Archive | May, 2014

Pro Bono Opportunities for Paralegals

21 May

 

So you want to volunteer and gain some practical experience, but you’re not sure where to start?

Check with the ABA first. Here’s where they stand on pro bono work–and they support it as long as you follow the guidelines:

“The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Assistants’ publication, How To Utilize Legal Assistants In Pro Bono Publico Programs, provides basic information on how paralegals may participate in pro bono. Topics covered include how to get started as a pro bono legal assistant, what supervision is necessary in a pro bono program, malpractice and ethics issues, and examples of programs that involve legal assistants in pro bono work.”

Additionally, the ABA states:

“Involving paralegals in pro bono can enhance the services a pro bono program provides, for both clients and for volunteers. Services can be enhanced by the provision of supportive services for volunteer attorneys or by the provision of additional services for clients. With attorney supervision, paralegals can perform a wide variety of activities within a pro bono program, including:

  • Intake interviews
  • Research
  • Writing
  • Representation at administrative hearings”

 

You can find a comprehensive page on pro bono activities at the ABA Paralegal Pro Bono page.

Remember that paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law. Here’s an excellent practical review from the North Carolina Bar Association’s paralegal division, based on a reprinted article from the Oregon Law Practice Management blog.

So, now that you’ve got the guidelines, here’s how to find where you can volunteer your skills. The North Carolina Paralegal Association has pro bono opportunities for paralegals–and in some cases, paralegal students:

Statewide:

Guardian Ad Litem Services: Guardians Ad Litem are needed to help protect innocent children!  Being a Guardian Ad Litem can enrich your life by allowing you to assist a child in a difficult situation who cannot otherwise help himself.  You do not have to be an attorney or a social worker in order to be a Guardian Ad Litem, but you do need to love children and be willing to undergo 30 hours of training.  If you are interested, please follow this link to obtain the telephone number for the Guardian Ad Litem office in your county: www.nccourts.org/Citizens/GAL/Documents/GALCountyContactList.pdf.

Legal Aid of North Carolina: (LANC) is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity.  www.legalaidnc.org

 Disability Rights North CAROLINA: Disability Rights of NC helps people across North Carolina gain access to services and opportunity through its legally based advocacy.  It assists people with disabilities to solve disability-related problems, including housing or employment discrimination, abuse or neglect in an institution, special education, mental health and support services, or voting registration.  To find out more about volunteer opportunities at Disability Rights NC, please go towww.disabilityrightsnc.org

Wake/Durham Counties:

Southern Coalition of Social Justice: (SCSJ) promotes justice by empowering minority and low-income communities to defend and advance their political, social and economic rights. They are seeking Spanish-speaking volunteers to help work with clients during office hours.  They are also looking for entry-level paralegals for help with ongoing cases.  http://southerncoalition.org/

 

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NCCP Exam Application Deadline is Approaching

8 May

The next opportunity to take the NC Certified Paralegal exam is October 11, 2014. The deadline for application is July 15, 2014. You can find more information on the program blog’s Certification Page, which includes the link to the NC State Bar’s study materials. Need a review? The NC Bar Association currently has a video replay of their Exam Review scheduled for Thursday and Friday, September 11-12, 2014. You can check out the NCBA’s CLE calendar here.