In May 1982, the Association held its first annual meeting, adopted its bylaws, and elected officers. There were 31 charter members of the Association.
As membership awareness increased, so too did the realization that many legal issues arose across the country which could affect the paralegal profession in Cincinnati. Additionally, the Association needed to interact with other paralegal associations. After reviewing the philosophies of the National Association of Legal Assistants ("NALA") and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations ("NFPA"), the Association decided to join NFPA. It became a voting member of NFPA in November 1983, an affiliation that was to last for 20 years.
In March 1986, an Ad Hoc Bylaws Committee was formed to review the possible incorporation of the Association, the tax status, and director/trustee liability. After various meetings with the membership and much discussion, the Board of Directors approved the proposal set forth by the Ad Hoc Committee. On October 23, 1986 a resolution was presented to the voting members, along with a Code of Regulations, Articles of Incorporation, and other ancillary documents. By majority vote, the members voted to incorporate the Association as a nonprofit organization under the laws of the State of Ohio. The Articles of Incorporation were signed by eleven incorporators on November 11, 1986 and filed with the Ohio Secretary of State's Office on February 9, 1987.
During its seventh year of existence, the Association began to experience growing pains, including the structure of the Board, and the burden of administrative duties versus the focus on policy matters. With the goal of streamlining the functions of the Board, on January 25, 1990, the membership voted to restructure the Board of Directors, resulting in certain positions being elected by the membership, rather than by appointment of the Board. These changes meant that the number of Directors was reduced from eleven to nine; all officers, standing committee chairpersons and the NFPA Secondary Representatives were elected positions, and certain committee chairs would report directly to the First Vice President, rather than having a voting position on the Board.
From time to time the Board of Directors has reviewed the goals and objectives of the Association and set out guidelines as to where it wanted the Association to be in the future. In 1986, 1990, 1996, and again in 2007, the Board revised its Long Range Plan (the Plan) and presented it to the members for: (i) a financial forecast for annual operating costs and other financial commitments, and (ii) plans to implement its goals. The Plan continues to be developed and expanded, with the assistance of the Advisory Council, the Board and the voting members, to allow flexibility and to meet the changing needs of the Association.
The Association has impacted the paralegal profession for a number of years through its proactive stance on education for paralegals and its participation in legislative issues. In response to a number of inquiries regarding paralegal regulation, on March 13, 1992, the Association adopted its Resolution on Regulation and on May 11, 1994 adopted the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility.
As the Association developed and matured from its humble beginnings in 1982 to a celebration in 2002 of twenty years as a professional organization, the Association reflected on its service to the members and its impact on other paralegals throughout the Tri-State and Ohio. From that reflection, the members made a decision to discontinue its affiliation with NFPA and, effective June 1, 2003, the Association was no longer affiliated with any national group. The Association does, however, encourage its members to join any national paralegal organization or other professional associations, on an individual basis.
The Association's 25th anniversary was an opportunity to celebrate a new goal achieved thanks to the cooperation of all the Ohio paralegal associations and Paralegal Committee of the Ohio State Bar Association. Ohio officially started the implementation of its OSBA certification program in 2007. A few of the Association's members can now claim to be the very first OSBA Certified Paralegals in the country, thus reflecting the preeminent role of the Association as a leader in the local and national legal communities.
The events of September 11, 2001 serve as a stark reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices firefighters, police and emergency medical technicians make for their community every day. These "first responders" devote their lives to serving their communities, and they are prepared to pay the ultimate price in the line of duty. The Pro Bono Committee of the Cincinnati Paralegal Association wanted to find a way to give back to these brave men and women, and the Committee created its Remember: Wills for First Responders program (formerly known as Wills for Heroes). Remember: Wills for First Responders is a program whereby volunteer lawyers and paralegals come together for day-long events to provide wills, living wills and health care proxies to first responders and their spouses completely free of charge. Most importantly, we provide peace of mind to these heroes should the unthinkable occur. The Cincinnati Paralegal Association filed a U.S trademark application in 2012 for the Remember: Wills for First Responders title.
In 2014-2015, the Code of Regulations Committee undertook to review, in detail, all sections of the Cincinnati Paralegal Association's Code of Regulations and Procedures Manual. The last significant revisions to these documents occurred in fiscal year 2007-2008. These efforts helped streamline and simplify responsibilities for each position and committee, ensure accuracy and consistency in communications and record-keeping practices, and clearly represent the activities associated with every aspect of governance and administration of the Association. The completion of this exercise means a clear and current directive for all of those who hold any level of position in the Association in the future and accurately represents the needs of the Association's general membership.