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Know Your State Bar Association

Your State Bar Association

Each state has its own bar association which is responsible for representing the interests of all attorneys within that state. State bar associations are normally tasked with administering the bar examination to law students, maintaining a directory of all attorneys practicing within that state, or possibly administering sanctions against attorneys who have committed ethical violations. Members of state bar associations normally require attorneys to continue their education in order to maintain their membership.

Depending on the standards of a specific state, the bar association may be voluntary or mandatory. Mandatory state bars require all attorneys practicing within the jurisdiction to be a member of the association. In other states, there may be a requirement to be bar certified in order to practice law, but membership in that state's association is voluntary. Voluntary membership usually includes social functions that encourage professional relationships between members of the legal community.

Each state bar association has a division that deals entirely with the professional requirements and ethics of paralegals. Similar to that of the national associations of paralegals, the state bar's Code of Ethics defines the duties and responsibilities of paralegals.

The rules express that a paralegal must not engage in the rendering of any sort of legal service that is reserved strictly for attorneys. Paralegals must always practice under the authority of a supervising attorney. This code also requires paralegals to conduct themselves with full competency and integrity in serving the public.

The paralegal division of a state bar association is utilized by many paralegals to respond to any concerns about ethical issues or procedures in offering legal services. They often host events and seminars that are attended by the local legal community. In order to join the paralegal division of the state bar association, applicants are asked to apply as either a active, associate, or student member. Active members are able to vote on important issues and hold office within the association.

Associate members must meet certain criteria in order to become active, but may enjoy the benefits within that time. Similarly, student memberships are available to those who are currently studying to become a legal assistant, and their membership may become active once they have completed their studies. Membership in the paralegal division of a state bar association can aid paralegals in finding employment, networking with local attorneys, and continuing their education.

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