Posts Tagged ‘Education’

AAfPE and ABA

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.

The Value in Critical and Analytical Thinking

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

It’s been a while since I posted. I appreciate the emails asking whether I still exist! I do, but I’ve been quite busy. I’m teaching extra courses this semester, weekends have been taken up with projects such as teaching Constitutional Law to reserve and part-time police officers. In addition, I’m attempting to complete my Masters in Philosophy and had the opportunity to present a paper at a recent annual conference of the Mississippi Philisophical Association.

Normally when I find myself in such a situation, I fill in gaps by relying on posts that incorporate ideas or actual posts from other blogs or emails that I’ve received, but I even seriously behind in reading the many items backlogged in those two categories. However, I have spent some time reading over the last couple of days and will be working off these materials for posts until I can find time for truly original work.

I’m starting with a post from Judge Larry Primeaux’s blog on “THE VALUE OF THINKING LIKE A LAWYER.” That post itself features an article by Professor Harner of Univsersity of Maryland School of Law, which “begins by accepting some of the premises offered by Ribstein and Susskind: that forces are at work changing the legal profession; that the legal profession is becoming commoditized and generic; and that survival as a lawyer, and indeed, survival of the legal profession, will demand evolution in the way lawyers offer and market services.”  But I focused more on Judge Primeaux’s opening words,

In law school we were taught not so much the law as how to think like lawyers.  That is, we were taught to think analytically, to break complex issues into comprehensible components, and to bring creative solutions to bear using the framework of the law.

The judge’s comments and the post in general are, of course, directed to attorneys, but I belive the judge’s comments (at least) are applicable to paralegals, especially in the context of an ongoing discussion on the Paralegal Today listserv. One comment there states,

I agree finding a job as a paralegal is extremely competitive and the employers want to pay $10.00 an hour even with a bachelor. Its like they no longer value the cost and effort that you put into getting an education. When I graduated from undergrad four years ago I was told from my professor that becoming certified was not necessary, however, I noticed that more jobs are asking for five to ten years experience and requiring certification for anyone with less experience. I think that the schools should be honest and inform the students about how hard it is to get a job as a paralegal making a decent income with no experience.

To this another responded,

I agree with you that the schools and colleges should be notified of what is really going on out here after we spent all this money and time and can’t find a job because attorneys are taking them, and they only want to pay us $10.00.  The should be telling students that the demand for paralegals is diminishing because there are so many unemployed attorneys.

I agree that paralegals schools should be forthright with students regarding the prospects for obtaining employment (to the extent any of us can predict the prospects of obtaining employment in two or four years based on the market at the time of enrollment), but my thoughts today are on the comment that law firm employers do not value the education paralegals get (through formal education or experience) and that the devaluation is at least in part unemployed lawyers. While there are many indications that this is happening, I am writing once again to propose to those attorneys who read this blog that the use of unemployed attorneys as substitutes for paralegals is a mistake.

This issue has been addressed here before, but I’ll take another shot at it today using the concept of “thinking like a lawyer” as an example. Well educated paralegals are trained to do a number of things like an attorney (not identical to an attorney.) If we things of the capacities of paralegals and the capacities of attorneys based on education and experience as Venn diagrams we see that there are capacities (usually varying in degree), but there are many tasks for which paralegals are trained that attorneys are not. For example:

•PARALEGALS
•Client Communications, Docket Management, Calendar Management, File Management, Legal Research, Legal Reasoning, Critical and Analytical Thinking
•ATTORNEYS
•Client Representation in Court, Legal Tactics and Strategy, Legal Advice, Legal Research, Legal Reasoning, Critical and Analytical Thinking
Quarterbacks and guards are both atheletes and they are both football players. Many of their capacities overlap. It’s a mistake to hire a guard to play the position of  quarterback. It is a mistake to hire quarterback to play the position of guard. Likewise, it is a mistake to hire an unemployed attorney as a paralegal. In practical terms they cannot and will not “block” clients or provide the same protection from a malpractice blitz as paralegals.

