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RE: [Greedy Paralegals] Re: Possible regulation of Paralegals

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  • scott foster
    Celia, while the discussion will rage forever, apparently, on the difference in independent and freelance it is important to recognise that when many of
    Message 1 of 8 , Nov 1, 2005
      Celia, while the discussion will rage forever,
      apparently, on the difference in "independent" and
      "freelance" it is important to recognise that when
      many of us, myself included, started as "independent"
      paralegals more than 20 years ago there was no
      definition in place.

      I began practice working for attorneys on contract
      and we were obviously called "independent contractors"
      since we were not on their payroll, did not get
      benefits and were used on a case by case or job by job
      employment.

      For definition of what knind of independent
      contractor we were we dropped the contractor and added
      the word paralegal hence "independent paralegal" this
      description still fits those who work for attorneys
      and must meet the independent status of the IRS for
      tax purposes, worker's compensation laws in the
      various states, and other regulatory schemes of the
      various agencies and states.

      Therefore, in my mind, at least, "independent" is a
      quasi-legal/administrative term used to describe those
      who are independent contractors to attorneys.

      I have no earthly idea where this "freelance" term
      originated.

      While I don't think the "quickie"schools are worth
      the time it takes to write the check, you apparently
      don't understand that I attended a SACS accredited, 2
      year program, and took 60 semester hours of legal
      courses. No english, no math, no gym, no nothing but
      law.

      I was already degreed before I entered the program
      at age 49. Dind't need the other "stuff" and it was a
      waste of my time to take 101 series courses in stuff
      that I already owned.

      You continue to make bald and false statements
      about independents not working under the supervision
      of attorneys and the more than 300 "independents" I
      know and correspond with regularly are doing exactly
      what you, with apparently limited knowledge in the
      field of independents say they do not.

      Please, before making blanket statements about a
      class of people do your research and get your facts
      straight.

      Such statements are both unworthy of your mental
      capacity and demeaning to those whose characters are
      bismirched by them.

      --- "Celia C. Elwell, RP" <pacecce@...> wrote:

