What Constitutes “Qualifications” for a Paralegal?

When an employee loses his or her job through no fault of their own that person is generally entitled to unemployment compensation. However, sometimes their right to receive this benefit is challenged by their employer, generally because payment into the benefit fund will increase for that employer. BlueRidgeNow.com today carries a story regarding jobless N.C. residents fighting for their benefits which includes this:

Fayetteville lawyer Sharon Keyes fired a paralegal after just eight days on the job because she wasn’t qualified. When the paralegal filed a claim for $197 a week in benefits, Keyes tried to block it, arguing that as a small business owner she should be able to decide whom to hire and whom to fire.

The ESC disagreed and ruled in the former paralegal’s favor three times before Keyes finally gave up last year.

I don’t know enough about the situation to say whether this should be a sign to all N.C. paralegals to be wary of working for attorney Keyes. My interest here is in the claim that the paralegal “was not qualified.” What does that mean given the overall uncertainty and confusion as to what constitutes qualification for paralegals?

The North Carolina Bar Association has created a voluntary program for certification of paralegals. However, one has to wonder whether Keyes used this as a standard for “qualification” and, if so, whether it was made clear in advertisements and interviews for the job. If one has a clear understanding of what they expect in order for an employee to be qualified and conveys that understanding to applicants, it is hard to see how it can be determined only eight days later that the person is not qualified. If the person misled the employer into believing they had qualification they did not have, then surely that would constitute fault on the part of the employee, would it not?

In any case, this story does seem to serve as another indication that the profession needs to focus more seriously on the issue of paralegal qualification.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply