Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I become a paralegal?
ICAP 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. ICAP 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, ICAP does not recognize any distinction and treats them synonymously. Assembly Bill 1761, codified in the Business and Professions Code Section 6450 et seq. defines the professional and educational requirements for paralegals in California.
Can you recommend a school?
Although ICAP is not able to recommend a particular paralegal program or school, completing an ABA accredited program is highly recommended. In addition, try to select a program that includes an emphasis on ethics. ICAP provides links to some of the schools in the region which provide ABA accredited programs in our Links section.
I have a legal problem. Can you recommend a paralegal in the area that can help me?
ICAP 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, ICAP is unable to provide you with any legal advice or recommend a paralegal to you. For free legal information, we recommend that you contact Tel-Law at (951) 369-3563 or (951) 824-2300. If you need a lawyer, please contact the following local bar associations:
Why can't a legal 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. There is also a nation-wide organization, the Independent Paralegal Association & Forum, dedicated to certifying, advancing, marketing, and training independent paralegals (legal document assistants in California).
What are the Ethical Rules and Guidelines for Paralegals?
Paralegals are guided by ethical standards established by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Ethical guidance comes in the form of NALA's Model Standards and Guidelines .