts in advance. You may be one of the many people who will consider distance learning to be the answer to your further-education dilemmas, especially in regard to time and expense. Distance learning will be quite a relief to you in both aspects not only can you work around your own time-frame, distance learning will usually cost much less money than traditionally-based education. Non-traditional schools which provide distance learning only are very reasonably-priced; some will give you the added bonus of being able to pay your tuition on the basis of monthly installments, which is quite preferable to having to pay tuition in one lump sum. If you believe that distance learning is the way you wish to pursue your paralegal education, there is another extremely important factor which you must consider. Before you make a commitment to doing your program through a specific school, it is essential to first find out if the school you are considering is accredited. The fact is that there are many schools which advertise various types of distance learning programs and methods, but are nothing more than "diploma mills." If you are not familiar with this concept, what it means is that you would be buying your credentials rather than actually earning them. In turn, these alleged schools are not accredited you will find yourself with useless credentials that is not worth the money you paid. In order to avoid such disappointment and a waste of your money, it is important to check into the school you are thinking about before signing an agreement or sending any money. The main points that you will need to know are that the school you are considering is accredited usually by the state in which it is actually located-- and that you will be expected to complete the full program of coursework in order to receive your credentials. There are two ways in which many people often fall for the scams of non-accredited diploma mills. While some people may actually wish to possess credentials that they did nothing to earn, the majority are those who are simply so eager to reach their goal that they do not investigate the status of the school before sending money and signing agreements. Either way, the result is a diploma or degree that was quite expensive to receive yet will be completely useless. Distance learning can be the best choice of method toward becoming a paralegal. As long as you check the facts in advance and select a school that is accredited, you should not encounter any problems. This non-traditional alternative to classroom study can be a great first step in working toward your goal of becoming a paralegal and finding a rewarding career in this field. Paralegal Training For Young People If you are a young person with an interest in the legal field, but not yet certain about your life's goals, becoming a trained paralegal may be the answer for you. There are two main reasons for considering this possibility. First, paralegal work is a great career in itself. After you have begun this type of work, you may decide that the number of options open to paralegals contains the job that you truly want. Also, once you have started working as a paralegal, you will have had more than a headstart if you later decide that you wish to pursue an even more advanced degree in the legal field. Even if you have already made this decision, or are thinking about it as an option, paralegal study and work will be a very good investment of your time. Whichever decision you eventually conclude, as a paralegal you will be at the heart of the legal system. In this line of work, you will be familiarizing yourself with the current status of laws and procedure, and take on a very important role in your attorney's specialized field. If you are thinking about becoming an attorney yourself, paralegal work is a most excellent opportunity; you can think of it as being like an internship, but with significantly more important functions and very good pay! If you think about paralegal work in this manner, you will see that you will not only be working "for," but actually working "with," the most qualified professionals in the legal field; and this is a very important factor in both learning and experience that you would not be able to gain from classroom study alone. If becoming an attorney is a possibility in your future, you will also be interested to learn that many schools which offer higher legal degrees will count both your paralegal training and your work experience in this field to credit toward your advanced degree. In this way, not only have you gained education and work experience, you have gained education and experience that is relevant to your future goal. Once you have begun working as a paralegal, you may decide that all of the opportunities and benefits offered by this particular line of work are precisely what you want. It does not need to be a "stepping stone" to a different career in law, for it is a highly prestigious career in itself. If performing essential functions, having job security, and gaining a deep sense of personal satisfaction are what you are looking for in a career, the team-player role of a paralegal is certain to meet and exceed your expectations. Either way you look at it, beginning your steps into your future with paralegal training is a great start. Whether you are fully certain as to what your eventual goal will be, or if you are still at the stage of having some doubts, both the knowledge and the hands-on experience that you will gain from paralegal study and training is the best introduction that you can have to this fascinating field. Paralegals And Conflict Of Interest Conflict of interest is a very serious subject for attorneys; it is a very serious subject for paralegals, as well. Unfortunately, problems can sometimes occur if a paralegal is not aware that she is bound by the same regulations as an attorney-- including