Practicing Law: What New Interns Should Know About Office Culture

Practicing Law What New Interns Should Know About Office Culture

Starting your first law internship is an exciting time. This is your chance to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom, and see the law firsthand. Unfortunately, many interns are initially surprised by the lack of excitement they find at work. You should know what to expect from your internship. This doesn’t mean all internships are boring, it just means you have to know about office culture to know how you can best use your time. Here are some tips for your law internship.

Observe
While you are there to work and will have tasks to do every day, your main job is to observe what other people are doing. Make sure you know the roles and responsibilities of everyone in the office. Ask lots of questions. Learn the inner workings of a law firm as best you can.

Everyone is Busy
Typically, law offices are busy places. Everyone has a million things to do. While it is important to ask questions, it is also important not to bother anyone too much. A good way to talk to people is to offer help first. Which brings us to the next point.

You are There to Help
You are there to help make everyone’s job easier. This means you may receive some menial, administrative tasks such as making copies. You may also have to do a lot of research, and sum up your findings for your boss quickly. Whatever your assignment is, do it quickly, do it well, and go above and beyond whenever possible.

You are Also There for You
An internship should not just be free labor. You should receive some type of compensation either through pay, housing stipend, school credit, or amazing learning opportunities. If you feel like your time is being wasted, talk to your supervisor about how you can better learn from the environment. You want to walk away with more than a pretty entry on your resume, at the end of the internship. You need valuable experiences and information you can use later on.

Network
Use your internship as a networking opportunity. You should know everyone in the firm you are working with, as well as any associates and judges who may be working with your firm. This is an important part of your internship. You should have a list of people and firms you can call upon once you are graduating and looking for a job, whether it’s a criminal practice in Minneapolis, or a local judge.

An internship is an amazing experience. Whether you are working for a Keyser law DUI lawyer or a public attorney, you will receive plenty of experience and knowledge to carry with you into your career.

This article is from Brooke Chaplan, a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

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Four Low-Impact Pool Exercises

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We know exercise is great for overall health, inside and out. That’s why it’s important to choose activities you find fun and are geared toward your activity personality. One great way to exercise is in the pool. Working out in the water warms up your muscles and is low impact, which means it does not cause wear, tear and injury to muscles. A great way to increase your heart rate and stay healthy, pool exercises are a great option that won’t put a lot of strain on your body.

Want a pool of your own? Designing an in-ground pool in your backyard is a possibility. Used primarily for exercise, straight edges (instead of ovular or unique shapes) are an idea if you plan to swim laps. Also, the pool does not have to be deep. You’ll want a shallow area where you can stand up with your head above the water. If you do not have your own pool, check out your local gym or community center for pools you can use to exercise.

In addition to laps, there are tons of other water moves that stretch muscles and keep you fit and can be adapted to all fitness levels.

Tread

Working your arms, back, chest, glutes and hamstrings, this exercise is good for your entire body. This exercise will also get your heart pumping. In the deeper end of the pool, tread to keep your head above water by making small circles with your hands while doing the egg-beater kick. Not sure what this looks like? Check out this YouTube video tutorial. Do this for a minute to start off. Increase endurance by increasing your time each week.

Water Crunches

Easier on the back and neck than regular crunches, doing sit-ups on the edge of the pool will work your abs. Like regular crunches, move your legs onto the deck and form a 90-degree angle so your glutes are against the wall and your knees are bent to keep your form. Sit up, focusing on your abs and being conscious not to put too much strain on your lower back. Do three sets of 15 to start, then build up to six sets.

To target your obliques, stand in the water with your legs hip-distance apart. Sway back and forth like you are a pendulum to target the sides of your stomach.

Kickboard

If you want to get a bit of cardio in but don’t like getting your hair wet, a kickboard is a great pool prop for you. The small, floating board can be held by your arms to keep your head above water while kicking your legs to swim laps from one side to another. Time yourself, and complete five- to 10-minute increments with breaks. This exercise will challenge your heart and work your legs.

Arm Lifts

For arms, stand in the water with all but your head below the waterline. Keep feet hip-distance apart and place your arms on the sides of your body. Lift both arms up at the same time. The water will provide resistance, making the move more difficult. Do three sets of 10 lifts. For more arm exercises, check out this article on FitDay.com.

