Are you a paralegal, or are you studying to become one? You may want to give some thought to joining the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). Formed in 1974, NFPA currently has over 60 organizational members and over 15,000 paralegal and student members. It is a member-directed group, organized to enhance ethical standards for the paralegal profession, increase the profession's visibility, and create and foster new associations and communication pathways dedicated to advancement of the paralegal profession.
Paralegals are defined by the NFPA as persons "qualified through education, training or work experience to perform substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily, but not exclusively, performed by a lawyer." Paralegals may be hired as independent contractors or employed by lawyers, law firms, government agencies, or other organizations to perform "substantive legal work" which is defined as "work requiring recognition, evaluation, organization, analysis, and communication of relevant facts and legal concepts." The benefits to NFPA membership are numerous, and include both intangible (and invaluable) rewards such as networking, contacts, and career advancement, and tangible economic and professional benefits such as:
- Car rental discounts
- Discounts on legal-subject software
- Discounted delivery service rates
- And other benefits.
For a full list of the benefits available to NFPA members, visit this page.
- Check to see if there is a local member organization in your area. NFPA encourages paralegals and students interested in membership to first join a regional organization that is a group member of NFPA. Doing so automatically qualifies the individual for NFPA membership. Check this page to see if there is an organizational member near you. Alternately, consider forming such a group and applying for NFPA membership directly! The fee for organizations is $200 per year, and the same application form may be used (see step 3 below).
- If there is no member organization near you, consider joining as an individual. There are two categories of individual members - one for practicing paralegals, and one for students. Students are defined as those who are enrolled in or are recent graduates of a paralegal training course. Practicing paralegals are those who are employed or working as paralegals, using the definition given above.
- Download the application form. This is a PDF file. Helpful Tip: Print off two copies of the form. Use one as a draft, then fill out the other using a typewriter or neat block printing.
- Fill out the form carefully. Make sure you select the correct category of membership.
- Include the requested supporting documentation. Practicing paralegals must enclose either a resume or a letter from their employer verifying that the applicant performs paralegal work. Students and recent graduates applying as students must enclose a copy of their transcript.
- Enclose your check, or alternatively, provide your credit card information. Make sure you specify the correct amount. As of this writing, practicing paralegals pay $85, students pay $50, and organizations pay $200.
- Mail the application, check (if applicable) and supporting documentation to: National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc.; P.O. Box 2016, Edmonds, Washington 98020. You can contact the NFPA via email at email@example.com, or by telephone at (425) 967-0045.