San Francisco Paralegal Association

News

  • 01/22/2014 6:50 PM | Ian Elkus (Administrator)
    Beginning in January 2014, the Board of Directors has voted to gradually eliminate the Associate Membership category in favor of all fully paid and current members being extended the right to vote for directors and officers.  As of now, fully-paid Associate Members will be eligible to vote at the Annual Meeting in the fall.

    The Board's intention in this matter is to ensure that all of our professional members--be they newly downsized, outsourced, laid off, between jobs or just seeking different opportunities--have the right to still participate in the decisions that help decide their Association's future.  The Board also anticipates that this change will encourage more member participation in the Association going forward.
  • 12/31/2013 4:50 PM | Anonymous
    As we come to the close of 2013, we here at San Francisco Paralegal Association would like to express our appreciation to our members and thank you for your continued support.

     

    We wish you and your family a peaceful, healthy and prosperous New Year!

  • 10/29/2013 8:45 PM | Anonymous
    Thank you for your membership with the San Francisco Paralegal Association.  I would also like to thank all of you who attended the 2013 Annual Meeting.  We had over 44 members attend.

    As President, I would like to extend my congratulations to the newly elected 2014 Board and Officers:

    President
    Ian Elkus
     
     
    Vice President
    Elizabeth Olvera
     
     
    Treasurer
    Trinh Doan

     
    Board of Directors
    Susan Jaffe
    Matthew Nevitt
    Kristin Schieber
    John Stewart

    I encourage each and every one of you to please attend our next Board meeting on November 11, 2013 at 5:30 PM at the Association's headquarters on 1 Sansome Street, Suite 3500, San Francisco, CA 94104.  We will wait to induct the new leadership at the December Board meeting, but would like to begin discussing the transition to make it as smooth as possible.

     
    Sincerely,

    Kristin Schieber
    President, San Francisco Paralegal Association
  • 10/27/2013 3:31 PM | Anonymous
    The San Francisco Paralegal Association would like to congratulate Joan M. Douglas-Fry, student of the San Francisco State University Paralegal Studies program, for winning the 2013 SFPA Scholarship!  The $1,000 scholarship will be used to pay for costs incidental to the pursuit of a paralegal studies certificate.                                                  

    Below is her winning essay:

                                                                                                                                             

     Limited License Legal Technician Program

                                                                                                           

    In the medical field, there are physician assistants and nurse practitioners who can offer limited medical diagnosis and treatment without a medical degree. So, why shouldn’t there be a category of legal professionals who can offer legal advice in certain situations who aren’t licensed attorneys?

    California is facing an access to justice crisis, where many people are increasingly unable to afford legal help.  Although legal aid, pro bono service and court-employed family law facilitators try to fill this gap, too many people need legal assistance and simply cannot afford it at today’s legal market rates; thus, many are often forced to turn to non-lawyers or self-represent because of costs

    In response, the California State Bar is considering implementation of a limited-practice licensing program that would create a new class of legal professionals who could give legal advice in certain situations.  The plan is that the limited licensing program would provide legal services to clients who couldn't otherwise afford attorneys, while allowing law students and others who haven't passed the bar, such as certified paralegals, to put their skills to use.

    In 2012, Washington State adopted the Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) Rule28 [1] , which authorizes non-attorneys who meet certain educational requirements to advise clients on specific areas of law. For now it is limited to family law, but expects to roll out other practice areas soon.  APR 28 allows legal technicians to select and complete forms, inform clients of procedures and timelines, review and explain pleadings and identify additional documents that clients may need. 

     It is certainly true that California currently allows non-lawyers to perform some legal tasks that don't constitute the practice of law, such as helping people fill out legal forms. For instance, paralegals working under the supervision of licensed attorneys (Business and Professions Code Section 6450 et seq), unlawful detainer assistants, legal document assistants (Business and Professions Code Section 6400 et seq) and immigration consultants (Business and Professions Code Section 22440 et seq) registered by county clerks or California’s Secretary of State all can assist consumers with legal needs in limited ways, short of practicing law.

                  

    The services of a LLLT would be most useful in cases concerning family law, landlord-tenant disputes, foreclosures, end-of-life planning, and general consumer issues, areas where people usually find themselves needing legal assistance and many times having to self-represent.  A certified paralegal would typically have the skills needed to serve clients in these areas, including research and discovery, preparing forms, compiling documentation, interviewing, and preparing pleadings.  It is not being argued for LLLTs to practice independently in criminal cases. 

    Thus, the time has come for the legal profession to offer consumers better access to legal services in a more affordable manner.  California State Bar Board President Patrick Kelly says that doing nothing about the spiraling costs of legal services is not an option.  “Despite fundamental changes in society and the needs of clients, the basic legal service delivery system we use today has not fundamentally changed for more than 150 years,” said Kelly. “It is time to re-examine how legal services are being delivered, and the State Bar’s examination of limited-practice licensing is a strong step in this direction.”                                               

     

     

    [1]Washington State Supreme Court under Rule 28 of the Admission to Practice Rules (APR), adopted September 1, 2012. APR 28 authorizes non-attorneys who meet certain educational requirements to advise and assist clients on specific areas of law. 

                                                                                                        

     

     

                                                       

     


     

  • 09/30/2013 7:06 PM | Anonymous
    New jobs have been added to the Members' Only Career Center, and more jobs are in the pipeline. For those interested in joining in the Association, this is one of many benefits of becoming a member of the San Francisco Paralegal Association. If you would like to become a member, please visit our Join page.
  • 02/20/2013 2:37 PM | Anonymous

    Announcing the All-New At-Issue Newsletter

    At-Issue Vol. 1 - Issue No. 1.pdf


    Dear Members,


    In pursuit of providing information for sharing updated news and events, I am pleased to announce that San Francisco Paralegal Association (SFPA) is launching its first issue for 2013 of the At-Issue Newsletter! I am so grateful to all the contributors for making this newsletter happen.  The At-Issue newsletter will be published quarterly.  We are providing this newsletter for our members, vendors, and affiliations to aid with updates on important developments of SFPA and important developments in the legal profession.     