This article is from Carolyn Anger. Carolyn got her start as the lead editorial contributor for an Arizona-based spa website. She is now a freelance blogger for several clients in the beauty, health and women’s interests industries. 

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VA Implements Second Phase of Choice Card Program

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Cards sent to Veterans waiting more than 30 days for care

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it began mailing Veterans Choice Cards on November 17 to Veterans currently waiting more than 30-days from their preferred date or the date that is medically determined by their physician for an appointment at a VA facility.

 “VA continues to focus on implementation of this new temporary benefit so that Veterans receive the timely quality care they need in a way that reduces confusion and inefficiencies,” said Secretary Robert A. McDonald, who penned an open letter to Veterans announcing the implementation of the Choice Card program.

The Choice Program is a new, temporary benefit that allows some Veterans to receive health care in their communities rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility. The first round of cards along with a letter explaining the program was issued on November 5 to Veterans who are eligible based on their place of residence. VA is now engaging in the next phase of its rollout –eligibility explanation letters are being sent to Veterans waiting more than 30 days from their preferred date to be seen or considered medically necessary by their physician.

To improve service delivery, VA has prioritized efforts to accelerate Veterans off of wait lists and into clinics through the Accelerated Care Initiative begun over the summer. Through this initiative, VA medical centers have increased access to care inside and outside of VA, added more clinic hours and work days, deployed mobile medical units and shared their best practices from VA’s high-performing facilities throughout the organization.

 Significant improvements have resulted nationally:

  • Scheduling more than 1.2 million more appointments in the past four months than in the same period last year. In total, VA medical centers have scheduled over 19 million Veteran appointments from June to October 1, 2014;
  • Reducing the national new patient Primary Care wait time by 18 percent;
  • Completing 98 percent of appointments within 30 days of the Veterans’ preferred date, or the date determined to be medically necessary by a physician;
  • Authorizing 1.1 million non-VA care authorizations, a 47-percent increase over the same period last year; and
  • Increasing the amount of time providers could deliver care to Veterans by increasing the amount of clinic hours in primary and specialty care and through adding weekend and evening clinics at our medical centers.

 VA is America’s largest integrated health care system with over 1,700 sites of care, serving approximately 9 million Veterans enrolled in health care services.  The Choice Program is part of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA), enacted nearly three months ago, to enable VA to meet the demand for Veterans’ health care in the short-term.

 For more information about the Choice Program, call 1-866- 606-8198 or visit http://www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/.

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What You Should Tell Your Personal Injury Lawyer

What You Should Tell Your Personal Injury Lawyer

When someone needs a personal injury lawyer, it can come at a time filled with confusion and concern. Therefore, it’s best to make sure that you know what to tell your personal injury lawyer when the time comes to begin your case. That way, proper preparation can address any eventuality. Here are four things that should definitely be included in any legal discussion:

Full Details Of The Accident

Give your personal injury lawyer all the information on when, where and how your accident happened. That lawyer should have extensive experience in that field and be well versed in all the nuances of such cases, much like Kitchen Simeson Belliveau LLP., Lindsay lawyers. In addition, give as much information as you can about potential witnesses who can testify on your behalf. Finally, provide details and documentation on any injuries suffered, as well as any subsequent diagnosis and treatment.

Accidents and Injuries Before and After

Disclosing any previous incidents (as well as injuries) is imperative, since the insurance company that could end up paying will thoroughly investigate your past history. If they happen to believe that you’re faking your injuries, they could have investigators follow you around, taking photographs and/or video.

Should you suffer any injuries between the time of the accident and your first meeting with a lawyer, they should be immediately disclosed. Otherwise, lawyers for the defendant could claim that your injuries stem from the other incident.

Criminal History

As with any legal case, your credibility will come under attack from opposing lawyers. If you have had legal troubles in the past, disclosing that immediately will allow your lawyer to develop his case accordingly. While you might still have to endure a withering cross examination when the times comes, your attorney will be fully prepared to fight for you.

Bankruptcy and Divorce

Letting your personal injury lawyer know about personal or financial history troubles is a must, since it will undoubtedly come under close scrutiny to determine if any lawsuit you file is based on you simply trying to collect money, as opposed to offsetting the cost of the resulting damages.

