Last year, the Florida Legislature created Section 189.069, Fla. Stat., (Chapter No. 2014-22, Laws of Florida), requiring special districts to maintain an official website. Under the provision, the website must include the following information by October 1, 2015:
If you have special district clients, don’t forget to tell them about these new requirements. To help ensure all required content is posted, use the Special District Website Requirement Self Checklist provided by the Special District Accountability Program. And don’t forget to provide the website address of your special district clients to the Program.
Do you know what a Florida Registered Paralegal is? A Florida Registered Paralegal is someone who meets the definition of paralegal and the requirements for registration with the Florida Bar. The Rules Regulating the Florida Bar define a paralegal as:
“a person with education, training, or work experience, who works under the direction and supervision of a member of The Florida Bar and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a member of The Florida Bar is responsible”
Unlike paralegal certifications, you don’t have to pass a test to be a Florida Registered Paralegal. You must meet the education combined with work experience requirement or be certified through NALA or NFPA to be eligible. There is also a grandfathering provision for paralegals who were registered before March 2011, but resigned or had their registration revoked.
If you meet one of the eligibility requirements, the application process is quick and easy. You must complete the application form, pay an application fee and provide supporting documentation to prove your education, work or certification. You must also sign an acknowledgment that you have read Chapter 20 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar and will comply with the Code of Ethics and Responsibility. Lastly, you must be currently working and your current and/or previous supervising attorney(s) must provide an attestation.
To maintain your Florida Registered Paralegal status, you must complete a minimum of 30 hours of CLE every 3 years, including 5 hours of ethic or professionalism. You must also be continuously employed as a paralegal and pay an annual renewal fee.
So what are the benefits of being a Florida Registered Paralegal? Prospective employers may be more likely to hire you because your registration shows that you have the education, training and work experience as a paralegal. Your contact information is listed on the Florida Bar website. You also have access to the same benefits available to attorney members of the Florida Bar, including free access to Fastcase and discounted CLE programs.
I have to admit I was hesitant to become a Florida Registered Paralegal, mostly because of the continuous employment requirement. If you lose your job or resign, you also lose your Florida Registered Paralegal status. And then, once you are hired again, you must submit a new application and fee. Some paralegals may also be reluctant to register because the program is administered by attorneys (who are also employers of paralegals), as opposed to certification programs administered by paralegal associations. One may wonder if the Florida Bar has the paralegal’s best interest at heart.
As you can see, there are Pros and Cons to be a Florida Registered Paralegal. Please consider them before applying.
I am curious to know what other paralegals think about this topic. Do you feel it’s worth it to become a registered paralegal with your state bar association?
It’s that time of the year. The 2015 Florida Legislative Session starts today and will last until May 1. Over 1460 bills have been filed. Only a few will make it to the end of the session and become law. Below are bills of interest to attorneys and legal professionals. Keep an eye on them as they may impact your practice areas if they pass in a few months. For your convenience, I’ll provide a status update at the end of the legislative session.
HB 47 State Minimum Wage
HB 47 increases state minimum wage from $6.15 to $10.10. It provides that an employer may not pay an employee at a rate less than the state minimum wage. It deletes the requirement that only individuals entitled to receive federal minimum wage are eligible to receive state minimum wage. (Identical Bill: SB 114)
CS/SB 102 Digital Assets
Known as the “Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act,” this bill authorizes a personal representative to have access to specified digital assets and electronic communication of a decedent and provides compliance requirements to receive and collect digital assets. It also give a similar authorization to guardians, agents and trustees. (Similar Bill: HB 313)
CS/HB 113 Local Government Construction Preferences
This bill prohibits local ordinances and regulations from restricting competition for award of construction services based upon the location of the vendor’s office or place of business. It requires state colleges, school districts and other political subdivisions to make specified disclosures in competitive solicitation documents. (Similar Bill: SB 778)
SB 126 Social Media Privacy
SB 126 prohibits an employer from requesting or requiring access to a social media account of an employee or prospective employee. It also prohibits an employer from taking retaliatory personnel action for an employee’s refusal to allow access to his social media account. However, it provides that an employer is not prohibited from seeking access to social media accounts used primarily for the employer’s business purposes.
SB 150 Student Loans
This bill would require the Justice Administrative Commission and the Office of the Attorney General to implement a student loan assistance program to assist a career assistant state attorney, assistant public defender, assistant attorney general, or assistant statewide prosecutor in the repayment of eligible student loans. (Similar Bill: HB 45)
SB 462 Family Law
This bill provides that a collaborative law process commences when the parties enter into a collaborative law participation agreement. It prohibits a tribunal from ordering a party to participate in a collaborative law process over the party’s objection. SB 462 provides for confidentiality of communications made during the collaborative law process. (Similar law: HB 503)
HB 611 Residential Properties
HB 611 provides requirements relating to the request for an estoppel certificate by a unit or parcel owner including a 10-day timeframe to deliver the certificate. It also provides that an association waives any claim against a person or entity who would have relied in good faith upon the estoppel certificate if the association failed to deliver the certificate. It revises fee and supplemental fee requirements. (Identical Bill: SB 736)
As you can see I can’t cover all bills that may affect your practice areas. If you want to look and find bills, you can do a word or statute amended search under the Bills tab on the Florida House of Representatives website.
Disclaimer: The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. Your Paralegal Help Desk's blogger is not an attorney and cannot give legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should immediately seek the advice of a licensed attorney in your state.