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The Paralegal Profession - How It Began And Where It's Going

Nov 19, 2007
The paralegal profession began back in the 60's and 70's. Attorneys began hiring assistants to help them with general duties, case investigation and paper work. This trend was noticed by the American Bar Association and it resulted in the formation of the Standing Committee on Legal Assistance which was established to setup standards in the paralegal / attorney relationship. It included duties associated with a paralegal and employment guidelines. Today, the committee consists of both professional paralegals and lawyers.

The American Bar Association offers a certification training program to schools that offer paralegal certification and training. This helps to establish educational and training standards throughout the industry which helps to ensure training uniformity.

In addition to the American Bar Association, there are a number of national organizations for paralegals that have also contributed to the refining of the paralegal / legal assistant profession.

Two of these professional organizations are the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Together they represent about 30,000 paralegals in the United States. While these organizations are competitors, they have come together to help shape and serve the paralegal field. NALA prefers to call individuals in the profession legal assistants while NFPA prefers to call them paralegals.

Another organization, which consists of paralegal educational programs and teachers, is called The American Association for Paralegal Education or AAfPE. Consistent paralegal educational standards are one of their key points of interest.

Another professional organization for paralegals, which primarily serves individuals, was created in 2003 and is called The American Alliance of Paralegals. It quickly began setting standards in the paralegal field and paralegals are required to meet particular work experience and / or educational guidelines in order to be a voting member. It was also the first national organization for paralegals to become involved in setting minimum educational guidelines and standards.

You may want to check with other paralegals in your area to see what they have to say about the professional memberships available in any of these organizations in your area. You may also want to inquire about other benefits of becoming a member and what type of professional development training each organization offers.

If you are considering a paralegal career or you have just begun your paralegal training, you may want to consider adding a membership card to one or more of the professional paralegal organizations in your area.

It's both common sense and good business sense to contact every paralegal organization you can find. Professional paralegal organizations that offer networking or job opportunity boards are clearly a great benefit to anyone but they can be essential to those who are just beginning their careers. These organizations can also expose you to many opportunities you may otherwise not have been exposed too like: scholarship offers or financial programs that could help you complete your training.

If you've been sitting back and waiting to take that next step in your life and your career and the allure of a paralegal career is calling you... then you must check out the links below.
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Visit paralegal schools or paralegal study or paralegal studies for more information on a Paralegal Career.
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