      > Scott, I didn't mean to ignore independent
      > paralegals. In my mind, there is
      > a difference between freelance and independent
      > paralegals. Freelancers
      > still work under an attorney's supervision;
      > independents do not. Since
      > independents don't have attorney supervision,
      > independents have gotten a bad
      > name -- at least some have -- for crossing the line
      > into the unauthorized
      > practice of law. It's worth noting that there are
      > several areas where state
      > and federal statutes allow a non-lawyer to represent
      > others and it's not the
      > unauthorized practice of law.
      >
      > But it seems to be the unauthorized practice of law
      > that gets the public and
      > the attorneys in a hot sweat more often than not,
      > and for good reason. For
      > those few who, for whatever reason, cross the line
      > where paralegals truly
      > cannot go, it gives us all a black eye. As far as I
      > know, these are the
      > only things a paralegal cannot do (and I just posted
      > this on another list
      > serve so I apologize to those who are reading it
      > twice):
      >
      > 1. Give legal advice (and saying I can't give you
      > legal advice but if I
      > were you, I would . . . is giving legal advice)
      >
      > 2. Setting fees or splitting fees with non-lawyers
      >
      > 3. Appearing in court on behalf of the client
      > (without the lawyer -- again
      > there are some statutory exceptions to this)
      >
      > 4. Establishing the attorney-client relationship
      >
      > Otherwise, a paralegal can do anything a lawyer can
      > do, from performing
      > legal research to writing appellate briefs. Not all
      > attorneys agree that we
      > can or should do those things, and that is why it is
      > still important to
      > educate the bar and judiciary about how to use us to
      > our full potential.
      >
      > I think, Scott, that you and I perhaps disagree when
      > it comes to specifics
      > on educational standards. I support the models
      > established by AAfPE, the
      > ABA, NALA, and NFPA. I'm not wild about short-term
      > programs, and I think
      > Bob LeClair's article on "Weekend Wonders" that was
      > published in LAT is just
      > about the best advice I can give anyone on that
      > subject. I'm not opposed to
      > distance education if there are certain standards in
      > place, and I am opposed
      > to any school that teaches legal research solely
      > using computers and never
      > sends anyone to a law library. I know that for many
      > paralegal educators,
      > using computers is a much cheaper way to go and the
      > cost of maintaining even
      > a bare-bones law library is expensive, but that's
      > the standard I prefer.
      > Perhaps one reason is because I've worked places
      > where the Westlaw budget
      > ran out and we had to use the county law library for
      > research. But I think
      > my opinion comes more from the 15 years I taught
      > legal analysis and legal
      > writing and Westlaw/Lexis and from my experience as
      > a paralegal. Some
      > people agree with me; some don't.
      >
      > I don't think any regulation is good regulation.
      > And I realize that
      > regulation or licensing will likely exclude some
      > folks who are attending
      > substandard schools. I expect them to yell like
      > crazy against the education
      > standards if it doesn't include them. That's a
      > normal reaction, but that
      > doesn't mean I think the standards should be lowered
      > to appease those folks.
      > Let's face it -- we do have some extremely sucky
      > paralegal schools in this
      > country that are making a mint off of people who
      > have no idea what kind of
      > education they really need to succeed in this
      > profession.
      >
      > As far as needing a 4-year degree, I've been turned
      > down from several jobs
      > because I didn't have one. And I realize that there
      > are some areas of the
      > country where you have to have a 4-year degree to
      > get your foot in the door.
      > That's just the way it is. In my area of the world,
      > having graduated from
      > an ABA-approved school is important, along with
      > having a 4-year degree or
      > having passed one or more of the national paralegal
      > exams. So before you
      > decide what kind of regulation is needed in your
      > state, the best advice I
      > can give you is to be as well informed as possible.
      > Understand all the
      > different points of view and why people feel that
      > way before making up your
      > own mind what is or is not appropriate for your
      > state.
      >
      > It's important to discuss the differences and
      > understand where those folks
      > are coming from. Otherwise, I don't see how you can
      > be sure what is right
      > is for you.
      >
      > Celia C. Elwell, RP
      > PACE Registered Paralegal
      >
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: greedyparalegals@yahoogroups.com
      > [mailto:greedyparalegals@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf
      > Of scott foster
      > Sent: Monday, October 31, 2005 6:20 PM
      > To: greedyparalegals@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: RE: [Greedy Paralegals] Re: Possible
      > regulation of Paralegals
      >
      >
      > It's amazing how badly some can misconstrue a
      > position.
      > I don't think regulation is necessairly bad. I
      > think the FLorida Law as proposed is horrible!
      >
      > I don't think regulation without some
      > standardization of educational requirements is
      > workable in any guise.
      >
      > All programs which are to be accepted should
      > contain the same, or nearly the same requirements in
      > law, legal research, legal writing, and some,
      > clerical
      > skills. The programs should be heavy on law, very
      > heavy on procedure (state and federal), emphasize
      > those skills which insurers and other corporate
      > clients are willing to pay for.
      >
      > While coding is important, in most cases it is
      > not
      > a job for a paralegal. Yes, there are exceptions
      > where training, and experience in ceration areas of
      > litigation require that the person(s) doing the
      > coding
      > have the requisite knowlegde to make determination
      > about the importance and weight of documents.
      >
      > It is critical that paralegals in the
      > litigation
      > fields understanding both coding and how to acces
      > docments rapidly and efficiently but shoud they be
      > doing coding? In my humble opinion, unless the case
      > is particularly difficult, the evidence and
      > documents
      > voluminious, and the indexing of those documents
      > critical to the preparation of the case it is a
      > clerical matter and, as such, should not be billed
      > to
      > the client.
      >
      > And, again, Celia is absolutley correct.
      > Educating
      > attorneys about what paras can and should be doing
      > is
      > critical! Legislation will not accomplish that
      > goal.
      >
      > Also, Celia completely ignores all of those of
      > us
      > who prefer to work independently perhaps for
      > attorneys
      > on contract, or in administrative matters, or even
      > those who work as "form fillers".
      >
      > Those who work in these venues are edicated,
      > most
      > have at least a bachelor's degree in the field and
      > many have advanced degrees. Does that make them any
      > less "paralegals"? Again, I think not.
      >
      > Celia and I agree on many of the problems
      > paralegals are facing. I have been on record for
      > more
      > than 20 years as favoring regulation. (See the
      > report
      > of the Florida Bar Committe on Legal Technicians
      > (1994) where more than 15 pages of my previous words
      > on the subject are memorialized.
      >
      > We siply do not agree that any regulation is
      > better than bad regulation.
      >
      > --- >
      > >
      >
      >
      > Scott Foster
      > 9277 Egale Nest Drive
      > 850-936-4848
      > e-mail scottfo2@...
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > __________________________________
      > Yahoo! Mail - PC Magazine Editors' Choice 2005
      > http://mail.yahoo.com
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >


      Scott Foster
      9277 Egale Nest Drive
      850-936-4848
      e-mail scottfo2@...











