Paralegal Representation Opportunities

A recent post on the Paralegal Today discussion forum came from a paralegal whose employer wants her to become licensed by the NYS Workers’ Comp Board to represent clients in hearings. One person responded that she was in a similar position, only her employer wants herto be qualified for representation before the IRS.

I’d like to formulate a listing of these types of opportunities for paralegals to represent clients by qualifying as non-attorney representatives before governmental boards and agencies. These two are a good start. If any of you know of others, please let me know via comment here or email at Please provide the citation for the statute authorizing the non-attorney representation if you know it.


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  • Melissa H. says:

    I was actually researching this topic today because I spoke with a paralegal this week who was interested in becoming a social security disability advocate. The information regarding attorney and non-attorney representation before the SSA is found in at 20 C.F.R. 404.1700 et seq and 416.1500 et seq. Specifically, 20 C.F.R. 404.1705 and 416.1505 describe who a claimant may choose to represent him/her.

    I also found several interesting articles recently about the lack of substantial and adequate demonstrated evidence of consumer harm when non-attorneys are regulated in an area of limited practice, such as with federal administrative agencies.

  • […] this link: The Empowered Paralegal » Blog Archive » Paralegal Representation … Tagged with: [ become-licensed, board, forum-came, paralegal, post-on-the, represent-clients, […]

  • Kerry says:

    —Taken from NFPA’s website

    Agencies That Allow NonLawyer Practice

    NFPA’s Roles and Responsibilities Committee has been researching which federal agencies allow nonlawyer representation. What follows is a compilation of the Committee’s research to date. In future the committee will develop a list of specific paralegal tasks under each of these areas. If you or someone you know works in any of these areas, you can assist in this endeavor.

    Federal Agencies That Permit Nonlawyer Representation

    The statutory authority for each is shown after the name of the agency.
    Board of Immigration Appeals
    Immigration and Naturalization Service [8 CFR 292.1-3]
    Bureau of Indian Affairs
    Financial Assistance and Services Program [25 CFR 20]
    Civil Aeronautics Board [14 CFR 300.1-6, 302.11]
    Comptroller of the Currency [12 CFR 19.3]
    Consumer Product Safety Commission [16 CFR 1025.61, et seq.]
    Department of Agriculture
    Food Stamps [7 CFR 273]
    Marketing Service [7 CFR 50.27]
    Department of Commerce
    Patent & Trademark Office* [35 U.S.C. § 31-33]
    *Only registered practitioners are permitted to practice. Nonlawyers become registered by passing a character and fitness review and an examination. Nonlawyers who have served four years in the examining corps of the Patent and Trademark Office may waive the exam. See 57 CFR 1.341
    Office of Secretary [5 CFR Part 1201]
    Department of Health and Human Services
    Food and Drug Administration [32 CFR 12.40, 12.45]
    Public Health (Medicare, Part B) [42 CFR 405]
    Welfare (Medicare, Aid to Families w/Dependent Children [45 CFR 205]
    Department of Justice
    Drug Enforcement Administration [21 CFR 1316.50]
    Department of Labor
    Benefits Review Board [20 CFR 802.201(b), 802.202]
    Employees Compensation Appeals Board [20 CFR 501.11]
    National Railroad Adjustment Board* [45 U.S.C. 3153]
    *Only entities identified in 45 U.S.C. § 151 are allowed to practice. Almost 100% of nonlawyer representation is by industry employees.
    Wage and Appeals Board [20 CFR 725.362(a), 725.365, 725.366(b)]
    Department of Transportation
    Maritime Administration* [46 CFR 201.21]
    *Only registered nonlawyers are permitted to practice.
    Department of Veterans Affairs
    Veterans Administration [38 CFR 14]
    Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation* [12 CFR 308.04]
    *Only qualified nonlawyers are permitted to represent.
    Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [18 CFR 385.2101]
    Federal Maritime Administration* [46 CFR 502.30]
    *Only registered nonlawyers are permitted to appear. Certificates of registration are issued on payment of processing fee and completion of application form indicating sufficient educational qualifications and recommendations. There is no testing or formal licensing.
    Federal Mine Safety & Health Review Commission* [29 CFR 2700.3(b)]
    *Appearances are made at trial hearings before administrative law judges and at appellate reviews before commissioners. A nonlawyer may practice only if the nonlawyer is a party, a representative of miners as described in 30 CFR § 10.1(b), or the owner, partner, full time [sic]officer or employee of the party-business entity; otherwise a nonlawyer is permitted to appear for limited purpose in special proceedings.
    General Accounting Office* [31 U.S.C. 731-732; 4 CFR 11, 28; GAO Orders 2713.2, 2752.1 and 2777.1]
    *Permitted in adverse actions, grievance proceedings and discrimination complaints.
    Internal Revenue Service* [13 CFR Part 10; 31 U.S.C. 330]
    *Nonlawyers must become enrolled agents by passing a character and fitness review and successfully completing a special enrollment examination testing on federal taxation and related matters. A nonlawyer may also qualify based on former employment with the IRS, provided such duties qualify the individual.
    Interstate Commerce Commission* [49 CFR 1103]
    *Only registered nonlawyers are permitted to practice. To register, applicant must (1) meet educational and experience requirements, (2) undergo character and fitness review, (3) pass exam administered by the agency testing knowledge in the field of transportation, and (4) take an oath. See 49 CFR § 1103.3.
    National Credit Union Administration [12 CFR 747]
    National Mediation Board [agency governed by 29 CFR 1200]
    National Transportation Safety Board* [49 CFR 821, 831, 845]
    *Nonlawyer appearances are infrequent except at investigatory levels. Nonlawyer participation is discouraged because technical expertise is required.
    Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission [29 CFR 2200.22]
    Small Business Administration [13 CFR 121.11, 134.16]
    Social Security Administration [42 U.S.C. 406(a); 29 CFR]
    Supplemental Security Income (SSI) [20 CFR 416, subpart O]
    U.S. Customs Service [no statute or regulation]
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [40 CFR 124, 164.30, 22.10]
    State Agencies That Permit Nonlawyer Representation
    In addition to nonlawyer representation at federal agencies, the Committee also studied state and local agencies that allow nonlawyer representation. Below is an initial listing.

