Florida News: HB 1149 and SB 1612 Regulation of the Paralegal Profession

Florida News: HB 1149 and SB 1612 Regulation of the Paralegal Profession

Florida Senator Garrett Richter filed SB 1612 which calls for the licensure of paralegals practicing in Florida and would be effective July 1, 2011.

SB 1612 would require the Florida Supreme Court to establish minimum standards and qualifications and provide for continuing education, certification, and professional conduct.

A similar bill, HB 1149, has been introduced in the Florida House of Representatives by Rep. Richard L. Steinberg.
The full text of SB 1612 can be accessed by following this link: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2011/1612/BillText/Filed/PDF

HB 1149 can be accessed here: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_h1149__.docx&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=1149&Session=2011

This is all very confusing because last August the Florida Bar agreed to study the mandatory regulation of paralegals. Thereafter, a Special Committee was formed and charged with studying the following:

1) Whether the Supreme Court of Florida has the constitutional authority to require mandatory regulation of paralegals.

2) If the Supreme Court of Florida has the constitutional authority to require mandatory regulation of paralegals, whether there should be mandatory regulation of paralegals.

3) If there should be mandatory regulation, what should the mandatory regulation encompass and/or require? It is the mission of this committee to propose a framework that can be used for the adoption of rules. It is not the mission of this committee to draft specific rules.

4) If it is determined that the Supreme Court of Florida does not have the constitutional authority to require mandatory regulation of paralegals, what other options exist within the framework of The Florida Bar to provide additional regulation or recognition of the paralegal profession? It is the mission of this committee to propose a framework that can be used for the adoption of rules. It is not the mission of this committee to draft specific rules.

While I am not privy to all the discussion involved in this issue, it does seem to me that the legislature has not allowed the State Bar to properly study this matter and make a recommendation.

My hope is that Florida paralegals will make their opinions known to Senator Richter and Respresentative Steinberg. Questions and comments can also be directed to Lori S. Holcomb, FRP Counsel, at (850) 561-5840, lholcomb@flabar.org, or 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300.