NALA Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility
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Frequently Asked Ethics Questions
These volumes are supplemented with a pocket part each July. Upon request for LEOs involving a specific issue, the bar will furnish full texts of relevant opinions at no cost. The bar reserves the right to charge for volume requests. Charges will be based upon staff time and copying costs. Please see the links at the left to print individual current rules and regulations.
Standards of service refer to the quality of the service a client can expect from a that a solicitor recognises the need to keep his/her knowledge up-to-date and to whether to another solicitor (or solicitors) or to paralegals or other members of.
Violations of the Code may result in cancellation of membership. First adopted by the NALA membership in May of , the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility is the foundation of ethical practices of paralegals in the legal community. A paralegal must adhere strictly to the accepted standards of legal ethics and to the general principles of proper conduct. The performance of the duties of the paralegal shall be governed by specific canons as defined herein so that justice will be served and goals of the profession attained.
The canons of ethics set forth hereafter are adopted by the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. The enumeration of these rules does not mean there are not others of equal importance although not specifically mentioned. Court rules, agency rules and statutes must be taken into consideration when interpreting the canons. Through formal education, training and experience, legal assistants have knowledge and expertise regarding the legal system and substantive and procedural law which qualify them to do work of a legal nature under the supervision of an attorney.
A legal assistant or paralegal is a person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible. Adopted by the ABA in
Ethical rules for paralegals and their supervising attorneys
individual paralegals throughout the State of Indiana. Members of IPA maintenance of all funds, securities, and other assets of a client, and in all other business and parties shall be notified and a hearing date shall be set. The hearing.
Even if almost no one who works outside the field believes it, any paralegal will tell you that ethics really are the cornerstone of law. In fact, some people might say that adhering to ethical standards of conduct is the key feature of the American legal system. After all, all countries have laws; the rule of law , however, depends on the honesty and integrity of the people responsible for administering it.
And that includes paralegals. But those situations can come up and there are strong rules in the legal system designed to cover them. These rules are established both by industry groups the American Bar Association and the National Association of Legal Assistants each have ethics codes applicable to paralegals and by state and federal laws.
The regulations are applied by the relevant bar association, usually operating under the authority of the state supreme court. Punishment for violating ethical rules can run the gamut from a slap on the wrist to fines to disbarment for the responsible attorney. Because paralegals are not themselves admitted to the bar, punishment often falls on the attorney or firm they were working for.
But there are five solid rules of professional ethics that paralegals must never, ever violate. The attorney-client relationship is something of a precursor to many of the other rules of ethical conduct in the American legal system. With a license to practice law, anything that even resembles an attorney-client relationship is strictly forbidden.
Rule 1.8. Conflict of Interest: Current Clients – Specific Rules
Each of these choices implicates a basic, but critical, issue: the point at which an attorney-client relationship commences with the person and the scope of your obligations and duties before you actually sign a fee agreement. Unfortunately, there are no clear answers to these questions. There are, however, some basic legal concepts to be familiar with so you can try and steer clear of some of the obvious traps.
An implied attorney-client relationship can be created even though the client never signed a fee agreement. American Home Insurance Company , Mass.
(b) Paragraph (a) shall not apply if a consensual sexual relationship existed between the lawyer and the client before the legal representation commenced.
For purposes of this paragraph, related persons include a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, or grandparent. The Louisiana Supreme Court adopted this rule on January 20, It became effective on March 1, , and was amended in to address financial assistance to clients. The rule contains several significant differences from the corresponding model rule. In , the ABA adopted a provision requiring that a lawyer seeking to do business with a client must advise the client of the desirability of seeking independent counsel.
The ABA added this provision because it believed that it, and other requirements, were necessary for the protection of clients; moreover, the ABA recognized that some of these requirements were already imposed by common-law decisions providing for the voidability of such transactions. In addition, the ABA clarified the nature of the consent to be given by the client under this paragraph. Lawyers had reported to the ABA Ethics Commission that there was considerable confusion regarding its meaning.
Several states had specified that the consent refers to the essential terms of the transaction. Case law in some jurisdictions went further and required disclosure regarding the risks of the transaction. See id.
Attorney-Client Sexual Relations – The Journal of the Legal Profession
This same principle underlies the rules prohibiting the use of client confidences to the disadvantage of the client and the rules that seek to ensure that lawyers do not take financial advantage of their clients. The existence of a sexual relationship between lawyer and client, under the circumstances proscribed by this rule, presents a significant danger that the lawyer’s ability to represent the client competently may be adversely affected because of the lawyer’s emotional involvement.
This emotional involvement has the potential to undercut the objective detachment that is demanded for adequate representation. A sexual relationship also creates the risk that the lawyer will be subject to a conflict of interest. For example, a lawyer who is sexually involved with his or her client risks becoming an adverse witness to his or her own client in a divorce action where there are issues of adultery and child custody to resolve.
Suppose I were working for a Law Firm and became involved with a client.
Support Center Contact Us Paralegals bring many benefits to a legal practice, and with benefits come many ethical responsibilities. These responsibilities involve not only the manner in which paralegals should conduct themselves but also the ethical considerations that the lawyers who supervise them need to make. Paralegals are bound by a set of ethical guidelines that dictate their professional conduct. Only attorneys can form an attorney-client relationship, by agreeing to provide legal representation.