    Human Rights Commission (Alaska Op. Att. Gen. 1979 WL 22915)
    Nonlawyer may appear at an administrative hearing.

    Workers Compensation (California Bar Committee on Professional Responsibility formal opinion 1988-103)
    A law firm can allow its paralegals to represent clients at workers compensation hearings if there is supervision and the client consents to nonlawyer representation.

    Labor (California Labor Code, sections 5501, 5700)
    Allows nonlawyer representation.

    Unemployment (California Unemployment Insurance Code § 1957 (1956)
    Nonlawyer may represent any individual claiming benefits in any proceedings before the Appeals Board.

    Department of Unemployment Security (820 ILCS 405/806)
    A nonattorney may represent an individual or entity in any proceeding before the Director, referee or board of review.

    Workers Compensation (50 Ill. Admin Code Sec. 7020.40(b)
    Nonlawyers may appear on routine matters such as agreed continuances or other agreed ministerial acts before the Industrial Commission for workers compensation matters.

    Unemployment Compensation
    Allows nonlawyer representation.

    Workers Compensation
    Nonlawyers allowed to represent employers before workers compensation administrative law judge.

    New York
    70% of state agencies and 63% of New York City agencies allow some form of nonlawyer representation. [New York County Association, Committee on Legal Assistants, Committee Report (October 14, 1993)]

    Workers Compensation
    Nonlawyers are allowed to represent parties before the Industrial Commission.

    Washington – Seattle (King County)
    Courts, King County Bar Association Opinion
    Nonlawyers are allowed to present ex parte orders that have been agreed on.

    Washington – Tacoma (Pierce County)
    Courts, Pierce County Bar Association Opinion
    Nonlawyers are allowed to present ex parte orders that have been agreed on.

    Workers Compensation
    Allows nonlawyer representation.

  • Jerry O'Neil says:

    As part of negotiations I am presently involved in with the Montana Attorney General’s Office, I am preparing the following letter for submittal by next Monday. I am still open to ideas that might make it more effective.

    Licensed to Practice before the
    Blackfeet Tribal Court
    since 1984 LAW OFFICE OF
    Advocate and Counselor
    406-892-7602; 800-221-7602
    406-250-2503 cell; 406-892-7603 fax mailing address:
    985 Walsh Road
    Columbia Falls, MT 59912

    March 19, 2010

    J. Stuart Segrest
    Assistant Attorney General
    PO Box 201401
    Helena, Montana 59620-1401

    Re: Settlement negotiation

    Dear Stuart:

    Thank you for your dialog regarding a possible settlement. In order to further these negotiations, I will give you my objections and suggestions concerning your four “Proposed Advertising Parameters”:

    1. If advertising in the “Attorneys” section of the phonebook or any other media, Mr. O’Neil will state that he is licensed to practice as an attorney only in the Blackfeet Tribal Court.

