Are There Any Ethics For Paralegals?
There are many codes and ethics for paralegals which must be strictly adhered to, in order to uphold the prestige of the profession. The rules and ethics for paralegals have not really been institutionalized. However, it is important for paralegals to be aware of the ethics of their profession so that they maintain a professional conduct at all times and are true to the core values of their profession. Answered below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the ethics for paralegals.
Q. Are there any set of ethical rules for paralegals?
Actually, there are none. Even though lawyers have their set of Rules of Professional Conduct, there are no similar ethical codes for paralegals or legal assistants. It was only later, in the year 1991 that the American Bar Association adopted model guidelines for the utilization of services of legal assistants, which has till date served as a compendium of ethics for paralegals.
Q. What are the key points in the Model Guidelines for the Utilization of Legal Assistant Services?
This model code of ethics for paralegals, applies directly to all non lawyer professionals working with attorneys, including paralegals and legal assistants. The model is directed towards the lawyers and as its name suggests, lays down guidelines to utilize the services of paralegals and legal assistants.
Still, the code can be interpreted as ethics for paralegals as well, stating the responsibilities and duties that paralegals can take up and those that they can’t. The three main points in the ethics for paralegals are that
1. According to ethics for paralegals, they cannot shoulder the responsibility of establish an attorney – client relationship.
2. The paralegal cannot surmise the amount of fee chargeable by the lawyer and
3. The paralegal is under no circumstances, to give any legal advice to a client.
Apart from these cardinal codes, there is also the matter of confidentiality. Paralegals cannot divulge confidential information about their client or the case to anyone.
Q. Is this code of ethics for paralegals applicable all over the United States of America?
No. Though the American Bar Association has accepted the Model Guidelines for the Utilization of Legal Assistant Services, this model code is not accepted in the state of Washington since paralegals are not required to have a license and are not regulated like attorneys.
Q. Is there any authority which upholds the codes and ethics for paralegals?
There are two major national level associations, namely the National Federation of Paralegal Associations and the National Association of Legal Assistants which uphold these ethics for paralegals and legal assistants. They have also developed a set of ethics for paralegals and legal assistants, fashioned from the guidelines provided by the American Bar Associations.
Q. Are there any other guidelines and code of ethics for paralegals?
Even though there is no institutionalized code of ethics for paralegals or other non lawyer professionals, these professionals are expected to follow the Rules of Professional Conduct, which is applicable to all those who are in professional positions.
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