This year’s Philadelphia Association of Paralegals’ annual education conference was held October 19 at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel in Center City. The education conference offers the legal community an opportunity to keep apprised of the latest trends and developments in the industry while obtaining continuing legal education credits. The event also offers attendees the opportunity to network with some of the most prominent attorneys in the field.

The 2012 conference offered 16 different seminars for attendees to choose from within a wide array of practice areas, including real estate, bankruptcy, litigation, employment law, intellectual property and trusts and estates. We also offered sessions in legal writing, presented by Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge John Milton Younge, as well as pro bono and ethics. All tracks were preapproved for paralegal CLE credit; four were also preapproved for attorney CLE credit by the Pennsylvania CLE Board.

Each year, our education committee works tirelessly to scout the best and brightest in the field to present on hot topics in that area and/or best practices, and this year was no exception. Our “Empowered Paralegal” theme was echoed throughout the day by many of the speakers who stated that they would not be able to survive without a good paralegal. Joe Messa Jr. even brought one of his paralegals with him — Cathy Steffa — for his “Medicine and the Indispensable Paralegal” litigation session. We also offered several technology classes, two of which were combined with our ethics sessions: “The Ethics of E-Discovery” presented by Leonard Deutchman and “Ethics and Legal Technology” presented by professor Carol Sherman of Peirce College.

Our luncheon presentation was led by our first vice president, Judy Stouffer, because our president, Christine Flynn, was attending the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service fall meeting in Chicago on behalf of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). Robert Hrouda was acknowledged as the recently elected and first male president of the NFPA and Valerie Dolan was acknowledged as the NFPA’s secretary and director of operations. Both are past presidents of PAP. To honor another past president, PAP provides an annual $1,000 scholarship to a student based on academic achievement and a winning essay. The 2012 Joan Weldon Scholarship was awarded to Melissa Lewis. The 2012 NFPA Paralegal Certification Award was presented to Vivian Luckiewicz, who then pinned Clifton Oakley for passing the NFPA’s CORE registered paralegal exam and also Christine McClay for passing the NFPA’s paralegal advanced competency exam.

PAP was then honored to have Scott Reid serve as keynote speaker at the conference. Reid is a member of Cozen O’Connor and chairs the firm’s diversity committee. Among his many achievements, Reid is the Philadelphia Bar Association’s first diversity chair. He presented on diversity and gave attendees a different outlook on diversity in the 21st century, and especially generational diversity. Reid set forth examples in the workplace and the attendees truly enjoyed his thought-provoking keynote address.

The education conference was a huge success and we thank all of our attendees, speakers and sponsors for their ongoing dedication and support to our association. We also thank the Philadelphia Bar Association. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the local bar, including our new joint membership opportunity for 2013, which will give our voting paralegals the opportunity to not only join PAP but also to become a Philadelphia Bar Association member. This will encourage members to partner with our local bar on educational events and projects critical to serving the public. PAP is committed to not only growing our membership in 2013, but membership in the Philadelphia Bar Association as well. We believe that continued education and attorneys and paralegals working together are the keys to success in the legal profession. •

Lyndora Patterson Tiller is a senior paralegal specialist with Independence Blue Cross. She was the first African-American president of PAP, serving from 2008-09, and has chaired the education committee for many years.