Frequently Asked Questions
I contacted my university/community college about getting verification of my degree. I was told that I needed to contact the National Student Clearing House to obtain that verification. Will this verification from the National Student Clearing House be sufficient evidence of my degree?
Q: Do I have to register in order to work as a paralegal in Florida?
A: No, registration is voluntary. You may continue to work as a paralegal without registering.
Q: What is the registration deadline?
A: There is no deadline.
Q: I no longer see grandfathering on the application. May I still apply using experience alone?
A: No. As of March 1, 2011, you may no longer use grandfathering in order to register as an Florida Registered Paralegal. Therefore, you may no longer use experience alone as a basis for eligibility for registration. If you wish to register you must meet the education/work experience or certification requirement for eligibility. If you apply under the grandfathering provision after March 1, 2011, your application will be rejected. Please note the application fee is not refundable.
Q: But I still see the grandfathering provision in the rule. Why?
A: The rule was adopted by the Supreme Court of Florida. There is a procedure for making changes to the rule. Unfortunately, that procedure takes some time. Because of this, the language is still in the rule. However, the rule also says that any attestation under the grandfathering provision must be received by The Florida Bar not later than 3 years after the effective date of the chapter. The chapter became effective on March 1, 2008. Consequently, on March 1, 2011, you could no longer use grandfathering for eligibility. The rule will be changed as soon as possible.
Q: How do I find out if my paralegal degree is from an approved paralegal program?
A: An approved paralegal program is a program approved by the American Bar Association ("ABA") or a program that is in substantial compliance with the ABA guidelines and accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency approved by the United States Department of Education. You may contact your school to determine whether they meet the requirement or check the ABA website, www.abanet.org, the U.S. Department of Education website, ope.ed.gov/accreditation (note -- there is no www before the address), or the American Association for Paralegal Education.
Q: How do I find out if my degree is from an accredited institution?
A: The degree has to be from an institution accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency approved by the United States Department of Education or the Florida Department of Education. You may contact your school to determine whether they meet the requirement or check the U.S. Department of Education website, ope.ed.gov/accreditation (note -- there is no www before the address) or the Florida Department of Education website, www.fldoe.org.
Q: I have worked for my current employing attorney for 2 years but he has knowledge about my prior paralegal experience. Can my current employing attorney fill out the attorney attestation?
A: Your current employing attorney can only attest to the 2 years you've been working for him/her. You will need your former employer(s) to attest to your paralegal work experience while working for them.
Q: I contacted my university/community college about getting verification of my degree. I was told that I needed to contact the National Student Clearing House to obtain that verification. Will this verification from the National Student Clearing House be sufficient evidence of my degree?
Q: I am trying to qualify based on education and work experience. Can I use my paralegal work experience in another state when calculating my work experience?
A: Only paralegal work experience for a member of The Florida Bar counts for purposes of work experience. If you were working for a member of The Florida Bar in the other state, you can count that paralegal work experience. If you were not working for a member of The Florida Bar, you cannot count that paralegal work experience.
Q: The application asks for the number of hours I have performed paralegal work. Is this billable hours only?
A: No. Include the total number of hours you have worked in the past year performing paralegal work whether billable or not.
Q: I have taken some continuing education courses. Can I submit those towards the 30 hour requirement?
A: Only courses taken after your registration date may be used towards the 30 hour continuing education requirement.
Q: Once I am registered, what designation may I use?
A: The rule provides that "[a] Florida Registered Paralegal shall disclose his or her status as a Florida Registered Paralegal at the outset of any professional relationship with a client, attorneys, a court or administrative agency or personnel thereof, and members of the general public." You may either say Florida Registered Paralegal or FRP. However, if you state FRP, you must also state paralegal. For example:
J. Doe, FRP
Q: I am also certified by another organization. When listing my credentials, which do I list first? Do I need to list all of my credentials?
A: You should check with the other organization. The Florida Bar rule does not control the order. However, you must state that you are a Florida Registered Paralegal. (see question above as to disclosure requirement)
Q: I have worked for several attorneys. How many attestation forms do I need?
A: You need 1 form for each attorney that you have worked for during the years you are using for the qualifying criteria.
Q: I am using education and work experience as my qualifying criteria. Do you need a certified copy of my degree?
A: We need a copy of your degree or transcript but it does not have to be a certified copy.
Q: I am an independent paralegal. I provide services to attorneys and to the public. May I register as a Florida Registered Paralegal?
A: No, you may not register as a Florida Registered Paralegal. In addition, you may not use the title paralegal in providing services directly to the public. Doing so constitutes the unlicensed practice of law.
Q: I am not currently working as a paralegal. Can I still register as a Florida Registered Paralegal?
A: No, in order to be registered as a Florida Registered Paralegal you must currently be working as a paralegal for a member of The Florida Bar, primarily performing paralegal duties.
Q: I have a degree from a foreign country. Can I use that degree to meet the eligibility requirements?
A: No. Under the rule your degree must come from a United States institution that meets the requirements of the rule. The degree must be an associates, bachelors or juris doctorate degree.
Q: One of the attorneys I worked for is deceased. Without an attestation from the years that I worked for that attorney, I do not meet the eligibility requirements. What can I do?
A: First, we need the name of the deceased attorney. If there was an inventory attorney appointed, you can submit an attestation from the inventory attorney. The inventory attorney would have access to the deceased attorney's files and would be able to determine whether you primarily provided paralegal services. If there is no inventory attorney, you can provide an attestation from someone else in the firm with knowledge of your employment. If the attorney was a sole practitioner, contact FRP counsel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What is the annual renewal fee and when is it due?
A: The annual renewal fee is $150.00. Generally, it is due July 1 of each year and considered late after August 15. If late, a $40.00 late fee is added. If the renewal fee + late fee is not paid by October 1, your FRP status will be revoked. If any of these dates fall on a Saturday or Sunday, the date is extended to the following Monday. The annual renewal statements are mailed at the end of May or beginning of June. If you are registered as an FRP prior to the date the renewals are mailed, you will be mailed a renewal statement. For example, if you are registered May 1, you will be mailed a renewal statement and must pay the renewal fee to keep your FRP status. Your renewal fee is different from your application fee. Even if you paid your application fee close to the date your renewal fee is due, you will need to pay the renewal fee to keep your FRP status.