The Probate Code governs compensation payable from estates for services provided by paralegals for the attorney within the request for the attorney’s compensation. California Rules of Court contain provisions concerning compensation of attorneys who use paralegals. Business and Professions Code sections 6450-6456 establish qualifications and continuing education requirements for paralegals working under the supervision of an attorney.
In July, 2010, the Judicial Council will vote on an Amendment to CRC Rule 7.703 regarding the qualifications of Paralegals used in Estate matters. The proposed amendment would require a form to be filed with the fee petition showing that the Paralegal is compliant with B&P 6450.
The Judicial Council’s summary of the amendment is: "The proposed amendment of rule 7.703 would clarify that paralegals performing services for counsel for fiduciaries in decedents’ estates, conservatorships, and guardianships must satisfy the qualification and continuing education requirements of Business and Professions Code section 6450 et seq. for counsel to be eligible for compensation for paralegal services from the estates of decedents, conservatees, and wards."
The language used in B&P 6450 defines a paralegal, in part, as a person “who is qualified by education, training, or work experience . . .” The Probate Code does not authorize payment for services for anyone who does not meet the requirements, even if he or she uses the title “paralegal.” Further, paralegals are required to certify completion of mandatory continuing legal education as detailed in the code.
Paralegals and the attorneys who hire them need to be aware of the codes governing the qualifications of paralegals as well as the mandate for continuing education in order to comply with the applicable codes in order to seek compensation for services provided.
By: Leslie Donahue – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellen Sheffer – email@example.com