paralegal to lawyer

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paralegal to lawyer it is one of the most crucial abilities in practising regulation: building an powerful work crew to serve clients within the exceptional possible way and generate income. paralegals may be a key element in that group, specially in fostering fee performance. the records in this section is supposed to manual you within the effective utilization of paralegals to your practice.

The Paralegal Role in the Legal Profession

 
1. What is a paralegal?
2. How are paralegals regulated?
3. What is a “certified” paralegal?
4. How is the American Bar Association involved with the paralegal field?

Paralegal Work Assignments

 
5. What can paralegals do?
6. How would a paralegal improve my practice?
7. How would a paralegal improve my practice’s bottom line?
8. May I include my paralegal in my firm’s pro bono activities?

Ethical Considerations

 
9. What are my ethical responsibilities in employing a paralegal?
10. What are my paralegal’s ethical responsibilities?
11. How do I inform my clients about my paralegal’s role?
12. May I screen my paralegal to avoid disqualification of my law firm under conflicts rules?
 

Fees & Compensation Issues

 
13. What fees should I charge for my paralegal’s work?
14. How do I compensate my paralegal?
15. Do I have to pay my paralegal for overtime?
 
Recruitment & Education
 
16. How do I recruit and hire a well-qualified paralegal?
17. What qualities should I look for in hiring a paralegal?
18. What sort of educational programs would a paralegal have completed?

The Paralegal Role in the Legal Profession

1. What is a paralegal?

a felony assistant or paralegal is someone, qualified by training, education or paintings enjoy who is employed or retained with the aid of a lawyer, regulation office, company, governmental employer or different entity and who plays particularly delegated substantial legal work for which a lawyer is responsible. (aba house of delegates, 1997)
the titles “paralegal” and “legal assistant” are typically synonymous. one nation, california, has a regulation specifying who may additionally use the name “paralegal,” and other states, together with north carolina and wisconsin (pdf) are thinking about similar proposals. maine, indiana (pdf) and south dakota have defined the phrases. maine’s definition also carries fines for misuse.
paralegals are certified to perform their duties by completing an academic program, receiving training at the job, or thru real work experience. they’re now not certified as attorneys are.
paralegals carry out substantial prison work that might otherwise be carried out via lawyers. clerical paintings isn’t always substantial criminal paintings.
legal professionals stay answerable for prison paintings delegated to paralegals and need to supervise paralegals’ work.
paralegals paintings under the supervision of attorneys and aren’t “report preparers” working immediately with the general public.

2. How are paralegals regulated?

paralegals presently aren’t licensed as legal professionals are, nor concern to some other regulatory scheme. california, but, requires a certain degree of education of individuals using the title “paralegal.”

3. What is a “certified” paralegal?

technically a “licensed” paralegal is a paralegal who has finished the voluntary certification method of a expert association with the aid of growing a unique stage of professional competency.
the national affiliation of paralegals (nala) awards the designation licensed legal assistant (cla) or certified paralegal (cp) to men and women who’ve met its requirements, which include passing a competency exam. superior specialty certification (clas) assessments also are administered by way of nala, as are a few state-specific superior competency examinations.
the national federation of paralegal institutions (nfpa) awards the designation registered paralegal (rp) to persons who have met its necessities, which include passing the paralegal advanced competency exam (pace).
nals…the affiliation for prison experts, awards the expert paralegal (pp) certification designation which reflects a skillability in procedural law, major regulation and an common dedication to a better wellknown of behavior and professionalism. nals’ professional paralegals can also distinguish themselves similarly with the aid of earning distinctiveness certifications in various substantial regulation regions. for facts on the exams, check dates, eligibility necessities, and so forth., please visit nals’ internet site at www.nals.org.
the yank alliance of paralegals (aapi) awards the designation american alliance licensed paralegal (aacp).
the texas board of legal specialization offers a voluntary forte certification software in six areas of texas law. florida, north carolina, and ohio also have country-precise voluntary certification programs.
the time period “certified” is from time to time mistakenly used whilst regarding a paralegal who has earned a certificate with the aid of finishing a direction of have a look at.
the yankee bar affiliation does now not certify man or woman paralegals.

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4. How is the American Bar Association involved with the paralegal field?

the aba recommended using paralegals in 1967 and established the primary committee on paralegals in 1968.
since 1975 the aba has accepted paralegal packages that fulfill the rigorous requirements of the aba recommendations for the approval of paralegal education applications (pdf).
the aba followed version guidelines for the utilization of criminal assistant services in 1991. the aba model tips for the utilization of paralegal services (pdf) were revised in february 2012. many states which include indiana, new hampshire, north dakota, pennsylvania, rhode island, south carolina, south dakota, texas, utah, virginia, washington, west virginia, and country bar associations inclusive of colorado, connecticut, michigan, missouri, new mexico, ny (pdf) and north carolina have followed these guidelines or their personal versions.

