News (blog)

All the news that's fit to print!
  • 17 Nov 2007 2:30 PM | Anonymous member

    An opinion was issued today by the Florida Supreme Court with regard to an amendment to the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar submitted by the Special Committee to Study Paralegal Regulation of The Florida Bar in August 2006.  The Rule 20 proposal was implemented as proposed by The Florida Bar, and will become effective as of March 1, 2008, creating the voluntary Florida Registered Paralegal (FRP) program.

    The Florida Bar's Rule 20 creates a voluntary program for which paralegals in Florida can register, and if they qualify, may use the Florida Registered Paralegal (FRP) title.  The Florida Registered Paralegal program establishes an educational standard, a paralegal registry, and disciplinary procedures.  Additionally, paralegals voluntarily registering with The Florida Bar as a Florida Registered Paralegal must adhere to a code of ethics, and complete 30 hours of continuing education every three years, 5 hours of which must be in legal ethics or professionalism.  Application or renewal registration fees have not been established, but section 20-4.1(e) of the Rule designates the annual registration fee shall not exceed the fee paid by inactive members of The Florida Bar, currently $250.00 annually.  Section 20-4.1(c) of the Rule indicates the application fee will be set by the Board of Governors of the Florida Bar. 

    The South Florida Paralegal Association (SFPA) opposed the Rule 20 proposal on behalf of its members for many reasons:

    • Rule 20 is voluntary, and mandatory regulation for all paralegals in Florida was preferred.  Paralegal professional associations have existed for over 20 years, and paralegals who have voluntarily submitted themselves to these standards will be the same ones that will submit themselves to Rule 20 registry.  Rule 20 will have no impact on benefit to the public or improve public confusion of a paralegal's qualifications in Florida.
    • FRPs do not have an associate membership standing in The Florida Bar, and thus have no voting right or other method to participate in future rule changes or amendments to Rule 20. 
    • The disciplinary procedure in Rule 20 provides only for paralegal involvement at the regional level.  The paralegal members participating at the district level are appointed by The Florida Bar.  Review of the District committee is made by a single reviewer designated, also appointed by The Florida Bar.  The final level review of review with the Disciplinary Review Committee of The Florida Bar, of which all members are also appointed by The Florida Bar. 
    • The lack of independent election of paralegal committee members, as well as the absence of permanent committee oversight is viewed as control by an employer of an employee's professional standards, and a potential conflict of interest.  (Mention of an interim committee to advise on administrative tasks was announced in The Florida Bar News, but no plans for a permanent oversight or advisory committee is contained in Rule 20.  Presumably, all members of the interim committee will be appointed by The Florida Bar as well.) 
    • SFPA also vigorously opposed the exclusion of paralegal certificate programs as a means for qualifying for the FRP designation.

    To read the opinion issued by the Florida Supreme Court, and obtain a copy of Rule 20, please visit the link below.

    http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2007/sc06-1622.pdf

    Additional information will be posted on SFPA's website as details become available.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

    Sincerely,
    Lisa Vessels, CP
    SFPA President
    lvessels@sfpa.info

  • 17 Apr 2007 8:56 AM | Anonymous member

    Supreme Court oral arguments are videotaped by WFSU-TV and posted online.  Below is the link to the web page for April 16, 2007, which includes the oral argument on Proposed Rule 20 to the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar (SC06-1622), it is the first link in the list on this web page.  The transcript is not yet available, but you can view the video through Windows Media Player or Real Player.

    http://www.wfsu.org/gavel2gavel/archives/07-04.html

    There is no timetable for the issuance of the Supreme Court opinion, nor is there a guarantee that an opinion will be issued.  A ruling approving or denying the petition may be issued without opinion as well.  SFPA strongly believes, based on the detailed questioning of all parties involved, there will be a substantive opinion issued, and hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.  An update will be distributed to our members and posted on our website as soon as further information is made available.

    Hopefully there will be changes from the Supreme Court which provide more independent control of our profession within this proposed program, and we can move forward from here.

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have at lvessels@sfpa.info.

