As the world grows closer, so does the paralegal field.
It had to happen. With millions of paralegals around the world, a new association needed to be formed to bring paralegals together for one common purpose. I thought. "What if there were an association where paralegals could share information; develop best practices; raise the awareness of the field; increase utilization; network with paralegals they never thought would be possible; learn from each other; all through the Internet?" It was one of those work-related epiphanies as I began to meet and learn from paralegals across the world.
As I developed six LinkedIn Groups including KNOW, Paralegal Group, Paralegal Managers, Virtual Paralegal, Legal Vendors, OLP, the numbers grew substantially. KNOW has over 8,000 paralegals - Paralegal Group has over 6,000 members. Where are they from? What are their stories? It became apparent to me that there are times when we isolate - when we only know our own space. The world isn't like that anymore. Paralegals are global. It's just that no one has attempted to bring them together in a world that changed practically overnight. No longer are paralegals stuck in a slow, lumbering legal field. The world has changed - and paralegals with it.
Forming the Paralegal Internet Association has been one of the most exciting experiences of my career. In the first week, we had over 300 paralegals from around the world respond - from the U.S., Scotland, Canada, London, Saipan, Nigeria, Brussells, Israel, France, Italy and more. Paralegals who have a strong desire to exchange information, meet one another, learn from each other. That was the first week.
We held our first meeting a few weeks ago and laid out some goals. Among them was to set up a Steering and other committees such as Membership, Events, Education, Newsletter, Business Partners, Strategic Alliances, Conference and more. We sent out a survey asking what we should call ourselves, who should join, what is our purpose and mission, what impact do we want to make on the paralegal field?
The results so far have been thought-provoking, motivating and interesting. Names range from International Paralegal Association, Internet Paralegal Association, Association of Internet Paralegals, Paralegal Internet Association and others. There's a wide, wide range of educational topics including international law, eDiscovery, information governance, litigation support, corporate, employment law. There were concerns that we would only present American law and therefore limit opportunities for paralegals from other countries. The ideas and suggestions were endless.
There's a website you can go to: www.paralegalinternet.com. It lists a whole host of terrific benefits the organization will be able to provide including: education, webinars, webcasts, white papers, ezines, newsletters, discussion forums, recorded sessions and more. Our online resource library will include dozens of professional practice statements, sample documents, articles and more designed to help you get things done. There are surveys to be created, resources, advocacy and most of all, convenience. There can be local chapters that meet locally, Skyping to bring others in - virtual job fairs - the ideas are endless. Here's an opportunity to get in on the ground floor and have a hand in developing and shaping an influencial organization.
While it would be nice to be free, a small membership fee of $50 has been set until January 1 when survey candidates felt that $95 USD would be appropriate individual dues. Here at the Paralegal Knowledge Institute, we will provide a paid staff to administer the organization and guide it along with the input from all committees and members. It is a place to be heard, a place to empower paralegals with a new kind of association - one that is frankly, riding the direction the horse is going.
If you would like more information or join this unique, progressive and creative organization, visit www.paralegalinternet.com. Be sure to give us your feedback as we value your input. Join and take the survey to give us comprehensive information about the meaningful and valuable contribution the association can make to the paralegal field.
Together, we can stand out from the crowd.