Paralegal Work Assignments

5. What can paralegals do?

paralegals may be delegated any undertaking commonly performed via a legal professional, as long as the attorney supervises the paintings, besides those proscribed through regulation. see the aba version recommendations for the utilization of paralegal offerings (pdf).
as an example, paralegals can review and arrange customer files, behavior actual and felony research, put together files for criminal transactions, draft pleadings and discovery notices, interview clients and witnesses, and assist at closings and trials.
paralegals ought to keep away from the unauthorized exercise of law. normally, paralegals won’t represent clients in courtroom, take depositions, or sign pleadings.
a few federal and state administrative corporations, however, do permit nonlawyer exercise. see, as an instance, social safety administration. check with specific agency to decide whether or not nonlawyer exercise is permitted.
paralegals may not set up the lawyer’s relationship with the purchaser or set charges to be charged, and might not provide legal advice to a consumer. see, guiding principle three of the aba version suggestions for the usage of paralegal services (pdf).
usual tasks delegated to paralegals in numerous areas of the law are described on the web sites of country wide paralegal institutions, which includes the countrywide association of paralegals (nala), the country wide federation of paralegal institutions, nals…the affiliation for paralegal specialists and the international paralegal control association.

6. How would a paralegal improve my practice?

your costs could be reduced.
you’ll be able to lower your prison fees.
your customers would also appreciate accelerated contact along with your exercise through your paralegal.

7. How would a paralegal improve my practice’s bottom line?

paralegal time may be billed out one by one on your clients, and at lower charges.
paralegals may be paid much less than an attorney, yet deal with many obligations (beneath an lawyer’s supervision) that would in any other case be carried out through an attorney.
the paralegal personnel may be a profit center to your practice.

see chapters 2 and 3 within the e-book paralegals, profitability, and the destiny of your regulation exercise , by means of arthur g.
greene and therese a. cannon.
comparative patron fee of attorney on my own and of lawyer plus paralegal (pdf), discern 2.1 from paralegals,
profitability, and the future of your regulation exercise .
transferring work to paralegals (pdf), an excerpt from paralegals, profitability, and the destiny of your law exercise.
scola replace: partnering with paralegals (pdf), a guide of the aba standing committee on paralegals.

8. May I include my paralegal in my firm’s pro bono activities?

paralegals decorate the potential of regulation companies to provide more seasoned bono felony services just as they do paid offerings.
lawyers must facilitate the participation of paralegals in a practice’s pro bono activities. see, guiding principle 10 of the aba version tips for the usage of paralegal services (pdf).
paralegal associations apprehend the fee of seasoned bono sports and inspire their participants to offer such offerings.

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Ethical Considerations

9. What are my ethical responsibilities in employing a paralegal?

lawyers are in the long run chargeable for the paintings manufactured from paralegals.
legal professionals are chargeable for the ethical conduct of the paralegals whom they appoint. any transgressions by the paralegals may additionally difficulty the lawyer to expert area. see, rule five.three of the version guidelines of expert behavior.
legal professionals who supervise paralegals have to develop, implement, and enforce guidelines to make certain that paralegals apprehend how their conduct have to comply with lawyer’s professional obligations. see, rule 5.3 of the model policies of expert conduct.
many state bar associations have followed hints for the usage of paralegals. these suggestions frequently consist of observation describing specially authorized or proscribed local practices. for instance, there’s a break up of opinion on whether or not paralegals can also attend actual estate closings unaccompanied by way of a attorney.
see chapter eight in paralegals, profitability, and the destiny of your regulation exercise , by using arthur g. greene and therese a. cannon.
unethical behavior with the aid of paralegals has a direct effect on a lawyer’s exercise. see the legal assistant’s practical manual to expert responsibility.

10. What are my paralegal’s ethical responsibilities?

paralegals are not immediately situation to any policies of professional conduct promulgated by courts, legislatures, or government groups.
paralegals who are contributors of country wide and/or neighborhood paralegal associations are required to observe the ethical codes of these associations, inclusive of the aapi code of ethics, the nala tips, the nfpa suggestions, or the nals tips.
unethical conduct through paralegals has a right away effect on a lawyer’s exercise. see the criminal assistant’s sensible guide to expert responsibility.

11. How do I inform my clients about my paralegal’s role?

legal professionals ought to right away introduce paralegals to customers, in addition to courts and different attorneys, through call and name. see, tenet 4 of the aba version tips for the usage of paralegal offerings (pdf). the use of titles typically reserved for lawyers, together with “accomplice” or “recommend,” is misleading and ought to be averted.
lawyers ought to give an explanation for to customers the touch paralegals may have with them.
legal professionals have to train paralegals in a way to become aware of themselves in correspondence and at the cellphone. see, guiding principle five of the aba model tips for the utilization of paralegal offerings (pdf).
lawyers should verify that paralegals are diagnosed really as such on business playing cards and letterhead. see, tenet five of the aba model guidelines for the usage of paralegal offerings (pdf). some states do no longer allow lawyers to listing paralegals on their letterhead.

