Grandfathering Ends March 1, 2011
By: Jacqueline Miller
Paralegals in Florida, are you looking for another way to boost that resume of yours? Well, you are in luck. The Florida State Bar has recently adopted a chance for paralegals to become registered in the state of Florida. Becoming a registered paralegal in Florida is optional but could provide you with a great resume booster and employers may find you more valuable. This registration will take into account your paralegal education. Don’t worry – if you did not receive formal education to become a paralegal, you can still register based on your work experience – but only until March 1, 2011.
The new plan that is being put into effect covers the requirements for becoming a registered paralegal in Florida. However, the new plan does not include the duties that a registered paralegal may perform. The new plan also does not make any changes that a lawyer can charge for services provided by a registered paralegal.
Becoming a registered paralegal is still voluntary at this point in time. However, you will not be able to hold yourself out as a registered paralegal, unless you are in fact registered.
The new system for registering paralegals will put paralegals into two tiers. Paralegals in Tier One would include those who meet current definitions of a paralegal. The current definition can be found in Bar rule 10-2.1. This tier and definition holds that a paralegal is a person qualified by education, training, or work experience who performs substantive work under the supervision of a lawyer, and whom a lawyer is responsible for. Tier Two paralegals would have to meet a more harsh criteria to hold them selves out as a registered paralegal. The more harsh criteria would be in the experience, educational and continuing education areas.
Florida paralegals interested in becoming registered must meet one of the following requirements (taken from the Florida Bar website):
• Educational and Work Experience Requirements – A person may become a Florida registered paralegal by meeting one of the following education and paralegal work experience requirements:
1) A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies from an approved paralegal program, plus a minimum of one year of paralegal work experience; or
2) A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, plus a minimum of three years of paralegal work experience; or
3) An associate’s degree in paralegal studies from an approved paralegal program, plus a minimum of two years of paralegal work experience; or
4) An associate’s degree from an accredited institution, plus a minimum of four years of paralegal work experience; or
5) A juris doctorate degree from an ABA accredited institution, plus a minimum of one year of paralegal work experience.
• Certification – A person may become a Florida registered paralegal by obtaining either PACE or CLA/CP certification and be in good standing with either NFPA or NALA.
• Grandfathering – A person not meeting the requirements above may become a Florida Registered Paralegal by providing attestation from an employing or supervising attorney(s) that the person has paralegal work experience for five of the years immediately proceeding the date of such attestation. Please note that after March 1, 2011, those wishing to become a Florida Registered Paralegal will no longer be able to use experience alone as the basis for eligibility and must meet the criteria listed above.
Being a registered paralegal will also help your clients feel as though they are getting the best possible service and that you are actually qualified to do the work necessary on their case. More information is available for review at http://www. Floridabar.org.