In the legal world, ethical behavior holds the utmost importance. Lawyers and paralegals have to display the highest ethical standards to claim to uphold the highest standards of the law realistically.
If paralegals don’t abide by legal ethics, it can lead to serious ramifications. It may lead to the suspension or revocation of your paralegal license, a fine, and it may even lead to the loss of your job. Here are some ethical rules that paralegals must comply with to maintain certain ethical standards.
Display Professional Competence and Personal Integrity
Paralegals are representatives of a legal profession, so they must keep their conduct above reproach, perform all the assignments efficiently, and constantly improve their legal knowledge and skills. There are a few ways of violating personal integrity, such as accepting gifts that can make you feel influenced at work. Accepting something small and paltry with the client’s logo may be appropriate, but something more like a $100 gift certificate or a weekend on his yacht may be inappropriate.
Avoid Unauthorised Practice of Law
As per paralegal studies, it is important to avoid the unauthorized practice of the law. For this, paralegals must avoid certain things, such as establishing an attorney-client relationship, setting a fee for legal charges, venting their legal opinion, and more.
Paralegals can violate the same. In 2001 a paralegal in Ohio fought a case on behalf of a client, and the judge sentenced him for unauthorized practice of law.
Always Abide by the Attorney-Client Privilege
An attorney-client privilege or paralegal-client privilege comes under the purview of confidentiality when legal representatives share classified information with people outside the legal team.
You can violate this common privilege if you reveal any closely-guarded secret to an outsider. Today, it holds importance in this world of cyber communications. Remember, both texting and communicating through emails may not turn out to be the ideal or secure ways of communication.
Avoid Conflicts of Interest
On the first day of your employment, you can protect yourself by asking your supervising attorney to hand you over a list of legal cases that the firm is handling. It is important to review the list to identify the clients and recognize whether you have worked for them in previous paralegal jobs. In the case of a conflict, you may need to ask for a waiver from one party.
You may need to remove yourself in a few specific cases as you have to protect yourself from both clients’ interests. If you work for two clients with opposite interests, you may have to let go of the case. This is since the common information you know can be detrimental to either one or both. This can be the same even if you no longer happen to work for one of those clients.
Let Your Client Know that You Are a Paralegal
Most people do not know whether you are a paralegal or an attorney, so don’t assume that people may know that. Since people think that just by working in a law firm or a corporate legal department may mean you are an attorney.
This can get violated when you talk with others, especially if you don’t introduce yourself properly, letting them know that you are a paralegal, not a lawyer, and do not give legal advice. If you do not reveal as much, you invariably participate in the unauthorized practice of the law.
All About Legal Ethics
You should always abide by the legal ethic code and not take professional behavior for granted. If you want to know about legal ethics while studying paralegal law, then ask your professor. After following a few years of paralegal work, you may sometimes have to let go of your ethical considerations. This is why you need to abide by legal ethics.
If you ever get caught in a situation where you end up breaching legal ethics, then listen to what your heart is saying. Sometimes, it helps to listen to your heart instead of following what your head tells you to do. Sometimes that is the only way to maintain professional integrity. You need to avoid penance to not violate the violating ethical rules, and enjoy a fruitful and successful career.