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    Letters to the Editor

    George BurnettTed Johnson

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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 77, No. 6, June 2004


    Letters to the editor: The Wisconsin Lawyer publishes as many letters in each issue as space permits. Please limit letters to 500 words; letters may be edited for length and clarity. Letters should address the issues, and not be a personal attack on others. Letters endorsing political candidates cannot be accepted. Please mail letters to "Letters to the Editor," Wisconsin Lawyer, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, fax them to (608) 257-4343, or email them to org wislawyer wisbar wisbar wislawyer org.

    Regulating Paralegals is Protectionist

    The State Bar has, as we have been informed in the April Wisconsin Lawyer, filed a petition with the Wisconsin Supreme Court to regulate and license paralegals.

    Our Bar Association bureaucracy ought to amend the petition, and seek also to regulate and license: 1) legal secretaries (this letter was typed and sent by a secretary of age 64, who is computer and information technology illiterate, from verbal-shorthand "notes"); 2) janitorial staff; 3) IT staff and employees; 4) delivery and messenger personnel; 5) postal mail distribution and delivery staff; and 6) law student, part-time employees.

    Upon the filing of such a petition, and the granting of such a petition, as amended, the Bar Association could "grow" its powers, staff, and control (as well as its budget) for the purposes of societal protectionism.

    Isn't bureaucracy, and its stated purposes, wonderful.

    Ted B. Johnson

    Response: Based on the recommendations of a task force composed of attorneys, paralegals, and educators and after approval by the Board of Governors, the State Bar of Wisconsin petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court to establish a system for the licensure of and regulation of paralegals. The petition arises from: 1) recommendations of the State Bar's Commission on the Delivery of Legal Services that better use of paralegals will meet some legal needs that presently go unmet; 2) concerns of state and national paralegal groups over the professionalism of a paralegal career; and 3) the need for current standards and requirements for those calling themselves paralegals, given the significant responsibility that they often assume. The petition asks the supreme court to assure that paralegals perform services under the supervision of an attorney licensed to practice law in Wisconsin, so as to better protect the public.

    This is an important issue. The report of the Paralegal Task Force can be found online at www.wisbar.org/bar/reports/2004/ptf_2004.pdf. Whether you agree or disagree with the proposal, I believe that you will be impressed at the amount of time and careful thought that went into its preparation.

    George Burnett
    State Bar of Wisconsin