    Lisa Vessels, CP
    SFPA President

  • 31 Mar 2007 1:00 AM | Anonymous member
    SFPA is pleased to announce the election of the officers for the 2007-2008 year.  A special thank you to Judge Jerald Bagley, who presided over the Officer Installation Ceremony.
    President: Lisa Vessels, CP
    President-Elect: Mark Workman, CP
    Vice President: Mayda Nahhas, CP
    Treasurer: Tina Babos, CP
    Corresponding Secretary: Vivian Fusco, CP
    Parliamentarian: Mirna Hormechea
    Recording Secretary: Margie Diaz, CLA
    NALA Liaison: Julia Gordon-Taylor

    Congratulations to all!  For more information on joining SFPA, please visit our web site for registration or contact Lisa Vessels, at: lvessels@sfpa.info.
  • 27 Feb 2007 12:02 AM | Anonymous member

    The Paralegal SuperConference comes to Miami! Over 35 workshops and sessions, this dynamic training adventure addresses the demanding skills, experience, perseverance and attitude required by paralegals to do your job.

    Join us on February 26 - 27th  at the Hyatt Regency Miami! Don't miss this exciting and valuable conference!  Here are just a few of the workshops:

    • Mergers & Acquisitions - Closing the Deal
    • Trial Strategies - What Attorneys Think 
    • E-Discovery Questionnaire 
    • The Paralegal's Role in Immigration 
    • The $100,000 Paralegal 
    • The 10 Most Costly Errors in UCC Filings 
    • Going Global - The Formation of Foreign Corporations 
    • Redesigning and Applying Your "Passion Power": Being an Inspiring "3-D" Leader 
    • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act 
    • Thorough Factual Investigation 
    • The Paralegal's Role in Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents 
    • and much, much more!

    Tuition: $389.00 Early Bird before Feb. 15th. $425.00 thereafter. A 10% discount is offered to members of SFPA.  Simply mention you are a SFPA member when calling or make a note on your registration form, and you will receive 10% off the registration price! 

    For more information, contact: Estrin LegalEd, www.estrinlegaled.com call 818.506.8701 or 888.803.8807. Approved by the International Paralegal Managers Association (IPMA). Continuing education credits offered through NALA and NFPA.

  • 22 Feb 2007 11:03 AM | Anonymous member
    SFPA Members participated in a Toy Drive at their recent Holiday Party.  The toys collected were donated to the children confined to Miami Children's Hospital during the holidays.

    The gifts were warmly received by the children in the hospital.  A big thank you to all who participated in this worthy cause!

    Mark Workman, CP
    SFPA President
    mworkman@sfpa.info

  • 14 Sep 2006 1:04 PM | Anonymous member

    The South Florida Paralegal Association Filed its Response Opposing Certain Aspects of the Proposed Rule 20 - Florida Registered Paralegal Program.  The Response and its Appendices, along with SFPA's Request for Oral Argument can be viewed on our website at:

    SFPA's Response To Proposed Rule 20 - Florida Registered Paralegal Program

    Appendix A to SFPA's Response to Proposed Rule 20

    Appendix B to SFPA's Response to Proposed Rule 20

    SFPA's Request for Oral Argument

    To post any comments to SFPA's Response to The Florida Bar's Proposed Rule 20, please visit our website devoted specifically to the discussion of this subject - www.FloridaRegisteredParalegal.com or contact Mark Workman, President of SFPA at mworkman@sfpa.info.

    South Florida Paralegal Association
    www.sfpa.info
  • 25 Jul 2006 2:07 PM | Anonymous member

    The South Florida Paralegal Association ("SFPA") announced today that it has retained the services of attorney Kenneth J. Kukec to represent its interest when the much-debated and controversial proposed Rule 20 is submitted to the Florida Supreme Court next month. The proposed Rule 20 amendment to the Florida Bar Rules is also known as the "Florida Registered Paralegal Program," a Florida Bar-devised substitute to proposed legislation filed in late 2005, that would have regulated the paralegal profession.

    "We are very pleased that Mr. Kukec has agreed to represent us on this important issue" said Mark Workman, president of SFPA. "Mr. Kukec’s experience and expertise, as well as his knowledge of the core issues, will greatly assist us in advocating our opposition to the current proposal, both before the Florida Supreme Court and to the general public." The SPFA seeks to strengthen the regulation of the paralegals, by setting mandatory standards regarding education, experience, skill, and training requirements for paralegals practicing in Florida. Its objections to the currently-proposed Rule included the proposal’s weakening of those standards and its placing of the oversight over the paralegal profession under the direct control of the Florida Bar creating a serious conflict of interest that is contrary to other professional regulatory guidelines.

