Florida Alliance of Paralegal Associations, Inc.


The Voice of the Florida Paralegal Profession


Florida Registered Paralegal (FRP)

Florida Registered Paralegal is a title conferred upon paralegals who voluntarily submit to Rule 20 of The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The Alliance had drafted legislation for paralegal regulation which was filed by Representative Juan Zapata and Senator Nancy Argenziano in the 2005 and 2006 legislative sessions. Following years of attempts by the Alliance to work with The Florida Bar to develop standards for paralegals, The Florida Bar agreed to form a committee to research the issue, and Rule 20 was drafted as a result.

 

While Rule 20's initial drafting did not contain many of the aspects FAPA deemed critical to a mandatory program, it was an important first step in the beginning of paralegal regulation in Florida. The Alliance will continue its work to improve Rule 20. The Alliance is focusing on educating the paralegal profession in Florida about Rule 20, also commonly known as the Florida Registered Paralegal ("FRP") program.

 

Florida Bar Rejects Recommendation of Its Special Committee to Study Paralegal Regulation


On May 27th, 2011 The Florida Bar Board of Governors (BoG) voted to endorse the minority opinion of the Special Committee to Study Paralegal Regulation (Special Committee) at their quarterly meeting in Key West, FL. Translation: The FL Bar rejected what the majority of the Special Committee recommended: that a paralegal must be a Florida Registered Paralegal (FRP) to be held out as a paralegal in Florida by FL Bar attorneys - essentially mandatory paralegal regulation governed by The Florida Bar.

The vote came following the Program Evaluation Committee's (PEC) report (a separate committee of the Florida Bar Board of Governors which concurrently undertook a review of the FRP Program), which included information about a survey of FRPs undertaken earlier this year.  The PEC previously announced its plan to recommend the minority report because so few paralegals happened to submit a comment about paralegal regulation in the survey, but no direct question on the topic of paralegal regulation was asked.  For the first time, chair of the PEC Greg Coleman, explained the logic behind omitting a direct question in the survey about paralegal regulation: There is no specific program to reference in the question.  Why the FL Bar’s own FRP program could not be referenced as a hypothetical, was not mentioned. 
 
Coleman explained that the Special Committee’s opinion was split along professions: attorneys in the minority, and paralegals in the majority on the vote. Coleman did not mention there were three paralegals on the committee versus six attorneys. He also did not point out that two of the attorneys were not present for the vote, or that Kathy Cook, the paralegal educator who is also an attorney, voted with the majority.  Scott Rubin, an attorney and the Chair of the Special Committee, indicated to the Special Committee that he was in favor of mandatory regulation through The Florida Bar.  The Chair may only vote to break a tie, however, and he was not provided the opportunity to cast a vote since a majority of the quorum present was able to reach a decision.
 
Strangely, the Florida Bar News attempted to put a positive spin on this rejection as a “vote for enhancements” to the FRP program, in lieu of voting for what the majority of the Special Committee recommended.   However, all of the enhancements mentioned in the article are already available to FRPs.  For example:  FRPs already receive email advertisements from the FL Bar regarding their CLE programs, benefits, annual convention, and career center.  One enhancement mentioned was already in the works since last year, but it was not at the behest of the PEC.  The FRP Standing Committee requested an upgrade to the FRP website for searching, and had already received provisional approval.  The article also stated the Florida Bar plans to increase lawyer and paralegal awareness about the program, but how they plan to reach paralegals who are not FRPs is unclear.   
 
The Florida Bar has stated its position: no mandatory paralegal regulation through the FRP Program.  Any voting in opposition to the preference of the Florida Bar Board of Governors' members on the Special Committee was completely disregarded.  If this action was not the “second step” for which you have been patiently waiting, then become more active with FAPA to initiate paralegal regulation overseen directly by the Florida Supreme Court, as proposed in our legislation.  Together we can make paralegal regulation in Florida a reality.  Please contact us to find out how you can help.

 

Florida Alliance of Paralegal Associations
The Voice of the Florida Paralegal Profession
www.fapainc.org

© Florida Alliance of Paralegal Associations
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software