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Governor Brown Increases Funding for California Superior Courts

  
  
  

California courts can look forward to an increase in funding this fiscal year. Governor Jerry Brown has proposed adding an additional $180 million to the trial court system. The budget will increase from $3.29 billion to $3.47 billion. The money will be allocated primarily to those trial courts who have been severely affected by budget crisis, including Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa counties. These courts have had to lay off a significant number of staff, reduce operating hours and close courthouses.

Although much of the additional funding will go toward supporting trial courts, $42.7 million will be put aside to help cover court employee benefits. The budget also allocates funding to cover the anticipated expenses of the voter approved Proposition 47, which reclassifies certain drug and theft crimes as misdemeanors rather than felonies.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye expressed her approval over the budget increase, stating that, "The proposal is consistent with our multi-year approach to rebuild and create a more accessible and efficient court system to serve the people of California."

We want to know what you think! Do you think the budget increase is a step in the right direction?

California Superior Courts receive increase in funding

Paralegal Certificate or Certification?

  
  
  

The San Francisco Paralegal Association posted a great article from the Estrin Report archives earlier this month! The article tackles the difference between having a paralegal certificate versus a paralegal certification. The terms often get confused and the consequences can be serious. Rather than summarize the article, we have reposted it below. We want to know your thoughts! Have you run into this type of situation?

Are you calling yourself certified? Chances are you're mistaken.

Here we go. One more time! I know I’ve written about this a few months back. However, the topic keeps coming up: certification vs. certificate.  There is a difference and at some point, if you are declaring yourself “certified” when you only have a certificate, trouble is coming. Guaranteed.A few weeks ago, a Bar Association contacted me to represent the Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP) on a panel regarding the merits of certification. “Who is going to be on the panel with me?” I asked. The Bar rep answered, “The “other” organization providing an eDiscovery certification exam and two training organizations." I was unaware those two training organizations offered certification exams. I thought they offered certificate courses. Turns out they don't offer certification exams. Even the Bar Association doesn’t know the difference. This is downright embarrassing – and dangerous.Confusing whether you are certified or you have received a certificate from a course or program is a universal mistake. I don’t believe anyone or any organization is deliberately giving out the wrong information. I think of it as mass confusion with no undertaking to correct the situation. The problem is, whether inadvertently or not, you are misrepresenting yourself.  For an industry that is based upon factual investigation, this speaks pretty poorly for the legal community.Here’s the simple explanation: In order to be certified, you must take a rigorous exam from a non-biased third party, one that adheres to the best practices of the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA), generally in a separate facility, that demonstrates your skills, knowledge and experience. If you take a course and are handed a certificate, that is a certificate of completion or achievement. It means that you understand what went on in the course. It is in no way an indication that you are certified nor can you place credentials after your name – even if you took a final exam. That exam only assesses what you learned in the course.A course teaches or trains you. A certification assesses your overall knowledge and skills. According to the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the absolute authority on certification exams:

  • "In contrast to certification and licensure, an assessment-based certificate program is an educational or training program that is used to teach learning objectives and assess whether those objectives were achieved by the student."  [The assessment  may be made via an exam as part of the course but does not signify  certification.]    

  • A certification program is designed to test the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform a particular job, and, upon successfully passing a certification exam, to represent a declaration of a particular  individual's professional competence." National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA)

In other words, take a course, even take a final exam that tests your knowledge of what you learned in the course and you are not certified. Take an official certification exam, pass it, and you are certified and can place credentials after your name.The ABA does not certify any individual nor paralegal program. It approves a qualified paralegal program only. Here is what the ABA says in part regarding “certified” and “certificated” paralegals.“It is important to distinguish between a paralegal certificate and certification.  The terms are often 

confused.  The terms are not interchangeable and have separate meaning.  A certificate verifies  that a student has successfully completed a paralegal educational program.A certified paralegal is one that has successfully completed a certification exam or other 

requirements of the certifying organization. Certification is the process through which an organization

grants formal recognition to an individual that meets certain established requirements. This may includemeeting educational requirements, prior work experience as a paralegal and passing an examination. 

Once the paralegal has met these criteria, they may use a special designation namely, “certified 

paralegal.”NALA, the National Association for Legal Assistants, offers an excellent certification exam. To prepare one takes plenty of knowledge and bucks. OLP's eDiscovery and Litigation Support Certification exams each took over 18 months, 27 subject matter experts, several Ph.D's applying the science of psychometrics, surveys and beta testing. I'm quite sure NALA did the same.If that doesn’t clear it up, here’s an excellent chart from the American Language and Speech Association. 

