MCC utilizes a Paralegal Studies Advisory Board. This group is composed of notable lawyers, senior paralegals, legal technologists, employment representatives, and members of the general public. The Board helps to develop admission standards, select competent faculty, evaluate curriculum and performance of graduates, publicize the program, and secure community cooperation and interest.
The American Bar Association adopted the following definition effective February 2, 2020: A paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.
Paralegals work in almost any area where law-related work is performed, including private law firms and government agencies. Under the supervision of lawyers, they research law, investigate facts, prepare drafts of legal documents, and work with clients.
Paralegals should not establish attorney-client relationships, set legal fees, give legal opinions or advice, or represent clients before courts. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public except as provided by law.
Lawyers supervise the work of traditional and freelance paralegals, but not the work of independent paralegals.
- Traditional paralegals are employed in law firms, government agencies, and corporations.
- Freelance paralegals contract their services to lawyers.
- Independent paralegals provide services directly to the public. They risk violating unauthorized practice of law statutes.
Although some perceive paralegals as competing with new lawyers, in 1997 the NYS Bar pointed out that paralegals can expand the public's access to legal services at a reduced cost. Throughout the country, bar associations are encouraging all legal entities to explore possibilities for better utilization of paralegals.