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Canny: CLE enables paralegals to learn, grow

July 3, 2013
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Indiana Lawyer Focus

By Cathy D. Canny

We hear a great deal about attorneys attending continuing legal education courses and how important it is to their practices. In fact, attorneys are required to attend at least six hours of approved CLE per year and at least 36 hours of approved CLE per three-year cycle. When it comes to the paralegals they employ, why is it any less important for them to obtain continuing legal education, too?

canny Canny

The purpose of CLE is for attorneys to maintain or improve their skills. As important as that is for the attorneys, they benefit a great deal from having paralegals who continue to learn and grow their skills through CLE. The paralegal profession has seen significant and progressive growth through the last several years. Paralegals are an integral part of the legal services team, and under the supervision of an attorney, paralegals perform substantive legal work that would otherwise be done by attorneys. It is, therefore, extremely important that paralegals also maintain their knowledge of changes in the law and continue to maintain and grow their skills and expertise as professionals. Indeed, attorneys’ effective use of paralegals allows the attorneys to deliver faster and more efficient legal services to the client.

What are some of the reasons to attend CLE?

Paralegals who are affiliate members of the Indiana State Bar Association are required to maintain 18 hours of CLE, of which three hours are an ethics component over a three-year period. If paralegals maintain a national credential (such as a PACE Registered Paralegal or CORE Registered Paralegal through the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, or the Certified Legal Assistant or Certified Paralegal certification from the National Association of Legal Assistants) they must complete a required number of CLE hours per year to maintain that certification. Regardless of whether it is a requirement to maintain a certification or for professional growth and education, paralegals and the attorneys who employ them benefit from CLE.

Why should attorneys encourage their paralegals to attend CLE?

First of all, Guideline 9.9 of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct regarding the use of non-lawyer assistants states: “A lawyer who employs a non-lawyer assistant should facilitate the non-lawyer assistant’s participation in appropriate continuing education and pro bono activities.”

The Indiana Supreme Court supports paralegal CLE. In approving Guideline 9.9, the court saw value in CLE and directed lawyers to facilitate paralegals participating in continuing legal education. Many attorneys, law firms and associations also see the benefit of paralegal CLE. An example of this came at the Indiana State Bar Association Solo & Small Firm Conference. I had the pleasure of being a speaker at the first-ever “Staff Track” for the conference, which also was the first of its kind tied to a solo & small firm conference anywhere in the country. The seminars included paralegal skills, ethics for staff and the lawyers who employ them, professionalism and the ethics of cloud computing.

How do I find quality CLE?

There are a number of ways to find quality CLE in your area. The Indiana State Bar Association, as well as its Affiliate Membership Committee, provide CLE. Local bar associations, including the Indianapolis Bar Association, also provide numerous CLE programs. Professional associations, such as the Indiana Paralegal Association, provide CLE, and there are also for-profit CLE providers.

Do paralegals attend attorney CLE programs?

Absolutely. Attorney CLE programs on a substantive area of law or practice-related topics such as litigation skills or technology and e-discovery can be valuable. In fact, it is not uncommon for CLE programs to be designed for both attorneys and paralegals to attend, some of which present how paralegals and attorneys can work together as a team and how attorneys can best utilize their paralegals.

Whether it is for professional development or for a membership or credentialing requirement, paralegals need to attend continuing legal education. Attorneys should support paralegals seeking CLE. The law is ever-changing. As a paralegal, you want to be at the top of your game and continue to evolve and learn new skills in your area of practice, enhance technical proficiencies and develop as a professional. As an attorney, you want to employ paralegals who are at their highest level and support their efforts to continue to learn and grow. CLE provides an easy and effective means of achieving these mutual goals.•

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Cathy D. Canny is a senior paralegal at Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP in Indianapolis. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

  2. What a fine example of the best of the Hoosier tradition! How sad that the AP has to include partisan snark in the obit for this great American patriot and adventurer.

  3. Why are all these lawyers yakking to the media about pending matters? Trial by media? What the devil happened to not making extrajudicial statements? The system is falling apart.

  4. It is a sad story indeed as this couple has been only in survival mode, NOT found guilty with Ponzi, shaken down for 5 years and pursued by prosecution that has been ignited by a civil suit with very deep pockets wrenched in their bitterness...It has been said that many of us are breaking an average of 300 federal laws a day without even knowing it. Structuring laws, & civilForfeiture laws are among the scariest that need to be restructured or repealed . These laws were initially created for drug Lords and laundering money and now reach over that line. Here you have a couple that took out their own money, not drug money, not laundering. Yes...Many upset that they lost money...but how much did they make before it all fell apart? No one ask that question? A civil suit against Williams was awarded because he has no more money to fight...they pushed for a break in order...they took all his belongings...even underwear, shoes and clothes? who does that? What allows that? Maybe if you had the picture of him purchasing a jacket at the Goodwill just to go to court the next day...his enemy may be satisfied? But not likely...bitterness is a master. For happy ending lovers, you will be happy to know they have a faith that has changed their world and a solid love that many of us can only dream about. They will spend their time in federal jail for taking their money from their account, but at the end of the day they have loyal friends, a true love and a hope of a new life in time...and none of that can be bought or taken That is the real story.

  5. Could be his email did something especially heinous, really over the top like questioning Ind S.Ct. officials or accusing JLAP of being the political correctness police.

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