Giving your legal team all the information it needs is the first step toward success in the courtroom. By providing them with what they need, you’ll be helping yourself.

This article is from Savannah Coulsen, a freelance writer. She lives in Long Beach. Savannah loves to read and write and she hopes to write a novel someday. Savannah also loves learning and is a self-proclaimed health guru.

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Transitioning Your Parent to a Nursing Home? What to Know about Negligence and Abuse

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Transitioning an elderly parent to a nursing home is stressful and emotional for both the family and the parent. However, this is often the only option for some families. During this transition, children might be worried about the level of care their parent is receiving in the nursing home. Hearing of negligence and abuse in nursing homes is not uncommon these days, which might have you concerned about moving your parent to a home. If these thoughts have crossed your mind, there are a few things you should know before your parent actually makes the move.

Warning Signs

More than 500,000 adults over the age of 60 are neglected in the United States alone. It can be hard at first to recognize signs of elderly abuse or neglect, especially if you don’t see your parent often. Elderly abuse can take on a variety of forms, such as physical, emotional, sexual abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and healthcare fraud. However, commons signs to look for are physical injuries, mood changes, poor hygiene, malnourishment, bed sores, urine sores, over-sedation or the use of restraints. It is also important to not to jump to conclusions, because it is hard to prove abuse.

Risk Factors

The stress of taking care of seniors can lead to physical and mental health problems. Caregivers may become impatient, get burned out and more likely to lash out at seniors in their care. Common risk factors for elder abuse are depression, unable to cope with stress, negative perception, substance abuse and lack of support. Nursing home staff are more prone to elder abuse when they have too many responsibilities, lack training, work under poor conditions or not suited for caregiving. Keep these factors in mind when choosing a nursing home for your parent. Many homes will allow you to visit and check the place out before moving your parent, so pay close attention to the staff and organization before making a decision.

How to Prevent Elder Abuse

Once your parent is living at the nursing home, it is important to continually watch for signs to prevent abuse. Only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are ever reported to the authorities. You should also take a look at your senior parent’s medication. It is also a good idea to check to see if the amount of pills in the bottle coincides with the date of the prescription. When you are not visiting, you need to call as much as possible to keep tabs on things.

Reporting Abuse

Some families make the mistake of not reporting the abuse. If you suspect someone is abusing your loved one at a nursing home, then you need to call your long term care ombudsman. An ombudsman serves as an advocate for residents of assisted living facilities and nursing homes. They are trained to resolve problems and to make sure that residents get quality care. If the problem is serious, you might need to hire legal help to resolve the matter.

Adult children should listen to their elderly parent’s wishes when looking for the best nursing home. It is important to find a facility with trained and compassionate staff members that has the capacity to care for your parent. Parents will make the best transition with support from family and medical staff, in a place where they feel comfortable and cared for.

This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, women’s interests, and family issues. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. Dixie got advice for this article from the professionals at the Tanner Law Firm, a Las Vegas Law Firm that specializes in nursing home negligence and abuse cases.

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Student Loan Debt Can Jeopardize Seniors’ Retirement

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A recent article in the Dallas Morning News gave me pause — I hadn’t thought about how many senior citizens still owed money on student loans. Of course, most of these people went back to school at an older age and did not have loans left over from their original college years. Still, it seems to be a growing problem. Here are the opening paragraphs from the story:

At first glance, the news appears good: Comparatively few households headed by older Americans carry student debt compared with other types of debt, according to a new report.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office found that about 3 percent of households headed by those age 65 or older — about 706,000 households — carry student loan debt. This compares with about 24 percent of households headed by those age 64 or younger, or 22 million households.

However, if you look deeper into the report, things aren’t all rosy.

For one thing, that 706,000 figure represented a fourfold increase between 2004 and 2010.

What’s more, the amount that senior citizens owe in outstanding federal student loans jumped sixfold, from $2.8 billion in 2005 to more than $18 billion last year, the GAO said.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at Free Digital Photos.net.

