Posts Tagged ‘NALS’

NALS Introduces a New Board of Directors

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Also from Vicki Voisin, The Paralegal Mentorwe hear that NALS has a new board of directors:

The 2014-2015 NALS Board consists of Tina Boone, PLS, Mimi Mangrum, Carl Morrison, PP-SC, AACP Audrey Saxton, PP, PLS, and President, Karen McElroy, PP, PLS.This board marks a significant governance restructure, and the consolidation intends to mark great growth and collaboration on a national platform.

Vicki provides a short bio of each board member and links to youtube videos of the Board in action here.

Paralegals in Punjab

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

One of my areas of research is the development of the paralegal profession in other countries. In many paralegals serve a different function than that served here in the U.S. This article from the Punjab Newsline has an almost military tone when describing people volunteering to serve as paralegals:

4th batch Paralegal Volunteers given training in Ferozepur

Thursday, March 29, 2012 – 14:15
By Harish K Monga
FEROZPEUR : In the judicial complex of Ferozepur, the 6th session training of 4th paralegal volunteers was given to different category of people under the leadership of Rekha Mittal, District and Session Judge, Ferozepur, with the motive of training them as Paralegal Volunteers.

Karnail Singh, Civil Judge Senior Divison cum-Secretary District Legal Services Authority, Ferozepur gave the knowledge to the volunteers on cases relating to civil laws, cheque dishonour and the schemes being run under the District Legal Service Authority.

On this occasion, Harish Umar, Civil Judge, Junior Division, Surinder Sachdeva, ADA Legal, K.D.Syal, President Bar Association, Ferozepur were also present. Karnail Singh hailed the volunteers to work for the betterment of the society and motivated them to make people aware about the legal rights and duties. He said that these trained paralegal volunteers will be put on duty at legal aid clinics being opened at the village level and thirty volunteers were also issued the identity cards on this occasion.

There are some common threads in all countries though. For example, just as in Punjab, American paralegals are “hailed…to work for the betterment of the society and motivated them to make people aware about the legal rights and duties.” I and other bloggers such as The Paralegal Mentor and Chere Estrin of “The Estrin Report” do some of the hailing, but more so the various paralegal professional associations such as NFPA, NALA, and NALS, all of which feature these as parts of their ethical codes and mission statements. But I think the drive to work for the betterment of society and motivation to make people aware of their legal rights and duties is so common to those who chose paralegalism as a career (as opposed to as just a job) that it must be an inherent trait.

Pro Bono Week

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

This morning I’m just passing along this from Brynne Williamson, PP, PLS’ post on the “Paralegal Jobs and Continuing Education” LinkedIn group board:

Celebrate Pro Bono Week!

Did you know that this week is “Celebrate Pro Bono Week”? The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service launched this national initiative to “be an effective strategic tool for enhancing and expanding local efforts to increase access to justice for all.” And the best part is, you don’t have to be an attorney to participate. There are many ways for legal staff members to give back to their communities, like volunteering with their local bar to assist at neighborhood legal clinics, assisting with local Wills for Heroes events, and helping out with free legal clinics. Contact your local bar association or check the “Celebrate Pro Bono Week” website to learn more: If you’d like to learn more about setting up your own volunteer event, check out the “Leading the Way” section in the June 2011 issue of “the NALS docket”:

Have a great week, everyone!

Brynne Williamson, PP, PLS
NALS Marketing Director

Benefits of Belonging to Paralegal Professional Associations

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

One of the many keyword searches that brought a searcher to this blog was “what are the benefits of membership in NALA and NFPA?” Part of the answer can be found by clicking on the significant number of posts in the “Professional Associations” category link. But this search was of particular interest to me because I am in the middle of doing a final edit on the galley proofs of the chapter on paralegal associations in The Empowered Paralegal Professionalism Anthology. So this provides me with an opportunity outside of the acknowledgments pages of that book to thank NFPA, NALA, and NALS for their permission to reprint materials from their websites that assist in illustrating the many benefits of belonging to the respective associations.

Professional Association Membership Benefits

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The benefits of belonging to a paralegal professional association have been discussed often on this blog. (See Professional Associations category) They are also the subject of a recent post on the Paralegal Today discussion forum: “Hello, I am about to complete my BA in Criminal Justice and plan to pursue a Master of Professional Studies (Paralegal) in January. Do you think it would benefit me (networking, possible scholarship opportunities, etc.) to join an organization like NALA as a student?” I agree with the answer given by Tina Medlock,

I’d suggest joining a national association and your local affiliate of that organization. Networking at the national level is always great, especially if you want to relocate, or you work throughout the country, or national involvement is part of your professional goals. However, your networks built through local affiliate will give you a much more specific chance to learn and grow as a professional. You’ll have more chances to meet people within your local legal community; more chances to volunteer; and more chances to be able to pick up the phone, call across town, and say “Hey Alice, how do you do this?

Benefits of membership are also the topic of a Paralegal Voice podcast that I recommend:

On this edition of The Paralegal Voice, co-hosts Lynne DeVenny and Vicki Voisin welcome Patricia E. Infanti, PP, PLS, President of NALS, the Association for Legal Professionals, and Kathleen R. Amirante, PP, PLS, the association’s President Elect, who discuss the opportunities provided by membership in a professional association. They look at the history and mission of NALS, what NALS is doing to attract a diverse membership and how they are informing attorneys and the general public about the qualifications for using the title ‘paralegal’.

