Posts Tagged ‘Professional Associations’

Ohio Paralegal Day

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Monday, May 17th,  is Paralegal Day in Ohio by proclamation of the governor. It is being celebrated by paralegal associations and educational institutions across the state (“Ohio “Paralegal Day’ 2010″ in just about any general search engine is likely to hit a location near you if you are in Ohio).  One such celebration in Columbus is an all-day joint venture of the Paralegal Association of Central Ohio and the Columbus Bar Association featuring, ” speakers on legal topics, writing skills, resumes and interview techniques and webinars on software programs …[and]… the annual Paralegal Day Luncheon with a hot buffet … featuring Honorable Kimberly S. Cocroft, Franklin County Common Pleas Court, as the keynote speaker.” 

While reviewing the notice of this event I noticed this on the Columbus Bar Association’s site: 

Paralegals are invited to become joint members of the Columbus Bar and the Paralegal Association of Central Ohio (PACO). As associate members of the Bar, paralegals can benefit from the educational and networking opportunities offered by participation in Columbus Bar meetings, events, and programs.

I am aware of and have posted about other states with proclaimed paralegal days, and one other bar association that provides for paralegal membership. I’m sure my list of states with proclaimed days is incomplete and I hope there are  more bar associations that include paralegals in their membership. If you are aware of a state with proclaimed paralegal days or other bar associations with paralegal members, please let me know. Both are signficant steps forward in the quest for appropriate recognition of paralegals as a profession.

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.

NFPA Regulation Conference

Friday, April 16th, 2010

NFPA is holding a “Regulation / National Leadership / PACE® Ambassadors Joint Conference” on June 4-6 in Washington, D.C. This conference will tackle some important issues. Here are some of the topics on the agenda:

Types of Regulation
Licensure
Certification
Registration
Tracey L. Young, RP®
NFPA Vice President & Director of Positions and Issues

Status of Regulations Efforts
     National
     International
Lisa Vessels, CP, FRP
Regulation Review Coordinator

Lessons Learned: What paralegals can learn from
the regulation process of Nurse Practitioners and
Physician Assistants
Nicole Gara
American Academy of Physician’s Assistants

Florida – A case study in implementing Regulation
Lisa Vessels, CP, FRP
Regulation Review Coordinator

Selling Regulation
What to Say to the Naysayers
Georgette M. Lovelace, RP®
NFPA President

Unfortunately, I am unable to attend this conference, but I encourage any of you who can to do so. Details are here:http://www.paralegals.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=941.

If any of you do go, I would appreciate hearing your reports on the proceedings.

Also, I encourage each of the presenters listed above to commit their presentation to article format and submit it for consideration in paralegal professionalism anthology described in this Call for Papers. If you know any of the presenters, please let them know of this request.

How NWFPA Profoundly Impacted Children’s Lives

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Service to the community is an important aspect of any profession, professionalism, and professional association. Last week I posted a follow up to Practical Paralegalism’s post on the Northwest Florida Paralegal Association’s nomination for the Children’s Champion of Northwest Florida award. The nomination is “for making a profound impact on the lives of local children. Lydia Brackett, NWFPA’s current president, was gracious enough to respond to my request for additional information. Here some detail on the association’s actions that led to the nomination for consideration by other paralegal associations:

The Northwest Florida Paralegal Association has two committees that have worked as outreaches to aid the needs in our community. We have a Charity Committee and a Christmas Committee. Our Association was one of the co-founders of the Manna Food Bank in 1982. This organization collects and provides food to children and families that are in need. Additionally, for a number of years, we have participated in the “Cram the Van” which collects and distributes school supplies for children in the Pensacola regional area. Every year our Christmas Committee distributes stockings which our members take and fill for the Salvation Army. For the last 3 years instead of having a Christmas social luncheon, our committee has opted to hold an auction to benefit the Children’s Services Center here in Pensacola. Being in the Panhandle of Florida, our economic level is not equal to that of South Florida, but this past year our auction was able to raise more than $2,800 for the Center which is incredible given that the bidders are mostly our own members with a few guests. Last year the Children’s Services Center merged with United Cerebral Palsy and that organization was impressed with the fact that all the money collected at the auction is given to the Center. Nancy Wolf of Children’s Services Center called to tell us the Center was nominating us for the award. This came as a surprise since our Association never considered the services we provide to the community would have such an impact. The hard work and tireless efforts of this year’s committee, Judy Williamson, Dana Martinez-Jones, Amanda McCleskey, Kimberly McCrory, Colleen Blazer, and Regina Vino, Chairperson of the Christmas Committee, along with members Julie Leggett, Elona Jouben, April Murphy, Melissa McKinney, and volunteers Kris Baier and Mitch Sims greatly contributed to this nomination. The fact that this nomination recognizes the contributions made by the NWFPA to our community over the years is overwhelming. I am continually amazed by where one simple idea can lead.

