This is your source for articles and information regarding the paralegal profession nationwide. We have tried to include links to documents that describe the profession among the states, current case law, and some late news. State bar association, case law, and legislative activity moves slowly - some of the documents may appear to be a few years old but are included here as background information.
Many of the documents here are also found on NALA Net, the NALA members' source of more detailed information about the paralegal profession.
Supreme Court of Washington Issues Limited Practice Rule for Limited License Technicians
June 15, 2012 Washington Supreme Court Order #25700-A-1005
Consistent with GR 25 (the Supreme Court rule establishing the Practice of Law Board), the rule establishes a framework for the licensing and regulation of non-attorneys to engage in discrete activities that currently fall within the definition of the "practice of law" (as defined by GR 24) and which are currently subject to exclusive regulation and oversight by this Court. The rule itself authorizes no one to practice. It simply establishes the regulatory framework for the consideration of proposals to allow non-attorneys to practice. As required by GR 25, the rule establishes certification requirements (age, education, experience, pro bono service, examination, etc.), defines the specific types of activities that a limited license legal technician would be authorized to engage in, the circumstances under which the limited license legal technician would be allowed to engage in authorized activities (office location, personal services required, contract for services with appropriate disclosures, prohibitions on serving individuals who require services beyond the scope of authority of the limited license legal technician to perform); a detailed list of prohibitions, and continuing certification and financial responsibility requirements.
for a copy of the court order
Ohio Supreme Court Issues New Rule
June 8, 2012. Identification of Nonlawyers on Law Firm Letterhead, Websites and Business Cards
Articles, Cases of Interest
SYLLABUS: A law firm’s letterhead and website may list the names of nonlawyer employees if the employees are clearly identified as nonlawyers through the use of job titles or other identifiers that differentiate the lawyers from the nonlawyers. Similarly, a law firm’s business cards may bear the names of nonlawyer employees if the cards include job titles or other language indicating the employee is not licensed to practice law. Advisory Opinion 89-16 is withdrawn.
for a copy of the opinion.
NALA Files Amicus Brief in US Supreme Court
This is the third time NALA has filed an amicus brief in the US Supreme Court, and the second time the court heard the issue in oral argument. In this case and in the previous case, Missouri v. Jenkins, the court determined that paralegal time may be awarded, at market rates, in fee-shifting statutes. This is a terrific and positive decision for the paralegal profession.
New Case on paralegal fees from the District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District
See: State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Edge Family Chiropractic, No. 1D10-0565, June 25, 2010.
This case again discusses the question of the reimbursement of paralegal fees in attorney fee awards. The petitioner sought review of a circuit court order affirming three county court orders awarding a total of $161,195.25 in attorney’s fees and costs in a personal injury protection case. On the matter related to paralegal fees, the petitioner stated a lower court erred in applying a contingency risk multiplier to the paralegal fees included in the award. The court addressed only this claim in its opinion and stated this was an issue of first impression.
The court’s opinion cited cases in the United States Supreme Court in which NALA filed an amicus brief, Missouri v. Jenkins, and Richlin security Service Co. v. Chertoff. In both cases, the US Supreme Court held that the term “attorneys fees” include paralegal services and that the paralegal fees should be reimbursed at market rates. The opinion cites how attorney use of paralegals encourages cost-effective delivery of legal services and reduces the cost of litigation.
Exempt Non-Exempt Status of Paralegals
Frequently, NALA receives questions about the exempt/non-exempt status of paralegal employees. NALA does not have a position on this issue, nor does the association promulgate an opinion. The link is a pdf of a ruling from the Department of Labor issued in January 2006 which looks at this question and is what is followed under current regulations.
Issues Related to Licensure of Paralegals
There are many questions, and sometimes misconceptions of the role of governmental licensure of paralegals. The following link is to a report prepared by NALA which outlines the issues and state statutes regarding the regulation of professions.
Typical Job Duties
The following article summarizes typical duties and responsiblities of paralegals, organized by specialty practice areasl
State Certification Programs
In 2006 and 2007, standards for paralegal certification state entities were announced in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. The Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas also offers a voluntary state certification program. The following links will open the new rules for your information.
In addition, the Louisiana State Paralegal Association and the Paralegal Association of Florida offer voluntary certification programs for paralegals in the state. For details, click here.
State Guidelines, Supreme Court Rules Re Paralegals
The following links are to state guidelines regarding attorney utilization of paralegals. We have also included links to current statutes regarding the paralegal profession.
- California - Statute defining "paralegal" and "legal assistant"
- Maine - Statute defining "paralegal" and "legal assistant" and provides for fine if terms are used improperly
- Montana - House Bill 301 to include reasonable paralegal fees as part of attorney fees awarded to prevailing parties in certain cases becomes law October 1, 2009. The bill was signed into law on May 5. The bill also defines "paralegal.
- Florida - Supreme Court, Amendments to Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, defines "paralegal" and "legal assistant"
- Illinois - State Bar Association Recommendations to Lawyers Regarding the Use of Non-Lawyer Assistants
- Michigan - Supreme Court Rule, legal assistant time in attorney fee awards
- Oklahoma - Bar Association Minimum Standards/Qualifications for Legal Assistants