Association Spotlight

Vermont Paralegal Organization

VPO Treasurer, Sara Boyden, RP; Vice President, Louise Reese; and interim Vice President, Pam Pinard

The Vermont Paralegal Organization (VPO) hosted a very successful 2016 NFPA Convention in beautiful Burlington. Its members kicked in and put together a powerful day of CLE sessions and a memorable social event. The keynote speaker, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, M.D., gave a valuable, even humorous, speech. The high from convention lasted months later, as did the exhaustion that comes from putting on a national event for almost 200 people.

In May 2017, the VPO elected a new board of directors. With Convention in the recent past, it can shift its focus to increasing membership and providing more CLE opportunities to members and other paralegals in the community. The brainstorming is in the early stages, but it is already planning multiple lunch ‘n learns in the southern Vermont area, with more to follow in other areas of the state. At its recent annual meeting, the VPO had a roundtable discussion about its future and the paralegal profession in Vermont. It was well-attended, and gave the new board information on what the membership believed the organization had done well and also identified areas for improvement and areas to focus on in the coming years.

One of the greatest challenges for increasing membership in Vermont is being able to identify all who may be performing paralegal-type work, regardless of title. Vermont is small but widespread, and it has many solo practitioners or small firms whose staff may wear multiple hats. In the roundtable discussion, the VPO had members from several counties offer to help with identifying nonmember paralegals and other legal support staff. The VPO will use these connections to increase awareness of its presence in the state, and in turn, work on increasing its membership.

The VPO continues to communicate with its members through its quarterly newsletter, Paralegal Focus. The newsletter keeps its widespread membership connected to each other and informed about local and national changes affecting the profession. To keep the members involved in educating each other, the VPO editor recruits members to submit articles and other contributions, and identifies and recruits the VPO’s own Member Spotlights.

In the coming months, the VPO board would like to increase its pro bono contribution. The VPO will continue to offer paralegal support twice a month at the legal clinic Steps to End Domestic Violence in Burlington (formerly Women Helping Battered Women). In the past, it has also participated in a similar clinic in Barre, Vermont. Due to change in the availability of appropriate legal staff, it has been unable to participate in the Barre clinic for the past year. The new VPO board hopes to continue the VPO’s involvement in these legal clinics or to pursue other pro bono opportunities in the state.

The VPO also encourages certification and offers a $250 annual scholarship for the recipient’s use in taking PACE® or PCCE™. The VPO now has 12 PACE Registered Paralegals® and three CORE Registered Paralegals™. Since the 2016 Convention, the VPO has also added 10 new members, which along with the new RPs, meets two of the three President’s challenges put forth at Convention.

The 2017-2019 VPO board of directors has a tall order to fill, but the enthusiasm is strong and the energy is fresh. It not only want to increase membership, but also wants to maintain membership by providing relevant benefits, including CLE opportunities that are equal to or higher in quality than outside opportunities, but at a lower cost. The VPO has received strong support from area law firms and businesses, from which it has been able to identify and recruit high caliber presenters willing to donate their time during the day to increase the knowledge of VPO members and other paralegals in the community.

The 2017-2019 VPO board of directors looks forward to the next two years and strives to accomplish its goals. The new VPO board consists of the following members:

President Lucie White, CP
Vice President   Louise Reese
Treasurer Sara Boyden, RP
Secretary Karen Farnsworth
NFPA Primary Corinne Deering, RP
NFPA Secondary Ashley LaRose, RP
Membership Chair Evelyn Wetzel
Finance Chair Diane Brown
Professional Liaison Kristin Provost, RP
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