Posts Tagged ‘AAfPE’

AAfPE Officers 2014-2015

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Well, I for one am excited about the new American Association for Paralegal Education’s officers elected earlier today:

President: Patricia Lyons

President-Elect: Robert Mongue

Treasurer: Wm. Bruce Davis

Secretary: Thomas Pokladowski

AAfPE National Conference

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

I am heading out today for an American Association for Paralegal Education Board of Directors meeting and the annual National Conference. What do you think should be on the top of the agenda for paralegal educators?

AAfPE Task Force on the Future of Legal Education

Monday, May 12th, 2014

The American Association for Paralegal Education has established a Task Force on the Future of Legal Education. The Task Force is charged to “study the provision of legal education to non-lawyers in the U.S., including the training of Limited License Legal Technicians and other models, and to make recommendations on how AAfPE and the legal profession can best address these issues.” We are fortunate that Janet Olejar has agreed to chair the task force. Janet is on the Washington State Committee developing and implementing its LLLT program. The task force has members from all five of AAfPE’s regions.

One responsibility of this task force will to research and monitor efforts to utilize well-trained non-lawyers to help address the access to justice problem in the United States, whether those efforts are taking place within state bar associations, the ABA, state legislatures, state court systems (the source of both the Washington State LLLT program and New York’s Navigator program.)

This is an important step forward for AAfPE and the future of legal education. If you are aware of efforts in your state that might be of interest to the Task Force, please let me know.

Estrin Report: The Future of Paralegals

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

The January 28, 2014, post on The Estrin Report is a guest post by Terese Cannon, J.D., entitled, “The Future of Paralegals: Why Waiting for the Future to Arrive is a Career Buster.” It is a very good post that summarizes the current state of flux for the legal profession in general and paralegals in particular, including synopsis of recent publications on the topic. This is of particular interest to me as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for Paralegal Education. At our meeting later this week I plan to propose creation of an AAfPE task force on this topic. Here’s the first couple of paragraphs which set the matter up quite well:

We are entering a era of major, perhaps even revolutionary, shifts in law practice, legal education, and the role of both lawyers and nonlawyers who deliver legal services.  Already in motion but accelerated by the economic meltdown five years ago, these shifts have already resulted in significant downsizing and reorganization in large law firms, decreased demand for legal services affecting large and small firms alike, and high under- and unemployment of lawyers.

Roles for paralegals are changing, requiring a re-envisioning of what paralegals can and should do and a concomitant rethinking of paralegal education.  The idea of nonlawyer practice has reemerged as a compelling subject of discussion within the ABA and the influential State Bar of California, and is ever closer to becoming a reality in the state of Washington. This renewed interest is related to the disruption of models for delivery of legal services and has spurred serious nationwide discussions about how to reform legal education and requirements for entry into the legal profession. This cluster of concerns together with the continuing challenge of providing access to legal services for low- and middle-income Americans has commanded the attention of legal commentators, educators and the bar.

The rest of the post is well worth reading. The remaining posts in the series will, I suspect, also be.

In general, the winds of change for the paralegal profession and the paralegal education profession are blowing hard. If these professions do not catch that wind they will find themselves blown about or left adrift in the horse latitudes. As a member of one of those professions I intend to do what I can to see that it takes the right tact.


ABA Accreditation?

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Even on summer break there does not seem to be time to do all I’d like to do. I have begun again to scroll through LinkedIn discussion boards and find many articles or posts on which I hope to comment. Here’s the first.

The Paralegal Place has an article entitled, “The Importance of an ABA Accredited Paralegal School” that suggests that it is only worthwhile getting an degree or certificate from an ABA Accredited program. This is simply not the case. While I do not have the time for a full statement of why this is so, I did make this comment:

It is important that students investigate the quality of the program they are considering before enrolling and committing to the expenditure of thousands of dollars on a degree or certificate. However, there are many fine programs that are not ABA Accredited. ABA Accreditation itself costs schools thousands of dollars and hours of time that could be expended on student services if not devoted to the ABA. Some programs, while meeting most or even all of the ABA requirements, chose to put those funds into the program rather than into the ABA coffers. Note that there is no documented evidence for the often made claim that “most” law offices and legal departments only hire graduates of accredited programs. While this may true in some areas, it is far from true in many others.

Note also that the ABA Guidelines for Approval are designed by attorneys, not paralegals or paralegal educators. While I’ve been proud to be an attorney for over 35 years, it was not until I became a paralegal educator that I really understood the paralegal education process. The American Association for Paralegal Education’s mission statement is “Recognizing the need to increase and improve access to the legal system, the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE) promotes quality paralegal education, develops educational standards and encourages professional growth, in order to prepare graduates to perform a significant role in the delivery of legal services.” Rather than run automatically to the ABA, prospective students should check the AAfPE website for assistance in Finding a Quality Program.

Our program at Ole Miss is not ABA Accredited as a result of a decision on how best to expend resources in an age when legislatures are cutting budgets, but an even better example is the George Washington University master’s degree program.

It should also be noted that the ABA does not accredit paralegal programs. This is done by regional accreditation boards. The ABA just “approves” paralegal programs. For more on this click here.

New AAfPE President

Thursday, December 20th, 2012 now carries an announcement of Loretta Calvert’s presidency of the American Association for Paralegal Education. This is no surprise to active members of AAfPE, especially those attending the AAfPE National Conference when Loretta became President-Elect a year ago when I was elected as Secretary. But for the rest of you here’s a bit about her and AAfPE from the announcement:

Loretta Calvert is the new president of the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE).

The national organization promotes quality paralegal education, develops educational standards and encourages professional growth.

Calvert is coordinator of paralegal studies at Volunteer State Community College.

