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04/04/2011 - Update on Paralegal Regulation

Update on FAPA Legislation and The Florida Bar Board of Governor's Meeting in Orlando on March 25, 2011
As you are all aware, FAPA's HB 1149 and SB 1612 are being sponsored by Senator Richter and Representative Steinberg and the bills are now in subcommittee. The progress of the bills may be tracked through www.flsenate.gov or www.myfloridahouse.gov and on FAPA's website at www.fapainc.org. Our sponsors are getting letters against our legislation. Let's show them the support behind it. If you support this legislation, send letters to Senator Richter and Representative Steinberg to show our support of mandatory regulation. You may do this online at www.flsenate.gov and www.myfloridahouse.gov.

As you may recall, I am on The Florida Bar Special Committee to Study Mandatory Paralegal Regulation. I attended the Board of Governors' Meeting where Scott Rubin, Chair of the Special Committee and the Standing Florida Registered Paralegal Committee (FRP), presented the Majority Report on behalf of the Special Committee to Study Mandatory Paralegal Regulation. The committee report and the minority report were referred to the Program Evaluation Committee (PEC) for which Greg Coleman is the Chair. There wasn't much discussion, but one particular comment of note was made by Governor Hickey. It seems that there are a lot of attorneys who do not understand what a paralegal can and can't do. Governor Hickey spoke to the Board on behalf of a colleague against mandatory regulation. He felt mandatory regulation would lead to the paralegal performing legal duties performed by an attorney - helping skirt the legal system without an attorney. Governor Hickey specifically mentioned an advertisement in the SE Florida area which advertises skirting the legal system without a lawyer. Scott Rubin refuted this by pointing out that The Florida Bar Rules and Regulations clearly state paralegals must work under the direct supervision of a member of The Florida Bar. This issue would be addressed under Unlicensed Practice of Law (UPL). The recommendation by the Majority report was that The Florida Bar Rules and Regulations be amended to require that the title paralegal be used only for a staff member who is a Florida Registered Paralegal.


Patricia DeRamus, another paralegal on the committee, was also present. She has a direct contact with Greg Coleman, Chair of the PEC. He advised her that the FRP survey conducted by The Florida Bar resulted in only 40 out 2000 responses in support of mandatory regulation. We were unable to get a copy of the written report provided to the Board of Governors before the meeting. We were told there weren't any copies left. In a discussion afterwards with Scott Rubin, I asked him if he had seen the report and if the other 1960 responses indicated opposition to mandatory regulation just didn't address it or were they just against mandatory regulation through The Florida Bar. He had not seen the report or the responses as yet. It was commented that the questions did not address this subject directly. (See The Florida Bar FRP Survey Questions attached) The questions as you can see were very vague. Each person taking the survey would have to address mandatory regulation in their responses to an indirect question regarding the FRP program. In contrast is the FRP survey conducted by FAPA last year wherein this question was specifically asked with an overwhelming 79.12% wanting mandatory regulation. (See FAPA's FRP Survey Questions attached) I spoke with Lori Holcomb who advised she has the FRP items on her list to do this week. Look for those results. I know I would like to see the specific responses.


If you support mandatory regulation, we need you to send letters/e-mails in support of mandatory regulation to Lori Holicomb (lholcomb@flabar.org) and Scott Rubin (srubin@fogelrubinfogel.com) to show there are more than 40 paralegals who want mandatory regulation. The Florida Bar will use their survey to oppose the legislation -showing lack of support. We need to let both The Florida Bar and our bill sponsors know that there is support for mandatory regulation.

Your FAPA Delegate,

Tammy Skonie, CP, FRP

Litigation Paralegal