A Florida Registered Paralegal is a paralegal who has met the education, training, certification, and work experience required for registration as set forth in Chapter 20 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. A paralegal is 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. Here are some frequently asked questions about the FRP Program:
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: Can I submit my application electronically?
A: No, you must mail it to the address provided on the application, along with $145 application fee.
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 a 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: I still see the grandfathering provision in the rule. Why?
A: The rule was adopted by the Florida Supreme Court. 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 three 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 can I check to see if my paralegal degree is an approved paralegal program?
A: You can check the American Bar Association’s website or the American Association for Paralegal Studies site.
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 U.S. 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, https://ope.ed.gov/accreditation or the Florida Department of Education website, www.fldoe.org.
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 associate’s, bachelor’s, or juris doctor degree.
Q: I am using education and work experience as my qualifying criteria. Do you need a certified copy of my degree?
A: No. We need a copy of your degree or transcript, but it does not have to be a certified copy.
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: Is a certificate in paralegal studies the same as a degree?
A: No. In order to meet the educational requirement for FRP status, you must have at a minimum an associate’s degree or higher.
Q: I have a paralegal certificate from University XYZ. Do I meet the certification criteria on the application?
A: No. You must be certified by National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and currently working as a paralegal in order to meet the certification qualifying criteria.
Q: I have worked for my current supervising attorney for two years but I need four years to qualify. Can my current employing attorney fill out the attorney attestation for my prior paralegal experience?
A: No. Your current employing attorney can only attest to the two years you’ve been working for him/her. You will need your former employer(s) to attest to your paralegal work experience.
Q: I have worked for several attorneys. How many attestation forms do I need?
A: You need one form for each attorney that you have worked for during the years you are using to qualify.
Q: Can an authorized house counsel attest to my work experience?
A: No. Only a member of The Florida Bar in good standing can attest to your work experience.
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: No. Only paralegal work experience under the supervision of a member of The Florida Bar counts toward the work experience requirement. 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: Is there a minimum number of hours I must work in order to meet the qualifications?
A: In order to qualify, you must be primarily performing paralegal work. Time spent performing clerical work is specifically excluded.
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: 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.
Q: I have taken some continuing education courses prior to application. Can I submit those towards the 30-hour requirement?
A: No. Only courses taken after your registration date may be used towards the 30-hour continuing education requirement.
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 and primarily performing paralegal duties.
Q: Can I get a refund of my application fee if it is rejected?
A: The fee is non-refundable regardless of disposition.
Q: How long does it take to process my application?
A: Generally, it will take two weeks or less to process your application.
Learn more by visiting the Florida Registered Paralegal Resource Page on the Bar’s website at www.floridabar.org/about/frp.