Calvert graduated from New York University School of Law in 1998.

She has been an AAfPE board member, a reviewer for the Educator magazine and an active member of AAfPE’s Alternative Delivery Task Force.

I first met Loretta at AAfPE’s Southeast Regional Conference several years ago and have been impressed with her ability, energy, and dedication to improving paralegal education at Volunteer State Community College in her capacity as an instructor and coordinator of the paralegal program and nation wide through her work with AAfPE. I look forward to working with her on the Board Directors this year.




Thursday, June 14th, 2012

I’m in San Diego for a meeting of the American Association for Paralegal Education Board of Directors Meeting. What issues in paralegal education do you think should be on our agenda?

AAfPE South Central Conference

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

I recently traveled to New Orleans for the American Association for Paralegal Education South Central Conference admirably hosted by Tulane University’s School of Continuing Education Paralegal Studies Program directed by Sallie Davis. My own presentation, I believe, went well. The conference overall was an excellent example of what professional associations can do for the profession – in this case the profession of educating paralegal students by providing opportunities for members to meet, network, and share knowledge.

I particularly benefited from the presentation by Ernest Davila, J.D., Paralegal Program Director, San Jacinto College, Houston, TX, on getting the most from time and financial resources, the Using Media in the Classroom presentation by Joni Johnson, Adjunct Instructor, Tulane University, and the Teaching E-Discovery: Practices and Pitfalls presentation by Lois Elliot, also an Adjunct Instructor at Tulane University.

Even though I’ve been through fairly extensive time management training, it seems as though I pick up something new at every time/resource management presentation. For those practicing paralegal who could use time and workload management assistance (and who cannot!) I suggest, of course, my own The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional”
and posts here in the related categories.

E-Discovery, of course, is becoming ever more important and complex. Practicing paralegals involved with e-discovery may want to join the Organization of Legal Professionals an organization that focuses on e-discovery training and certifications and The Paralegal Knowledge Institute’s courses on e-discovery. In the interest of full disclosure, I am associated with both of these organizations. I am on the OLP Advisory Council, although it seems to do quite well without my advice, and I have taught in a PKI webinar.

Perhaps though the best lesson I learned is that it is possible to go to New Orleans and have a great time without straying too far from my medical restrictions on sodium and alcohol!

Paralegal Certification Colorado

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

There is proliferation of website proporting to give information about paralegal careers, educational opportunities, and the like. Unfortunately some, even if well-intentioned, ought not to be relied upon by anyone. For example, one such site (no, I will not give a name or link) states, “Obtaining paralegal certification in Colorado is relatively simple witih some excellent community college and degree programs available to those seeking a paralegal qualification.” Aside from the poor proofreading and editing (yes, I expect more from this type of website than I do of a blog), this is quite misleading and contributes to the general confusion regarding the distinction between obtaining a paralegal certificate and getting paralegal certification.

I do not believe that Colorado as a state requires or provides for certification of paralegals. (Please feel free to forward me the information if I am wrong on this.) In any case, this website provides no information on paralegal certification either as it pertains to Colorado or to certification exams offered by NFPA or NALA. Rather they offer some, not really helpful information regarding some paralegal programs that provide paralegal certificates and degrees.

Bottom line – if you want to know about paralegal education go to a well-established, respected source such as the American Association for Paralegal Education. (Disclosure: I am on the Board of Directors) Likewise for paralegal certification: check the websites for NFPA, NALA, and comparable professional associations. FMI: Check out The Paralegal Professionalism Anthology.


Monday, November 14th, 2011

One task assigned to me in my new position of Secretary of AAfPE is updating the list of our member institutions – over 330 of them-in terms of which have and which do not have ABA approved programs. Since there are only 260 ABA approved programs, it is clear that many AAfPE members are not ABA approved. Yet, my experience has been that AAfPE programs are programs every bit as good as the ABA programs. Certainly it is impossible to distinguish the many Program Directors and faculty members attending and presenting at AAfPE conferences as being from either an ABA approved or a non-ABA approved program.

Many ardent discussions occur on the internet as to whether ABA approval is beneficial to programs as a marketing device or to graduates as a tool for gaining employment. I suspect that the answer depends on more on geography than anything else.  This is not to say that there should not be some firm criteria for assessing a good paralegal program. Indeed, I argue in many posts here for the need for uniform educational standards.  However, it is not at all clear that the ABA should be the organization making these determinations, at least not in isolation. AAfPE does have representatives on ABA committees and does provide members for site review committees, but has little to no control over final decisions by ABA regarding its conception of the proper way to educate paralegals. Within AAfPE (American Association for Paralegal Education) there is some ongoing discussion about whether the ABA is the correct institution to be “approving” paralegal programs: does it make sense to have lawyers rather than educators determining what makes a good educational program, even if the topic being taught it law?

The fact of the matter is that ABA can often be out of step with advances in education. For example, the Masters Degree program at George Washington University – one of our countries most prestigious institutions (and I think at last count the most expensive to attend) cannot obtain ABA approval because it relies on online education. Yet, it would seem that if online education was in itself bad, GWU would know about it. Many other institutions meet all of the ABA requirements for approval but do not seek it because it is a tremendous drain on resources, both in terms of money and personnel. The costs of obtaining ABA approval are substantial and must be either passed on to students or deducted from other parts of the budget.

I’ve suggested in past posts that perhaps we need for all interested groups to chose a representative to a committee to establish a model act regarding paralegal regulation – ABA, NFPA, NALA, NALS, AAfPE.  It may be there should even be a seat at the table for a group representing “independent” paralegals. It seems that the same may be true for paralegal education.

In any case for those persons seeking a paralegal program, I continue to suggest that they start with AAfPE and see if the program they are interested in is in its membership directory.