A message from program director Pat Medina:
Last year the David Goldstein Memorial Scholarship was established in honor of our long-time criminal law teacher. It is open to all students planning a career in criminal law and to international students. We will award two $3,000 scholarships this semester. Details on how to apply are below. Student essays are due on November 3, 2017. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. - Pat
Fall 2017 application deadline: November 3
David Goldstein taught Criminal Law in our Paralegal Studies program for 30 years and was a strong advocate for social justice in criminal law. A scholarship has been established in his memory by his family. We will be awarding two scholarships of $3,000 each spring and fall semester.
The criteria for applying is as follows:
- Students must be certificate students who have completed at least one semester with a 3.5 GPA in Paralegal Studies courses
- Students must have taken or be enrolled in our Paralegal Studies Criminal Law class and/or completed an internship or volunteer work in criminal law
- International students are also eligible to apply
Students must write an essay detailing their career plans for working as a paralegal or going on to law school to continue to work for social justice in criminal law
- The essay should be 2 - 3 pages typed in 12 point and double spaced
- You do not need to include legal research. It should be a personal statement
- International students are encouraged to focus their essay on the differences in the criminal law system in their home county and here in the U.S. discussing challenges faced in working for social justice
- Students must also self describe financial need and how this scholarship will help them complete the Paralegal Studies certificate
Fall 2017 scholarship application deadline: November 3
- Essays should be submitted to Pat Medina, Paralegal Studies program director
- Essays will be judged by a committee of three Paralegal Studies faculty
A message from program director, Pat Medina:
This is a great volunteer opportunity for all paralegal students that can count for internship credit. If interested check it out and email me with any questions you have.
The Legal Advice & Referral Clinic (LARC) of the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco is seeking volunteers in the following areas:
- Intake Interviews and Drafting/Research
Learn more on the flyer below:
A Message from Pat Medina, Program Director
The Paralegal Section was started in 2015 at the suggestion of one of our graduates who worked on organizing it with the support of her boss. It has been very successful and is a great resource for networking and job contacts. Paralegal students can join for $70 and then attend all meetingsand special events free of charge. Scholarships are available for those students who need financial help. Contact Raquel Cabading at email@example.com for scholarship information.
Vickie Newman has chaired this section for the first two years and is looking for paralegal graduates to join the SF Bar Executive Committee. You will gain great networking opportunities and add real experience to your resume by volunteering. Contact Vickie at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Check out the BASF Paralegal Section page for more information on how you can be a part of the executive committee.
I encourage all students and graduates to begin professional networking and highly recommend joining the SF Bar Paralegal Section. Check out the BASF Paralegal Section Calendar of Events page for upcoming meetings.
Be a part of BASF's Paralegal Section Leadership
At this time we have a couple executive committee positions openings. We are currently accepting inquiries and resumes. If you are interested in learning more about the section and the executive committee visit the BASF Paralegal Section page. You may also contact Vickie Newman our 2017 Chair email@example.com. Please forward resume and letter of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. The Bar Association of San Francisco Paralegal Section's mission is to instill an ethos of professionalism in all legal paraprofessionals, which include but are not limited to paralegals, legal assistants, legal nurse consultants, and other non-attorney legal professionals, especially those who have chosen to make a career in the legal field. Accordingly, our focus is education:
- Educating the legal community about the various and ever-evolving roles paralegals can play in the practice of law, and helping practitioners in guiding and mentoring their paralegals and other support staff
- Educating the legal community about Business and Professions Code §6450, et seq. and its mandatory CLE requirements, and providing MCLE classes for paralegals to meet those requirements
- Educating paralegals about various certification programs while fostering opportunities for peer-to-peer support and learning, and providing encouragement and resources for people interested in pursuing a paralegal career
- Educating the community at large about the role of paralegals in the legal profession.
To put these goals into practice, the Section will organize and sponsor MCLE classes and social events each year, and provide support to on-going pro bono efforts. Thus, Section members will enjoy the following benefits:
- Access to quality MCLE programs through live attendance or webcasts
- Ability to attend other BASF programs at BASF section member's rate
- Subscriptions to BASF publications
- Access to BASF member benefits, such as judicial council forms
- Variety of pro bono activities to utilize and develop your professional legal skills
- Networking opportunities through MCLE programs, socials and pro bono activities
Looking forward to hearing from you!
BASF Paralegal Section Events
September 27, 2017:
Utilizing Legal Nurse Consultant to Benefit Your Practice
12:00pm - 1:15pm
Every year, the San Francisco Paralegal Association awards a scholarship prize to a student member of the Association who writes an essay about an issue important to the paralegal profession in California. This year's prize is $1,000.
The winner of the scholarship will receive the award at the Association's Annual Meeting, to be held on Friday, October 13, 2017 at the San Francisco Bar Association at 301 Battery Street in San Francisco, CA. If you have any questions about the scholarship, please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to receiving your essays!
2017 Scholarship Essay Prompt:
Americans with Disabilities Act: How can the 14th Amendment be used to ensure equal protection for those with disabilities?
