Paralegals deal with sensitive legal information every day. They need to be honest and trustworthy and understand the importance of confidentiality. If you’ve ever dreamed of working in the legal profession, consider these 10 canons that paralegals need to follow. Could you?
1. Perform your duties but NOT those that only an attorney is allowed to do. You also cannot take any actions that attorneys are prohibited from taking; you’re held to the same high standards of integrity that they are.
2. You can assist attorneys in many of their duties as long as your work is supervised and done on behalf of the attorney. The attorney, and not you, is responsible for all work performed and produced for the client.
3. You cannot do anything that might be considered “practicing law.” Only licensed members of the American Bar Association (ABA) can engage in the actual practice of law. You also can’t participate in any action that would be considered a violation of the professional ethics of the ABA.
4. You can offer your professional judgment as a paralegal but cannot give any legal advice that would replace an attorney’s. Your knowledge and guidance is always secondary to that of a practicing attorney.
5. You must be clear in your role as a paralegal, and not an attorney, when dealing with clients, attorneys, courts, administrative agencies and the general public. You can help clients, but must be careful not to overstep. The assistance you can offer without the presence of an attorney is limited.
6. You must maintain the highest level of honesty and integrity. You’ll also need to hone your skills and competency through continuing education. You must do your best to stay current about laws, regulations and federal, state and other local rules that might affect your profession and impact your clients.
7. You must protect the confidence of clients and respect the privileged communications between a client and an attorney.
8. You must tell your employer about any pre-existing client or personal relationships you have that could potentially cause a conflict of interest.
9. You must obey the statutes of law regarding the ethics and responsibilities of your job as a paralegal in your state.
10. You must adhere to the ABA’s code of professional responsibility and conduct.
If the 10 Paralegal Canons seem like good guidelines for a great career, check out the Associate of Applied Science degree program at Career Quest Learning Centers. We’ll provide you with the knowledge and training you’ll need to begin a career as a paralegal in Michigan. Call us in Lansing at 877-481-4930 or Jackson at 877-365-8144 to schedule a campus tour today.