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What are the highlights of the organization’s past?
DAPA was born on October 9, 1976 when a group of 12 local paralegals met to form an association. The first organizational meeting was on October 23, 1976, and that is regarded as DAPA’s “anniversary” date. The Association began as the “Dallas Association of Legal Assistants,” and changed the name to the “Dallas Area Paralegal Association” in 1996. It was one of the first associations to adopt the change from Legal Assistant to Paralegal. DAPA joined the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (“NFPA”) in 1978 and was also instrumental in the creation of the Texas Alliance of Paralegal Associations. DAPA is the only association to have had a member serve as President at the local, state and national levels.
What fundraising efforts does your organization undertake?
In addition to membership dues, DAPA has a well-utilized job bank where employers seeking paralegals can purchase a job ad to be distributed to our members. DAPA also raises funds by hosting for -profit CLEs.
What pro bono efforts does your organization undertake?
Each year DAPA adopts a charity and partners with that organization to host events and special drives. DAPA also has a Pro Bono/Community Services chair that sends out information to members about the various pro bono/community service opportunities around the metroplex.
What types of scholarships does your organization offer its members?
Each year DAPA holds a student scholarship essay contest. The winner (or winners) of the contest are eligible to receive a scholarship award to be used towards their paralegal education.
How do you attract and/or increase membership?
During the last quarter of each year, DAPA organizes a membership drive held during its annual elections. The current members are encouraged to sign up a new member. In return, both persons are entered into a grand prize raffle. Additionally, DAPA’s Membership Vice President and Director-at-Large stay busy by attending speaking events, reaching out to local paralegal schools and to non- members who attend our general monthly membership meetings and specialty section meetings. DAPA also hosts a Career Day aimed at educating new and up and coming paralegals about the profession.
Another great benefit that attracts student members is Mentor/Protégé Program. DAPA’s Mentor-Protégé Program pairs new paralegals with senior paralegals for the purpose of providing support, guidance, and direction, and to connect new paralegals to the paralegal community and contribute to their individual success. Our 2013 Mentor/Protégé Program kick-off in April was a great success and in May, many DAPA mentors and their protégés also attended DAPA’s Leadership Management Section CLE to hear Audrey Moorehead, chair of the Dallas Bar Association’s Mentoring Committee, speak on the “Recipe for Success: Ingredients of Mentoring.”
Probably the biggest membership draws are all the hours of CLE we offer. DAPA has 14 Specialty Sections which present CLE to the membership throughout the year at no cost. Our goal in January was to present 58 hours of CLE. Between January 1, 2013 and June 30, 2013, DAPA has already presented 26 hours of CLE to its membership at no cost through our Specialty Section Meetings and Monthly General Membership Meetings. Speakers have included Justice Kerry P. FitzGerald, John F. Warren (Dallas County Clerk), Blake Bernet (General Counsel and Senior VP of Development/Franchising for Corner Bakery), Dave Renfro (mediator), and outstanding attorneys practicing in the areas of probate law, medical/personal injury, criminal Law, military law, litigation, corporate law, bankruptcy, family law, intellectual property, technology and animal law. DAPA's Specialty Section Meetings will continue to present monthly CLE at no cost to the membership through November. DAPA has also provided an additional 7 hours of CLE (including ethics) at minimal cost to members at its annual Diversity University CLE Program held in April. Also in April, DAPA presented its 2013 Career Day, “Paralegals With Purpose: Promoting the Skills of Successful Paralegals.”
What are the top 3 events your organization has each year?
The top three events DAPA hosts each year are our Vendor Fair, Paralegal Day and Holiday Luncheon.
What types of companies sponsor your organization?
DAPA is extremely fortunate to have over 55 sustaining members in the association with varied services: copy companies, trial/litigation support companies, process servers, financial service providers, court reporters, staffing/placement companies, and eDiscovery/forensic technology companies to name a few.
What schools are associated with your organization?
DAPA is not affiliated with any particular program, but we are strong supporters of the area ABA approved and/or accredited paralegal programs, and we have several in the area, including: Kaplan College, Everest College, El Centro Community College and SMU.
Are your founding members still actively involved in your organization?
Since DAPA has existed for 37 years, many of our founding members have retired, or sadly, we have lost some of them. DAPA continues to receive the support of many members who have been part of the Association from its inception for many years.
What future projects is your organization working on and/or planning?
DAPA just hosted its Annual Vendor Fair on July 17, 2013. Our Vendor Fair is an opportunity for our Sustaining Members to meet the rest of our membership and network. We had 32 sustaining members who participated and 70 members/guests attended. In addition, DAPA is hosting a happy hour/CLE event in August alongside one of it sustaining members Performance Legal Placement. DAPA is also preparing for Texas Paralegal Day in October and a corporate securities institute CLE in late September. The Annual Holiday Luncheon is held in early December and attracts between 140 and 150 guests. Last year, musical entertainment for the luncheon was provided by the Singing Ensemble from The Dallas Conservatory and Mr. John Kuether, who played on Broadway in Phantom of the Opera for 16 years. The ensemble’s last song, entitled “Give Us Hope,” was dedicated to DAPA’s 2013 charity, Hope’s Door – an organization dedicated to providing assistance to victims of domestic abuse.
DAPA is looking forward to hosting the 2014 National Convention for NFPA.
View the DAPA Board of Directors (PDF)