Rules & Guidelines
- You must be a student member of the SFPA prior to the submission of your essay.
- Format: 1,000-word minimum, double-spaced, 12-point font.
- At least three citations/references are required. They will be checked.
- One entry per student.
- Please submit your essay to the SFPA Board of Directors at email@example.com, with ESSAY ENTRY in the subject line, no later than Saturday, September 30, 2017.
- Please include in your submission email the name of your school and the expected date of your graduation.
Good luck and have fun!
In the months since he became governor, Jerry Brown has aggressively targeted waste in an attempt to make the state government more efficient. This includes a bill he signed last month, SB 78, designed to get state departments to more efficiently manage the money they use to get legal services from the office he used to run as the state's attorney general from 2007 until this January.
This, in turn, raises the question of how efficient an operation he left behind. Like all state agencies, the Department of Justice has sustained significant budget cuts. Over the last three fiscal years, the AG's office has had to reduce costs by a cumulative $110 million.
But there appears to be one cost-cutting trend in the legal industry that the AG's office has not kept up with: hiring more paralegals. These are lower-cost employees who can do much of the support work for attorneys, including some tasks that are often carried out by attorneys.
"There has been a push, and clients have forced the push, starting in the early or mid '90s to lower the costs of their legal bills and use as many lower-level, inexpensive people as they can," said Tom Chase, owner of Chase Legal Professionals Inc. in Folsom.
"Paralegals are definitely part of that process," added Chase, who is not an attorney but has managed four different law firms. He also taught a course on law firm management at the University of the Pacific's McGeorge Law School from 1989 to 2004.
The legal industry was influenced by the 1992 roll-out of the "DuPont Model." Seeking to lower their legal costs, the chemical giant increased the number of paralegals on their legal staff from six to 40, and radically changed the ratio of attorneys to paralegals, going down to two-to-one.
According to a 2009 report by Tracy Wymer, senior research director at the Pennsylvania-based staffing firm Knoll Inc., current industry ratios generally call for no more than nine attorneys to one paralegal, though four is close to the ideal for many firms - and some have as few as two attorneys for every paralegal.
The ratio of attorneys to paralegals is often more of a "cultural" issue within a firm than just a practical matter, said Wymer when reached at his office in San Francisco. It can also involve mundane considerations such as office space, since law offices must have meeting spaces and keep huge volumes of paper records around.
"I wish there were industry standards you could say you were above or below, but that's really not the case," Wymer said.
As of July 1, 2010, the AG's office had 149 legal analysts or senior legal analysts, their equivalent of paralegals, and 1,122 attorneys, according to figures from state controller John Chiang's office. This ratio of 7.5 attorneys for every paralegal would place it within industry norms, though likely on the more top-heavy end.
These figures also cover both filled and open positions, so they may not reflect the true ratio within the AG's operation. There are also individual units of the AG's office that have much higher ratios. In an Oct. 4 letter to the California Medical Board, senior assistant attorney general Carlos Ramirez noted that the Health Quality Enforcement Office (HQE) in Los Angeles had three supervising attorneys general, 22 deputy attorneys general - and a single paralegal, meaning the office had a ratio of 25 to one.
According to a spokesperson for the AG's office, the state has a hard time competing with private law firms to hire paralegals at the approved pay rates. A legal analyst for the state makes a salary of between $46,000 to $56,000. A senior legal analyst tops out at $67,400.
But, according to 2008 figures from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, this places the state well within industry norms for the profession. The national median salary for paralegals was $46,120, though most of these people worked in areas with a lower cost of living than California. Paralegals in the federal government actually had a higher median salary, $58,540, than those in corporate firms, $55,190.
A lower salary scale than the private sector is also an issue when the AG's office needs to hire lawyers. A beginning deputy attorney general can make as little as $56,000 annually, with the top scale going up to $94,000. With a few years of experience and a couple promotions, they can move up to $126,000, according to job vacancy data listed on the AG's website.
Attorneys also face three years of graduate-level schooling to get a degree and student debt loads that can easily top $100,000 - putting them under pressure to make money. And they must pass a bar exam that is widely considered the nation's hardest. In 2008, 46 percent of first-time test takers failed, the highest rate in the country. Several notable people in California political history failed their first time out, including former Stanford Law School dean Kathleen Sullivan, whose name has come up in connection with US Supreme Court openings under the Obama administration, and Brown himself.
By contrast, the 33 paralegal programs in California that are recognized by the American Bar Association generally take about a year for applicants who already have a bachelor's degree. And even though the Bureau of Labor Statistics recognizes paralegals as one of the fastest-growing jobs in the country, with openings slated to grow 28 percent between 2008 and 2018, new graduates often have a hard time getting their first job, Chase said. Paralegals aren't usually a hot commodity in the private sector until they have some experience, he said.
There are 10 job openings currently listed on the AG's website, but only one for an attorney and none for paralegals. The agency lists three spots for criminal supervisors in the investigative branch, and two for legal secretaries - a job that sometimes has overlap with paralegals, according to Chase.