As stated previously,

In general, lawyers are either over-qualified or under-qualified for many of the available non-lawyer positions. For example, one firm that advertised for an administrative assistant was inundated with lawyer résumés. But the firm declined to hire a lawyer because it felt the candidate would simply leave once a better job came along.

The point is not, however, that the lawyer is over-qualified. The lawyer is simply not qualified by training or experience to do what paralegals do. For example, the paralegals role in client management is quite different from that of an attorney.

Lynne Devenny of Practical Paralegalism  summed the training aspect up well :

While lawyers’ training is usually a three-year immersion in case study and analysis, many paralegals have undergone two to four years of specific paralegal training which is much more practice-oriented and very different from most law schools’ current curriculum.

Chere Estrin, Editor-in-Chief of Know: The Magazine for Paralegals handles the experience issue this way,

Besides differences in training – lawyers are trained in the practice of law while paralegals are trained in procedures and processing – few lawyers have the on-the-job experience to be a paralegal. In fact, while lawyers can delegate a paralegal assignment, very few can execute it. The awarding of a law degree does not guarantee knowledge of the finite and detailed responsibilities of paralegals.

And Melssa H. from Paralegalese, who I have previously quoted in an encouraging sequel on the topic “Does Your Attorney Understand What You Do?” makes an point that may be even more important:

Also, we need to stop tiering in the legal world. When we say that paralegals and attorneys are trained differently for different jobs, we are not saying that the attorney’s job requires a smarter or more capable person. We are saying the attorney’s job requires a person with a law degree and license to practice, while the paralegal’s job has other requirements (which I personally feel need to be more uniform as we move forward). If I were a lawyer, I would want the most capable, intelligent person I could find to assist me in my practice. After all, if the paralegal is doing work that, absent the paralegal, would be done by the attorney, I would hope the paralegal is at least as competent as the person who chose to go to law school would be. …  Rather than a viewing this as a problem, I like to compare it to the different jobs nurses and doctors do. The doctor may be fully capable of performing the duties of a nurse in a technical sense, but the nurse’s experience and training probably make him better at the job.

The attorney and paralegal are parts of the legal team. The attorney, like a quarterback, directs that team. Except in exceptional circumstances, the quarterback is not expected to play the role of the other team members – primarily because he is not trained or experienced enough to perform those roles. No one want the quarterback responsible for protecting against a 300 lb defensive lineman. The same applies to the protection a paralegal gives from many clients through skillful and professional client management.

UPDATE: After writing the above post I check through the “backstage” data for the blog over for yesterday and found a link for Superlegal Fun, a paralegal blog that contains a post from last Thursday that asks an newly minted attorney who could not find a job as an attorney, “Dear JD: What exactly did you learn in law school?:”
JD is an attorney (hence the nickname JD), but couldn’t find a lawyer job, so he took a job with our firm as a Paralegal.

Today, he asked what ABN and LR meant.

For those who don’t live in a law office, you may not know that those acronyms stand for “associated business name” and “local rule.”

That’s right. He didn’t know LR meant local rule. Oh the humanity, bring me some sticks to draw that man a picture on the wall of his cave!!

No one is expected to know everything about law or law offices freshly out of law school or paralegal school. However, if a law firm is going to spend money giving on-the-job training to someone for a paralegal position, it seems to make sense to start with someone who has the appropriate basic training and will not be constantly looking to move on to another role in the firm leaving the firm to spend the money giving a real paralegal the same on-the-job training!

What Is a Qualifying Education?

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Michelle Parris is off to a remarkable start of her career as an attorney. According to The New York Times:

Even before she graduated from Stanford Law School in 2010, Michelle Parris knew she wanted to help people with psychiatric disabilities and take a holistic approach to defense law. She designed a project with that in mind and received a two-year Equal Justice Works fellowship and an assignment at the Bronx Defenders. Still in the early stages of her fellowship, which began in September, she already has a caseload of 40 clients facing issues like homelessness, lack of access to health care, addiction, deportation and the ultimate nemesis of her project, criminal recidivism.

