By Debi Binkley, Bose McKinney & Evans LLP
On October 10, 2014, the Indiana State Bar Association House of Delegates passed a resolution on proposed Rule 9 of the Rules of Professional Conduct to bring the proposed Rule to the Indiana Supreme Court Rules Committee for hearing and comment. Although there is much work to be done, this was an emotional achievement for paralegals and supporters of proposed Rule 9 who, for over 12 years, have worked toward establishing some sort of professional registration for paralegals in Indiana. Special thanks to: The Honorable Edward W. Najam Jr. of the Indiana Court of Appeals, attorney David L. Jones of Jones Wallace LLC, Edna Wallace, Lauren Jones, Cathy Canny and the other members of an Alliance consisting of the Indiana Paralegal Association (IPA), the Michiana Paralegal Association (MPA), Northeast Indiana Paralegal Association (NIPA) and members of the Indiana State Bar Association (ISBA), who have collectively worked so hard over the years to achieve this goal.
Proposed Rule 9 deals with the voluntary registration of paralegals in Indiana. To qualify for registration and to use the title “Indiana Registered Paralegal” (IRP), an applicant must be of good moral character, use the prescribed form accompanied with a registration fee as determined by the ISBA to cover the costs of administration, satisfy the educational and paralegal work experience requirements, and any other requirements for Affiliate Membership as determined by the ISBA.
Proposed Rule 9 also provides that an IRP must complete a minimum of six hours of continuing legal education each year, of which one hour must be ethics credit. In addition to other oversight of the requirements of proposed Rule 9, the ISBA would oversee CLE requirements for Registered Paralegals to include CLE approved for attorneys which would automatically be approved for paralegals.
Judge Najam and Mr. Jones will make a presentation before the Rules Committee of the Indiana Supreme Court on December 12, 2014, and answer any questions they may have.
The Indiana Supreme Court will have exclusive jurisdiction over the voluntary registration of paralegals in Indiana to be administrated through the ISBA. As such, it is anticipated that proposed Rule 9 will be open for comment and discussion, after which a ruling will be made by the Indiana Supreme Court.
If proposed Rule 9 is opened for comment on or after December 12, 2014, please let the Indiana Supreme Court Rules Committee know that you support proposed Rule 9 by sending them a letter at:
Indiana Supreme Court
Division of State Court Administration
30 S. Meridian St., Ste 500
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Attn: Rules Committee
Also, please encourage your employers, paralegal educators and others within the legal community to join in this very important effort and let the Indiana Supreme Court know how you feel about proposed Rule 9.
As many as 18 other states have now adopted some form of registration for paralegals. The time has come for Indiana paralegals to be professionally credentialed, if they so choose.