      __________________________________
      Yahoo! FareChase: Search multiple travel sites in one click.
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    • Celia C. Elwell, RP
      Scott, My statements about the different between freelance and independent paralegals are universally accepted terms, and I am a bit surprised that we disagree
      Message 2 of 8 , Nov 1, 2005
        Scott,

        My statements about the different between freelance and independent
        paralegals are universally accepted terms, and I am a bit surprised that we
        disagree on those definitions. While I recognize that "independent"
        characterized those paralegals who worked for attorneys on a contract basis,
        those folks are now called "freelance" paralegals. I cannot tell you where
        the term originated. Paralegals or other non-attorneys who work directly
        with the public and not under the supervision of an attorney are called
        independent paralegals and sometimes legal technicians I taught these
        definitions using "West's Paralegal Today - The Legal Team at Work" by
        Miller and Urisko, see pp. 97, 100. See also "Introduction to Law, A
        Critical Thinking Approach" by Currier and Eimermann, pp. 16-17; and
        "Paralegal Career Guide, 3rd Edition" by Chere Estrin, p.76.

        It is also true that there used to be no difference whatsoever between the
        definitions of "legal assistant" and "paralegal," but those definitions are
        no longer synonymous like they used to be.

        Scott, I have no idea what kind of education you have, and truly haven't
        been concerned about it. I know many truly qualified paralegals who have
        been paralegals for a long, long time, and they have no college degree or
        formal paralegal education. I talked about that in an article I did for
        NFPA which, unfortunately isn't accessible to folks who aren't NFPA members.
        That's why any discussion about regulation or licensing needs to address
        grandfathering for those folks.

        I'm sorry, but I missed whatever point you were trying to make when you
        talked about your education. I didn't get the comparison I assumed you were
        trying to make to the requirements for an ABA-approved school (which does
        require general college classes, such as English). I have yet to see any
        paralegal program that requires gym, but I'm assuming you were being
        facetious. I have no problem at all with the requirement for general
        college education courses, especially when I see the dismal oral and writing
        communication skills that seem to go along with the substandard school
        graduates. It got so bad here that it is now normal for all paralegal/legal
        assistant applicants to take a basic grammar/punctuation, math, and writing
        test. Folks who may not know a lot about paralegal education need to keep
        in mind that there are schools that take folks who haven't graduated from
        high school and haven't had to meet any kind of requirement other than an
        ability to write a check or fill out a school loan form. Licensing and/or
        regulation would certainly help that problem, and fixing that problem could
        only mean positive things for the profession.

        So, yes, I'll continue to advocate that paralegal schools should have
        general college (what some people call freshman year) courses just for the
        sake of making sure the folks can write a basic sentence and do basic math.
        Both national paralegal associations, the ABA, and the paralegal educators
        (AAfPE) feel the same way, and they've given it a great deal of thought for
        a very long time.

        And I don't see anything wrong with setting that as a reasonable standard if
        we are serious about being a profession. If you want to have a career where
        all you need to say is "do you want fries with that?" then I'll agree that
        English, math, and some basic college along with law-related courses aren't
        necessary.

        I'm not advocating a standard that will prohibit qualified folks from being
        in this profession. And to me, qualified includes folks who have worked in
        the profession for a long time but who have no paralegal education or a
        4-year degree. I would definitely grandfather those folks in, but I'd have
        a sundown clause, too. I'd insist on reasonable standards for paralegal
        education that, if I ruled the world, would follow the ABA's standards and
        would include reasonable standards for distance ed schools that are in
        substantial compliance with the ABA standards.

        But I have gotten the impression from your many posts on this subject that
        any kind of regulation or licensing worries you tremendously. I read the
        Florida bill, and it's not evil incarnate as I've seen you and others
        describe it. Actually, I thought it was pretty reasonable, and I could live
        with it if it were being proposed here in Oklahoma. I particularly liked
        the standards on paralegal education. But I'm not one to advocate that we
        should set our standards at the lowest common denominator. I realize there
        are some schools that may be on the cusp, but I'd encourage them to raise
        their standards, not ask the rest of us to lower ours. Stubbornly
        protesting against this bill because it doesn't include a school at which
        you teach (wasn't that one of your arguments, at least at one time?) can
        appear as if you are protecting your own rather than looking at the
        profession objectively. I'm sure that you have looked at this from all
        possible points of view, because you have certainly debated it in every
        forum of which I'm aware.

        As I've said before, talking about this is important, and it is critical
        that we listen closely to what each other is saying. It's the only way
        we're going to truly understand this complex and important issue. It is not
        something that one can make a snap judgment about, at least I don't think it
        is. But I have to admit that I see more positive than negative in the
        regulation/licensing argument, and I am in favor of heading that direction.

