As the Legal Intelligencer coordinator for the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals, I am responsible for collecting and placing articles on the Paralegals Page of The Legal. Some months I find myself scrambling for articles, and other months I am provided with various contributions. I have never contributed an article for which I have been credited as the solo author, but now, serving as the 2010 president for the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals, I have been tasked with drafting my first “Message from the President.”

As a paralegal, I often undertake various research projects. This is one of the many parts of my job that I love. Accordingly, for my first message, I went to the PAP office to research older editions of The Philadelphia Forum .

As a result of my research, I would like to share with you some interesting and fun facts about the association. Did you know that PAP was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation on June 12, 1973, as the Association of Paralegal Professionals? The name was later changed to, yes, you guessed it, the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals. I am the 31st president of the organization. Six of the past presidents have served for more than one term.

Some interesting facts: Thacher Longstreth was the guest speaker at the 1996 September luncheon where he made himself available for photographs and a book signing for his humorous autobiography, “Main Line WASP: The Education of Thacher Longstreth.” Did you know that PAP actually sold a membership directory for $5, which contained information on the entire membership? Our newsletter even had a Chancellor’s Corner where the chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association would regularly communicate with the paralegals of the association.

In 2009, I served as first vice president of the association. The board of directors was unsure of how the year would unfold for the association since the recession was still affecting gainful employment and many paralegals were losing their jobs. Also, PAP’s membership numbers were down from the previous year. Many vendors were cautious and watching their spending. As such, PAP was very concerned about its members and wanted to figure out how to help its members get through these difficult and trying times.

As the merry-go-round was turning, PAP grabbed at the brass ring and organized a Career Outreach Program event by partnering with the Philadelphia chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators and the Philadelphia Legal Secretaries Association. This event provided assistance to members of the legal community who had been impacted by the economy, and it was a huge success. But what comes as more of a surprise, I have recently learned through my research, is that this event was not the first one in PAP’s history. This event, and many other events like it, is part of a common thread woven throughout the history of PAP.

Since its inception, the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals has strived for excellence, improving and promoting the paralegal profession through education and networking. After paging through past issues of The Philadelphia Forum , that statement becomes evident in the various activities put forth and developed by the strong and hard-working committees that support the overall efforts of PAP. The committees serving the association throughout the years include litigation, education, estates and trusts, employee benefits, financial reorganization/real estate, intellectual property, member services, newsletter, programs, national affairs, professional development, pro bono and public relations/marketing. Over the years, other committees have been formed including family law, immigration, health care issues, PACE and technology. Each of these committees is dedicated to providing its members with up-to-date information in the practice of law and, more particularly, their field of practice.

When I think back to my first job in the legal field and the many ways the role of a paralegal has evolved, I am proud to say that PAP has always been in the forefront of providing its members with education, knowledge and the tools necessary to be the very best at what we do. As paralegals, we should never stop learning and growing in our field. PAP has always worked to keep up with the changing times and this is evidenced by the growing numbers of paralegals, including students that attend our annual education conference and monthly committee lunch and learn sessions. Since 1973, PAP has had committees in just about every practice area imaginable. Of course, discussion topics have changed, but each committee is still running strong and our members continue to benefit. Our annual education conference continues to bring paralegals from the tri-state area to one location for learning and the advancement of the paralegal profession

I have read various presidents’ messages from past volumes, which tend to focus on the goals for the year ahead and the direction in which they would like to see the association move. Based on my research, I would like to emphasize that PAP is a strong and steadfast organization that continues to promote the paralegal profession. In addition, PAP is committed to cultivating, educating and assisting its members even in the most difficult times. Although the association has changed, the values and goals remain the same. What I have learned is that when PAP set its course back in the ’70s, it was right on target for taking the paralegal profession into the future.

I would like to commend all of the past presidents that served before me for a job well done. I have truly been enlightened by my research for this article. While the names and faces have changed over the years, the core values of the members of the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals have remained the same. Paralegals are professionals and should be considered as assets to our employers. Whether it is in a law firm, corporate or government office setting, we are devoted to the practice of law.

I look forward to serving as your president this year and am always available for members’ questions, comments, ideas or concerns. Thank you. •

Renee S. Mazzeo is a litigation paralegal at Thomas Thomas & Hafer, assisting attorneys in general liability, property and personal injury matters. She has more than 20 years’ experience. Mazzeo serves on the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals’ board of directors as president and is the association’s primary delegate to the National Federation of Paralegals.