But what, you may ask, makes this a matter for a post on this blog? It’s this statement in from the article:

I thought I wanted to be a doctor … But when I went to college and took chemistry and calculus, I realized being a doctor was probably not going to happen. I majored in history and graduated in 2004 not sure of my career path.

I wanted to get some exposure to what being a lawyer would be like, so for two years after college I was a paralegal in the litigation department at Davis Polk. There was a lot of sitting in an office in front of a computer, and it just wasn’t the right fit for me.

Here’s my problem: While I have no doubt that Davis Polk gave Michelle the title of “paralegal,” it seems virtually impossible that she actually performed paralegal tasks. While I concede that there continues to be a lot of disagreement and confusion regarding the qualifications for being a paralegal, almost everyone agrees on the ABA definition of what a paralegal is:

A legal assistant or paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.

While the details are sketchy, there is nothing in Michelle’s background that indicates training, experience, or education that would qualify a person to perform substantive legal work. (While chemistry, calculus, and history may all be helpful to a paralegal, none qualify as the requisite education.)

A recent discussion on the AAfPE listserv regarding proposed legislation in Florida that would regulate paralegals (see The Paralegal Mentor’s post on this legislation here) ended with this comment:

I just want to jump in here.  As a paralegal since 1981, I would LOVE to see some licensing and regulation, if for no other reason, than to make educational standards across the country for the profession.  I am so tired of reading about “runners” in the newspaper who get caught, and then tell the reporter that they are “paralegals!”  I think it would bring a lot of credibility and respect to the profession, which is always welcome.   Just my two cents. 

While Michelle career path reflects well on the paralegal if indeed she was one as defined by the ABA, it does seem that this comment makes a valid point.

A Supersized Story?

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

A number of blogs have noted the claim of Amazon Eve to be the largest model. The claim is of particular interest to paralegal bloggers because Amazon Eve claims to be a paralegal. Guiness Book of Records is investigating the model claim. My concern is the paralegal claim. I have no way to verify or disaffirm either claim and would normally take her at her word but for the large number of persons who seem to co-opt the title without justification andthis curious statement in the AOL report:

“I studied theater as an undergrad before going to law school to become a paralegal,” she told AOL News.

Further investigation reveals that Amazon Eve grew up in central California, thus all but eliminating the possibility she is talking about an educational system in another country. So if AOL News got it right, it is likely the claim is wrong – in the U.S. one does not go to law school to become a paralegal (although some people who go to law school end up as paralegals through fortune or choice.) Admittedly there could be several explanation for this curious statement, but it remains curious and does make one wonder about the claim.

Berkshire Assoc. for Paralegals and Legal Secretaries Offers Scholarships

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

I’ve just returned from the AAfPE National Conference in Indianapolis where I was reminded once again of the importance of professional associations to their professions, their members, and their communities. The following example from iBerkshires.com caught my attention:

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Berkshire Association for Paralegals and Legal Secretaries has distributed scholarship applications to guidance offices at the following high schools: Berkshire School, Charles H. McCann Vocational Technical High School, Drury High School, Great Barrington Waldorf High School, Hoosac Valley High School, Lee Middle and High School, Lenox Memorial High School, Miss Hall’s School, Monument Mountain Regional High School, Mount Everett High School, Mount Greylock Regional High School, Pittsfield High School, St. Joseph Central High School, Taconic High School and Wahconah Regional High School.

Students are encouraged to pick up an application at their guidance office. Qualifications include being a graduating senior from a Berkshire County high school with a minimum B average, who is pursuing secondary schooling in paralegal studies, legal secretarial program, political science, criminology, or any legal related field; or any individual interested and qualified to enter an established course for paralegal studies, legal secretarial program, political science, criminology or any legal related field.

Applications must be returned by the deadline of March 25, 2011 to Attention Of: Pamela J. White, Berkshire Association for Paralegals and Legal Secretaries (“BAPLS”) Scholarship Committee c/o Thomas P. McHugh, P.O. Box 36, Williamstown, MA 01267.

I’d offer to help with the judging, but I have a bias relating to Wahconah Regional High School from which I graduated in 1969. I won’t discuss here in which direction the bias leans!