        Celia C. Elwell, RP
        PACE Registered Paralegal
        pacecce@...


        -----Original Message-----
        From: greedyparalegals@yahoogroups.com
        [mailto:greedyparalegals@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of scott foster
        Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 7:34 AM
        To: greedyparalegals@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: RE: [Greedy Paralegals] Re: Possible regulation of Paralegals


        Celia, while the discussion will rage forever,
        apparently, on the difference in "independent" and
        "freelance" it is important to recognise that when
        many of us, myself included, started as "independent"
        paralegals more than 20 years ago there was no
        definition in place.

        I began practice working for attorneys on contract
        and we were obviously called "independent contractors"
        since we were not on their payroll, did not get
        benefits and were used on a case by case or job by job
        employment.

        For definition of what knind of independent
        contractor we were we dropped the contractor and added
        the word paralegal hence "independent paralegal" this
        description still fits those who work for attorneys
        and must meet the independent status of the IRS for
        tax purposes, worker's compensation laws in the
        various states, and other regulatory schemes of the
        various agencies and states.

        Therefore, in my mind, at least, "independent" is a
        quasi-legal/administrative term used to describe those
        who are independent contractors to attorneys.

        I have no earthly idea where this "freelance" term
        originated.

        While I don't think the "quickie"schools are worth
        the time it takes to write the check, you apparently
        don't understand that I attended a SACS accredited, 2
        year program, and took 60 semester hours of legal
        courses. No english, no math, no gym, no nothing but
        law.

        I was already degreed before I entered the program
        at age 49. Dind't need the other "stuff" and it was a
        waste of my time to take 101 series courses in stuff
        that I already owned.

        You continue to make bald and false statements
        about independents not working under the supervision
        of attorneys and the more than 300 "independents" I
        know and correspond with regularly are doing exactly
        what you, with apparently limited knowledge in the
        field of independents say they do not.

        Please, before making blanket statements about a
        class of people do your research and get your facts
        straight.

        Such statements are both unworthy of your mental
        capacity and demeaning to those whose characters are
        bismirched by them.

        --- "Celia C. Elwell, RP" <pacecce@...> wrote:

