A Paralegal s Study Guide #paralegal #certification #exams, #paralegal, #legal #assistant, #paralegal #advanced #competency #exam, #certified #legal #assistant #exam


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A paralegal meeting the minimum criteria for the exam should be able to use logical thought processes, elimination of incorrect answers and their expertise in the basic legal principles to correctly answer the test questions.

NFPA has developed many study tools to assist candidates preparing for the exam. Even an experienced candidate should thoroughly review the PACE Study Manual published by NFPA (available at www.paralegals.org) prior to taking the exam. Each chapter includes sample test questions with detailed explanations of the logical process to deduce the correct response.

Examinees also should review other sources, including paralegal textbooks, seminar materials, flash cards and bar charts for law students, and paraпїЅlegal journals such as The National Paralegal Reporter and Legal Assistant Today. In addition, NFPA offers a 50-question online practice exam that simulates test conditions.

NFPA encourages candidates to participate in a study group if possible. Study groups are organized at the local level, although NFPA can assist by providing sample guidelines, a sample syllabus and other information to help the study groups prepare for the exam. Study groups can be as formal or informal as the participants want. NFPA recommends that study groups meet at least once a week and follow the suggested syllabus over a seven- to eight-week period, although they can meet more often or less often. The group can be taught by members taking turns on the various study areas, or the group leader can solicit speakers from the legal community.

Study groups donпїЅt work for all paralegals. Many find it impossible to study any other way but individually. Recognizing that study groups are not an option for many paralegals, NFPA partnered with the American Institute for Paralegal Studies to offer a seven-week, online study course for PACE. This review course includes mentoring, discussions, homework assignments and online lectures, and ultimately provides a structured form of study. It also encourages a disciplined approach to study that many paralegals find difficult to maintain if they study on their own. The online course is available to anyone with an Internet connection and can be accessed any time. Many RPs credit the course for their success on the exam. The review course is offered several times a year, and more information is available at www.paralegals.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1 subarticlenbr=125.

RPs must meet CLE requirements, which include ethics training, to maintain their certification. RPs must renew their certification every two years and provide evidence of at least 12 hours of CLE (approved by the CLE coordinator on a case-by-case basis unless the CLE credits were obtained from a previously approved provider, e.g. bar associations, colleges and universities, etc.). At least one hour of CLE must be in ethics.

Making the Commitment

The single most important resource a PACE candidate can take into the test facility is the desire to become an RP. Making the commitment to take PACE is not something to be taken lightly or forced on anyone. The exam is voluntary, and candidates must be in the proper frame of mind to succeed. They must be confident of their skills and knowledge, but shouldnпїЅt approach the exam in an overconfident manner either.

Why should a paralegal take PACE? The reasons are as varied as the 500 plus RPs who have passed the exam to date, but they generally fall into the following categories:

Career paralegals want to validate their expertise by taking a nationally recognized certification exam;

In the absence of regulation, or with regulation on the horizon, paralegals want to establish their own identifiable standards of professional excellence;

National certification provides a sense of professional accomplishment;

Certified paralegals can gain recogпїЅnition and respect from peers;

Certified paralegals can enhance their marketability and stand apart from the rest of the uncertified paralegal workforce; and

Some employers offer higher salary levels or bonuses for certification.

Paralegals who face their fears and pass the exam gain a huge sense of professional pride and accomplishment. They are authorized to use the trademarked phrase пїЅPACE Registered
ParalegalпїЅ or пїЅRP.пїЅ Some RPs enjoy increased pay, promotions or new job opportunities. Some find themselves in positions of additional responsibility within their place of employment and take on leadership roles within the paralegal community. At a minimum, many new RPs note the increased peer recognition that comes almost instantly with the announcement of their certification.

One of the most important reasons to become an RP is that you want to become certified. Having a positive attitude is as critical to passing this exam as work experience and study. There are many resources to help prepare for the exam. With proper preparation and the right motivation, itпїЅs possible to pass PACE. For more information about PACE, please visit the NFPA Web site at www.paralegals.org and click on пїЅPACE/RP.пїЅ

By Stacey Hunt, CLA, CAS

When it comes to test time, if possible, find a place to stay near the exam site the night before the exam so you donпїЅt have to rush in on the morning of the test. Allow yourself the luxury of being able to do some last minute review the night before without staying up late.