Meanwhile in Australia…

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

The use of the term “paralegal” has been discussed many times on this blog both in the context of the legal assistant/paralegal designation debate, in the context of asking whether just anyone can call themselves a paralegal, and even discussing Australian for “paralegal.” Despite the rather clear depiction of a in the last referenced post, the lack of a clear statement of qualifications for using the terms “paralegal” in Australia appears to have lead to so much abuse of the term by lawyers that the Chief Justice of Queensland, “has called for a national ban on the term “paralegals” to prevent clients being deceived into paying $300 an hour for work done by unqualified clerks and secretaries.”

According to The Australian

The term “paralegal” is interpreted by clients as meaning someone with a legal qualification but in reality it can be the firm’s most junior clerk performing mundane tasks including booking medical appointments and picking up reports.

Chief Justice de Jersey told The Australian that it was “plainly unacceptable” for a law firm to be charging a client $300 an hour for work done by someone not legally qualified.

“We need to eradicate this kind of grasping rapacity,” he said. “It would be a good start to stop the use of the term ‘paralegals’. It is unacceptable and deceptive and it should not be occurring. The term paralegals appears to be designed to suggest these people have a qualification and experience that particularly suits them for legal work.

“It implies that there is a qualification or expertise justifying their involvement in legal work, as opposed to someone who does administrative or clerical work. It is deceptive to present them under that guise and then charge as if they are somehow qualified.

One recent thread on the Paralegal Today listserv has lead to a similar discussion based on a question regarding whether work experience or education is more valuable to a new paralegal.  During that discussion, Michelle Boerder of Dallas, Texas, noted:

 I worked as a legal secretary while going through a paralegal program 30 years ago.   While I had learned a great deal “on-the-job,”  like you said,  I later understood the big picture, when combining what I learned in my paralegal education and work experience.    Just as lawyers have legal education to become lawyers, so should paralegals have paralegal education.  (and even lawyers in small towns/small firms go to law school;  today, there are many paralegal education opportunities so there is a diminishing excuse that education is not available)

 Your comments are exactly why I cannot understand some firms who hire college graduates but with NO paralegal education and call them a paralegal.     It seems (to me) such a disservice to both the employee and the firm.
 
Since our  profession has matured and grown, I hope to see more and more bachelor degree paralegal education  (or matriculation programs from associate degrees, which is what I did). [Emphasis added]
 
As I noted there in response, it is also a disservice to the public, the paralegal profession and, by extension, to the legal profession. The question becomes, I suppose, when it goes beyond being a mere disservice to pure abuse and perhaps even fraud, as described by the Queensland Chief Justice.

To Regulate or Not to Regulate – a Wisconsin Question

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Back in April I used the state of affairs regarding UPL in Wisconsin to launch a discussion of the possibility of licensing and regulating paralegals as a means of addressing the access to justice problem in the United States. As discussed in previous posts UPL laws and regulations of legal professionals exist amid tension between the need to provide the public with access to justice and the need to protect the public from snake-oil salesmen posing as legal professionals. I noted that what I read on the bar website does not deal at all with the access to justice issue.  I do not favor unregulated snake-oils salesman practicing law – as attorneys or as paralegals. However, it does seem clear we must do more to allow if not provide access to legal services than we do now. A well educated, well trained, well regulated paralegal profession may just be the answer.

Today a paralegal from Wisconsin posted on the Paralegal Today Forum stating,

I’m in Wisconsin, a state which doesn’t license (or register, or certify) its paralegals.  Anyone can call themselves a paralegal here, regardless of whether they’ve worked as one, or studied to be one (I’m getting a post-college certificate).  In recent years, paralegals here have asked the state for permission to be licensed.  The state courts declined the request.  I’ve noticed lots of UPL articles and legislative proposals on our state bar website.  I agree that UPL needs to be prevented, of course, but anyone who attends paralegal school knows how to avoid UPL.  My questions to the list-serv are these:
1) Do you live in a state that doesn’t regulate paralegals?
2) How do you deal with this in your work as a paralegal?

