History and Accomplishments of South Jersey Paralegal Association
South Jersey Paralegal Association (SJPA) is a nonprofit corporation comprised of paralegals and paralegal students. SJPA's members also include paralegal educational institutions and other entities that support its goals and the paralegal profession. The Association was organized to provide professional support, expand recognition of the paralegal profession, offer continuing legal education, facilitate improvements in paralegal education programs, and promote the paralegal image. SJPA continues to strive to achieve these and other goals.
In the late 1970s, educational facilities in New Jersey began offering a variety of paralegal education programs. Graduates of local programs realized the need for a professional support group. South Jersey Paralegal Association was organized in 1980 and incorporated in May, 1983. SJPA currently has members in many counties in the state and holds dinner meetings between September and June in various locations throughout Southern New Jersey.
Officers and Committees
The SJPA Board of Directors is made up of our officers and various committees and coordinators. Our policy committees include membership, delivery of paralegal services, professional development, nominations and elections, and pro bono. SJPA administrative committees include public relations, newsletter, continuing education, programs, job bank, dinner meetings, and fundraising. SJPA also has ad hoc committees as needs arise. The current ad hoc committees in place are website, membership directory, library, and regulation.
Officers are elected by voting members of the Association. The offices are president, vice president, treasurer, recording secretary, and primary and secondary representatives to the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). Appointed officers are corresponding secretary and parliamentarian. Officers and policy committee chairs must be voting members in good standing; administrative and ad hoc committee chairs may be associate or student members in good standing.
SJPA has been represented on the New Jersey State Bar Association Paralegal Committee since approximately 1981. This representation enables interaction with members of the Bar and Judiciary, participation in matters of mutual interest, and an opportunity to increase recognition of paralegal participation in the delivery of legal services. In 1994, the NJSBA granted special committee status to the Paralegal Committee. With this recognition, membership to the Committee with voting privileges became open to any practicing paralegal in the state. Presently, the Committee is comprised of paralegals, attorneys and educators.
We encourage all our members to become involved in our organization. Participation is a key ingredient to the success of SJPA. All board meetings are open to any member and we invite you to attend. If you are interested in any of our open positions, please contact any board member.
On June 5, 1984, SJPA became the 33rd member association of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc., which now represents paralegal associations nationwide. By this affiliation, SJPA members receive information on issues facing the profession across the country and have a forum to discuss issues of mutual concern. SJPA members have access to a network of paralegals from which they can obtain state-specific information as well as experts in specialty areas of law, etc.
Each SJPA member receives the NFPA publication, The National Paralegal Reporter, a journal that contains substantive articles of interest.
In the course of SJPA's history, our members have been instrumental in charting the course of paralegals in New Jersey. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our members, paralegals in our state now have the right to carry business cards and practice independently as contract paralegals.
The New Jersey Supreme Court issued its decision In re: Opinion 24 of the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law on May 14, 1992. On May 18, 1999, the New Jersey Supreme Court declined to act on the recommendations of its Committee on Paralegal Education and Regulation to implement a licensing scheme. The issue of regulation continues to be debated in many venues.
SJPA has also had a voice in the codification of Rule 4:42-9 (b) as is relates to recoverability of paralegal fees and the ABA commission on non-lawyer practice.
Future Challenges for SJPA
SJPA is proud of the success of the Association. SJPA members look forward to continued growth and development of the paralegal profession, continued achievement of the Association's goals and objectives, and strengthening the lines of communication with the Bar and Judiciary. Looking forward, SJPA welcomes the knowledge that continued work and dedication will increase paralegal participation in the delivery of cost-efficient legal services.