    In late 2005, Representative Juan C. Zapata (R. Miami) filed House Bill 395 – known as the "Paralegal Profession Act" – which would have created mandatory educational and ethical requirements for anyone in Florida to qualify to use the title "paralegal." In its proposed alternative to this legislation, the so-called "Rule 20," The Florida Bar makes satisfaction of the minimum education and ethical standards voluntary, thereby creating two classes of paralegals: those who chose to meet the minimum standards and those who do not. The Bar’s proposal would foster, rather than eliminate, public confusion over what constitutes a "paralegal" and who can rightfully use that title. If this matter cannot be resolved before the Florida Supreme Court, the legislation may be reintroduced in the 2007 legislative session. To obtain a copy of the proposal and other historical documents relating to this issue, visit www.floridaregisteredparalegal.com.

    "I am proud to be representing the SFPA and advocating its position on this important issue" said Kenneth Kukec, counsel for SFPA. "The Association’s arguments are valid and persuasive and would serve strong policy interests by ensuring the public that persons holding themselves out as professional paralegals meet or exceed basic standards of skill, education, and experience. I look forward to presenting the Association’s position to the Supreme Court."

    Mr. Kukec has broad experience in advocating on behalf of both public interest matters and private clients. Mr. Kukec graduated magna cum laude from the Case Western Reserve Law School in 1986, where he was a member of the law review and the Order of the Coif. After law school, Mr. Kukec served as a law clerk for the Honorable William J. Castagna, federal district judge for the Middle District of Florida. Mr. Kukec won national recognition in the mid-1990s for his successful effort in winning vindication for a young man wrongly convicted of first-degree murder in Broward County. For his efforts, Mr. Kukec was awarded the Legal Aid Society’s annual pro bono publico award and the Outstanding Service Award by the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. Mr. Kukec has tried numerous cases to jury verdict in state and federal trial courts throughout the country and has argued appeals throughout the Florida appellate system as well as in federal appellate courts in several other states. He has also advocated on behalf of clients before Florida’s governor and cabinet. Mr. Kukec writes and speaks frequently on evidentiary issues and matters pertaining to federal practice. He may be reached by telephone at 305-358-2000.

    The South Florida Paralegal Association is a non-profit professional organization of practicing paralegals with its principle office in Miami, Florida. SFPA has over 200 members and continues to grow. For more information about SFPA, visit their website at www.sfpa.info.

  • 07 Apr 2006 4:09 PM | Anonymous member

    Click on the link to review the current draft as reviewed by the Disciplinary Procedures Committee of the Florida Bar.

    http://www.sfpa.info/site/spac/CHAPTER_20_as_revised_by_DPC.pdf

    Please contact Mark Workman at mworkman@sfpa.info with any questions or comments you may have regarding the proposed Chapter 20 Rule change to the Florida Bar Rules.

  • 07 Apr 2006 1:09 AM | Anonymous member

    Click on the link below to read SFPA's open letter to the Florida Bar Board of Governors dated March 28, 2006.

    http://www.sfpa.info/site/spac/20060328134350467.pdf

    Please contact Mark Workman at mworkman@sfpa.info if you have any questions or comments regarding the proposed Chapter 20 rule change to the Florida Bar Rules, or SFPA's response.

  • 25 Jan 2006 11:11 AM | Anonymous member

    The January 2006 South Florida Paralegal Association's (SFPA) monthly newsletter, the SFPA Journal, is now available for viewing online! Click on the following link - http://www.sfpa.info/site/newsletters2005/january2006.pdf - for easy online access to the January 2006 edition of the SFPA Journal.

    Our next scheduled member meeting is January 23, 2006 and will cover a hot topic for paralegals in the State of Florida: the Paralegal Profession Act. Our guest speaker will be Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, and the meeting will be free to all who would like to attend, due to the special interest in this topic. Please RSVP to ensure we will have enough space to accommodate all who would like to attend. See page 14 of the SFPA Journal for more details or visit our website at www.sfpa.info.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Workman
    President, SFPA
    mworkman@sfpa.info
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