    Members and readers, if you would like to become a writer or contributor to this newsletter, provide suggestions of topics you would like to read about, or simply leave a comment, please email me at marketingmembership@sfpa.com


    Thank you for reading and enjoying the At-Issue.  Please look out for issue number two in a couple of months.


    Sincerely,

    Michele K. Ho

    Marketing & Membership Chairperson 

  • 02/06/2013 10:47 PM | Anonymous
    New jobs have been added to the Members' Only Career Center, and more jobs are in the pipeline. For those interested in joining in the Association, this is one of many benefits of becoming a member of the San Francisco Paralegal Association. If you would like to become a member, please visit our Join page.
  • 10/20/2012 11:19 AM | info @sfpa.com (Administrator)
    The San Francisco Paralegal Association would like to congratulate Charles Curtis, student of the San Francisco State University Paralegal Studies program, for winning the 2012 F. Chantal Russell Scholarship!  The $1,000 scholarship will be used to pay for costs incidental to the pursuit of a paralegal studies certificate.

    Below is his winning essay:

    Chantal B. Russell Scholarship Essay: Implications of MCLE Definitions for California Paralegals


    Paralegals and attorneys in California are required by statute to complete a prescribed number of hours of mandatory continuing legal education (MCLE) on an ongoing basis. Though the requirements for each group are similar, there are also some significant differences, which raise a number of concerns when closely examined.


    All paralegals are subject to the same two-year compliance period; the current period ends December 31, 2012. During this time, each paralegal must complete a minimum of four hours on legal ethics and four hours on general or specific legal topics. These hours must be certified with the paralegal’s supervising attorney.


    Attorneys, on the other hand, are divided by last name into three staggered, three-year compliance groups; the next reporting deadline, for attorneys with last names starting with the letters A through G, is February 1, 2013. Each attorney must complete 25 hours of education, including at least four hours on legal ethics; one hour on prevention, detection, and treatment of substance abuse or mental illness; and one hour on elimination of bias in the legal profession. These hours must be reported to the California State Bar.


    Multi-year compliance periods allow for busy lives, both personally and professionally, but they may also encourage those in the legal field to postpone completion of the requirements and to work for extended periods of time without engaging in any continuing education. Further, the disparity in the length of the respective compliance periods means that attorneys who meet only the minimum requirements will complete just two-thirds the number of ethics hours completed by paralegals over the same number of years. Is it reasonable to think that attorneys require less ethics education than do paralegals?


    Of perhaps greater concern is the way that the MCLE requirements are defined. California Business and Professions Code section 6450(d) describes the nature of the requirements for paralegals and refers to BPC section 6070, which describes the requirements for attorneys and indicates that the State Bar will approve education activities. Section 6070, in turn, points to the California Rules of Court. There, rule 9.31 reiterates the basic requirements for attorneys and notes that the State Bar is responsible for establishing and administering an MCLE program. Finally, the Rules of the State Bar (Title 2, Division 4, where the M in MCLE stands for minimum, not mandatory) provide an extensive description of the approved, and unapproved, types of educational credit and activities -- but these rules are written for attorneys, not paralegals. While some of the general principles might reasonably apply to paralegal MCLE, it is clear that the guidelines were not developed with paralegals in mind. In fact, the most specific and relevant description of the continuing education requirements for paralegals appears in the first link of the chain of definitions, BPC section 6450(d). Subsequent statutes and rules point, ultimately, to rules that simply don’t apply to paralegals.


    The regulation of paralegals is a fairly recent, and evidently incomplete, development in California. Setting standards for education and behavior helps elevate the profession, but insufficient acknowledgment of the unique role of paralegals calls into question the adequacy of the recognition. If paralegals are subject to continuing education requirements, they deserve to have those requirements defined more specifically by rules tailored to their distinct place in the legal field.

  • 10/20/2012 11:01 AM | info @sfpa.com (Administrator)
    Thank you for your membership with the San Francisco Paralegal Association.  I would also like to thank all of you who attended the 2012 Annual Meeting.  We had over 50 members attend, and the evaluations were overwhelmingly positive.

    As President, I would like to extend my congratulations to the newly elected 2013 Board and Officers:

    President
    Kristin Schieber

    Treasurer
    Trinh Doan

    Secretary
    Latosha Wakefield

    Board of Directors
    Carolyn Archibald
    Lisa Craft
    Ian Elkus
    Susan Jaffe
    Atia Schreiber
    John Stewart

    I encourage each and every one of you to please attend our next Board meeting on November 6, 2012 at 5:30 PM at the Association's headquarters on 1 Sansome Street, Suite 3500, San Francisco, CA 94104.  We will wait to induct the new leadership at the December Board meeting, but would like to begin discussing the transition to make it as smooth as possible.

    Our next event will be the Winter Social to be held on Thursday, November 8, 2012 from 6:00 - 8:00 PM at Ozumo, 2251 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612.  We encourage all members to attend to network and enjoy free food and drinks.  Hope to see you all there!

    Sincerely,

    Brian Metzker
    President, San Francisco Paralegal Association

San Francisco Paralegal Association • 1 Sansome St., Ste. 3500 • San Francisco, CA 94104-4448 • (415) 946-8935 • info@sfpa.com