the regulations surrounding this subject. It is very important for a paralegal to know the facts, so that she will be much less likely to make these mistakes. For an attorney, conflict of interest is the term that is usually used in reference to representing two or more opposing parties in any legal proceeding. An example would be representing both the husband and the wife in a divorce case, or both the buyer and the seller in a property transaction. While a paralegal is not in the role of representing a client in a proceeding, there are a few ways in which conflict of interest can occur. One mistake a paralegal can make is conflict of interest when working for more than one attorney. Sometimes this occurs within one law firm; in other instances it can happen if the paralegal is working for more than one law firm. Although it is not usually done intentionally, the problem can occur if she is working for two or more different attorneys who are representing the opposing parties. The primary reason for such strict regulations against conflict of interest is that it is assumed unfair for the attorney, the paralegal, or anyone else who is working on a case on the behalf of one client to have access to the confidential information of the other client. Although this problem can occur within a single law firm, it is even more important that a paralegal make certain to avoid it if she is working for more than one firm. The easiest way to go about this is to simply inform the attorney that she cannot assist with a case because it would be conflict of interest. It is imperative that the paralegal who finds herself in this situation not discuss one supervising attorney's case with another attorney. For a paralegal who elects to work by freelancing, it is of the utmost importance to keep this in mind at all times. Not only can a paralegal who either willingly or unintentionally makes this mistake face losing her legal capacity to practice, the attorney who has knowledge of this can also lose his license if he either promotes or allows it. The specifics regarding conflict of interest are not very difficult to understand; and, with the facts in hand, the regulations surrounding this subject are also not very difficult to adhere to. Even though conflict of interest is one of the most serious breaches of professional conduct, and can result in severe penalties, the problem would not occur as frequently if every paralegal is knowledgeable about the facts. This does not simply mean the facts about this particular subject, but also that most regulations which an attorney is bound to adhere to are equally applicable to paralegals. Paralegals And Document Preparation If you live in one of the states which allow non-attorneys to work in document preparation, you have an exciting way in which you can put your paralegal knowledge to work. It is essential, however, for you to know in advance your particular state laws regarding this subject. There are a number of positive aspects to working in document preparation. While you may have the option of either working for a document preparation service or having this as your own business, the latter has the potential to help you earn a very nice income, as well as being able to set your own schedule. If you have a passion for the field you are working in and the job that you are doing, this is the most wonderful way to ensure that every day and every assignment is a new adventure. As each assignment that you contract will be different from the previous assignment, your enthusiasm and interest will continue to grow, and you will never need to be concerned that boredom will ever be a part of your work life. Even in the states which do allow for document preparation to be done without a supervising attorney, there are a couple of very important facts which you must know and keep in mind. One point is that you can never misrepresent yourself as being an attorney if you actually are not one. This means that whether you work for a service or are in business for yourself, you must be honest with your clients regarding your status, as well as what functions you can and cannot perform. Another important point is that if the law in your state allows you to do this type of work, you cannot solicite, offer, or provide these services outside of the jurisdiction. What this means is that you cannot take on clients who live in a location where this practice is deemed Unauthorized Practice of Law. If you have a love of the legal field and also enjoy helping people on a one-to-one basis, working in document preparation can be a great option for you. In addition to the paralegal coursework which you have already taken, you can find resources on your own and even take classes to learn how to do this. The two main factors in being able to do this type of work are having the knowledge of the necessary types of documents, and knowledge of procedure in your specific location. For example, if you are producing the documents for an uncontested divorce case, you will not only need to know what documents are required for such a case, but also the specific format for each one. Second, you must also know when, where, and by whom a document must be filed. Although these days it is becoming more and more common for people to deal with their own documents, it is generally not in the best interest of an untrained, unqualified individual to attempt to produce his or her own legal documents from a template in a book or an online source. Many people do so simply because they cannot afford the high cost of consulting an attorney. You can provide these services at a much lower cost to them and a good income for yourself. How Working As A Paralegal Can Enrich Your Life If you have made the decision to become a paralegal, you may be interested in hearing about how your life can be enriched by working in this wonderful field! Your paralegal