Traditionally it was considered unauthorized practice of law for a paralegal to appear in court or in front of an administrative agency or tribunal to represent another. However, now there are many exceptions to this rule. Administrative law is one practice area that permits paralegal representation of clients. Many administrative agencies allow paralegals to appear before their tribunals to represent the rights of individuals. Federal administrative agencies have the right to permit representation by paralegals and other lay persons in their proceedings. For example, many agencies like Internal Revenue Service, The Immigration and Naturalization Service, Social Security Administration permit paralegal representation before their agencies. Some agencies like U.S. Patent Office require special education and certification before representation is allowed. Many state administrative agencies do not allow paralegal representation.
Under certain circumstances, paralegal can appear before certain courts on behalf of their attorney employers when their appearance is more in the nature of a messenger. Some court rules provide that the courts may grant permission to specific individuals to appear in court on behalf of another for specific reasons.
Representation is permitted only as allowed by the state statutes and regulations of agencies.