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Court not ready to create paralegal rule

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The Indiana Supreme Court has declined to create a rule on paralegal registration for the state, putting a kink in an effort that's been under way for years.

This news is according to a Sept. 4 letter by Mishawaka attorney E. Spencer Walton Jr., chair of the Indiana State Bar Association's paralegal committee that has been studying the issue for years and drafted a Proposed Rule 2.2. In October 2006, the bar association tabled the measure for a year and in October 2007 sent a report to the court for consideration.

As it currently stands, Indiana does not have official qualifications in place for its estimated 4,000 paralegals - anyone who wishes to call himself or herself a paralegal can do so. Although the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct govern an attorney's supervision of paralegals, there's nothing currently in place for governing these individuals directly.

Under Proposed Rule 2.2, changes would allow for the voluntary registration of paralegals under the court's supervision. The proposal outlined requirements such as good moral character, that paralegals meet an educational requirement such as a high school diploma or college degree or certain amount of paralegal work, that they receive Continuing Legal Education, and that they be under the supervision of an attorney.

"They did allow that should the professional assessment evolve over time, the Court would be open to reexamining the issue," Walton wrote in the letter to paralegal groups across the state. "Although this is not the outcome hoped for, we will continue to educate and raise awareness regarding the paralegal profession in the State of Indiana."

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