Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 11:17:46 -0500
From: Mark Mandel
Subject: paralegal

Fred Shapiro writes
On Thu, 30 Apr 1998, Bapopik wrote:

> WEEK. "Paralegal" appears to have been coined by an Philadelphia lawyer
> Shapiro, in 1970. (All true American lawyers are named Shapiro.)

Actually, the word is a little older than that:

1969 _Denver Law Journal_ 46: 392 The thesis of this article is that the legal
profession can best respond to the
increasing demand for legal services by providing some legal services through
"paralegal" or
"sublegal" personnel.

_Id._ 393 The "paralegal" is one who is not a lawyer, not under direct
supervision of a lawyer, but who needs some
legal training to do his job well. Examples of paralegals are welfare workers,
insurance adjusters, and probation

<<< (end Fred Shapiro quote)

But this is clearly a different sense from the modern one, which is pretty well
defined in Barry's citation (BUSINESS
WEEK, 26 December 1970, pg. 62):
Three young Philadelphia lawyers have taken a page from the medical
profession's book in an effort to help attorneys
swamped with paperwork and clamoring clients. Richard J. Braemer, Daniel
Promisio, and Paul E. Shapiro
(shown in photo--ed.), all former members of Philadelphia law firms, have set up
the Institute of Paralegal Training to turn
college graduates into paraprofessionals. The assistants will handle research
and administrative chores so that lawyers
can spend more time practicing law.

Fred Shapiro's 1969 "'paralegal' or 'sublegal' personnel" are people not in the
legal profession (e.g., "welfare workers,
insurance adjusters, and probation officers") whose work requires some knowledge
of law, which (I infer) the article is
proposing that lawyers offer them. Furthermore, the scare quotes and alternative
term "sublegal" show pretty clearly
that the words are not well established. They suggest that they are being
tentatively proposed as names for these
members of tangential professions, with whom the article proposes the
establishment of a formal relationship.

In contrast, Barry's (and Paul Shapiro et al.'s) 1970 graduates (certificatees
[?!], finishers, products...) of the Institute of
Paralegal Training *are* what we currently call paralegals, handling research
and administrative chores for lawyers and
under their direct supervision. The name is viewed as settled, at least by the
founders of the institute, and is presumably
derived as a specialization of "paraprofessional".

I'd say that the 1969 cite is a stillbirth, a proposed neologism that didn't
catch on, distinct in meaning from the 1970
homonym that did.

-- Mark

Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist : mark[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]
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