Licensed Paralegals In New York?

A bill for licensing paralegals in New York state would be something to get excited about if the reason for its introduction were not suspect. The justification of this bill is as follows :

Every year more and more attorneys are allowing their paralegals to work extensively on important and complex cases: Cases that impact the life of their clients and other people involved. Some of these paralegals tend to commit errors that could lead to nightmares for the clients. This legislation would require paralegal to have the qualification necessary in order to provide improved and more professional services to clients of attorneys.

Source: New York State Assembly

Will paralegals be responsible for the work they do for an attorney's client?

Please, read this paper by Clifford C. Smith: New York: Paralegal Proposed Licensure


  1. I agree with you. As a New Jersey paralegal I try to always keep an eye on what New York is doing because inevitably it winds up on the this side of the tunnel. When I read the justification I was a bit taken aback by it. My first reaction was.... "do we license attorneys and doctors because they make mistakes?".... what a bunch of ... well, you know what I mean. Thank you for posting.

  2. I have written a short paper addressing Bill A08532. It's available in PDF at:


  3. I don't understand what the big "to do" is about. Why can't they mirror a paralegal registration or licensing program to the one in place for nurses. Nurses can be registered, they are not doctors but registration gives them a sense of legitimacy and makes them more valuable in the work force. Paralegals are a kin to nurses, they in fact are to attorneys what nurses are to doctors. NALA opposes licencing because there would be no business for them if that happens and lawyers oppose it because firms fear having to pay higher wages for paralegals if they become official, and that is what this is really about. $$$! So long as paralegals do not have to be certified, registered or licensed, the individual firms can decide what qualifies them and can determine with less pressure what they want to pay.

  4. Very well written paper Cliff. Makes sense, and I agree is the best approach at paralegal licensing in NY.

  5. Cliff,

    Would you mind if I used some aspects of your paper in a paper I am working on to present to the New York City Paralegal Association

    We are looking at the issue and would like to have a firm stance to lobby from, if it comes to that. The paper with edits, assuming there will be, will then be presented to the Empire State Alliance & Paralegal Association and I assume circulated to other Paralegal Associations within New York.

    I will post the orignial paper and final
    paper(s) on my blog.

  6. Scales of Justice,

    Despite agreeing with most of what you said, I do not agree that NALA and related organizations would be out of business. It all depends on the approach individual states take to regulation in general and licensing specifically.

    I sincerely hope that New York takes the regulation to licensing route and will be arguing for such in my paper to be repsented to the New York City Paralegal Association.

  7. If paralegals were to be licensed, what kinds of problems or issues can you anticipate?


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