job will come to mean much more to you than just where you spend eight hours of your day. First of all, you have made the wise decision of selecing a career in which you will be financially secure. Working as a paralegal will not make you wealthy, but if you wish to earn a comfortable living, this line of work will assist you in doing so. Depending on the specifics in the area where you live, paralegals usually enjoy a nicely competitive rate of pay. You will also be glad to know that most law firms where you may eventually decide to work will also offer good benefits. Second, the paralegal field is currently one of the most in-demand fields that you can find. As not only law firms and private practice attorneys but also more and more agencies and businesses of many types are electing to use the services of paralegals, when you have successfully completed your schooling it is very likely that you will be equally successful in finding and getting hired at the job that you want. However, the ways in which your life can be enriched by working as a paralegal go considerably beyond those all-important, basic factors. You will be delighted when you discover how rewarding your new career will be in your life. If you have a passion for learning, for the legal system, and for people, your paralegal career will highlight your life more than you can imagine. Your everyday work life will be filled to the brim there will always be exciting, new things to learn! You will play a vital role in the legal system, regardless of which particular form of paralegal work you choose to undertake. Your passion for caring about and helping people, and concern for the community at large, will find a very significant place in your daily work life when you work in the paralegal field. In addition to all of these important assets which you will gain from both your job and the work that you do, you cannot afford to discount the importance of all of the people with whom you work on an everyday basis. When you share the same work space and occasionally the same workload the people in your office can become new friendships, enhancing your social life. The people with whom you work can also be of much assistance in helping you to advance your career. Working as a paralegal is much, much more than just a job! Everything that you do on a daily basis, and everyone you get to know in the process, will quickly help you to see that the life of a paralegal consists of much more than simply earning a living it will present you with a wonderful range of opportunities that will greatly enhance every important aspect of your life. How To Decide If You Really Want To Become A Paralegal You may be thinking about becoming a paralegal, but are not entirely sure if it is the right field for you. Before you make the commitment to take on this intense course of study, how can you know for certain that it is what you will want to do? There are some questions which you can ask yourself beforehand, that will help you to get a clearer view of this line of work and will also help you to make the decision as to whether or not it is the field that you wish to pursue. Logically, becoming a paralegal should first include a significant amount of interest in the legal field. Although this is certainly not the only factor, it is by far the most important. Regardless of which field of law you will be eventually working in, you will be dealing with the subject in all of its forms on a daily basis. To be enthusiastic about your job is the number one key to being successful at it in the longrun. If you have not yet considered it, your degree of interest in dealing with people is also an important factor. As a paralegal, you will not only be expected to get along well with the attorneys and your co-workers, you will also be expected to show an honest interest in the clients and the general public. This does not necessarily mean that you must be a very outgoing type of person, but rather that having the personality characteristics and people-skills of cooperation, concern, and helpfulness, are essential to this line of work. Being a "team player" is also a necessary asset in doing well in your paralegal job. An effective paralegal cannot be the kind of person who has the desire to take the center stage for attention or credit, nor one who has the habit of expecting other people to perform her duties for her. A good paralegal is also a fast learner. This is necessary in terms of being able to know what you need to do and how you need to do it without frequently having to go to others for assistance, as well as possessing a good memory which can accurately recall case facts, communications, and all of the other details which are a part of a paralegal's everyday work life. Basic skills are also important. While you do not have to be an expert, you will need to have a reasonable amount of math skills, know the basics of computer use, and be considerably above average in both written and verbal communication. As working in a law office consists of a great deal of confidential information and communications, it is essential that you be the type of person who not only understands the importance of confidentiality, but are also prepared to abide by it. A person who enjoys gossip, or sharing everything she knows about everything, is not a good prospect for paralegal work! A paralegal should have the quality of commitment to the community. In this line of work you will be providing a service to the community in which you live, either directly or indirectly. Concern for justice, and concern for the community at large, is an important asset for anyone who is thinking about beginning a career as a paralegal. If you see yourself in these descriptions, becoming a paralegal may be the career you have been looking for! CLE: Continuing Legal Education For Paralegals You may have heard of CLE, but are