Paralegal Association has Profound Impact of Lives of Children

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Practical Paralegalism’s sharp eye notes the nomination of the Northwest Florida Paralegal Association’s nomination for the Children’s Champion of Northwest Florida award. The nomination is “for making a profound impact on the lives of local children.” I would like to hear more about the association’s work that had that profound impact.

In addition to this nomination, NWFPA’s nifty website tells us:

NWFPA recognizes over 40 members that have attained Florida Registered Paralegals (FRP) status, utilizing the association for networking and continuing education purposes.

The NWFPA sponsored an essay contest for Law Week 2009 focusing on Abraham Lincoln and his contribution to the fields of law and government.

In step with what many paralegal associations have done nationwide, NWFPA has established a LinkedIn networking group.

NWFPA clearly demonstrates what a professional association can and should be, and what professional paralegals can do when they work together as a profession and for the profession.  In fact, unlike many association, not only live up to, but go beyond their mission statement:

The NWFPA Mission Statement

The Northwest Florida Paralegal Association is dedicated to encouraging the ethical and professional growth of paralegals in the northwest Florida area by providing continuing education to members of the paralegal profession; by providing a venue for members to interact with other members of the legal community; and by supporting and carrying out the programs, purposes, aims and goals of the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc.

Congratulations to NWFPA! And thanks to Lynee DeVenney for her post featuring this association.

Texas Sized CLE + Networking for Paralegals

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Angie F. Laird, ACP, TBLS, posted this invite on the Paralegal Today discussion forum:

YOU’RE INVITED!

The Southeast Texas Association of Paralegals (SETAP) is hosting its annual Spring seminar on April 9, 2010 at the MCM Eleganté Hotel & Conference Center in Beaumont, Texas. We have a full line-up of great speakers and topics. SETAP is an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Full attendance will qualify you for 6 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) credit toward the maintenance of your NALA certification. In addition, credit from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) will also be granted in various specialty areas of law.

Our seminar is being held in conjunction with the Texas Alliance of Paralegal Associations’ (TAPA) Conference that will be held the next day and attended by Presidents and Presidents-Elect of various paralegal associations across Texas.

Also, we are hosting a welcome social Friday evening after the seminar. Please join us for an evening of fun and entertainment! This will also be a great networking opportunity for you! We have chartered a bus to transfer us to and from the social. You won’t want to miss it!

All are invited to attend the seminar and the social. Go to www.tapa2010.webs.com for seminar and social details as well as the registration information.

Active, cooperative associations with events like these will go a long ways to establishing a professional identity for the paralegal profession.

Paralegal Profession Recognized by Tulsa County Bar Association

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Lynne DeVenny at Practical Paralegalism notes that the Tulsa County Bar Association now allows paralegals who meet the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Minimum Qualification Standards for Legal Assistant/Paralegal to become associate members of the association. Lynne correctly notes, “This is a great opportunity for Tulsa paralegals and legal assistants to expand their professional network and educational opportunities.” More important, she states, this is an important recognition, “of the importance of its area paralegals and legal assistants.”

The latter is of the most significance to me, although I do not mean to minimize the networking and educational opportunities. The bar as all to often neglected to recognize not only the importance of paralegals, but the fact that paralegals are, like the lawyers themselves, part of the legal profession. Opening the bar association to paralegals allows the attorneys and paralegals who must work together as a legal team in the law office to associate together as the professionals they are.

One question that arises is whether this step would have been possible without the establishment in 2000 of the minimal qualification standards by the Oklahoma Bar Association. While such standards do not amount to licensing they do, at least, help establish the identity of paralegals as a profession.

Central Florida Paralegal Award and Volunteering

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

The Orlando Sentinel has several reports of interest. Here are two of them:

Annette L.S. Root, Florida Registered Paralegal with the Law Offices of Neal T. McShane, Orlando, has been awarded the 2009 Paralegal of the Year Award by the Central Florida Paralegal Association Inc.