This led to several interesting responses including these:

Ditto for Louisiana. We do have a state certifying exam administered by NALA, but a lot of paralegals do not avail themselves of this certification, because (1) it doesn’t automatically increase their salary, (2) you have to study to take the exam and pass, and then have to pass the CLA exam within 2 years to get the certification, (3) why bother when you can call yourself a paralegal even if you mostly do secretarial work.

Until paralegals across the nation realize that education and continuing education is what puts them above the run of the mill employee, anyone and everyone is going to apply for a paralegal job and give the rest of us a lot of disrespect when they can’t do the job.

AND before we get into that age-old debate about education vs. experience, ALL JOBS, including paralegal jobs include OTJ training and always will. Education only enhances skills.

and

I often see a lot of misunderstanding, misperception, and misinformation about ‘regulation’ of paralegals.  There is only one state that has any sort of mandatory regulation of paralegals and that is California.  Interestingly enough, the California regulatory scheme doesn’t have any kind of agency, board, or other such entity to administer or oversee the regulatory scheme.    There is not one single state that requires paralegals to be licensed, certified, or ‘registered’ in order to function as a paralegal.

NFPA has a section of their website devoted to the regulation issue: http://www.paralegals.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=795 Scroll down the page and check out their comprehensive chart that details the efforts towards regulation for each state.  Some states offer a voluntary certification program through the state Bar, e.g. TX, OH, and NC.  Florida offers a voluntary registration program.  The WI Supreme Court recently rejected a proposal for mandatory regulation and suggested the proponents look at the Florida FRP scheme as a possible alternative.

Personally, I believe that the UPL issue and regulation of paralegals are two separate and distinct issues.  Most every state has UPL laws, statutes or Bar rules prohibiting UPL by anyone.  Florida has an aggressive Bar and UPL Committee that investigates and prosecutes UPL claims.  The Florida Bar Rules specifically state that non-lawyers offering services directly to the public cannot use the title of ‘paralegal’.  Mandatory regulation of paralegals (who by definition work under the supervision of a licensed attorney) will not prevent ‘John Doe’ from setting up his own shop and offering his services directly to the public.

Whether one agrees with mandatory regulation or not, it would be helpful if we all spoke knowledgeably on this issue.  I think the dissemination of inaccurate information clouds the issue and distorts the message.

Elona M. Jouben, FRP
NWFPA Parliamentarian/Membership-Student Liaison Chair
Litigation Paralegal
Wilson, Harrell, Farrington, Ford
Pensacola, FL 32502

Several months ago I posted a Call for Papers for an anthology on paralegal professionalism. One article submitted is a very good statement of the current status of regulation in the United States and two articles argue in favor of regulation. No one submitted an article opposing regulation – which means I’ll probably have to do that one myself!

I do agree with the last paragraph of Elona’s response above: Whether one agrees with mandatory regulation or not, it would be helpful if we all spoke knowledgeably on this issue.  I think the dissemination of inaccurate information clouds the issue and distorts the message.

Training Paralegals in Afghanistan

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

The NATO Training Mission reports on a new program for training Afghan National Army paralegals in computer literacy:

The training, instructed by a contracted Program Analyst, provided foundational computer lessons such as Introduction to Computers, IMA Windows XP Course and Windows Outlook Overview. Both ANA and ANP Legal personnel attended the instruction.

A group of seven personnel, three ANA Paralegals, one ANA LEGAD, two ANP Paralegals and one ANP LEGAD, arrived at Camp Eggers and stayed for the half-day course. The level of experience in the group varied greatly from not ever touching a computer to requesting further training on networking. During the lessons students were provided laptop workstations to interface along with the instruction.PIC_2_BLOG

This course showed the Afghan Paralegals that with expanding their computer knowledge they can be entrusted with further duties and responsibilities that will advance them both professionally and personally. Having the LEGADs present for the presentation illustrated the leadership support these Paralegals have in their respective offices.

This one-day seminar traveling on unmarked territory was a groundbreaking event. The vision of the Paralegal Mentorship is to assist in the professional and personal development of Afghan Paralegals as efficient, effective, competent and confident Non-Commissioned Officers.

