The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (“NFPA”) Annual Convention & Policy Meeting was hosted by the Paralegal Association of Rochester, Inc. (“PAR”) from October 10-13, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Rochester. The annual convention was attended by delegates of Regions I, II, III, IV and V, with 38 paralegal associations in attendance.
The NFPA Model Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility Guidelines provide that each paralegal should aspire to contribute 24 hours of community service, in addition to 24 hours to pro bono service annually. During the year, paralegals voluntarily report hours via the NFPA Pro Bono/Community Service Hours Reporting Forms to record and report the number of hours contributed to local groups, pro bono agencies, events, associations and organizations. Local associations may then report these hours to the state and local bar associations, highlighting the valuable contributions paralegals make to the delivery of pro bono legal services and to making access to justice a reality. This year, NFPA honored over 30 paralegals from local associations throughout the United States for meeting and/or exceeding the recommended aspirations for completion of pro bono/community service hours. These paralegals received certificates and commemorative pins from NFPA.
Following recognition and the presentation of certificates and pins, NFPA also presented the 2019 Association Pro Bono Award to the Paralegal Association of Central Ohio (PACO). This award recognizes an NFPA member association that has exhibited outstanding dedication and service in the area of pro bono services. The 2019 Individual Pro Bono Award was presented to Teresa Scharf, OSBA, for her hard work on the Wills Clinics in Columbus, Ohio.
The Pro Bono Committee of the Paralegal Association of Central Ohio (“PACO”) and its members continue their valuable contribution low-income individuals in the Central Ohio area by participating in at least two of more than two dozen Brief-Advice Clinics every month across the city and county. At these events, paralegals serve walk-in clients by interviewing them, matching them with an attorney whose expertise involves the area of law each client’s issue represents, and preparing summary reports for the Legal Aid Society of Columbus (“LASC”). LASC has a very robust pro bono program, with which PACO paralegals are pleased to volunteer.
In addition, PACO’s own program, operating in collaboration with LASC, the PACO / LASC Pro Bono Wills Clinics, just completed its tenth year of bringing services to area senior citizens at their residential facilities. This is a mobile effort that provides services at the residential facilities, which is convenient for the residents and keeps them safe in their familiar surroundings. At these clinics, each resident is situated with an attorney/paralegal team and provided personal attention while the legal teams draft, revise, finalize, and execute important, end-of-life documents. These include Simple Wills, Financial Powers of Attorney, Declarations of Funeral Arrangements and Disposition of Bodily Remains, and an Affidavit authorizing the apartment building manager to allow the resident’s designee to have access to their apartment upon their decease, and the Advance Directives – a Living Will, a Health Care Power of Attorney, and organ donor designations. These Wills Clinics are conducted after work hours on weekday evenings, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Since beginning this program in May 2010, PACO’s Pro Bono Committee has conducted a total of 138 Wills Clinics and constructed documents for 1,238 senior citizens! PACO has a waiting list into 2020. The Committee currently enjoys the involvement of 33 paralegals, 46 attorneys, and 23 law & paralegal students, all of whom have attended a mandatory 3-hour CLE for Wills Clinic volunteers.
Christine Flynn is a litigation paralegal at the personal injury law firm of Haggerty, Goldberg, Schleifer & Kupersmith in Philadelphia. She has 25 years of experience in the field. Christine is a past President of the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals and currently serves First Vice President, chair of the Membership and co-chair of Litigation and Professional Development Committees. She is also the Secondary Representative to the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and has been appointed as Pro Bono Coordinator and Liaison to the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. Christine is a member of the Paralegal Studies Advisory Board at the Community College of Philadelphia and also serves as a member of the LEI Widener Law Center Board of Advisors. She also serves as a mentor to paralegal students. Christine is a member of the National Notary Association as well as a paralegal member of Philadelphia Association for Justice as well as the Philadelphia Bar Association. Christine is involved in a variety of pro bono and community service activities, including work with the Support Center for Child Advocates. She has also been published in the Legal Intelligencer, along with several other publications. Christine has also presented seminars for the National Business Institute (NBI) and the Institute for Paralegal Education (IPE) on a variety of topics