Certificate

Certification

Results from an educational process.

Results from an   assessment process.

For both newcomers and   experienced professionals alike.

Typically requires some amount of professional experience

Awarded by educational programs or institutions.

Awarded by a third party, standard-setting organization.

Indicates completion of a course or series of courses with specific focus; is different than a  degree granting program.

Indicates mastery/competency as measured against a defensible set of standards, usually by application or exam.

Course content set a variety of ways (faculty committee; dean; instructor; occasionally through defensible analysis of topic area).

Standards set through a defensible, industry-wide process (job analysis/role delineation that results in an outline of required knowledge and skills).

Usually listed on a resume detailing education; may issues a document to hang on the wall.

Typically results in a designation to use after one's name (C.P.H., C.H.E.S.); may result in a document to hang or keep in a wallet.

Is the end result; demonstrates knowledge of course content at the end of a set period in time.

Has on going requirements in order to maintain; holder must demonstrate he/she continues to meet requirements. C.E.U.'s are continuing education units. For example, RN's and other allied health professionals are required to complete annual   C.E.U.'s to keep their licensure.

Provides the basis and gateway for achieving a degree.

No relationship with attaining higher education or degree.

The terms certification and credentials and designation are also often confused or used incorrectly.

  • Credentials attest to someone's knowledge or authority. Credentials can be a degree earned, e.g., M.P.H. and/or a list of published papers.

  • Certification is a process that results in credentials.

  • designation simply refers to the letters someone uses after their name (M.D., Ph.D., C.P.A.).

Why am I on my high horse once again? Because:

a) Confusing the terms says you don’t know your career. How sad is that? You need to be able to represent yourself correctly. Saying you are certified when you received a certificate of completion or achievement after completing either a course or even a 3-day workshop is not only a misnomer, it could be construed as misrepresentation. Would a lawyer say he/she is a lawyer if they didn’t take the Bar exam?b) Your firm has hired someone who may be claiming expertise beyond reality. Still a cause for termination as far as I know.c) Your firm has misrepresented to their client that you are credentialed when you are not. Here’s how that might go: Client loses case. Turns to firm and says, “You told me you had certified professionals. You don’t.” Law suit? The firm turns to you and says, “You represented that you were certified. You’re not.” Law suit? Termination? You turn to the organization who claimed you were certified after taking their program, seminar or course. You get the picture. Potential chaos just waiting to happen.I have witnessed candidates losing job opportunities because employers realize the candidate knows nothing about their job. I have witnessed perfectly solid legal professionals otherwise embarrassing themselves by claiming they are certified when they are not. Even the organization that told you that you were “certified” may be confused. I don’t think anyone out there is doing it for any other reason than confusion.  I wish I could say that I was such a great person that I'm good natured about this. I know I need a little work in this arena. I just keep thinking, "This is the legal field. Aren't we are supposed to know the difference?"Let me say it again. Take a program; a course; a 3-day seminar and get a certificate. You are not certified. This applies to paralegal programs, seminars, webinars, online courses and more. Take a genuine certification exam according to the best practices of NCCA, one that applies the science of psychometrics; is fair and non-biased, generally given in a secured facility; sometimes proctored; and with legitimate credentials based on knowledge, skills and experience. You have probably just gotten certified.Why is this so important? Because the legal field should not be so confused. Not only is it humiliating, more importantly it is a clear statement we’re not doing our research. What else are we missing? Sure, we all make mistakes. However, what on earth does that say to clients? Let’s pull together and turn this around. It’s the right thing to do.

San Diego Superior Court Announced Probate and Fee Schedule Changes

  
  
  

The San Diego Superior Court Probate Department no longer accepts orders submitted after the hearing. If an order is not submitted prior to the actual hearing, signed in court, or if court personnel does not specifically instruct counsel to submit the order after the hearing, the minute order will serve as the official order of the court. However, mandatory Judicial Counsel forms and orders on Ex Parte matters are not included in this change.

If an order is submitted after the hearing and does not fall under the parameters of the guidelines mentioned above, the court will not process the order and will return it pursuant to Local Rule 4.7.1.

