About Us

ASSOCIATON FOCUS

The Association was formed on June 24, 2013 to promote the advancement of the paralegal profession in Michigan. Association members are passionate about assisting other paralegals and paralegal students in the growth of their professional development.

The focus of the Association is to:

  • Establish good fellowship among Association members, NALA, and members of the legal community

  • Encourage a high order of ethical and professional attainment

  • Further education among members of the paralegal profession

  • Cooperate with local and state bar associations

  • Support and carry out the programs, purposes, aims and goals of NALA

What is a paralegal or legal assistant?

Many national and state courts, associations and legislatures have addressed the definition of legal assistants and paralegals.  The common similarities of the identification and duties of paralegals by these organizations across the country are:

a.   have received specialized training through formal education or many years of experience

b.   work under the supervision and direction of an attorney; and

c.    perform non-clerical, substantive legal work in assisting an attorney.

The definition of "legal assistant" adopted in 1984 by the National Association of Legal Assistants is as follows:

Legal assistants (also known as paralegals) are a distinguishable group of persons who assist attorneys in the delivery of legal services. Through formal education, training, and experience, legal assistants have knowledge and expertise regarding the legal system and substantive and procedural law which qualify them to do work of a legal nature under the supervision of an attorney.

In 1986, the American Bar Association adopted the following definition:

A legal assistant is a person, qualified through education, training or work experience, who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency, or other entity, in a capacity or function which involves the performance, under the ultimate direction and supervision of an attorney, of specifically-delegated substantive legal work, which work, for the most part, requires a sufficient knowledge of legal concepts that, absent such assistant, the attorney would perform the task.

In 1997, the American Bar Association amended this definition. The 1997 version is:

A legal assistant or paralegal is a person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.

Both definitions recognize the terms "legal assistant" and "paralegal" as identical terms.

In fact, in recognition of the similarity of the definitions and the need for one clear definition, in July 2001, the NALA membership approved a resolution to adopt the ABA definition.  

Effective January 1, 2001, with input from the Legal Assistant Section of the State Bar of Michigan, the Michigan Supreme Court amended its rules to provide the following:

Rule 2.626 Attorney Fees.  An award of attorney fees may include an award for the time and labor of any legal assistant who contributed nonclerical, legal support under the supervision of an attorney, provided the legal assistant meets the criteria set forth in Article 1, Section 6 of the Bylaws of the State Bar of Michigan.

Article 1, Section 6 of the Bylaws of the State Bar of Michigan states:

Any person currently employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency or other entity engaged in the practice of law, in a capacity or function which involves the performance under the direction and supervision of an attorney of specifically delegated substantive legal work, which work, for the most part, requires a sufficient knowledge of legal concepts such that, absent that legal assistant, the attorney would perform the tasks and which is not primarily clerical or secretarial in nature, and;

a.    who has graduated from an ABA approved program of study for legal assistants and has a baccalaureate degree; or

b.    has received a baccalaureate degree in any field, plus not less than two years of in-house training as a legal assistant; or

c.    who has received an associate degree in the legal assistant field, plus not less than two years of in-house training as a legal assistant; or

d.    who has a minimum of four years of in-house training as a legal assistant; may upon submitting proof thereof at the time of application and annually thereafter become a Legal Assistant Affiliate Member of the State Bar of Michigan.