Here are some additional recommendations:

Take vacation time the week before the test to prepare.

Transcribe handwritten notes from study group classes and create flash cards for quick and easy review.

Study a little at a time and donпїЅt focus on the whole exam.

Be prepared physically as well as mentally by getting plenty of sleep before the exam and eating well.

Stacey Hunt. CLA, CAS, is a freelance paralegal in the San Luis Obispo. Calif. area. She is the co-author of пїЅHot Docs and Smoking Guns: Managing Document Production and Document OrganizationпїЅ (Clark, BoardпїЅman, Callaghan, 1994) and пїЅThe Successful Paralegal Job Search GuideпїЅ (West, 2000). Hunt taught legal writing and ethics for the paraпїЅlegal studies program at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. and is a past president of the California Alliance of Paralegal Associations. She is working on a new book for Delmar Publishing on evidence management for paralegals, due out in July 2007.

Ann W. Price. RP, is the vice president and director of PACE and serves on the board of directors for the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. She is employed as a litigation case manager in the Washington. D.C. office of Patton Boggs. Prior to election to the national board, Price served as the assistant coordinator for PACE Ambassadors for three years and was the National Capital Area Paralegal AssociationпїЅs PACE Ambassador for six years. She is a member of the International Paralegal Management Association, serving on the IPMA Task Force on Paralegal Utilization. Price received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Old Dominion University in Norfolk. Va. and her paraпїЅlegal certificate from Merritt College in Oakland. Calif.


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The firm may or may not have glass sheets of this specific size. The objective is to identify glass sheets, from the inventory on hand, which match customer specifications. If there is no exact match, then one must be able to obtain all inventory items which have the same Thk (MM) and CAT as the customer specified dimensions but the Length and thickness should be more than equal to the customer specified dimensions. The length and width can then be trimmed to match the exact customer dimensions. Furthermore, the result returned should:

  1. List only the Top 30 glass sheets available in inventory; and
  2. List those Top 30 glass sheets in ascending order of wastage (wastage caused when the glass sheet is trimmed to match the customer specified dimensions)

You may refer to my solution in this workbook. I have shared two solutions – one using Excel formulas and the other using Power Query a.k.a. Get and Transform in Excel 2016. Please read the Comments in cells F1, J9 and J16 of the “Solutions” worksheet. The difference between the 2 solutions is:

  1. Formula driven solution This is in range J10:AM14 of the Solutions worksheet. This is a semi dynamic solution (as compared to the Power Query solution). To get the models in ascending order of wastage, one will have to create an Area column in the base data and sort that column in ascending order.
  2. Power Query solution – This is in range J17:AM21 of the Solutions worksheet. This is a dynamic solution. Just change the customer specified dimensions in range G2:J2 of the Data and Query worksheet. Thereafter just right click on any cell in the range below and select refresh.

Posted by Ashish Mathur on November 2, 2016

Here is a simple four column dataset

A simple Pivot Table (with a slicer) created from this dataset looks like this

The objective is to determine the Top 3 users of each week for each slicer selection. Unfortunately, there is no way to sort multiple columns of a Pivot Table all at once. Once may either sort by the Grand Total column or by the individual week wise columns. Since we do not want to sort by the Grand Total column, the only way out is to sort the individual week wise columns. The expected result should look like this:

I have solved this problem by using CUBE formulas. You may refer to my solution in this workbook .

Posted by Ashish Mathur on September 20, 2016

Here is a small sample of a Project matrix which shows tasks to be accomplished for various projects. There can only be upto 6 tasks per project.

From these two tables, one may want to generate another table showing which employees can be assigned to which project (only those employees should be assigned to a project who can complete all tasks). So the ideal solution is to create another column (8th column) in the Project matrix table above which should have a drop down (Data Data Validation) for every project showing which employees are competent for that project.

Here’s an illustration :

Assuming that the Project matrix is in range A1:G4 (headers are in row 1)

  1. In cell H2 (for Project1), the drop down should show Jane, Lynda, Paddy and Tom. Mary should not appear there because she cannot perform one of the 3 tasks required to complete the project i.e. Gardener.
  2. In cell H3 (for Project2), the drop down should show Lynda, Paddy and Tom. Jane and Mary should not appear there because they cannot perform the Digging and Engineering tasks respectively.