The San Diego Superior Court has also amended its fee schedule. There have been three fee increases. Those fee changes are to the following:

  • Court Reporter fee for proceedings lasting longer than one hour. The fee has increased from $394 to $403 for a half day, and from $788 to $806 for a full day.

  • Interpreter fees have increased from $67 to $73 an hour.

  • Off site retrieval of documents: Standard retrieval increased from $10 to $18. Same day retrieval rates have increased from $15 to $20, and emergency retrieval rates have increased from $20 to $28.

Check out the revised fee schedule for more information.

If you would like training on eFiling in San Diego Superior Court, you can sign up for our free, MCLE accredited webinar here! You can also contact our Training team with any questions.

San Diego Superior Court Amends Fee Schedule and Probate Rules

Tips to Avoid a Rejected eFiling in San Francisco Superior Court

  
  
  

It's time for the next installment of our Instant Expert series! Continuing our quest to help you become indispensable to your law firm, we have created another short "how-to" guide that will not only simplify your day-to-day work life, but ensure that your San Francisco eFiling is as error free as possible. If you are eFiling in San Francisco Superior Court, you will want to review this guide!
 

Click here to download the latest Instant Expert guide.

 

Our third Instant Expert guide provides you with four must-know tips on ensuring that your eFiling is accepted. Reasons for rejected eFilings include:

  • Failure to comply with San Francisco local rule 2.10

  • Incorrect PDF submissions

  • Improper word placement in document titles and more!

If you would like to become even more of an expert in San Francisco eFiling and are interested in further training, you can sign up for our free, MCLE accredited course held every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m.! You can also attend any of our other courses. We have a diverse curriculum that covers everything from Process Serving to eFiling and eService in Orange and San Diego Counties, as well as in the state of Texas. We also keep you up to date on court closures, reduction in clerk's hours and other pertinent court news.

 

Do not hesitate to contact our Training team with any questions! We are always here to help.


Avoid an eFiling Rejection in San Francisco Superior Court 

Supreme Court Chief Justice Talks eFiling Technology in the New Year

  
  
  

In his "2014 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary," Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts discussed an initiative that would make all documents filed with the court available online as soon as 2016. Currently paper copies of documents such as petitions, responses, briefs and other public documents are available, but there is a lack of access on the Supreme Court's website.

While it is no secret that courts seem to lag behind the technological times, Chief Justice Roberts makes no apologies for this reality. "Like other centuries-old institutions, courts may have practices that seem archaic and inefficient - and some are," he said. "Judges and court executives are understandably circumspect in introducing change to a court system that works well until they are satisfied that they are introducing change for the good."

Although the court may allow for online document access, they are still hesitant to allow cameras in the courtroom and continue to deny making audio available immediately from oral arguments. As it now stands, audio is available on Fridays of the week the arguments are held. You can, however, access transcripts the day of the arguments on the court's website. Justices also do not post their financial disclosures online. When a justice has a speaking engagement, there is no system in place that publicizes the speech.

Chief Justice Roberts referenced the fabled Tortoise and Hare when it comes to bringing the courts into the digital age. He wrote that although the federal judiciary has benefitted from online systems, it is imperative that they move slowly in order to protect confidentiality and to ensure that the system is secure. The proposed technological plan does not provide for electronic filing.

What do you think of the Supreme Court's plan to plan implement limited technology?

 

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Judicial Council Implements Changes Effective January 2015

  
  
  

The new year is quickly descending upon us and with it comes rule amendments and form revisions.

The Judicial Council has listed the new and revised judicial council forms for 2015, which are now available for download. For those of you who eServe your documents, the Proof of Electronic Service has been revised. Check out the list in its entirety here.

The Judicial Council has also posted summaries of new rule amendments effective January 1, 2015. Rule amendments include changes to mandatory and optional forms, domestic partnerships, service and filing of briefs, extending the time to appeal, and much more. You can read more about these rule changes here.

Judicial Council new rules for 2015

One Legal Presents Two Employees with Presidential Excellence Award

  
  
  

December 19 was a day full of holiday festivities and company celebration for One Legal employees. Those in our Home Office in Novato gathered at Rickey's Restaurant & Bar for the office holiday party. Along with the usual cheer and chit chat that accompanies a gathering such as this, two of our employees were honored with the Presidential Award of Excellence.

