Proposed Bylaws Changes

In accordance with Article VIII, Section 8.1, of the bylaws of the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE), notice is hereby filed on this 15th day of September, 2020, and the membership duly notified that changes to the association's bylaws have been proposed. 

2020

Location

Current Provision

Proposed Amendment

#1

ARTICLE II.  MEMBERSHIP, Section 2.1. Qualifications for Voting Membership 

The voting membership of this Association shall consist of the institutions whose paralegal and legal studies education programs either currently 1) are approved by the American Bar Association or 2) are in substantial compliance with the ABA guidelines for approval of legal assistant programs and are institutionally accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Commission on Higher Education Accreditation of the United States Department of Education or the comparable agency in the country where the program is located. These members are referred to as “institutional members” or “voting members.” All procedures, rules and regulations regarding membership are to be determined by the Board of Directors and set out in the Standing Rules of this Association.

The voting membership of this Association shall consist of paralegal and legal studies education programs from institutions who are institutionally accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Commission on Higher Education Accreditation of the United States Department of Education or the comparable agency. These members are referred to as “institutional members” or “voting members.” All procedures, rules and regulations regarding membership are to be determined by the Board of Directors and set out in the Standing Rules of this Association.

#2

ARTICLE II.  MEMBERSHIP, Section 2.2a

Individual membership for paralegal program educators or administrators who foster paralegal and legal studies education and endorse the policies of AAfPE and whose institution is a member or individuals who have been program educators or administrators but who are no longer associated with a member institution.

 Individual membership for paralegal program educators or administrators who foster paralegal and legal studies education and endorse the policies of the Association but who are not currently associated with any institution. 

#3

ARTICLE II.  MEMBERSHIP, Section 2.2b

Associate membership shall be open to all institutions that promote the purposes of this association and offer a program of paralegal education, but that do not yet qualify for voting membership as set forth in Section 2.1 above.

 Deleted in its entirety

#4

ARTICLE II.  MEMBERSHIP, Section 2.2b(1)

 Associate Members shall demonstrate their dedication to the purposes of AAfPE by providing evidence of (1) a well designed curriculum with a logical sequence of courses that emphasize interactive learning and assignments that teach practical job-related skills in conjunction with underlying legal theory; (2) a learning environment that provides access to legal research library facilities and quality classrooms that provide

opportunities for interaction among students and between students and the instructor; (3) a faculty which consists of legal professionals or other qualified persons in good standing in their profession who possess the necessary expertise and experience in their subject area and who have experience working as or with paralegals; (4) advertise their programs in an ethical manner and in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations; (5) providing adequate release time or other compensation for their program director and administrative support for the program director to develop, monitor and accomplish the goals and objectives of the program; and (6) provide student services that include academic counseling and career information and counseling.

 Deleted in its entirety

#5

ARTICLE II.  MEMBERSHIP, Section 2.2b(2)

Only Institutional members may use AAfPE membership for advertisement or endorsement purposes; however, other members in good standing may identify themselves utilizing the following statement: (name) is a (membership category) of the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE).

Only Institutional members may use Association membership for advertisement or endorsement purposes; however, other members in good standing may identify themselves utilizing the following statement: (name) is a (membership category) of the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE).

#6

ARTICLE II.  MEMBERSHIP, Section 2.2c

Sustaining membership for law firms, agencies, organizations, consultants and other individuals who foster paralegal and legal studies education and endorse the policies of AAfPE.

 


Sustaining membership for law firms, agencies, organizations, consultants and other individuals who foster paralegal and legal studies education and endorse the policies of the Association. 

#7

ARTICLE II.  MEMBERSHIP, Section 2.2d

Affiliate membership shall be open to any institution that offers a program of paralegal and legal studies education and ascribes to the policies of AAfPE, but does not qualify as an Institutional or Associate Member.

 Deleted in its entirety 

 

Rationale

All of the changes are meant to make the process streamlined and inclusive so that we can grow as an organization and better serve our members, our students, the legal community, and the public we serve. View a message from AAfPE President-Elect Toni Marsh outlining the rationale for the proposed bylaws changes

FAQs

  1. Who currently vets the qualifications for programs not approved by the ABA? The president-elect and the immediate past president, with Board review.
  2. ABA approval is proof of quality programming. Why are we deleting this reference? There are other indicators of quality programming. Currently about one third of AAfPE institutional members are not ABA approved programs, but are fully accredited by regional accrediting bodies recognized by the ABA. The cost of ABA approval is beyond the reach of many schools. This expands the opportunity for diversifying our membership while maintaining recognized academic integrity standards. 
  3. North Carolina uses ABA approval or membership in AAfPE based on adherence to the ABA guidelines to qualify paralegal programs for graduates to sit for the NCCP exam. How will this affect this plan of qualification? It does not affect this in any way. 
  4. Are we watering down membership requirements in order to increase numbers? We are not watering down quality to increase quantity. We are streamlining the membership approval process by accepting recognized accreditation of educational programs as proof of academic integrity. Even the ABA recognizes accreditation as the foundation for quality academics and requires all programs seeking approval to maintain their regional accreditation. Because the ABA process is so costly, and because the ABA will not approve programs that are asynchronous online, we have always had a process for approving members from non-ABA approved schools. We are just clarifying and simplifying the process with the proposed bylaw change.

 

Board Recommendation

The AAfPE Executive Board recommends adoption of these proposed bylaws changes.

Voting

These proposed bylaws amendments will be voted on in accordance with Article VIII, section 8.2, of AAfPE bylaws beginning Thursday, November 5, 2020, at 6:00 pm ET (after the close of the annual business meeting of the membership to be held virtually in conjunction with the 39th National Conference) and ending on Friday, November 6, 2020, at 11:59 am ET. All Institutional Members are eligible to vote. When voting opens, the voting delegate associated with the Institutional membership will receive a link to an online ballot secured with a database of eligible voters. Every voter must present a Voter ID and password to vote, both of which will be provided approximately one week in advance of voting. The bylaws amendments shall not be adopted unless it is approved by two-thirds of the votes cast on the proposed amendment. A member school shall not be counted as voting unless it votes for or against the amendment. The votes cast shall not include blank ballots and abstentions. The results of the voting will be announced to attendees of the 39th National Conference on Friday, November 6, 2020, at 2:30 pm ET (at the start of the Teaching Competition session) and by email to the full membership thereafter. Given the length of time voting will be open, we do not anticipate voting by individual proxy; however, any member may appoint another member in good standing and one alternate as proxy by emailing AAfPE Headquarters no later than October 21, 2020. 

Comments

Members may email any questions, comments, or feedback regarding these proposed changes to AAfPE Headquarters. All feedback received will be addressed in a timely manner. In addition, the AAfPE Board of Directors will hold a town hall in the coming weeks to discuss the proposed bylaws changes. More information coming soon!