The spokesperson for the AG also said that the litigation-heavy nature of their work limits the numbers of paralegals they can use. Many law firms do most of their work outside of court—filing real estate or tax documents, or other work that does not involved the inside of a court room.
But Chase says the law firms that hire a lot of paralegals are often the same ones that do a lot of litigation. Paralegals often sit in on depositions and summarize them, or organize exhibits for trial.
It's not that the AG's office is expensive compared to a comparable law firm. The Department of Justice charges $170 an hour for an attorney. Private rates for attorneys with comparable education and credentials can be significantly higher. While there's no set industry standard, rates at many firms can easily run $225 to $300, though many firms are lower - and some are higher.
The AG's office charges state agencies $120 for an hour of a paralegal's time. In 2004, the rate was $132 an hour for attorneys and $91 for paralegals - meaning the hourly rate for each has grown by about a third over that time.
A paralegal job outranks lawyer in a new rating of 200 jobs by a career website.
The job of paralegal assistant is in 13th place, while the job of attorney is in 82nd place on the list by CareerCast. The ranking is based on five criteria: physical demands, work environment, income, outlook and stress.
Stenographer/court reporter is ranked 31st, while judge is ranked 53rd.
CareerCast lists an income figure for each job that is based on estimated midlevel income and income growth potential. For paralegal, the income score is $47,153. For lawyer, it is $113,211. The website also lists a hiring outlook that is based on expected employment growth, income growth potential and unemployment data. For paralegal, the hiring outlook is 23.53, while for lawyer it is 10.11.
The top-ranked job is software engineer, with a hiring outlook of 27.40 and midlevel income figure of $87,140, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports. Last year's top job, actuary, dropped to third place, behind mathematician. The lowest-rated job was roustabout.
California Alliance of Paralegal Associations Celebrates the 10th Anniversary of Business and Professions Code 6450 + Earn MCLE Credits
Learn the background of BPC 6450, and why California paralegals should be proud of this legislation, in the following article:
"CAPA CELEBRATES BPC 6450'S 10TH ANNIVERSARY" (PDF)
By Carolyn Yellis, ACP
It is the responsibility of California Paralegals, to obtain and maintain their MCLE credits. The minimum requirements (4 hours of ethics and 4 hours of generalized or specialized law) must be met by December 31, 2010. You can come and join CAPA in its 10 year celebration of Business & Professions Code 6450 et seq. Earn your MCLE credits and join in the fun of meeting paralegals from throughout the state. For more information please go to California Alliance of Paralegal Associations.
Paralegal Studies program director, Pat Medina, was profiled in the February 2009 At-Issue newsletter, published by the San Francisco Paralegal Association (SFPA). Learn more about Pat in the article below.
- At-Issue - February 2009 (PDF)
Source: AAfPE Information Exchange Listserv
"Several years ago I found the attached article when doing some Internet searches on paralegal tasks. Some of you may find this interesting and useful. It was compiled by a group of in-house lawyers. If memory serves me, the purpose was to alert other in-house counsel to what they should be paying outside law firms to do at paralegal rates, rather than at associate attorney rates."
- What Paralegals Do (and What Lawyers Shouldn't Do?)
- What Paralegals Do (and What Lawyers Shouldn't Do?) (PDF version)
The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics is a good resource. Their 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook describes the following about the outlook for the paralegal profession:
This occupation attracts many applicants, and competition for jobs will be strong. Experienced, formally trained paralegals with strong computer and database management skills should have the best job prospects. In addition, many firms will prefer paralegals with experience and specialization in high-demand practice areas.
Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 17 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Law firms also are attempting to reduce billing costs due to pressure from clients. Paralegals can be a less costly alternative to lawyers and can perform a wide variety of duties, including tasks once done by lawyers. This will cause an increase in demand for paralegals and legal assistants.
While law firms will continue to be the largest employers of paralegals, many large corporations are increasing their in-house legal departments to cut costs. For many companies, the high cost of lawyers and their support staff makes it more economical to have an in-house legal department, rather than to retain outside counsel. This will lead to an increase in the demand of legal workers in a variety of settings, such as finance and insurance firms, consulting firms, and healthcare providers.
Three recent legal decisions make it more important than ever for law firms to hire well-trained paralegals. Learn more in the Daily Journal article , "The Paralegal Puzzle" (PDF).
Learn more paralegal billing in the San Francisco Daily Journal article, "Focus: Billing Paralegals Revisited" (PDF).
The article "Paralegal Pitfalls" (PDF) by Mireya A.R. Llaurado (The Recorder, May 30, 2007) explains the need for all organizations that hire paralegals and legal assistants to understand paralegal-related employment practices & laws. Download "Paralegal Pitfalls" (PDF)
Learn about the director of the Paralegal Studies program, Pat Medina, in the SF State CampusMemo. "Pat Medina - Running the best" is featured in the "People on Campus" section of the May 24, 2004 issue.