not sure of what it is or why it is important. It is not difficult to find the answers to everything you need to know on this subject. For a paralegal and, for that matter, anyone in the legal profession. Continuing Legal Education is indeed important! Whether or not you are actually required to earn CLE credit on a regular basis due to such factors as it being a requirement for the job that you hold, mandatory where you reside, or based on a term of your certification, Continuing Legal Education should be considered essential for every paralegal, even when it is not required. The main purpose of Continuing Legal Education is not so much to gain more education in general, but to keep your knowledge and information updated on a regular basis. In turn, the main reason for this is for the paralegal to always be as current as possible regarding all of the important aspects of the legal field. As most people who have any part in the legal field are well aware, there are frequent changes in many aspects of the field, and it is essential to stay current in order to do one's job effectively. There are a number of ways in which you can earn your CLE credits. If you wish, you can take classes at a college or university in your location. Most good schools offer these classes. However, if your job or other everyday responsibilities make time a factor for you, you can easily earn your CLE credits even within your time limitations. Many paralegal associations and groups that you can easily find online offer you the option of taking the classes or seminars. When you elect to earn your credits through this online method, you will find that it is not difficult at all to fit it into your busy schedule. In addition to providing you with the most up-to-date relevant information, CLE will also give you the opportunity to brush up on your basic knowledge and skills. Especially in the instance of skills which you do not use on a consistent basis, this is a good way of ensuring that you do not fall behind in things that you need to know how to do. For example, even if you do not use a specific office program on a regular basis, it is important to keep your skills polished for when you will need to use it. Whether earning CLE credit is required for you to continue in your job or not, everything that you will learn from these classes or seminars make Continuing Legal Education a very relevant part of a paralegal's work life. Both in terms of keeping your basic skills in ready shape and being current with the frequent changes in the legal field, Continuing Legal Education is well worth the time and effort that you will put into it. It is by far the best way for a practicing paralegal to be the most effective at his or her job. Paralegals And Standards Although negativity and popular opinion may suggest otherwise, attorneys are expected to abide by some basic standards both in their professional and their personal lives. A paralegal is expected to adhere to the same standards as an attorney. The reason for this is based on general common sense: when a person in the legal field upholds high standards, both individuals and the public as a whole are much more able to place their trust in him. In the legal field, such trust is essential. Whether one's practice involves the sensitive subject of criminal law, the financial importance of tax or corporate or business law, or any other specialized or general law field, both the attorney and the assisting paralegal have the potential to effect significant change in a person's life, either for the better or for the worse. While professional competence is undeniably important, the standards which the legal professional adheres to is also a factor. In addition to upholding professional standards in the workplace and when doing field work, the person's standards in his or her personal life are expected to be above reproach. The character points of integrity, ethics, and basic standards of morality, are not only required by the legal field but expected by the clients whom they serve. As each and every client deserves not only competent representation but representation by those who take their role seriously, acceptable standards of behavior and lifestyle, absence of illegal drug use or abuse of alcohol, absence of prior criminal history, and the highest standards of both professional and personal ethics and integrity, are prerequisites and ongoing requirements for those who wish to be accepted into the paralegal field and continue to do well in it. There is simply no legitimate place in the paralegal field for someone who is a recreational drug user, or someone who does not adhere to the laws in his or her jurisdiction, or other negative qualities which would not only diminish the person's capacity to conduct her job duties effectively but would also diminish both the client's and the public's trust in her. As a practicing attorney is expected to follow the professional code of standards, so is a paralegal equally bound to it. While the direct wording of this code is quite clear, it is actually common sense for a person who wishes to not only do the best but also be the best that she can be, both in her professional and personal life. The paralegal field will give you many interesting, positive, exciting opportunities. A very important part of it is the professional status that you will have in this line of work. You must, however, be completely willing and completely able to maintain the highest possible standards not only on the job but in all of the other areas of your life. The legal field is not for everyone; before making the final decision as to whether it is the right one for you, you should first assess your attitudes and priorities in order to establish that the high standards set forth for this field are not a sacrifice but your chosen way of life. Why Pro Bono Work Is Important For A Paralegal