Teen Court volunteers: The Central Florida Paralegal Association needs teen volunteers for its Teen Court program. Orange County volunteers meet Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Juvenile Justice Center. Contact David Medvec at ctaddm1@ocnjcc.org. Osceola County volunteers meet Wednesdays at the Osceola County Courthouse. Contact Angie Martinez at ctadam1@ocnjcc.org. Seminole County volunteers meet Tuesdays at the Juvenile Justice Center in Sanford. Contact Alison Mikel at 407-665-5364 or amikel@seminolecountyfl.gov.

Congratulations to both Annette and CFPA.  Annette is, by virtue of the award, an uncommon person. CFPA’a involvement in volunteer programs is, fortunately, not uncommon for paralegal professional associations. This program appears to be a particular good opportunity to volunteer and network – a win/win situation for sure. I’m particularly partial to programs that focus on teenagers. I’d be interested in more details on this program as there is no indication in the story as to what the program does (although some intelligent guesses can be made) or what the teen volunteers are volunteering to do.

Paralegal Supervisor Certification?

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Lynne DeVenny at Practical Paralegalism has a full report on a story that also caught my eye regarding an investigation into credentials held by a woman for the job of “Paralegal Supervisor” for a Louisiana Parish (equivalent of a county in most other jurisdictions). The parish is unable to find any records relating to the employment of the woman, an ex-spouse of a former parish president, although she supposedly performed the job and was paid for that performance for 18 years – $64,000 in at least the last of those 18 years.

The story itself is another interesting example of (alleged) corruption in American politicians, I suppose. However, my interest focuses on the statement, “However, the parish was unable to provide proof she has the required certification to hold that position.” My question is what would be the “required certification” to hold the position given the lack of any uniformity within the paralegal profession regarding certification requirements for paralegals, much less a “paralegal supervisor.”

The investigation story is not clear on this point. A Fox8live.com news story states:

Last month, FOX 8 asked the parish for Parker-Broussard’s resume and paralegal certification information.
According to a job description, the certification is a parish requirement for all paralegals.

But the parish doesn’t have one on file for Parker-Broussard. We didn’t get a resume either and the Human Resources department claims it has no personnel records relating to her 18 years of employment.

This is an apparent reference to Louisiana’s voluntary paralegal certification program  reported by Legal Assistant Today website “, The Louisiana State Paralegal Association established a voluntary certification exam in 1996 to set professional standards and promote recognition of the profession.”  According to one source,

To be eligible for these state certifications, the paralegal typically must first get a national credential. The Certified Legal Assistant/Paralegal program established by the National  Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) are well recognized national professional certification programs.

However, at the Louisiana State Paralegal Association website all I found was this:

Louisiana Certified Paralegal Exam

SPRING Examination Date: April 2-3, 2010
(Application Deadline: February 17, 2009)

For information related to administrative matters relative to applications or continuing legal education, contact:
National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc.
Administrator, Louisiana Certified Paralegal Examination
1516 South Boston, Suite 200
Tulsa, OK 74119
Phone: (918) 587-6828
FAX: (918) 582-6772

You may also contact Gail Seale, CLA, LCP for additional information related to the LCP Exam at: Gail Seale, CLA, LCP (with an email address)

Followed by a list of fourteen paralegals who received the LCP certification between 1996 and 2005.

There is probably more to this than I am seeing here with a brief Saturday morning tour of the internet, but it appears a government organization established criteria for hiring a paralegal supervisor that required a certification from a voluntary program run by a state membership organization administered by a national membership organization – a certification held by fewer that 14 persons – and yet could not determine whether the person holding the job held the required certification!

Frankly, it seems there must be a better way to handle this whole matter of paralegal qualifications!

New Healthcare Paralegals Organization

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Robin Elizabeth Margolis has this announcement in the most recent LinkedIn message from KNOW Magazine:

Have Started A Healthcare Paralegals Organization
Dear Friends:

I have started an organization for healthcare paralegals. We are spread out in so many different workplaces and specialties, I thought it might be nice for us to have an online “hub.”

If you know a healthcare paralegal who would be interested in joining the group, please let them know that we have a website at:

www.healthcarepara.wordpress.com

Membership in the group is currently free. We will eventually have a reasonable dues structure.

Cordially,
Robin

I do hope this works out well. In any case, Robin is demonstating some of those marks of professionalism discussed in the last post: 

Eagerly assists – shares concepts – thinks ahead -demonstrates  responsibility – presents a positive image – forward thinking

Good luck with this, Robin!