Megan Goor 2016-09-26 23:30:37
A Division With Vision The State Bar of Texas Paralegal Division celebrates 35 years. In 1981, the State Bar of Texas became the first bar association in the United States to create a separate division for paralegals. During this 35th year, the Paralegal Division will transition its publication, the Texas Paralegal Journal, to a completely digital format, will launch a merchandise store, and will recognize the 100 PD Club. In addition to its continued mission to encourage pro bono work across the state, the Paralegal Division is seeking to enrich the role of the paralegal in law offices. What is a paralegal? In 2005, the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors and the Paralegal Division adopted a new definition for “paralegal”1: A paralegal is a person, qualified through various combinations of education, training, or work experience, who is employed or engaged by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency, or other entity in a capacity or function which involves the performance, under the ultimate direction and supervision of a licensed attorney, of specifically delegated substantive legal work, which work, for the most part, requires a sufficient knowledge of legal principles and procedures that, absent such a person, an attorney would be required to perform the task. Comment 8 on “maintaining competence” to Texas Disciplinary Rule of Professional Conduct 1.01 (Competent and Diligent Representation) states: Because of the vital role of lawyers in the legal process, each lawyer should strive to become and remain proficient and competent in the practice of law. To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill of a competent practitioner, a lawyer should engage in continuing study and education. Consequently, with paralegals also striving to be proficient and competent in their skill set, knowledge, and responsibilities, they can effectively and efficiently assist with tasks to allow attorneys to focus on today’s evolving practice of law. How the division can help Paralegal Division members enjoy many benefits, including: • Texas Advanced Paralegal Seminar—an annual three-day event offering up to 14 hours of CLE, coming up next October 4-6, 2017, in Addison (registration and a fee required). • eGroup forum—a members-only community with hot topics, forms, ethics discussions, and questions posted and answered by paralegals. • Texas Board of Legal Specialization Helpful Hints Guide—a primer, written by TBLS-certified paralegals, that is packed with information to help paralegals through every step of the exam process, from the application to sitting for the certification exam covering one of seven areas of law. • Mentor - protégé program—a program pairing professional members of the Paralegal Division with student members. • Texas Paralegal Journal—a magazine that keeps its readers up to date with current events, legal issues, and technology tips and tricks, at txpd.org/TPJ/TPJ_Archive.asp. • Pro bono events—notifications on upcoming legal aid opportunities and access to a statewide listing. • Annual travels to Europe—the opportunity to purchase interesting trips abroad with colleagues. Sign up for the next expedition to Lucerne, Switzerland, April 21-29, 2017, at txpd.org. • “The Paralegal Pulse”—a monthly e-newsletter that provides a quick overview of upcoming CLE events and topics. • State Bar of Texas—Division members have access to the membership benefits of the State Bar, such as a subscription to the Texas Bar Journal as well as health, life, and dental insurance programs. In addition, the Paralegal Ethics Handbook addresses ethical considerations for 17 practice areas, as well as in house corporate, freelance, administrative, governmental, and regulatory law paralegals. This handbook, written by division members and available for purchase on our website, is recommended reading for various paralegal programs throughout the state and is sold and used across the nation. The Paralegal Division can help bring out the best in paralegals—and what brings out the best in each of us, empowers us all. Notes 1) On April 21, 2006, the board of directors approved amending this definition to include standards aimed at assisting the public in obtaining quality legal services, assisting attorneys in their utilization of paralegals, and assisting judges in determining whether paralegal work is a reimbursable cost when granting attorney fees (https://txpd.org/page.asp?p=Paralegal%20Definition%20and%20Standards). MEGAN GOOR is a paralegal certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is president of the State Bar of Texas Paralegal Division.￼
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