Career Articles

Paralegal Association – Taking A Closer Look

paralegal association
Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

The paralegal practice started to develop in the United States in the 1960s as lawyers faced with the need to hire the assistants to help them with general obligations and in dealing with paperwork related to a case investigation. As this became a widespread system, there was a need to regulate this practice by setting up a paralegal association in charge of some rules and standards

Standing Committee on Legal Assistance was formed in the late 1960s by the American Bar Association, and it set the employment guidelines and norms regarding the paralegal — attorney relationship.

This paralegal association consists of both attorneys and professional paralegals.

The American Bar Association sets the standards in the education of legal assistants by offering a certification program to organizations that give lectures and courses in paralegal instruction.

Paralegals are not only represented in the American Bar Association. Since the 1970s, several major professional organizations for paralegals emerged in the United States.

Those organizations exerted significant influence and have helped to shape and establish the career field of the paralegal or legal assistant.

The two most influential professional paralegal associations in this field are the (NALA) or The National Association of Legal Assistants and the (NFPA) or National Federation of Paralegal Associations, with more than 30,000 members represented across the U.S.

These organizations have been competitive in determining the language that shapes the paralegal field, and their competitiveness was the driving force in recognizing and acknowledging the paralegal profession.

The NALA prefers the term legal assistant while the NFPA favors using the word paralegal.
Established in 1981, the AAfPE or The American Association for Paralegal Education connects various institutions and lecturers that provide paralegal education programs.

The goal of this paralegal association is to shape and set consistent paralegal education standards through a good business practice.

A new organization, The American Alliance of Paralegals, was formed in 2003 and quickly became influential in setting new standards in the legal assistant field. The American Alliance of Paralegals has a goal of helping the paralegals who may not be affiliated with another paralegal organization.

To set new standards and solidify its reputation as an association made of reputable professionals, the American Alliance of Paralegals requires its members to meet specific educational conditions or work experience guidelines to become a voting member.

The American Alliance of Paralegals was the first national organization that initiated the practice of setting the minimum educational standards and guidelines for its members.

If you are a paralegal who is not affiliated with any paralegal organization and you are aspiring to gain membership, you should probably do some research to see which of these associations are represented near you.

The national organizations probably have their representatives and hold state and regional group meetings in your area.

Try to reach your colleagues and fellow paralegals to see if they are affiliated with one of these organizations and make some inquiries about the prospects of professional membership.

Be sure to investigate the possibilities of professional development and training that the organization offers, along with other included benefits.

If you are beginning your career as a paralegal, a professional membership should provide you with a lot of benefits and help you in your career development.

The paralegal association should be able to give you access to a network of like-minded individuals and the list of job opportunities and practices which is extremely helpful for someone who is just starting his career in this field.

Membership is sometimes like being connected and having friends in high places.

A national organization might even be able to provide you with scholarship opportunities if you are a student planning to take your career in this direction.

It will undoubtedly provide you with all the necessary information to help you make the right career decision.

Do not hesitate to contact all the national paralegal associations that you can find and ask for any precise information that you need, and that might help you along with your professional career.

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