California, Texas, Florida, Washington, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, Arkansas, Oregon, Minnesota, Connecticut…..They converged from all corners of the country to meet in Dallas, Texas on March 17-18, 2007, to obtain and to share information regarding implementation of regulation of the paralegal profession. All twenty-six attendees were there with one focus……to see that regulation and standards are implemented for the paralegal profession.
Presentations were made by NFPA representatives describing various forms of regulation, licensure, certification and registration, as well as the status of regulation efforts nationally. Understanding the legislative process, working with bar associations and lobbyists as well as the connection between PACE and regulation were other topics presented.
National Paralegal Regulation Status
Wisconsin is seriously considering paralegal licensure by its petition for licensure pending on the Supreme Court’s list of Pending Rules and Petition. The State of Minnesota closely watches Wisconsin and will likely follow suit upon Wisconsin’s implementation of paralegal licensure.
North Carolina, a pioneer in paralegal regulation, presently has a voluntary paralegal certification program through the North Carolina State Bar Association that went into effect in 2004 and now requires successful completion of an examination.
Florida has worked diligently and appeared to be close to paralegal regulation through its legislature and bar association, but the paralegal organizations of Florida are still working toward coming together on agreement as to exactly what standards they wish to be implemented.
In June, 2006, the Ohio State Bar Association established a voluntary credential program for paralegals in Ohio which provides for certification requiring specific educational standards and experience, the completion of an examination and continuing legal education.
The New Mexico Supreme Court has established minimum standards for the use of the occupational title of “paralegal”.
California has enacted legislation that defines the occupational title of “paralegal”, sets standards for those people who use the title “paralegal” and defines and limits the functions that paralegals can perform. It differentiates “paralegals” from “legal document assistants.”
The State Bar of Texas adopted a voluntary specialty certification program for paralegals in 1974 which was structured after the voluntary specialty certification program for attorneys in Texas. After successful completion of a specialty certification examination, one may use the credential, “Board Certified Legal Assistant – [Area of Law].”
We were happy to report that Proposed Rule 2.2 is pending before the Indiana Supreme Court and will again be a topic for discussion at the ISBA Annual Meeting in October, 2007.
Internationally, the Ontario government recently passed legislation extending protection to consumers who hire independent paralegals. Paralegals will be required to receive training, carry liability insurance and report to a public body that can investigate complaints. This legislation is effective May 1, 2007.
The Bottom Line
It is very clear that the dedicated professional paralegals are determined to see that standards and criteria be agreed upon and implemented to allow the paralegal profession to be quantified and held to expectations and stated standards by the trained, educated professionals that make up the paralegal profession.
Thanks to DAPA
The Dallas Area Paralegal Association provided first class hosting for this conference in its selection of an excellent meeting facility at Esquire Depositions, providing sumptuous food, goodies, gifts and fabulous Texas hospitality. Our thanks go to DAPA for hosting this conference.
2008 Regulation Conference
The Indiana Paralegal Association, Inc. has communicated to NFPA that it is ready and willing to host the next NFPA Paralegal Regulation Conference in 2008. Such a conference held at our central national location would attract many attendees.
We will keep you posted.
Janet S. Logan, C.P.
Paralegal Regulation Committee Chair
Indiana Paralegal Association, Inc.
Edna Wallace, R.P.
NFPA Primary Representative
Indiana Paralegal Association, Inc.