Linda Odermott, NFPA certified paralegal and Oregon Certified Paralegal, discusses the process that she and a team of others went through in Oregon related to the paralegal licensing program that has been in the works in Oregon for over ten years.
Linda also enlightens us on how paralegal licensing can benefit paralegals, the paralegal profession, and the community. Several states (including Washington, Utah, Arizona, and Minnesota) already have some level of paralegal licensing, and that list now includes Oregon thanks to the decision that recently came in from the Oregon Supreme Court.
The debate has been going on for some time on whether paralegal licensing (or regulation) would be a good thing or a bad thing for the paralegal profession. But what about whether or not it’s a good thing for the community? Here are just a few statistics:
- Did you know that over seventy percent (70%) of small civil and family law cases don’t have legal representation because they can’t afford it?
- A majority of the general public does not trust lawyers and the court system. 84% of the people surveyed in Oregon as part of the research into this licensing program said that if they needed a lawyer, they either would not know where to find one or couldn’t afford one.
- We all think legal aid and pro bono should resolve the access to justice issue. But, in order to meet the current needs, every attorney licensed in this country would need to put in 150 hours of pro bono time every year.
This episode will inform you AND inspire you!
If you are a paralegal interested in exploring the paralegal license options in your state or starting the discussion in your state, start by checking with your state’s paralegal association to see if they are already working on a licensing program in your state. Also, check with the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS), which has rolled out the Allied Legal Professionals Initiative. The link to their survey that Linda mentioned in the podcast interview can be found here.
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