    Will this require me to change my current letterhead? I have never seen an advertisement by any other attorney that complies with this requirement; such as an ad by a Montana-licensed attorney stating they are “licensed to practice as an attorney only in Montana.”
    Will the Attorney General’s Office work with the State Bar of Montana to notify the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Court that the State Bar of Montana previously made a mistake and that I am validly licensed to practice before the Blackfeet Tribal Courts and will they apologize to the CS&K for wrongfully leading them to believe that I was only allowed to practice there as a lay advocate?
    Will the Attorney General’s Office support or oppose applications by tribally licensed attorneys that seek permission to practice before the federal courts? Will I and other tribally licensed advocates be allowed to help our tribally associated clients with their state court cases as allowed under Estate of Condon, 76 Cal. Rptr.2d 922 (1998)?
    If I obtain permission to practice before other tribal courts or federal courts I presume you will also allow me to publish that fact. Do you agree?

    2. Mr. O’Neil, when advertising in the “Attorneys” section of the phonebook or any other media, may also state that he can serve as a neutral third-party mediator.

    Will I, and other mediators, be allowed the same right to memorialize mediated agreements by filling in blank forms when the papers are prepared incident to successful mediations and are prepared without a separate charge, as is presently allowed to bankers? [see: Pulse v. North America Land Title Co., 707 P.2d 1105 (1985)]. Will we be allowed to create websites where the public can generate their legal forms online? Will we be allowed to advertise these services?

    3. Mr. O’Neil, when advertising in the “Attorneys” section of the phonebook or any other media, may also state that he may provide limited lay representation in administrative hearings where specifically authorized by law.

    Many administrative hearings are before agencies that receive federal subsidies that come with mandates requiring the allowance of non-attorney representation. The Holcomb administrative hearing was one such, yet your office made it impossible for the Holcombs to receive my help. Is your office willing to start allowing non-attorney representation in administrative hearings as mandated by federal law? I believe the onus must be on the Attorney General to specify the administrative hearings where non-attorney representation is not authorized by law, not for the public to repeatedly take this issue to the higher courts.
    Therefore this parameter should be stated: “Mr. O’Neil, when advertising in the “Attorneys” section of the phonebook or any other media, may also state that he may provide lay representation in administrative hearings as authorized by law,” or just allow me to state I can represent people in administrative hearings.

    4. Finally, Mr. O’Neil, when advertising in the “Attorneys” section of the phonebook or any other media, must state that he may provide paralegal services only under the supervision of an attorney licensed to practice in Montana.

    Hopefully you understand the chief reason I am engaged in the provision of legal services to the public is to expand the public’s access to justice, especially to help maintain divorced parents’ rights to remain involved in their children’s lives. In 1984, when I applied for permission to practice law on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, it was to further the goals of an association of parents and children named “Children’s Rights for Parents.” A quarter century later I am still working towards this goal of helping parents remain involved in their children’s lives. As it was in 1984, there is still a dearth of competent state-licensed attorneys available to aid in fulfilling this goal. Over the years I have lobbied the state legislature, served in the state legislature, and provided other services with the object of aiding the public meet this goal.
    When I converse with people seeking help with their legal problems I am engaged in constitutionally privileged means of expression to secure constitutionally guaranteed civil rights, i.e., their right to access the courts and to protect their families. [see: NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415 (1963)].
    The independent paralegal services I provide, or am attempting to provide, the public that should not require supervision of a state-licensed attorney include: representation in administrative hearings, including hearings before the Montana Department of Revenue pursuant to A.R.M. 42.2.619; representation in federal hearings, such as being a social security disability advocate; appearing in federal bankruptcy court as a representative of a child support creditor; helping prisoners with habeas corpus petitions and other legal matters; advising others when their legal rights have been infringed and referring them to a particular attorney when I believe it is in their best interest; advising them to assert their rights by commencing or further prosecuting a suit; and providing information about the law and legal procedures to members of the general public, including conducting legal seminars and classes.
    To force independent paralegals, mediators and tribally licensed advocates to advertise we can only provide these services under the supervision of state licensed attorneys would be an impermissible restraint of trade and would violate both the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

  • Tyrone McRae says:

    I would love to assist you with this as a paralegal/e-discovery project manager.

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