A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 25, 2005
Paralegal
The "paralegal" (or "para-legal") is not a lawyer, but helps lawyers as a "para-professional." The term began use in the 1960s.

The New York Law Journal is not digitized, but it is cited for the Oxford English Dictionary's first "paralegal" citation. It is not clear which city or firm first used the word. Any verified earlier citation will be published here.


(Oxford English Dictionary)
paralegal, a. and n.
Chiefly N. Amer.
A. adj. Of or pertaining to auxiliary aspects of the law. B. n. One trained in subsidiary legal matters, though not fully qualified as a lawyer, etc.; a legal aide.
1972 N.Y. Law Jrnl. 22 Aug. 2/7 (Advt.), Para-legals (that is, legal assistants or paraprofessionals) are used by an ever-increasing number of prominent attorneys to reduce their unwanted load of paralegal matters and free up their time to render legal advice more efficiently.

1966-7, University of Florida Law Review, vol. XIX, pg. 553:
Are new kinds of sub-lawyer or paralegal personnel needed; and, if so, what kinds and levels of training do they need?

29 March 1968, Time magazine, pg. 78, col. 2:
Similarly, said the group, greater use can be made of para-legal aides - non-lawyers who are specially trained to do minutiae that require an inefficiently large amount of an attorney's time.
(The gathering was held at the University of Chicago's Center for Continuing Education, held under the auspices of the American Bar Association and the American Assembly. The Assembly was affiliated with Columbia University - ed.)

May 1968, Viriginia Law Review, "A Matter of Mission" by Richard E. Spiedel, pg. 611:
The development of a paralegal specialist to provide certain kinds of legal services now performed by practicing attorneys is inevitable.

(OCLC WorldCat record)
Title: General paralegal skills.
Corp Author(s): State Bar of Texas.; Professional Development Program.
Publication: Austin, Tex. : State Bar of Texas, Professional Development Program,
Year: 1969-
Description: 1st (1969)-; v.
Language: English
SUBJECT(S)
Descriptor: Legal assistants -- United States.
Law -- United States -- Popular works.
Note(s): Subtitle varies./ Prepared for seminars on general paralegal skills.
Class Descriptors: LC: KF320.L4
Material Type: Government publication (gpb); State or province government publication (sgp)
Document Type: Serial
Entry: 19821112

7 June 1970, New York (NY) Times, pg. 159:
A carrer in law...
without law school?
When you become a Lawyer's Assistant, you'll be doing work that has traditionally been done by lawyers. We think you'll find the position challenging and responsible. And Lawyer's Assistants are now so critically needed that The Institute for Paralegal Training can offer you:
(...)
The Institute for
Paralegal Training
Dept. T1, 401 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pa.

16 September 1970, Nevada State Journal, pg. 21, col. 5:
WANTED PARA LEGAL executive to aid attorneys in management of cases.

(Trademark)
Word Mark THE INSTITUTE FOR PARALEGAL TRAINING
Goods and Services (CANCELLED) IC 041. US 107. G & S: EDUCATIONAL SERVICES-NAMELY, TRAINING LEGAL ASSISTANTS. FIRST USE: 19700413. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19700413
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 73003242
Filing Date October 10, 1973
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 1065453
Registration Date May 10, 1977
Owner (REGISTRANT) Para-Legal, Inc. UNKNOWN Philadelphia PENNSYLVANIA
(LAST LISTED OWNER) PARA-LEGAL, INC. CORPORATION PENNSYLVANIA 235 S. 17TH ST. PHILADELPHIA, PA. 19103 PHILADELPHIA PENNSYLVANIA 19103
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Prior Registrations 1017402
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL-2(F)
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Cancellation Date October 4, 1983

(Trademark)
Word Mark PARALEGAL INSTITUTE
Goods and Services (ABANDONED) IC 041. US 107. G & S: TRAINING STUDENTS TO BECOME LEGAL ASSISTANTS. FIRST USE: 19720200. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19720200
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 73800880
Filing Date May 17, 1989
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Owner (APPLICANT) PARALEGAL INSTITUTE, INC. CORPORATION NEW YORK 221 W. 41ST STREET NEW YORK NEW YORK 10036
Attorney of Record OLIVER P. HOWES, JR.
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL-2(F)
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Abandonment Date August 8, 1991

(AMERICAN DIALECT SOCIETY LISTSERV)
Here's slightly earlier, from the Report of the Conference on Legal Manpower Needs of Criminal Law, 41 F.R.D. 389 (June 24 - 26, 1966):

The fullest defense of a criminal case involves the performance of functions following a conviction, which may be as important to the individual and to the criminal process as efforts to avoid the conviction. In particular, part of the job of counsel is to act on behalf of his client in cooperation with the court to work out a favorable disposition program. In many cases, careful development of a plan, including living arrangements and a job, may persuade the court to a disposition of the case which enables a convicted defendant to avoid imprisonment and yet enables society to avoid another crime in the future. The need for counsel includes these aspects of a defense as well as the more traditional functions of counsel. In the course of this discussion it was noted that some of these functions might be susceptible to performance by non-lawyer auxiliaries (paralegal personnel), thus reducing the need for lawyers. The suggestion was also thought to have bearing on the need for lawyers at some of the other stages in the process, for example, by using paralegal personnel to provide a point of continuous contact with a defendant for whom specialized services are being provided at the various stages of the process by different lawyers.

The Conference was called and sponsored by three groups, The President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, the American Bar Association Project on Minimum Standards for Criminal Justice, and the National Defender Project of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association. The tentative way in which "paralegal" was used shows that the term was not yet well-established, and the report probably played a role in its dissemination to the academic community.

John Baker
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWorkers/People • Wednesday, May 25, 2005 • Permalink