Professor Thomas McClure

Reginald Turner, the newly elected president of the American Bar Association, appointed Politics and Government Professor Thomas McClure the Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Paralegals (Standing Committee) for a one-year term. McClure just concluded a three-year stint as chair of the ABA Paralegal Approval Commission.

The Standing Committee advises and acts on behalf of the ABA on all matters relating to the roles of traditional paralegals who, as members of the legal services delivery team, work under the supervision of lawyers. The Standing Committee, through its Approval Commission, serves as the body to set nationwide standards for paralegal education. The Standing Committee also monitors trends in the field and recommends for approval and reapproval to the House of Delegates those paralegal education programs that have met the standards and guidelines set by the ABA for quality paralegal education.

The Standing Committee is the only ABA body that focuses on the education, employment, training, and effective use of paralegals. It is currently closely studying changes to traditional roles played by nonlawyers and continues to promote utilization of paralegals to increase access to justice.

The Committee’s mission is to improve the delivery of legal services and expand access to justice by 1) establishing ABA standards for the education of paralegals and 2) promoting attorneys’ professional, effective, and ethical utilization of paralegals.

McClure was instrumental in gaining initial ABA approval of the Illinois State University Legal Studies Program as well as developing a Legal Studies Major. He recently launched an expungement clinic as a joint venture with Prairie State Legal Services. Legal Studies students participating in the clinic prepare court documents for indigent clients who want to clear their criminal records.