Paralegals are not allowed to determine the fee that will be charged for legal services, although they can relay fee information given to them by their supervising attorney to the client. Lawyers spend years in order to become qualified to give legal advice. But if a paralegal gives legal advice or holds themselves out as an attorney in any way, they are said to be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
Although the right of self-representation is provided for by statute, this right does not include the right to be legally represented by a non-lawyer, including a paralegal. Although paralegals often assist their supervising attorney at trial, they are not permitted to advocate for a client in court. Lawyers who employ paralegals have certain ethical obligations as well, and the failure to observe them could result in significant financial as well as reputational harm to themselves and their firm.
Role of the Paralegal in Client Relationships
This rule addresses the ethical principles. Competence involves more than an understanding of legal principles: it involves an adequate knowledge of the practice and procedures by which such principles can be effectively applied. To accomplish this, the lawyer should keep abreast of developments in all areas of law in which the lawyer practises. The lawyer who proceeds on any other basis is not being honest with the client.
One of the more important relationships is that between a paralegal certain that paralegals never establish an attorney-client relationship.
Home Contact Employment Sitemap. For example, two practitioners who share space and occasionally consult or assist each other ordinarily would not be regarded as constituting a firm. However, if they present themselves to the public in a way that suggests that they are a firm or conduct themselves as a firm, they should be regarded as a firm for purposes of the Rules.
The terms of any formal agreement between associated lawyers are relevant in determining whether they are a firm, as is the fact that they have mutual access to information concerning the clients they serve. Furthermore, it is relevant in doubtful cases to consider the underlying purpose of the Rule that is involved. A group of lawyers could be regarded as a firm for purposes of the Rule that the same lawyer should not represent opposing parties in litigation, while it might not be so regarded for purposes of the Rule that information acquired by one lawyer is attributed to another.
There can be uncertainty, however, as to the identity of the client.
STARTING AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP: ARE YOU “DATING”, “ENGAGED,” OR HAVE YOU EXCHANGED VOWS?
The risk must be more than a mere possibility; there must be a genuine, serious risk to the duty of loyalty or to client representation arising from the retainer;. A paralegal shall not undertake a matter without being competent to handle it or being able to become competent without undue delay or expense to the client. The quality of service required of a paralegal is service that is competent, timely, conscientious, diligent, efficient and civil.
This same principle underlies the rules prohibiting the use of client confidences to the disadvantage of the client and the rules that seek to ensure that lawyers do.
Skip to content. Professional Responsibility. See Rule 1. This contributes to the trust that is the hallmark of the client-lawyer relationship. The client is thereby encouraged to seek legal assistance and to communicate fully and frankly with the lawyer even as to embarrassing or legally damaging subject matter. The lawyer needs this information to represent the client effectively and, if necessary, to advise the client to refrain from wrongful conduct.
Almost without exception, clients come to lawyers in order to determine their rights and what is, in the complex of laws and regulations, deemed to be legal and correct. Based upon experience, lawyers know that almost all clients follow the advice given, and the law is upheld.
Paralegals and Conflicts of Interest
Indiana Rules of Court. Rules of Professional Conduct. Including Amendments made through July 03,
informed Client of her dates with the paralegal for opposing counsel, and Paralegal never informed his boss, the supervis- ing attorney on the.
A fiduciary relationship creates many legal duties for the person in whom the trust has been placed. There are many different components to these duties. The major components are explained below. Your solicitor must tell you in writing how much they will charge you and about other expenses before they start working for you. This is known as disclosure. Once you have agreed to use a particular solicitor, they should also send you regular bills for their services, setting out the work performed and the charges for each service.
Conversations, correspondence and documentation between you and your solicitor are confidential and can only be revealed in limited situations. Solicitors must also follow strict rules in the maintenance of client files. Your solicitor must not allow their own interests, or the interests of an associate, to conflict with those of a client. A solicitor generally cannot act for you if they have previously provided legal advice to a person you are in dispute with.
They may also not be able to act for more than one party in the same matter. If you believe that your solicitor may have a conflict you should raise this with them. Your solicitor cannot make any decisions without your instructions.
Standards for solicitors
Proper time-keeping is more important than ever. The emphasis on legal fees has created a cottage industry of legal audit firms that review and analyze legal services to target discrepancies, unethical billing practices, billing mistakes and areas of potential cost-savings. Clients that do not employ independent legal bill audit services often have in-house quality control programs that routinely analyze invoices flagged for review.
Avoiding these ten billing mistakes will help your legal bills withstand scrutiny.
up-to-date and effective resources for successful instruction and study in all areas of the law. Kluwer Law Gifts from Clients to Paralegals. 6. Agreements.
Will is a partner at the firm. Alicia is a third-year associate. The two are carrying on a discreet affair. But, Diane, a senior partner, is on to them. Diane sets up a meeting with an insurance broker and makes the entire firm watch a video on sexual harassment as a subtle warning to Will and Alicia on the risks of interoffice sex. Alicia eventually ends the affair and Will accepts.
The message: having a relationship with a subordinate in the workplace, even if consensual, is risky business. Had the affair turned bitter, it could have been a costly lesson for the partner and the firm. In real life, law firms and sexual harassment suits are not uncommon. Recently, a law firm partner who had a fling with his paralegal saw his personal life dissected in front of a California jury.