Consumer Pamphlet: Florida Registered Paralegal Program
What is a Florida Registered Paralegal?
Why Hire or Become an FRP?
What are the Eligibility Requirements?
What Should an Attorney and an FRP Consider When an FRP is Performing Services?
What Tasks May an FRP Perform?
What Conduct is Prohibited?
How Does One Apply to be an FRP?
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.
Benefits of hiring an FRP:
· You are hiring a paralegal with education, training and work experience who has elected to adhere to the Code of Ethics of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
· Just as attorneys bill on scaled rates depending on experience or qualifications, FRPs may be eligible for the same consideration for paralegal work as long as the rate the attorney charges for the FRP is reasonable and in accordance with the ethical guidelines.
FRPs have access to all benefits available to attorney members of The Florida Bar, which include:
· Free access to online research.
· Receive The Florida Bar News semi-monthly.
· Discounted or reduced CLE programs.
In order to be a Florida Registered Paralegal under this chapter, an individual must meet 1 of the following requirements.
(a) Educational and Work Experience Requirements. A person may become a Florida Registered Paralegal by meeting 1 of the following education and paralegal work experience requirements:
(1) a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies from an approved paralegal program, plus a minimum of 1 year of paralegal work experience;
(2) a bachelor’s degree or higher degree other than a juris doctorate from an institution accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency approved by the United States Department of Education or the Florida Department of Education, plus a minimum of 3 years of paralegal work experience;
(3) an associate’s degree in paralegal studies from an approved paralegal program, plus a minimum of 2 years of paralegal work experience;
(4) an associate’s degree from an institution accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency approved by the United States Department of Education or the Florida Department of Education, plus a minimum of 4 years of paralegal work experience; or
(5) a juris doctorate degree from an American Bar Association accredited institution, plus a minimum of 1 year of paralegal work experience.
(b) Certification. A person may become a Florida Registered Paralegal by obtaining 1 of the following certifications:
(1) successful completion of the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE certification as offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations ‘NFPA’) and good standing with NFPA; or
(2) successful completion of the Certified Legal Assistant/Certified Paralegal examination (CLA/CP certification as offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants “NALA”) and good standing with NALA.
When performing services for an attorney on behalf of a client, an FRP needs to make sure of the following:
· All legal judgment or advice comes from the attorney.
· The attorney is responsible for the client, maintains a direct relationship with the client and maintains control of all client matters.
· The attorney supervises the FRP.
All services performed are on behalf of the attorney.
All tasks must be performed under the direct supervision of a Florida licensed attorney for which an attorney maintains full responsibility.
· Preparation of drafts of legal documents.
· Client and witness interviews.
· Factual research.
· Case management.
· Trial preparation.
· Assistance at court proceedings and depositions with an attorney.
· Preparation of transactional documents.
· Conducting real estate closings, in accordance with Florida Bar ethics rules.
· Preparation and maintenance of the documents required for the formation of business entities.
· Providing services directly to the public.
· Establishing attorney-client relationships, accepting cases, setting legal fees, giving legal opinions or advice, or representing a client before a court or other tribunal unless authorized to do so by the court or tribunal.
· Engaging in, encouraging or contributing to any act that could constitute the unlicensed practice of law.
· Performing any duty that only an attorney may perform; or engaging in or carrying out any action that an attorney may not do.
· Acting in matters involving professional legal judgment, since the services of an attorney are essential in the public interest whenever the exercise of such judgment is required.
· Complete application form and pay application fee.
· Provide supporting documentation to show eligibility for one of the qualifying criteria.
· Sign the acknowledgement included in the application that you have read Chapter 20 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar and will adhere to the Code of Ethics and Responsibility contained in the Rules.
· Be currently working, as required by the Rule.
· Provide attestations from current and/or previous supervising attorneys, as required by the Rule.
What are the Requirements to Maintain FRP Status?
· Adhere to the Code of Ethics and Responsibility set forth in Chapter 20 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
· Maintain continuous employment as a paralegal.
· Pay an annual renewal fee.
· Fulfill 30 hours of CE every 3 years in accordance with Chapter 20 of The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
· Be otherwise eligible in accordance with Chapter 20 of The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
For further information, please visit our website at www.floridabar.org/frp
This pamphlet is produced as a public service for consumers by The Florida Bar.
[Updated July 2017]