Florida Bar opposes paralegal regulation bills

Saying that it wants to "see more study on the issue," the State Bar of Florida has come out in opposition to two pending bills covering the regulation of paralegals:

"Members of the Bar Board of Governors said they are sensitive to the desire of paralegals for recognition of their importance to the legal system, but proposed bills in the legislature to license and regulate paralegals aren’t the best way.

"The board’s vote to oppose HB 395 and SB 906 as originally filed, followed the recommendation from the Special Committee to Study Paralegal Regulation. Bar President Alan Bookman also announced at the board’s December 16 meeting that he was extending the life of the committee, pursuant to its recommendation."

Although a November 2005 meeting of the committee decided to seek voluntary Bar membership for paralegals, the vote was only 8-6 and six members of the 21-member committee were absent. Issues still undecided include:

"…if paralegals are required to be certified, what are the proper certification standards, and what kind of disciplinary system would be needed. Other issues include what to do if lawyers use employees as paralegals but give them other titles such as legal assistants or document preparers, could lawyers charge fees for paralegal work only if those paralegals were regulated or admitted to a mandatory section, and what to do if a lawyer charges for paralegal labor for work that is really part of the lawyer’s overhead."

Looks like there’s still a long way to go…