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Five Options for Those Who Can’t Afford to Hire a Lawyer

Five Options for Those Who Can't Afford to Hire a Lawyer-1

Legal issues cause stress for anyone—even if you can afford to hire a lawyer or pay legal fees. However, if you find yourself in legal trouble and can’t afford to pay, you may find yourself in a bind. Luckily, if you are in need of legal advice or services and cannot afford to pay retainer fees or hundreds of dollars in hourly rates, there are several options available. Free and reduced legal services do exist for members of many communities. You will most likely need to provide proof of income to qualify and you should expect to pay out of pocket for court costs or process service fees. Keep reading to get a few ideas for legal help, if you feel that you truly cannot afford it.

Legal Aid

First and foremost you will want to contact your local Legal Aid office, a federally funded program designed to provide legal services to qualified individuals. A Legal Aid office employs many lawyers who practice several areas of law, so no matter what type of case you have they should be able to assist you. Most legal aid offices use your income, geographic location, health status, and case type to determine whether or not you qualify for free legal aid.

Law Firms – Pro Bono

If you do not qualify for Legal Aid, begin to contact attorneys in your area that practice the type of law that you will need. You can find these lawyers through online searches, in a phone book, or by asking friends and family. Inquire as to whether your case could be taken pro bono, which means free of charge. Some lawyers offer unadvertised pro bono services to community members, so it never hurts to ask.

Law Firms – Contingency Basis

If your inquiry into pro bono services comes up empty, ask these attorneys instead if they will take your case on a contingency basis. This means that if your case has a favorable outcome and you are awarded money, your lawyer will receive an agreed upon portion. If you do not win your case, the lawyer receives nothing. This is a common option within many firms and practices, you just have to be willing to search for the right one.

Court-appointed Representation

In many cases, you can ask the court for a court-appointed attorney. Public defenders are on your city’s payroll to provide legal services to those who are unable to afford it. The court will send information about you and your case to your Public Defender, but it is your responsibility to initiate and maintain contact.

Law School Programs

Finally, a fifth option for obtaining an attorney would be to contact any local law schools and inquire about programs they offer in which they provide legal advice and/or services to community members. This is a convenient option if you live near a prominent law school, but once again, you will need to take initiative and seek out the help you need.

Legal matters are stressful enough without having to worry about how you are going to pay for it. Free and reduced legal services exist because there are people who need them. Just because these services aren’t heavily advertised or right in front of your face doesn’t mean they aren’t available to you—you just need to be willing to seek them out. The information for this article was provided by Rod Gregory, a criminal lawyer in Edmonton.

This article is from Ms. Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves writing for business, finance, women’s interests, and technology. Dixie lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.

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Four Things You Shouldn’t Say When Filling Out Your Social Security Disability Claim

social security benefits

Applying for Social Security Disability benefits is a long and arduous legal affair. The judicial journey is rife with bureaucratic barriers that prevent easy access to the vital funds. Unfortunately, this generates an environment where people that desperately need financial assistance are deprived of help simply because they don’t know what to say. A single wrong utterance can derail an entire hearing, which is filled with verbal traps. Follow this guide to learn which statements should be avoided at all costs!

“I Can Work” or “I Am Capable”

Any variation of this sentiment is toxic to a successful legal filing for benefits. The panel often bombards potential recipients with endless questions pertaining to one’s ability to earn financial compensation through labor. The best path is to never back down from the assertion of total incapacitation.

“Some Days Are Easier than Others”

This statement is a very dangerous proclamation to make because it subtly signals a capacity for part-time work. The judge will simply rule that the applicant can make money on the so-called “easier days.” This ignores the reality that disabled citizens rarely have what one would define as an easy day.

“I Will Recover” or “My Disability Will Improve”

Social Security tends to favor individuals with permanent ailments. By signaling that a debilitation might end, applicants reveal a lack of long-term necessity. The wisest move is to illustrate several ways in which the disability might impede one’s livelihood forever. In fact, it may be clever to recount how a condition is only expected to worsen. Of course, all medical claims will need to be backed up by a doctor’s testimony.

“I Have a Back-Up Plan” or “I Have Resources”

An appearance of helplessness will go a long way. The officials in charge of determining eligibility are only looking to award the neediest people. Any indication of alternative revenue will get in the way of victory. This hearing must be treated as the last recourse; otherwise, they will not budge from their rejection.

