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Divorce, L.a. Style

April 17, 1988

About the sidebar "Five Ways to End a Marriage," under the section Paralegal Services--"the best paralegals are associated in some way with a reputable attorney": That's because real paralegals, those who have earned certificates from American Bar Assn.-approved paralegal programs, are taught that it is unethical for them to take cases from the general public. Independent paralegals who do not work in a law firm or for an in-house law department or in a governmental agency, but who have also earned certificates, know that their clients can only be attorneys who assign them work on cases as independent contractors.

Since there is no federal licensing of paralegals and no state licensing in California, and because paralegals do not practice law, give legal advice or represent clients, the closest thing we have to any kind of credential is a certificate from an ABA-approved program, which at least provides a recognizable standard of education of paralegals to employers.

The kinds of paralegal services mentioned in your article that do take cases directly from the general public are currently under the close scrutiny of the California State Bar Assn. in response to reports it has received of poor-quality legal services that have been rendered to the public by those kinds of "paralegals" whose work is not supervised by an attorney. The only legal advice I recommend that any paralegal should give anyone is "See a lawyer" or perhaps "\o7 Caveat emptor\f7 ."

VICKI RICHARDSON

INSTRUCTOR ANDPROGRAMCONSULTANT

CERTIFICATE PROGRAM,LEGAL

ASSISTANTSHIP, UC EXTENSION,IRVINE

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