About VAPA

The Virginia Alliance of Paralegal Associations, formerly: Virginia Alliance of Legal Assistant Associations (the Alliance) was formed by six associations in 1989 and is now comprised of paralegal associations and individual area liaisons located within the Commonwealth of Virginia.  It represents over 1,500 paralegals* and students across the state.

*The term paralegal is used interchangeably with the term legal assistant. Paralegal has been used throughout this document to maintain consistency in terminology.

Mission Statement

‘To advance, foster, and promote the paralegal profession by providing a statewide voice for paralegals.’


The goals of the Alliance are:

  1. To maintain a statewide communications network among its paralegal associations and other members of the legal community.
  2. To monitor developments in the profession.


Educational Standards and Professional Responsibility Guidelines

The Alliance has developed Educational Standards and Professional Responsibility Guidelines for Paralegals in the Commonwealth of Virginia. These are recommended by the Virginia State Bar Standing Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law by Resolution adopted March 8, 1995.

Statewide Seminars

In April 1998, the Alliance hosted its first statewide seminar at the Holiday Inn 1776 in Williamsburg. Over 150 paralegals attended this event. Highlights included: Courtroom 21 presentations, Dr. Paul Ferrara from the state forensics lab, and a statewide open meeting.

In April 2000, the Alliance held its second seminar at the Crowne Plaza in Richmond. This time there were 100 paralegals in attendance. “At the crossroads” had sessions on various topics on Elder Law as well as the Y2K litigation, and Internet Resources.

In April 2002, the Alliance held its third statewide educational seminar at the Clarion Hotel in Roanoke. Sessions included: Capital Punishment and DNA Evidence and a panel discussion on the paralegal profession in Virginia with representatives from the National Association of Legal Assistants, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations and the Virginia State Bar.

Activities of Member Associations

  • Regular Membership Meetings
  • Continuing Education Programs
  • Study Groups for National Certification Examinations
  • Local Seminars
  • Job Banks or Referral Services
  • Scholarships
  • Pro Bono and CASA Activities
  • Advisors and Instructors to Local Paralegal Education Programs
  • Cooperative Civic Activities with Local Bar Associations

What are paralegals, where do they work and what do they do?

The American Bar Association recognizes and formulated guidelines for the utilization of paralegals. Although there are several formal definitions of a paralegal, in general, a paralegal is a specially trained individual who performs substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts. Paralegals either work under the supervision of an attorney, who assumes professional responsibility for the final work product, or work in areas where lay individuals are explicitly authorized by statute or regulation to assume certain law-related responsibilities.

Paralegals are employed in:

  • Private Law Firms
  • Banks
  • Corporations
  • Trade Associations
  • Insurance Agencies and Companies
  • Legal Clinics
  • Courts and Government Agencies
  • Accounting and Engineering Firms
  • Title Companies
  • Construction Companies
  • Hospitals
  • Collection Agencies

… In fact, everywhere law related work is performed

The Alliance is non-partisan, non-profit, non-union, and only engages in the activities outlined here.

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