Since paralegals are often unlicensed, and thus unregulated, they are usually defined in somewhat reductive terms, mainly in the means by which their actions in the legal industry are restrained and restricted.
The central belief behind this mandate is that attorneys are licensed, having passed a local bar exam, and are ultimately responsible for the strategy implemented that directs paralegals.
The level of attorney supervision is something that plays a key part in the debate over whether paralegals should be licensed or not. Those who support this argument feel that paralegals are, by design, directed with helping lawyers, and that by licensing them they could
Those who are for supervision, argue that providing limited legal services, especially at a level regulated by some form of government oversight, could provide legal service to lower income groups who were previous restricted access to them in the past.
However, it remains that many in the paralegal industry do not desire licensing on two grounds.license, and then maintaining and renewing it over an extended period of time.
The second idea is that paralegal licensing and regulation could limit the amount of available paralegals, as it could increase salary amounts to the point where positions eventually are priced out of the market, and the amount of paralegal positions can decrease (conversely, those on the other side of the argument point to the potential for increased compensation as a reason for licensing).
The closest thing to actual licensing in most areas of the paralegal industry right now, is third party certification, which is provided by a number of organizations, including the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the American Alliance of Paralegals (AAP), and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).
However, in order, to take these exams or even study for them requires, in most cases, an extended period of paralegal employment under the direct supervision of an attorney.
On the whole, the paralegal market and the legal profession place great deal of value on attorney supervision as a means of maintaining market growth, as well as maintaining the economic balance and division of power needed for the legal profession to remain strong and viable.