The solution is dynamic for the following:

  1. Projects added to the Project matrix Table; and
  2. Tasks added (upto 6 only) or edited in the Project matric Table; and
  3. Employees added to the Competency matrix Table; and
  4. Tasks added to the Competency matrix Table

I have solved this problem by using:

  1. Power Query; and
  2. Formulas in Data Data Validation.

You may download my solution workbook from here or here .

The objective is to generate the numeric code for text code of any length entered in a certain cell. For example, a user will type a certain text code, say ABEJ and the expected result should be 1250. For JABF, the result should be 0126. The text entry and text length are both user determined.

With ABEJ, typed in cell D2, enter this array formula in cell E2

This formula can now be copied down for generating the numeric code for all text codes entered in column D.

Posted by Ashish Mathur on January 28, 2016

Assume a simple two column dataset with dates in column A and numbers in column B. The dates in column A are from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2016 and numbers in column B are for the period January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2015 (there are no numbers for January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016).

The objective is to “Compute an average for each day of calendar year 2016. The average should be for the occurrence of that day in the previous 3 years”. Here’s an example:

1. January 1, 2016 was a Friday (the first Friday of 2016) and is in cell A1097
2. In cell B1097, the average should be computed as: Average of the “First Friday of each of the previous 3 years”
3. January 8, 2016 was a Friday (the second Friday of 2016) and is in cell A1104
4. In cell B1104, the average should be computed as: Average of the “Second Friday of each of the previous 3 years”

I have solved this problem with the help of the PowerPivot. You may refer to my solution in this workbook .

Posted by Ashish Mathur on January 17, 2016

Given this dataset, one may want answers to the following questions:

1. Of all those passengers who originated their journey (City of Origin) from Chandigarh, how many terminated their journey (City of destination) in New Delhi via different modes of transport; and
2. Of all those passengers who terminated their journey (City of destination) in Jammu, how many arrived in Amritsar (City of Origin) via different modes of transport; and
3. Of all those passengers who travelled by Bus, how many travelled from City A (City of Origin) to City X,Y,Z (City of destination)

While one can analyse/slice and dice this data using Pivot Tables, one cannot visualize this data very clearly (even after creating a Pivot chart). I have attempted to visualize this data using a software called PowerBI desktop (a free for download and use Business Intelligence software from Microsoft which rolls all of Excel’s BI tools into 1 – PowerPivot, Power Query, Power Map and Power View).

You may download the source Excel workbook and the Power BI desktop workbook from this link .

You may also watch a short video here:

Posted by Ashish Mathur on November 13, 2015

In this workbook. I have Sales data of an E-Commerce Company for 3 months. The typical columns in the base data are:

1. Order Date/Time
2. City to which orders were shipped
3. Order Number
4. Payment Type i.e. Cash on delivery, Net Banking, EMI’s
5. Order Status i.e. Delivered or cancelled
6. SKU’s which the ordered items fall into
7. Products which the ordered SKU’s fall into
8. Categories which the ordered products fall into

Given this simple tabular representation, one may want to analyse and visualize this dataset from multiple perspectives based on user selections, such as

“What was the revenue earned from the Top 5products in the A100 category in April for orders shipped to New Delhi ?”

In this query framed above, the end user should have the leeway to select any/all of the underlined facets. So one can either choose revenue earned or Number of orders. Likewise, one can either select Top 5 products or Top 15 products/Top 5 SKU’s etc.

With relative ease, one should also be able to “Perform an affiliate analysis” showing which categories are ordered together (to study affiliations). Please review this post for an independent discussion on “Affinity Analysis”.

Furthermore, one should be able to perform a free form timeline search such as – “I would like to study growth in Total revenue of March 2-8 2015 over Feb 1-4 2015”

You may download the workbook from the link shared above.

You may watch similar videos showcasing the capabilities of Business Intelligence in MS Excel:

Here’s a video showing the capabilities of this Sales data model

You may also watch this short video to see how I visualized the revenue flow from Categories to Shipping cities during different Order periods using Custom visuals available in PowerBI desktop.

Please feel free to download the PowerBI desktop workbook of the video shown above from here .

For a detailed overview of Sankey diagrams (a Custom visual available in PowerBI desktop), you may refer to my Blog article here .

Another great Custom visual (Sand Dance) which allows data discovery has been shown at this link. At that link, you will also be able to see how I queried the underlying dataset using “Natural Language”.