Final Word

Don’t get discouraged. Almost everyone gets denied on the first try, so keep pushing forward to win during future appeals and attempts. It also helps to have sound legal assistance that will not stop fighting for the benefits their clients truly deserve. Applicants do not need to look further than Robert H Littlejohn. From an objective standpoint, this office has a track record that shows results.

This article is from Karleia Steiner, who works as a freelance blogger and consultant. You can follow her on Google+.

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Celebrate Veterans Day by Honoring a Vet

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Please remember the purpose of Veterans Day and do something nice for a veteran or a group of veterans. Make a donation or take a vet to lunch.

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Veterans Affairs Secretary Updates Employees on MyVA Reorganization Plans

header-logo-2November 10, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary McDonald Updates Employees on MyVA Reorganization Plans

Washington, DC – On November 10, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald sent the following message to all VA employees:

In the last few months as your Secretary, I have met and heard from Veterans and family members about how we can better serve Veterans.  I’ve also traveled to VA facilities across the country and have had the extraordinary opportunity to meet with you, the men and women who work on the front lines and behind the scenes to care for and serve Veterans every day.  These opportunities have informed my thinking as we work to plan for the future of the Department.   Already, more than 2,000 VA employees at 20 facilities serving 1.4 million Veterans have shared their perspectives on how we can improve this Department, and have provided insightful and thoughtful feedback about how VA should be organized to better serve Veterans. It is clear that our shared mission is important to you and your colleagues.  It’s also clear that you share my goal of making VA easier to navigate for Veterans. I am grateful for your contributions, and your support in this endeavor.

As we have been considering changes to VA, we have also met with Veterans, Veterans Service Organizations (VSO), NGOs, and other stakeholders.  We have used your feedback, and the common themes we heard in all comments, to begin shaping the way forward for VA.  Soon, we will begin implementing changes to VA, to better structure our organization to meet Veteran needs.  Our new alignments may change some of our processes, but our employees remain valued members of the team.

Our shared goals are to ensure that Veterans have a clear understanding of VA and where to go for what they need within any of our facilities; that employees are empowered with the authority, knowledge and tools they need to solve problems and take action; and that the products and services that we deliver to Veterans are integrated within the organization.  The changes we plan to make are as follows:

  • Establish a new VA-wide customer service organization to ensure we provide top-level customer service to Veterans.  A Chief Customer Service Officer who reports to the Secretary will lead this effort.  The mission of the new office will be to drive VA culture and practices to understand and respond to the expectations of our Veteran customers.
  • Establishing a single regional framework that will simplify internal coordination, facilitate partnering and enhance customer service. This will allow Veterans to more easily navigate VA without having to understand our inner structure.
  • Working with our partners to establish a national network of Community Veteran Advisory Councils to coordinate better service delivery with local, state and community partners. Expanded public-private partnerships will help us coordinate Veteran-related issues with local, state and community partners, as well as VA employees.
  •  Identifying opportunities for VA to realign its internal business processes into a shared servicesmodel in which organizations across VA leverage the same support services, to improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase productivity across VA.  Right now, we’re looking at options used in the private sector to enhance our rapid delivery of services, and also at our own business processes that are suited for shared services.

Please keep in mind that this is a long-term process and we are just beginning to plan how this will all unfold.  As we move forward with these changes, your feedback, ideas and perspective will be invaluable. To gather your suggestions, we have launched an intranet web tool, the My VA Idea House, where employees from across VA can submit ideas online to improve services, streamline processes and solve issues for Veterans and their families. Employees can also vote on submissions from your colleagues across VA. Sponsors will select ideas and create topic-related groups to encourage collaboration and help make the ideas a reality. The Idea House website will officially open for submissions tomorrow, Veterans Day, Nov. 11. I encourage you to go to vaideahouse.ideascale.com to submit your ideas and proposed solutions to the challenges you are seeing.

I know there are a lot of questions about this effort, and I know that there will be concerns.  We don’t have all the answers right now, and that’s why we are reaching to you for your thoughts.  This will be a fair and deliberate process, and we need your help to make sure our decisions are the right ones for Veterans.

As we collect input and work together to design an employee-led, Veteran-centric VA, we have a great opportunity to make significant progress toward our goals in the near term. Thank you for the work you are doing each day to make VA a stronger organization for America’s Veterans.

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