Posts Tagged ‘AAfPE’

Where I’ve Been

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

LEX Graduation Sash

My post yesterday drew some queries as to where I’ve been – some suggesting that I’ve simply been slacking! While there is a modicum of truth to that suggestion, I actually have been busy. Last week, for example, I attended the annual national conference of the American Association for Paralegal Education in Baltimore, MD. It was an excellent conference highlighted (for me) by my election as Secretary of AAfPE and the progress that was made towards establishing an academic journal for paralegal educations by the Scholarly Journal Committe which I co-chair. I am looking forward to serving on the AAfPE Board of Directors.

It is always enjoyable to engage is serious (and some not-so-serious) discussion regarding the many issues facing the paralegal education and practice with faculty from institutions around the country. There were over 300 registrants this year. I will be posting more on some of those discussions and information obtained at the conference in the coming days.

In this post I will just remind paralegal students that AAfPE sponsors the LEX Honor Society. CHeck out the LEX website and check in with your program director to see if your institution has a LEX Chapter.

LEX – A Honor Society for Paralegal Students

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Each year many of the top paralegal students in the country are inducted into LEX, the National Honor Society for Paralegal Students, sponsored by AAfPE. We at Ole Miss are proud of all the members of our LEX chapter. Here’s a story about the induction of some new members in Kentucky:

In the sanctity of Courtroom 4A in the Boone County Justice Center, Judge Steven R. Jaeger, Senior Judge of the Kentucky Court of Justice, presided over the induction of eleven (11) students from Beckfield College into the Lambda Epsilon Chi National Honor Society on July 26, 2010.

“This ceremony truly acknowledges the strength and dedication of students who have gone the extra mile in and out of the classroom,” noted Jerry Linger, Attorney at Law and Dean of Legal Studies at Beckfield College. “It is so fitting to see these men and women be recognized for their academic achievement in the courtroom.”

Beckfield College paralegal students inducted into the society included Jill Archer, William Bohl, Jennifer Duncan, Pamela Gaines, Staci Gilbert, Sarah Green-Moore, Carlita Hairston, Leah Neyer, Mary Robinson, Terry Weller, Hannah Robeyzachariah.

Lambda Epsilon Chi (LEX) is a national honor society in paralegal studies. The purpose of LEX is to recognize persons who have demonstrated superior academic performance in an established program of paralegal/legal assistant studies offered at an institution that is an institutional member in good standing of the American Association for Paralegal Education.

You can read the rest here. LEX membership is a good indication that these students will be a welcome addition to the paralegal profession. More on LEX here.

Paralegal Education Programs

Monday, March 1st, 2010

From time to time, and with increasing frequency lately, I get requests from educational programs saying nice things about my blog and asking me to add a their website to my links roll. In exchange they offer to link to my blog. I’ve also received emails from readers asking why I do not carry such links. The answer is that (1) there are two many programs for me to link to everyone of them, (2) I do not want a link on this blog to be taken as an endorsement of a program about which I know virtually nothing, and (3) I would rather a link to my blog be based on the merits of the blog than solely a reciprocal agreement.

For those of you interested in obtaining or furthering a paralegal education, here is a link to the American Association for Paralegal Education’s membership directory search function. While I am not familiar with every program in the AAfPE membership, I am familiar with, and a member of, AAfPE and do endorse it as an organization.

AAfPE Mission Statement & Strategic Plan

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. – June 9, 2001

The goals that AAfPE strives to accomplish:
• Promote high standards for paralegal education
• Provide a forum for professional improvement for paralegal educators
• Plan, promote and hold annual conferences and seminars
• Provide technical assistance and consultation services to institutions, educators and employers
• Promote research and disseminate information on the paralegal profession
• Cooperate with the American Bar Association and other institutions and professional associations in developing an approval process for paralegal education programs
• Promote the goals of the Association through cooperation with other national, regional and local groups and organizations interested in paralegal education

These goals are consistently met through the action of AAfPE’s members and the organization’s Board of Directors.

This is not a job for Warren G or Nate Dogg

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Among the reactions to my recent participation in the Paralegal Mentor Mastermind call is this email from Barbara Parkes, which I am sharing with permission:

Hello, Mr. Mongue. I was a participant on the Paralegal Mentor Mastermind call with Vicki Voisin on Tuesday evening. I very much appreciate what you are doing for the paralegal profession, and I agree with you that it should be more regulated. I wish there was more of a clear cut educational path for a paralegal that the ABA would approve and require on a national level. As you mentioned, just as attorneys are required to go through a three year law school program, paralegals should have to complete a program with the same curriculum at every school where it is offered, and paralegals should receive a designation at the completion of this program (whether it’s an associates degree, bachelor’s degree, certificate or certification — whichever the ABA decides upon) without which they should not be permitted to be hired by any lawyer and be titled a paralegal.

However, I think we have a long way to go to get to this point. I recall reading that, a few years ago, this very issue was brought up in New Jersey and it was decided that paralegals did not have to have specific educational requirements to be titled as a paralegal or legal assistant. I’m guessing this was decided primarily because attorneys assume that paralegals’ salaries may be raised as a result of the educational requirements and did not want this extra financial burden. How do we get past this obstacle? I think, as you do, that the paralegal profession would be more respected as a result of this requirement, and attorneys would have a clearer vision of how the paralegals were trained and what they are capable of doing. I would be interested in your thoughts.

