By Lori Rozgonyi, Connor Reporting
Two integral groups, Paralegals and Court Reporters, are vital to the legal community. It’s not common to think of both groups in the same sentence, but you should. They have a unifying factor that links the two. This common denominator is surprising: no state licensure required, no certification required to practice. While both groups hold positions of authority and demanding responsibilities, in Indiana, neither paralegals nor court reporters are required to be licensed or certified by the state. Additionally, neither group is required to pay fees or register with the State of Indiana. This lack of state enforcement rallies leaders of each profession to tirelessly campaign for enrollment in national certification programs on an individual level.
For both groups, it’s not for lack of trying. After a few years and diligent work by a competent lobbyist, members of the Indiana Shorthand Reporters Association (ISRA) abandoned the pursuit of SB 210 requiring licensure for Court Reporters. Citing Governor Pence’s view on less mandatory licensure, new licensure requirements wouldn’t pass. Instead, ISRA promotes and stresses the need for individual participation in a voluntary Certified Shorthand Reporter program as well as national certification through the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). How can you tell if the reporter is certified? Look for the initials CSR, RPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS* following their name.
At Connor Reporting, we only work with certified court reporters and Certified Legal Videographers. This ensures our clients that the reporter taking the deposition and/or shooting the video have passed rigorous tests meeting or exceeding national standards.
Since 1996, Indiana Paralegals have been encouraged to seek individual certification through the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE). It is a voluntary certification program offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (NFPA) to test the competency level of experienced paralegals. Upon successful completion, a paralegal may use the designation “PACE Registered Paralegal,” “Registered Paralegal,” or “RP®.” The NFPA recently began offering another credentialing examination for entry-level paralegals, the PCCE™ – Paralegal Core Competency Exam. This exam does not require the experience component that PACE requires and allows the paralegal, again voluntarily, to demonstrate his or her competency as an entry-level paralegal while he/she attains the necessary experience to sit for PACE. Taking these exams voluntarily at a time when certification is not mandatory speaks volumes to a prospective employer about a paralegal’s commitment to their career path.
Debi Binkley RP® of Bose McKinney & Evans LLP has tirelessly led the crusade for PACE certification over the years. As the newly appointed chair of the DTCI Paralegal Committee and NFPA Credentialing Coordinator-Public Relations, Debi will continue to encourage paralegals to become certified and will continue to assist and support Angela Woodlee, RP®, Certification Credentialing Coordinator for the Indiana Paralegal Association (IPA), in organizing PACE and PCCE study groups and in promoting credentialing. In 2006, Debi and IPA were recognized by NFPA for their recruitment efforts of paralegals seeking national PACE certification. Thanks to the work of the Indiana Paralegal Association, Indiana proudly has the highest number of PACE Registered Paralegals of any state.
The legal world depends on paralegals and court reporters. Many attorneys cite paralegals as the most integral part of their team. The entire legal system depends on accurate, certified transcripts trusting the court reporter – a/k/a “Guardian of the Record” to objectively record. Paralegals and Court Reporters are in parallel tracks. They are united as they attempt to motivate peers to obtain national certification in lieu of absent state licensure. Let’s educate and encourage the legal public for insisting on national certification through the self-governing NCRA and NFPA.
• RPR=Registered Professional Reporter, CSR=Certified Shorthand Reporter , RMR= Registered Merit Reporter, CRR= Certified Real Time Reporter, CLVS= Certified Legal Video Specialist
[June 12, 2014 article; reprinted with permission.]