12. May I screen my paralegal to avoid disqualification of my law firm under conflicts rules?

screening of a paralegal who has a battle with a consumer’s hobby changed into endorsed via the aba in casual opinion 88-1521.
imputed disqualification does now not practice to nonlawyers, which includes paralegals, according to the new comment 4 to rule 1.10 of the these days revised aba model regulations.
courts and bar institutions which have addressed this issue normally believe this precept. only kansas prohibits the usage of displays for each lawyers and nonlawyers.

Fees & Compensation Issues

13. What fee should I charge for my paralegal’s work?

our paralegal’s sizeable felony work (i.e., not clerical paintings) may be billed directly to the client simply as an attorney’s work is billed, or considered in placing a flat price simply as an legal professional’s work could be.
a worthwhile paralegal generates greater sales than it fees to preserve the paralegal.
a economic evaluation must keep in mind the paralegal’s direct and oblique contributions (each sales from paralegal hours and the blessings from moving routine paintings to a paralegal and leaving greater complex paintings to an attorney).
a brief check of profitability is the “rule of three”: the paralegal generates sales 3 instances his or her salary.
see bankruptcy 2 (pages thirteen-17) in paralegals, profitability, and the future of your law practice , by way of arthur g. greene and therese a. cannon.

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14. How do I compensate my paralegal?

legal professionals may also compensate paralegals primarily based on the quantity and great of their work and the price of that work to the law exercise. see, tenet 9 of the aba aba version recommendations for the usage of paralegal offerings (pdf).
paralegals can be paid discretionary bonuses based on the overall achievement of the regulation exercise. see, rule five.four(a)(4) of the version guidelines of professional conduct.
paralegal compensation, however, may not be contingent, through enhance settlement, on the outcome of specific instances. see, tenet 9 of the aba aba model recommendations for the usage of paralegal services (pdf).
attorneys may not cut up legal charges with paralegals nor pay paralegals for the referral of prison enterprise.
paralegals may not be partners or shareholders in a law firm.

15. Do I have to pay my paralegal for overtime?

this relies upon on whether your paralegal could be categorised as an exempt or nonexempt employee.
nonexempt employees are entitled to beyond regular time compensation beneath the truthful labor standards act and comparable state legal guidelines.
paralegals as a collection may not be categorized as exempt, in line with the u.s. branch of labor, due to the fact they’re not required to have advanced professional knowledge acquired via prolonged, specialized guidance and observe, and are not generally involved inside the performance of responsibilities that require the exercise of discretion and unbiased judgment.
the branch of hard work’s new guidelines on additional time pay, powerful august 24, 2004, do no longer trade its position. additionally, the expert exemption provision especially addresses the status of paralegals in subpart d, §541.301(e)(7).

Recruitment & Education

16. How do I recruit and hire a well-qualified paralegal?

determine the best features and desired qualifications of a paralegal to your practice.
contact paralegal schooling applications. an aba-authorised paralegal application has met the stringent fine pointers mounted through the status committee on paralegals.
touch country wide and nearby paralegal associations, inclusive of nala, nfpa or nals. most listing jobs without charge to the business enterprise. a few additionally hold resume banks, such as the aapi task financial institution or the lama activity bank.
advertise in newspapers and list openings on internet web sites.
interview carefully, verify credentials, and take a look at references.
see chapter 6 in paralegals, profitability, and the destiny of your regulation exercise , via arthur g. greene and therese a. cannon.

17. What qualities should I look for in hiring a paralegal?

you want someone with wonderful organizational abilties, who is detail minded and capable of multi-venture.
good conversation skills, each oral and written, are vital.
a paralegal with a true interest in law and empathy with customers’ problems can be a valuable member of the legal crew.

18. What sort of educational programs would a paralegal have completed?

educational applications for parlalegals range. these packages may additionally or might not be approved or accredited.
instructional programs affiliated with a university or college may also provide partner’s levels, bachelor’s levels, grasp’s levels, and/or certificates, which may be undergraduate or submit-baccalaureate certificate. proprietary colleges typically offer certificate programs.
educational packages accepted via the american bar association must fulfill the stringent requirements of the approval system (pdf) supervised through the aba’s standing committee on paralegals. these include at least 60 semester hours of look at (18 semester hours have to be designed particularly to expand paralegal competencies), widespread reports and periodic web page visits. an aba-approved paralegal training software has gone through a rigorous scrutiny of its curriculum, college, recruiting and admission practices, library and computer assets, student offerings, and other components of this system.
the yankee association for paralegal schooling (aafpe), nals…the affiliation for legal experts, the country wide federation of paralegal associations (nfpa), the national association of paralegals (nala), and the yank alliance of paralegals (aapi) have advanced listing of core abilties for paralegals.

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