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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76746 Find in a Library
Title: Paralegals in the United States (From Public Sector Paralegalism in Canada Today, P 253-268, 1979 - See NCJ-76739)
Author(s): W Statsky
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 16
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: Canada
Annotation: Developments in the field of paralegalism in the United States are discussed, with emphasis on paralegalism in the public sector.
Abstract: Almost two-third of all legal service offices in the country employ paralegals, who are responsible for between 30 percent and 50 percent of their programs' total caseload. The only major restraint operating on public sector paralegals is the limitation of training, not any limitation imposed by the private bar, as some had feared. If a paralegal is trained to do a task, the likelihood is that the legal services offices will find a way for the paralegal to be able to perform that task. Turnover in public sector paralegals is high because of low pay, burnout, and lack of opportunity for profesional growth. Other problems in public sector paralegalism include often poor working relationships with supervising attorneys; the reluctance of many paralegals to deal with the routine, often mundane legal problems of the poor instead of tackling the broader issues of socioeconomic deprivation; the slow development of new dispute settlement mechanisms in communities; and little progress in community legal education and preventive law. Overall, there is a tendency for paralegals to rely on traditional models of legal assistance rather than aiding in the development of new forms of citizen involvement in legal and socioeconomic issues and conflict. One of the promising developments in paralegal training is the creation competency-based education, which focuses on training to perform specific paralegal tasks. This approach should properly lead to the development of relevant competency-based certification examinations. Footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Job analysis; Legal aid services; Legal training; Paralegals; United States of America
Note: Paper based on a speech delivered at the National Workshop on Paralegalism, Vancouver, Canada, March 29-31, 1978.
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