        > Scott, I didn't mean to ignore independent
        > paralegals. In my mind, there is
        > a difference between freelance and independent
        > paralegals. Freelancers
        > still work under an attorney's supervision;
        > independents do not. Since
        > independents don't have attorney supervision,
        > independents have gotten a bad
        > name -- at least some have -- for crossing the line
        > into the unauthorized
        > practice of law. It's worth noting that there are
        > several areas where state
        > and federal statutes allow a non-lawyer to represent
        > others and it's not the
        > unauthorized practice of law.
        >
        > But it seems to be the unauthorized practice of law
        > that gets the public and
        > the attorneys in a hot sweat more often than not,
        > and for good reason. For
        > those few who, for whatever reason, cross the line
        > where paralegals truly
        > cannot go, it gives us all a black eye. As far as I
        > know, these are the
        > only things a paralegal cannot do (and I just posted
        > this on another list
        > serve so I apologize to those who are reading it
        > twice):
        >
        > 1. Give legal advice (and saying I can't give you
        > legal advice but if I
        > were you, I would . . . is giving legal advice)
        >
        > 2. Setting fees or splitting fees with non-lawyers
        >
        > 3. Appearing in court on behalf of the client
        > (without the lawyer -- again
        > there are some statutory exceptions to this)
        >
        > 4. Establishing the attorney-client relationship
        >
        > Otherwise, a paralegal can do anything a lawyer can
        > do, from performing
        > legal research to writing appellate briefs. Not all
        > attorneys agree that we
        > can or should do those things, and that is why it is
        > still important to
        > educate the bar and judiciary about how to use us to
        > our full potential.
        >
        > I think, Scott, that you and I perhaps disagree when
        > it comes to specifics
        > on educational standards. I support the models
        > established by AAfPE, the
        > ABA, NALA, and NFPA. I'm not wild about short-term
        > programs, and I think
        > Bob LeClair's article on "Weekend Wonders" that was
        > published in LAT is just
        > about the best advice I can give anyone on that
        > subject. I'm not opposed to
        > distance education if there are certain standards in
        > place, and I am opposed
        > to any school that teaches legal research solely
        > using computers and never
        > sends anyone to a law library. I know that for many
        > paralegal educators,
        > using computers is a much cheaper way to go and the
        > cost of maintaining even
        > a bare-bones law library is expensive, but that's
        > the standard I prefer.
        > Perhaps one reason is because I've worked places
        > where the Westlaw budget
        > ran out and we had to use the county law library for
        > research. But I think
        > my opinion comes more from the 15 years I taught
        > legal analysis and legal
        > writing and Westlaw/Lexis and from my experience as
        > a paralegal. Some
        > people agree with me; some don't.
        >
        > I don't think any regulation is good regulation.
        > And I realize that
        > regulation or licensing will likely exclude some
        > folks who are attending
        > substandard schools. I expect them to yell like
        > crazy against the education
        > standards if it doesn't include them. That's a
        > normal reaction, but that
        > doesn't mean I think the standards should be lowered
        > to appease those folks.
        > Let's face it -- we do have some extremely sucky
        > paralegal schools in this
        > country that are making a mint off of people who
        > have no idea what kind of
        > education they really need to succeed in this
        > profession.
        >
        > As far as needing a 4-year degree, I've been turned
        > down from several jobs
        > because I didn't have one. And I realize that there
        > are some areas of the
        > country where you have to have a 4-year degree to
        > get your foot in the door.
        > That's just the way it is. In my area of the world,
        > having graduated from
        > an ABA-approved school is important, along with
        > having a 4-year degree or
        > having passed one or more of the national paralegal
        > exams. So before you
        > decide what kind of regulation is needed in your
        > state, the best advice I
        > can give you is to be as well informed as possible.
        > Understand all the
        > different points of view and why people feel that
        > way before making up your
        > own mind what is or is not appropriate for your
        > state.
        >
        > It's important to discuss the differences and
        > understand where those folks
        > are coming from. Otherwise, I don't see how you can
        > be sure what is right
        > is for you.
        >
        > Celia C. Elwell, RP
        > PACE Registered Paralegal
        >
        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: greedyparalegals@yahoogroups.com
        > [mailto:greedyparalegals@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf
        > Of scott foster
        > Sent: Monday, October 31, 2005 6:20 PM
        > To: greedyparalegals@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: RE: [Greedy Paralegals] Re: Possible
        > regulation of Paralegals
        >
        >
        > It's amazing how badly some can misconstrue a
        > position.
        > I don't think regulation is necessairly bad. I
        > think the FLorida Law as proposed is horrible!
        >
        > I don't think regulation without some
        > standardization of educational requirements is
        > workable in any guise.
        >
        > All programs which are to be accepted should
        > contain the same, or nearly the same requirements in
        > law, legal research, legal writing, and some,
        > clerical
        > skills. The programs should be heavy on law, very
        > heavy on procedure (state and federal), emphasize
        > those skills which insurers and other corporate
        > clients are willing to pay for.
        >
        > While coding is important, in most cases it is
        > not
        > a job for a paralegal. Yes, there are exceptions
        > where training, and experience in ceration areas of
        > litigation require that the person(s) doing the
        > coding
        > have the requisite knowlegde to make determination
        > about the importance and weight of documents.
        >
        > It is critical that paralegals in the
        > litigation
        > fields understanding both coding and how to acces
        > docments rapidly and efficiently but shoud they be
        > doing coding? In my humble opinion, unless the case
        > is particularly difficult, the evidence and
        > documents
        > voluminious, and the indexing of those documents
        > critical to the preparation of the case it is a
        > clerical matter and, as such, should not be billed
        > to
        > the client.
        >
        > And, again, Celia is absolutley correct.
        > Educating
        > attorneys about what paras can and should be doing
        > is
        > critical! Legislation will not accomplish that
        > goal.
        >
        > Also, Celia completely ignores all of those of
        > us
        > who prefer to work independently perhaps for
        > attorneys
        > on contract, or in administrative matters, or even
        > those who work as "form fillers".
        >
        > Those who work in these venues are edicated,
        > most
        > have at least a bachelor's degree in the field and
        > many have advanced degrees. Does that make them any
        > less "paralegals"? Again, I think not.
        >
        > Celia and I agree on many of the problems
        > paralegals are facing. I have been on record for
        > more
        > than 20 years as favoring regulation. (See the
        > report
        > of the Florida Bar Committe on Legal Technicians
        > (1994) where more than 15 pages of my previous words
        > on the subject are memorialized.
        >
        > We siply do not agree that any regulation is
        > better than bad regulation.
        >
        > --- >
        > >
        >
        >
        > Scott Foster
        > 9277 Egale Nest Drive
        > 850-936-4848
        > e-mail scottfo2@...
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > __________________________________
        > Yahoo! Mail - PC Magazine Editors' Choice 2005
        > http://mail.yahoo.com
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >


        Scott Foster
        9277 Egale Nest Drive
        850-936-4848
        e-mail scottfo2@...











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