Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mandatory, Not Voluntary, Is Necessary for the Profession

One of the National Federation of Paralegal Association's (NFPA) member organizations submitted an agenda topic to allow NFPA to support all types of regulation, not just mandatory licensure. As it stands now, NFPA can only promote regulation if it meets the minimum standards it has set: formal education requirements, an exam, a character requirement, and a grandparenting provision. But some associations want NFPA to support all forms of regulation, even if they do not meet those minimum standards.

This is a mistake. With the sour tang of the Wisconsin Supreme Court denial still on our tongues, this should be a motivator to push even harder for mandatory regulation. This is not the time to compromise, especially since, even more recently, the Indiana Supreme Court denied voluntary regulation. This is Indiana, which is full of Registered Paralegals and home to NFPA's own president.

Instead, waving the Richlin v. Chertoff decision in the air, we need to demand recognition as professionals through licensure. The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that our work warrants reimbursement, which would not be the case if paralegal work was not valuable and substantive.

There cannot be an acceptance of voluntary regulation as a "stepping stone" to mandatory licensure. That is accepting defeat, accepting the patronizing pats on the head that mean that we as paralegals will never fully be recognized for our contributions to law offices, corporations, and other entities. Voluntary certification creates a market for uneducated, unskilled paralegals who of course will be paid less than paralegals who received the voluntary certification.

There is not a single state in the entire United States that thinks paralegals are essential enough and professional enough to require regulation. Not a single state - it's a travesty, considering that paralegals are the lifeblood of any law office and perform essential, cost-effective functions in corporations, government positions, and other non-traditional roles.

NFPA needs to continue to push for mandatory regulation as the leader of the profession, which is why this agenda item should not pass.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to have you on my Blogtalkradio show to discus this issue and some other issues pertaining to the paralegal profession. If you are interested send me a note at:

    info@newyorkparalegalblog.com

    ReplyDelete

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