However, I’d like to emphasize that paralegal professional association provide more than just networking and similar benefits. They provide opportunities – opportunities to advance not only oneself, but the paralegal profession itself and the communities to which the paralegal professionals belong.  So, yes, join paralegal professional associations, but do not just join them – participate, volunteer, lead those associations.

By the way, NALA 35th Annual Convention and Exhibition will be in Jacksonville, Florida July 14-17, 2010, the NALS 59th Annual Education Conference & National Forum is scheduled for October 21-24, 2010 in Branson, MO, and the 2010 NFPA Regulation / National Leadership / PACE Ambassadors Joint Conference will be June 4-6, 2010 in Washington DC.

Which to Chose: Masters of Paralegals Studies or CP/PACE Registered Paralegal Certifications

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Megan M. has contacted me asking:

I’ve recently read several posts on your blog site, and was wondering if you could provide your thoughts on the following subject:


For a recent graduate from a Bachelor’s program in Paralegal Studies (ABA Approved program), do you believe it would be more beneficial for said student to next pursue NALA certification or instead pursue a Master’s degree in Paralegal Studies?

The current economy has created a limited number of jobs,  and I wonder which “add-on” would help distinguish a Paralegal in a large pool of candidates?


Your thoughts would be appreciated, either directly or via your blog.

I would like to hear from practicing paralegals before giving a final answer on this as they are more likely to have relevant data on this than an academic, even one who practiced law for three decades. However, my initial thought is “it depends.”

Certifications such as CP or CLA by NALA, PACE Registered Paralegal by NFPA, and PP (Professional Paralegal) by NALS are less expensive and faster to obtain than a Master’s, so they are more likely to “add-on” to your marketability in the economy as it exists now. No one knows what the economy will be like by the time you finish a Master’s.

However, unfortunately there is a great deal of confusion among the Bar over what these certifications mean. Although the ABA has recognized these certifications, many attorneys have not yet become knowledegable about them. As I pointed out in a previous post, many attorneys are confused as to exactly what a paralegal is and can do in general. The present status of paralegal education is no less confusing to many attorneys. What is the difference, in terms of the work the paralegal can perform between a paralegal certificate, an associates degree in paralegal studies and a bachelors degree in paralegal studies? What does it mean to be certified? Is being certified the same as having a certificate? Who does the certification?

Certificates of completion of a paralegal program can mean nothing more than that a person completed a few courses, but they are often confused with a person being a “Certified Paralegal.”  As NALA points out,

Occasionally, paralegals call themselves “certified” by virtue of completing a paralegal training course, or another type of preparatory education. Although a school may award a certificate of completion, this is not the same as earning professional certification by an entity such as NALA. In this instance the school’s certificate is designation of completion of a training program.

Most attorneys, on the other hand, are familiar with Master’s Degrees and are impressed by them, so a Master of Paralegal Studies may draw more attention to your resume than a CP or PACE Registered Paralegal designation. Also, you are likely to be able to obtain the CP or PACE Registered Paralegal designation fairly easily by the time you complete the Masters simply because you will have mastered the material necessary to take the exams and thus have both “add-ons.”

Your state or local paralegal association may be able to give you information regarding the prevalence of CP, PACE RP, or PP paralegals in the area and the general awareness among the local bar of their significance. You may also check websites for law offices that list their paralegal staff and see how many have the CP, PACE RP, or PP designation. A firm with several CPs is more likely to recognize the value of the certification. In general the more sophisticate the attorneys in your area are, the more likely they are to understand the significance of NALA, NFPA or NALS certification

By the way, there are advanced certifications for specific areas over and above the general CP certification. NALA, for example, offers Advanced Paralegal Certification in a number of competencies. There is also a new organization, The Organization of Legal Professionals, which is developing certification in e-discovery. (More on the latter, later.)

Paralegal v Legal Assistant – Does It Matter? (Part Two)

Monday, August 10th, 2009

As a follow up to a recent post on this topic, in 2007 the Legal Assistants Section of the State Bar of Michigan changed its name from “Legal Assistants Section” to “Paralegal/Legal Assistant Section.” name change in May 2008. A story by Linda Jevahirian in the Michigan Paralegal reports the reason for the change and some research she performed regarding the use of the terms.

The change occurred “Because both terms are used in the field, similar to the way in which ‘lawyer’ and ‘attorney’ are interchangeable, the membership felt the section name should reflect both titles.” I am not sue this characterization is correct, as is somewhat indicated by Linda’s research on “Which term is more accurate?”:

In an effort to determine whether one term—“paralegal” or “legal assistant”—is more applicable, I researched the terminology most often used by a range of paralegal organizations. What I discovered is that neither is used more often than the other.

The report gives a good history of the use of both terms by organizations such as the ABA, the International Paralegal Management Association,NALA, NFPA, and some Michigan state associations. While this research does show that there is not yet a consensus on the subject, it does appear to me to indicate a trend exemplified by the report that “IPMA changed its name from ‘The Legal Assistant Management Association’ (LAMA) to its current name to mirror the ABA’s name change two years earlier.”

As I stated in the earlier post, the profession would be well served by some standardization in this regard. This report set forth at least one reason for this in its analysis of  NALS:

Get ready for even more confusion. Many legal secretaries refer to themselves as “legal assistants.” I asked a representative of NALS (a national association with state and local chapters) for its view since it originally represented secretaries and only recently changed its focus to include a broader range of legal professionals, from receptionists to lawyers. NALS has concluded that, although the terms “legal assistant” and “paralegal” were at one time interchangeable, the term “legal assistant” is now a generic term for someone who works for an attorney.