Although you probably love your job as a paralegal, there is something else that you can do in addition to your regular job. Pro Bono work is a way in which you can use your knowledge, skills, and experience, to benefit others. Not only does Pro Bono work provide a much-needed service to people who would not otherwise be able to have the benefit of legal assistance, it can give you a great deal of personal satisfaction at the same time. When you do Pro Bono work, you will not merely be donating your services, you will also be donating your time. Even if you are inclined to feel that you do not have any extra time to spare, it is quite likely that you will be able to make the time when you consider that it is truly a worthy cause. In Pro Bono work, you will be furthering your own skils and widening your own range of work experiences also. There is much that you can learn in the process of a Pro Bono assignment which you simply would not have in your everyday office life. Even the factor of assisting people whom you would not ordinarily have the chance to meet can be quite a bonus to you. If you would like to do Pro Bono work but do not know where to start, a good way to begin is to assess the specific needs of your community. Depending on the area where you live, it should not be very difficult to find a number of agencies, organizations, and businesses which would be glad to have your assistance. Most will welcome your offer of help, especially those which are understaffed in general, or experiencing a heavier than usual workload during a specific period of time. You can check in advance to find out when your help will be most needed. You may also be able to be directed toward Pro Bono work that is the most appropriate and suitable to your specific skills by requesting this information from your attorney. While some attorneys do not like the idea of "lending out" their staff, if you are clear that you wish to do this work on your own time you will decrease the likelihood of your attorney's objections. You can also check with the other paralegals who work in your law firm. If they have done Pro Bono work in the recent past, they may be able to advise you as to who to contact directly for information and possibly an assignment also. The only actual drawback to doing Pro Bono work is that you will not get paid for your services. However, the combined benefits to both you yourself and the people whom you serve will be much more than an adequate compensation. However long you have been working as a paralegal, the knowledge, skills, and experience that you can bring to Pro Bono work will be a very valuable contribution to both the specific people whom you serve and the community as a whole. A Paralegal Does More Than Make Coffee! For many who are not familiar with the paralegal field, the general consensus is that the person's role in the law office consists primarily of menial tasks. These are people who have never worked as a paralegal, and probably do not know anyone who has been in the field. Although a paralegal's role is considered to be in terms of assisting the supervising attorney, there is quite a wide range of responsibilities and duties that actually fall into the category of "assisting"! As the main purpose of a paralegal is to lighten the workload of the attorney, it is more a matter of delegating important, relevant tasks, rather than doing the meaningless tasks that the attorney himself simply does not want to do. One example is in a case process. It is often the paralegal who has the task of locating the most current codes of law and procedure that are the most relevant to the case the attorney will be working on. As many of these are subject to frequent changes, the paralegal must determine not only what is relevant but what is the most up-to-date. Interviewing clients and prospective clients is another task common for paralegals who work in a law firm. She is also often given the task of interviewing witnesses. In addition to successfully completing paralegal coursework, it is essential that the paralegal have excellent communication skills, in both written and verbal forms. In specialized fields, the paralegal may also be present in court. Whether she is directly dealing with witnesses in a court case, or simply taking care of all of the necessary paperwork, it is easy to see that a paralegal has a vital role in the legal system. As you can see, the role of a paralegal consists of much more than simply keeping the law office running smoothly. While this is a part of it, of course, it is by far not the largest part of a paralegal's average work day. Thinking a paralegal to be little more than a glorified secretary or a "go-fer" is quite a disservice and quite untrue. Both in overall knowledge and the duties one is expected to perform on a routine basis should make such a person's professional standing very clear. First, the qualifications of assisting an attorney means a paralegal must have a full overview of the legal system, including the specifics, in order to carry out these responsibilities without having to turn to others with questions about what is needed and what must be done. Second, she must also be able to carry out all of the necessary tasks, often in the attorney's absence. Even though a paralegal is working for an attorney, there are many duties that she must fulfill without his actual presence. Whether a paralegal is working for an individual attorney in his private practice, or whether she is a part of a large law firm, it should be clear that her role is that of an essential function, both inside and out of the office. Paralegals And Unauthorized Practice Of Law UPL or Unauthorized Practice of Law is often one of the most dreaded terms for paralegals and attorneys alike. While the logical reason for this is that Unauthorized Practice of Law frequently results in the individual losing his