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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Apr. 18, 200712:00 PM EST

Florida Supreme Court hears paralegal rule argument

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The Unlicensed Practice of Law (UPL) program was established by the Supreme Court of Florida to protect the public against harm caused by unlicensed individuals practicing law.

This program is a proposal only. It has been approved by the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar. The Supreme Court of Florida must now rule on the proposal.

Monday, the Supreme Court of Florida held oral argument on the proposed Florida Registered Paralegal rule. The Court gave no indication as to when it will rule or how it will rule. Updates will be posted on the Bar’s Web site.

At the beginning of his tenure as President of The Florida Bar, Alan Bookman appointed the Special Committee to Study Paralegal Regulation. The Special Committee was charged with studying the status of paralegals in the state of Florida. After several meetings, a public hearing, the review of written testimony, the review of rules from other states, and many hours of debate, the committee voted to recommend that the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar approve a new rule, Chapter 20, which would establish the Florida Registered Paralegal Program.

The program sets up a two-tier system for paralegals. The first tier, incorporated in the chapter by definition only, includes a person with education, training, or work experience, who works under the direction and supervision of a member of The Florida Bar and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a member of The Florida Bar is responsible. No additional requirements are necessary to use this title and to perform paralegal work. The second tier is the Florida Registered Paralegal. In order to reach this tier, the individual must have certain education and training or certification.

Because the chapter establishes a two-tier system, those individuals currently working as paralegals may continue to do so as long as they meet the general definition. Individuals who wish to obtain the higher level may do so, although obtaining the status is not mandatory to continuing to work as a paralegal. On June 2, 2006, the Board approved the rule. The Chapter was filed with the Supreme Court of Florida on August 15, 2006. See the court Web site for the petition SC06-1622. The rule is a proposal only. If you have questions about the proposed rule, please contact Lori Holcomb, The Florida Bar (850) 561-5840.

— Courtesy The Florida Bar

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