Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
• How do I become a paralegal?
• What is the difference between a Legal Assistant and a Paralegal?
• Can you recommend a school?
• I have a legal problem. Can you recommend a paralegal in the area that can help me?
• Why can't a paralegal provide me with legal advice and assistance?
• What are the Ethical Rules and Guidelines for Paralegals?
REAP is an association of working paralegals, paralegal students, and educators that was established to provide a forum of continuing education, enrichment, and networking for its members. REAP is not an educational institution. We recommend, however, that if you are interested in pursuing a career in the legal field that you investigate the paralegal programs offered at trade schools, community colleges, state colleges, or universities in your area.
What is the difference between a Legal Assistant and a Paralegal?
There has been much discussion about the difference between these two terms, however, REAP does not recognize any distinction and treats them synonymously. Assembly Bill 1761, codified in the Business and Professions Code Section 6450 et seq. (Link to Paralegal Statutory Definition) defines the professional and educational requirements for paralegals in California.
REAP provides links to some of the schools in the region which provide accredited programs at Paralegal Training Programs.
REAP supports the Code of Ethics for Paralegals adopted by the National Association of Legal Assistants, which states in part that "... a paralegal [legal assistant] is someone who is qualified, through formal training or experience, to do legal work under the direct supervision of an attorney...." As a result, REAP is unable to provide you with any legal advice or recommend a paralegal to you. If you need a lawyer, please contact the Sonoma County Bar Association, (707) 542-1190.
Why can't a paralegal or a legal document assistant provide me with legal advice and assistance?
In California, as in many states, only an attorney may provide legal advice. The law prohibits anyone else from providing legal advice in order to protect the public.
Legal document assistants, may assist you by preparing legal documents, but are not allowed to provide any instruction or advice. The California Association of Legal Document Assistants represents the interests of this profession.
Paralegals are guided by ethical standards established by the California Alliance of Paralegal Associations (CAPA) and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Ethical guidance comes in the form of CAPA's Ethics Guidelines and NALA's Model Standards and Guidelines .