Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Highlights of NFPA's 2008 Policy Meeting

The 2008 Policy Meeting of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations opened on Saturday, October 11 and lasted through Sunday, October 12. During that time, delegates voted on agenda items and paid tribute to the profession. On Saturday morning, NFPA honored Phyllis Dunton, Illinois Paralegal Association, and Koann Lawrence, Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association, in Memoriam.

Starting with the basics, 46 associations were present for voting, and 86 people passed PACE this past year. On May 1-3, 2009, the regulation and leadership conference will be held in Washington state. The Paralegal Association of Wisconsin will be rejoining NFPA, and since last year, Korean-American Paralegal Association in Los Angeles and South Florida Paralegal Association have joined. NFPA is also offering a new membership benefit: health insurance.

As for the agenda topics:

Practicing Paralegal Resolution
NFPA delegates voted to remove the word "practicing" from NFPA's Bylaws, which on one hand will open up the membership to paralegals with nontraditional careers, such as paralegal educators. On the other hand, it will open up membership to paralegals who possibly have competing interests. At this juncture, it will be important for the individual associations to define "paralegal" for their membership to include paralegals with nontraditional careers but also exclude "paralegals" who will have competing interests. Delegates and members will need to be vigilant to avoid appointing or electing a person with an obvious conflict of interest relating to their nontraditional role.

New Definition of Paralegals
The resolution to amend NFPA’s definition of paralegal to include "and does not violate applicable unauthorized practice of law statutes, administrative laws, court rules, or case law" was defeated by a margin of 8 votes.

Military Paralegal Membership
NFPA created a Military Sustaining Member-at-Large category to allow military members to join NFPA without joining a local association. Due to the nature of the military, this would allow military paralegals deployed overseas to be members of NFPA.

Vice President, Director of Marketing
In a majority vote, the delegates amended the NFPA By-Laws to add a Vice President, Director of Marketing to the Board. Since marketing is what attracts and keeps members, it was widely supported by 40 associations (and opposed by six). Marketing, which translates to branding, will help NFPA continue to forge its identity as the leader of the paralegal profession.

Award Winners
The award winners were announced over lunch on Saturday.
Paralegal of the Year – Cynthia Quinn
First Place West Group Scholarship – Kathleen Nolan
Second Place West Group Scholarship Winner – Laverne Scott
William R. Robie Award – Beth King, RP
PACE Ambassador Award РK. Paezlè Harris and the Georgia Association of Paralegals
PACE Scholarship – Georgette Neal
Local Outstanding Leader Award – Renee Mazio, Philadelphia Association of Paralegals

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