The prestigious award was bestowed upon Lili Daniel, our Product Training & Research Manager, and Jeff Karotkin, our Vice President of Strategic Development. The award was created to recognize special employees whose actions consistently drive One Legal's culture forward. It is designed to acknowledge employees whose actions speak louder than words. Nominations for potential award recipients are submitted to our Human Resources Department and then passed along to our President, Robert DeFillipis, for consideration.

Robert presented the award to both Jeff and Lili and had the following to say about the winners:

"Jeff is being recognized for the work he does behind the scenes that no one ever sees.  In addition, Jeff is a person who always accomplishes his tasks no matter how difficult or challenging.  And this year has been tough. I selected Jeff not for his successes but rather for the discipline it takes to keep going.  It is through adversity and heartbreak that we truly grow.  Jeff’s contributions are all born of discipline, hard work, and passion for doing the right thing."

"Lili is being recognized for being herself.  Seriously, spend a few minutes with Lili and you’ll remember the encounter for a good long time.  Her smile and personality are the first impression which is why she is so effective in her training role.  She is selfless in her commitment to promoting One Legal and is extremely giving of her personal time (weekends and evenings) to attend industry events and seminars.  People enjoy being around Lili and as I said last week, I can think of no better person to be the face of One Legal."

Congratulations to the winners!

One Legal presents award
One Legal presents award

Alameda Superior Court Extends Service Hours and Fee Change

  
  
  

Alameda County Superior Court temporarily extended their customer service hours in the Civil Department back in October. The pilot program was successful and as such, they have made the decision to make the extended service hours permanent. Effective January 5, 2015, the Civil Department as well as the Criminal, Juvenile, Family Law and Appeals clerk's offices will remain open until 4:30 p.m. The court will not, however, be increasing their staff. They are operating with 25 percent fewer employees this year than they were five years ago.

The court will also temporarily suspend fees for Motions in Limine effective January 5. The Judicial Council will be discussing the collection of this filing fee in the upcoming months. Alameda County Superior Court will be participating in these discussions designed to determine whether or not they will reinstate filing fees for Motions in Limine.

If you would like more information, you can contact John Rudoph at (510) 891-6206(510) 891-6206. Read the entire notice here.

Alameda Superior Court Extend Service Hours

California Superior Court Updates Page: New Updates Posted

  
  
  

We've recently updated our page with items for Mono County Superior Court. The Mammoth Lakes location has announced new court operating hours.  Click here to take a look, especially if you have a court filing in this jurisdiction!

California Court Updates                                 California Court Updates

California Superior Courts Announce Reduced Holiday Hours

  
  
  

The holidays are upon us! Along with the twinkling lights and hint of merriment in the air, you may have also noticed an increase in traffic and clusters of frenzied people at the mall frantically trying to find the perfect gift. There are many things you can count on during the holiday season, and court closures has become one of those annual traditions. We have been tweeting about holiday court hours as we get more information, but for those of you who may have missed it, here are a few of the courts with reduced holiday hours:

  • Marin County Superior Court

    • Thursday, December 18 - Close at 3 p.m. 

    • Wednesday, December 24 - Close at 12 p.m. - no drop box option

    • Wednesday, December 31 - Close at 12 p.m. - no drop box option

  • Solano Superior Court

    • December 26 & January 2 - All clerks offices and all but two courtrooms will be closed. The two courtrooms that will remain open are located at the Hall of Justice, 600 Union Avenue in Fairfield. The courtrooms will only be open to conduct arraignments and examinations, sign documents on an emergency basis, and handle time-sensitive juvenile matters. 

  • Stanislaus Superior Court

    • December 24 - Close at 12 p.m. - drop box will be open until 4 p.m.

    • December 26 - Close at 12 p.m. - drop box will be open until 4 p.m.

    • December 31 - Close at 12 p.m. - drop box will be open until 4 p.m.

In addition to these holiday court hours, Mono County Superior Court has announced that effective January 16, 2015, the Mammoth Lakes courthouse will implement furlough days as well as reduced operating hours. The new hours will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. The furlough days are as follows:

  • January 9th, 16th, & 30th

  • February 13th & 20th

  • March 12th & 13th

  • April 3rd & 24th

  • May 12th & 22nd

  • June 5th & 26th

Always make sure to check your local court for updated hours of operation. You can also contact our Customer Support team with any questions you might have at 800-938-8815.

CA Superior Courts Announce Holiday Hours

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