Vermont Paralegal Organization, Inc. Celebrates 30 Years!
Thirty years ago, the role of a paralegal in Vermont law firms and corporations began to grow and expand. Trudy Seeley, a paralegal at that time, and a founding member of the Vermont Paralegal Organization (VPO), reached out to other legal professionals around the state and asked if they would be interested in forming a group to share information and support one another in their expanding roles. This effort lead to a small group of enterprising paralegals forming what would become the VPO. In November of 1990, the group had their first meeting at the Vermont Law School.It was an informal 5 hour bring-your-own lunch event held on a Saturday. In 1992, the VPO became a member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) in an effort to have a presence and voice on the national level. In 2016, paralegals from all over the country convened in Burlington for the NFPA Annual Convention, hosted by the VPO. A small but mighty group of VPO volunteers coordinated and managed the four-day event that included a day of seminars, and two full days of policy meetings. The VPO officially incorporated in 2019.
After Champlain College discontinued its Paralegal program, members of the VPO sought another higher education institution to take on the program. In January of this year, two VPO board members met with Marni Leikin at the ACE Academy at Burlington Tech Center to discuss how to bring a paralegal program back to Vermont. As of today, we are on a path to creating such a program with a partnership of the VPO, ACE Academy at Burlington Tech Center, and a state higher education institution. It is expected that the Paralegal Certificate Program will roll out in January of 2021. We owe a very special thank you to Marni Leikin for embracing our ideas for the program and making it happen in a short 8 months, and to James Knapp, Esq., of First American Title Insurance Company, who from the day Champlain College announced the discontinuance of the only paralegal program in Vermont, has been our biggest supporter and partner to finding another institution to carry on a Paralegal Program and who will be one of the instructors when the program rolls out. We are very excited to celebrate this undertaking as part of our 30-year celebration.
The VPO is proud to be a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the paralegal profession by offering its members networking opportunities, continuing legal education (CLE), pro bono opportunities, leadership training, and a quarterly newsletter filled with information to keep paralegals up to date on legal issues. The VPO maintains a code of conduct, promotes high standards of integrity among paralegals, and fosters relationships with local and state bar associations. The VPO’s Annual Meeting and Conference includes seminars that provide CLE credits which are presented by generous and supportive members of the Vermont Bar Association and individuals who specialize in related fields. All VPO members are afforded membership in NFPA. Through affiliation with NFPA, VPO members stay current on paralegal issues on a national level as well as contribute to the development of NFPA policy. The VPO offers an annual scholarship and guidance in the process of earning certification through the NFPA Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE®) and/or the Paralegal CORE Competency Exam (PCCE), which involves educational or experiential prerequisites and passing a standardized exam.
The VPO owes much of its current success to the many past and present members, and the attorneys,
law firms and corporations who have supported its mission since 1990. The VPO is fortunate to have attorneys who present seminars on a regular basis and the list of supporting presenters continues to grow every year. The VPO would also like to thank the following firms and attorneys with VPO members:
Atlas Legal Services, LLP; Barber & Waxman; Behrens Venman & Sussman, PLLC; Cleary Shahi & Aicher; Darby Thorndike Kolter & Nordle, LLP; Dinse P.C.; Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC; Dunkiel Saunders; Elliott Raubvogel & Hand, PLLC; Facey Goss & McPhee P.C.; Green Mountain Power; Hehir Law Office, PLLC; Heilmann, Ekman, Cooley & Gagnon, Inc.; Joseph Greenbaum; Lab Partners Associates, Inc.; Langrock Sperry & Wool, LLP; Law Office of David I. Schoen; Law Office of Ruth Kinney, Esq.; Law Offices of Fred V. Peet; Law Offices of Steven A. Bredice PLC; Law Offices of F.J. von Turkovich, P.C.; Liberty Mutual; Lisman Leckerling, P.C.; Little & Cicchetti, P.C.; Lynch & Foley, P.C.; Lynn, Lynn, Blackman & Manitsky, P.C.; Main Street Middle School; Maley and Maley, PLLC; Marathon Health; Martin, Harding and Mazzotti; McClintock Law Office, P.C.; McCormick, Fitzpatrick, Kasper & Burchard; Nanci A. Smith, Esq. PLLC; Northern Vermont Paralegal Services, LLC; Numbers Matter; Oliver L. Twombly Law Office, P.C.; Paul Frank + Collins P.C.; Pease Mountain Law, PLLC; Pinto MacAskill PLLC; Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC; Ryan Smith & Carbine, Ltd.; Sheehey Furlong & Behm P.C.; Stackpole & French Law Offices; Stark Law, PLLC; State of Vermont; The Law Office of William J. Fisk, PLC; Unsworth LaPlante, PLC; Vermont Attorney General's Office; Vermont Attorneys Title Corporation; Vermont Department of Labor; Vermont Energy Investment Corporation; Vermont Land Trust, Inc.; Vermont Law School; VOSHA Review Board; VT Office of the State Judge Advocate; VT Army National Guard; and Zalinger Cameron & Lambek PC.
The all-volunteer Board of the VPO began planning a dinner event to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Unfortunately, as with so many similar events, due to the restrictions of COVID the event has been cancelled. The VPO hopes to hold its celebratory event in 2021.
If you are interested in more information about the VPO, becoming a member, membership benefits, or its history, please visit the VPO website at vtparalegal.org.