or her credentials to practice, the additional factor is that states radically differ in what they deem Unauthorized Practice of Law. In order for a paralegal to avoid potential repercussions, it is essential that she familiarize herself with the term as it is defined by the particular state in which she lives. Most states in America conclude that Unauthorized Practice of Law covers any legal advice or legal services which are rendered by anyone other than a practicing attorney. Such states require that any work or duties which are carried out by a paralegal must be done under the supervision of a practicing attorney, or acting on his knowledgeable behalf. There are very few states which take a more lenient view of this subject. For example, California is one of the few states which allows for document preparation by non-attorneys. As long as the paralegal is not wrongfully misrepresenting herself as an attorney, or taking an attorney's role in court proceedings, she can earn a very comfortable living providing such basic services as preparing the documents for divorce proceedings and similar types of cases. Most states in America, however, do not go this far, and can legally prosecute a person who does this type of work for being Unauthorized Practice of Law. The best way of finding out what the status of UPL is in your particular state of residence is to thoroughly investigate the facts. While preparing court documents, Wills, and other such services to the community can be an excellent business, obviously that is not the case if the state where you live considers it to be a crime. Some states are very clear as to what constitutes UPL, while others are vague enough in their definition that you in turn must be very clear in finding the facts. As there are serious penalties for UPL, it is in a paralegal's best interests to be completely knowledgeable about her state's specific laws on the subject, and to adhere to them one hundred percent. If you work in a law firm or in an individual attorney's private practice, it is also wise to be aware of UPL. While the job consists of doing many tasks which are delegated to you by the attorney, you must be aware that his discretion does not include crossing the very fine line into Unauthorized Practice of Law. Actually, in many cases, the responsibility for this falls more on the paralegal herself than on the attorney. In other words, if he is asking you to carry out a task in his behalf, you must know for sure in advance that a paralegal has the authority to do it. It does occasionally happen that an attorney loses his own license to practice law simply by assigning a task to a paralegal that she does not actually have the authority to do. Whether you plan to work for an attorney, a law firm, or investigate the possibility of providing services, it is essential that you get the facts beforehand. Paralegals And The Professional Code Of Ethics Although many paralegals work under the supervision of an attorney, paralegals are professionals in their own right. As many people still have the common misconception that a paralegal's place in the law firm consists of little more than being an underling to a superior, it might be a good idea to get a clearer view of the facts, and possibly set this misconception to rest. The paralegal's professional status can at once be underscored by what is known as the Professional Code of Ethics. A paralegal is as equally bound to this Code as any attorney in the law firm. He or she is expected to adhere as strictly to the policies set forth in the Code of Ethics, and can face suspension or even termination from both the job and loss of credentials if he or she does not do so. For example, one of the most significant points set forth in the Code of Ethics is that of privileged communications. A paralegal, no different from an attorney, a doctor, or a minister, is bound from disclosing information that he or she is told, has read, or learns, regarding the case and the client. As a paralegal who works in a law firm or for an individual attorney routinely has access to such information in general, and, in many situations, is the person who actually receives the information directly, the information can go no further than the attorney who is actively working on the case. If someone does not recognize the paralegal in her professional regard, the person may assume that the paralegal is free to talk about a case. This is not true; for whether a paralegal is your best friend, your spouse, or a family member, she is never at liberty to disclose privileged communications. This is a fact which paralegals and the people in their lives must take seriously; for even talking about a case or a client in a vague manner can lead a paralegal to lose not only her job but her credentials to practice in the field. One of the best ways to keep this in its proper perspective is to keep in mind that while you are working for an attorney, you are basically working for the client as well. The trust that the client places in his attorney, he also places in you. This is true whether you have had personal communications with the client, or whether everything you know about him and the case has come from the paperwork that you have been dealing with on a regular basis in the office. In the legal field, violating a client's confidentiality is something which simply is not allowed, and cannot be allowed. Regardless of the specifics of the case, privileged communications is the client's right, and it is the responsibility of the paralegal as well as the attorney to ensure that this right is not violated. Even for this reason alone, it is essential for anyone who plans to enter the paralegal field to not only be fully aware of her responsibility for professional conduct, but also be fully willing to adhere to it at all times.
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