Plans are underway to hold similar one-day training seminars for Paralegals at the ANA Legal School.

There, as here, expanded knowledge leads to duties and responsibilities that will advance paralegals professionally and personally. The goal, as always is paralegals who are professional, efficient, effective, competent and confident.

Imagine being a paralegal who had never touched a computer!

Court Considers Question “What is suitable work for a paralegal?”

Friday, March 19th, 2010

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled that an unemployment law judge used the wrong standard in determining what was suitable work for a position advertised as a paralegal position. The unemployed person had had ten years experience as a contract manager drafting, analyzing, and negotiating contracts. She then accepted a position paralegal position with  an annual salary of $60,000:

The description provided by UCare summarized the position’s major responsibilities as: “Provide the General Counsel with legal support, particularly in contract drafting, review and management. Serve as a key legal resource for the Government Programs Department, providing assistance in regulatory research, review of RFP or application documents, and legal support in conjunction with regulatory audits.” Relator remained at UCare for 23 days. She attended some training sessions and meetings, but was given little work to do. Relator requested additional work from her supervisor and was given a couple of projects, including looking in the file cabinets where contracts were kept, but not the type of extensive contract work that she had been accustomed to working on in her previous positions. Relator later asked her supervisor if she could look into getting some contract database-management software for UCare, but “was basically making work for [herself].” Relator was also asked to look up agency addresses for the Government Programs Department.

There was a lot going on in this case, much of it confusing. The part that caught my interest was this:

In addressing suitability, we begin by reviewing relator’s challenge to one of the ULJ’s findings. The ULJ found that relator “has more than ten years experience as a paralegal and has extensive experience in contract management.” While it is undisputed that relator has extensive experience in contract management, there is nothing in the record to support the ULJ’s finding that relator has more than ten years of experience as a paralegal. As relator points out, she has over ten years of experience as a contract manager, but has never asserted that she has any experience as a paralegal. We agree that there is not substantial evidence in the record to support the ULJ’s finding that relator had more than ten years of experience as a paralegal. …. The paralegal position advertised by UCare required a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies or a similar legal-assistant program. UCare also required “[a]t least three years experience as a paralegal or legal assistant, including experience in contract review and drafting as well as legal and regulatory research.” The ULJ concluded the paralegal position with UCare was suitable for relator because “[t]here is no evidence in the record showing that the employer breached any promise to [relator] or made any misrepresentation as to the nature and type of work assigned to a paralegal in this organization.”

A lot of questions arise, including why UCare offered and the employee accepted a position requiring a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies, when she did not have the required degree and experience she did not have for work the employer did not need to be performed. But most interesting is the fact that the Court of Appeal recognizes that being a paralegal requires more than just being able to “drafting, analyzing, and negotiating contracts.” It would have been dicta, but it still would have been especially interesting for the court to state exactly what more was required to convert experience drafting, analyzing, and negotiating contracts into experience as a paralegal. (The degree is education rather than experience.)  Inquiring minds want to know!

The court’s opinion is unpublished but posted at Leagle: Popularizing the Law

Afghan National Army Paralegal Graduation

Friday, March 5th, 2010

The NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan reports on the graduation of the first ever paralegal class from the temporary legal training school. Introducing the paralegal concept to Afghanistan is a wonderful development. I am a bit concerned though about what is considered parlegal training – two weeks of training, 27 hours of which is in literacy. However, it all has to viewed in context, I suppose.

One aspect of the story I particularly liked was this:

The students were excited by their training and eager to learn more. On the last day of class, one student asked what he could do to ensure his supervisors knew about the training he had received. The instructor responded by saying, “show them what you can do.”

As an educator I’m always pleased when the result of education is that the students are eager to learn more. But more important is the instructor’s direction to this student, which is the same as I give to paralegals seeking more responsibility and respect from their attorneys: Show them what you can do.  As discussed here several times, attorneys often suffer from misunderstanding regarding the role of their own paralegals and what their paralegals can do.