This email addresses several substantial issues and I cannot say that I have fully formed opinions on them as they are all subject of my ongoing research.

I do believe that the paralegal profession needs a better established identity if it is to gain the recognition and respect of the bar and the public as a profession. Establishing that identity will require more than the current ABA/NALA definition of “paralegal” which describes the paralegal as “qualified by education, training or work experience” without any content to what education, training or work experience makes one qualified. There does, it seems to me, to be more content and standardization in that regard. However, it is not clear whether that content and standardization should be through licensing, regulation, certification or another means.

Nor is it clear whether whatever form is adopted for this purpose whether it should be imposed through government. If the government is involved, this does not seem to be a federal issue, but I am concerned that each state devising its own definition and requirements will lead to a patchwork that is more confusing than it is helpful. Thus, it would seem to make sense to have some national organization or consortium of organizations develop a model or uniform act for consideration by the states.

It is not at all clear that the ABA should be the organization making these determination, at least not in isolation. 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 same may be true on the issue of standardization of criteria for paralegals. A topic that frequently comes up on this blog and others is that attorneys frequently on an individual basis do not understand the role and abilities of paralegals. Are we to assume, then that as a group attorneys are able to best decide the criteria for those persons who fill the role of paralegal?

Perhaps we need for all interested groups to chose a representative to a committee to establish a model act – ABA, NFPA, NALA, NALS, AAfPE. It may be there should even be a seat at the table for a group representing “independent” paralegals.

I am working on an anthology on paralegal professionalism that will, in part, provide a forum for peer-reviewed articles addressing these topics from educators and professionals. Like Barbara, I would interested in your thoughts.

While I’m Away

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Tomorrow I head to Portland, Oregon, for the American Association for Paralegal Education national conference. On Friday night we are having a joint event with NFPA that should be particularly interesting. This is my first time attending and presenting at an AAfPE national conference, so I do not know whether and when I will be able to post, but if it is at all like ABA or ATLA meetings, I should be able to at least post on the proceedings.

One topic discussed several times on this blog and I suspect will be discussed at the conference is pro bono work as a means of giving back to the profession and community while benefiting by the networking. Along that line is this from Reuters:

Peirce College and Burlington County College will host a Professional Networking Reception and Panel Discussion for paralegals on Thursday, October 29 on the Burlington County College Mt. Laurel Campus.

Professionals from the legal community will discuss the personal and
professional benefits of working with local Pro Bono and Public Interest Law
organizations. The keynote speaker is Jill Friedman, Director of Pro Bono and
Public Interest Programs, Rutgers School of Law in Camden, NJ.

Peirce College is co-sponsoring the event for the College`s undergraduate
Paralegal Studies students and other interested professionals. “Our goal is to
communicate the personal and professional benefits of volunteering with a public interest or pro bono organization,” says Cynthia Gentile, J.D., Assistant
Professor, Legal Studies at Peirce College.

On the professional side, “We want to show them how they can get their foot in the door. From a personal perspective, we want to demonstrate the benefits of volunteering, especially during these difficult economic times, when the need for more pro bono volunteers is even greater.”

Our program here at Ole Miss is currently working on providing a formal channel for pro bono work through a legal clinic and other volunteering opportunities for our students. Paralegal educators want their students to know what profession paralegals already know: when paralegals volunteer to meet pro bono and public interest needs, everyone wins.

What Didn’t We Teach You?

Friday, September 18th, 2009

I’m preparing a presentation on teaching professionalism for the AAfPE National Conference in October. So, I’m especially interested at the moment in what paralegal educators can do better when it comes to teaching professionalism. What didn’t you learn about professionalism when you were studying for your degree or certificate?

LEX – National Honor Society for Paralegal Students

Monday, August 17th, 2009

LEX (Lambda Epsilon Chi) is a national honor society for paralegal students. According to AAfPE (American Association for Paralegal Education):

The purpose of LEX is to recognize students who have demonstrated superior academic performance in an established program of paralegal/legal assistant studies offered at an institution that is an AAfPE Institutional Member in good standing.

 If you are a paralegal student chances are you attend an AAfPE Institutional Member. (There are 346 of them.) Check with your institution to see if it has a LEX chapter and, if so, what the criteria are for induction. According to AAfPE,

A student is eligible for induction into LEX if the student:
• Has completed not less than two-thirds of the program requirements to complete such program as determined by the institution; and
• Has demonstrated superior academic performance by achieving an overall grade point average of 3.5 or higher.

The institution may establish any other additional criteria necessary to qualify for their Chapter so long as the above criteria are met. These may include, but are not limited to:
• 3.5 or higher grade point average in paralegal/legal assistant program specialty courses
• Evidence of community service
• Writing an Essay

If your institution does not have a chapter, ask them to set one up. It is easy to do and AAfPE will be happy to assist. Becoming a member of LEX is a good first step on the way to professionalism and a good addition to your resume.