Ethics are of paramount importance. As an integral part of the legal industry, paralegals must practice ethical behavior and make ethical decisions daily. Paralegals must be cognizant of applicable sanctions and should not feel rushed or tempted into an unethical situation or decision.
It is a paralegal’s responsibility to be aware of what constitutes the unauthorized practice of law (UPL) and be mindful of how to avoid UPL. Paralegals must competently execute all tasks.
The client has a cause of action against both the paralegal and the supervising attorney if a paralegal makes a careless mistake. Paralegals are held to “a standard of care common to paralegals doing the work in question.” Paralegals must be diligent in their work. Fines can be imposed for criminal activity. Certification can be revoked.
Paralegals have an obligation to their supervising attorney and to their peers. Perhaps above all, paralegals have an obligation to themselves.
Paralegals use their skills and education to serve the legal community competently, and competence comes with education. There are multiple ways to meet the standard of legal education expected for paralegals:
- Enroll in an educational webinar
- Attend a continuing legal education (CLE) event
- Take a course in e-Discovery
- Complete a LexisNexis class
- Prepare for national certification
While continuing education may not be a fun concept, the process can be fun. Plan a vacation sailing with other paralegals and earn numerous CLEs. Check out the 2022 Paralegal Cruise at https://paralegalcruise.com.
By joining a national association, paralegals have numerous other resources available to them for education and ethics training. Consider joining NALA, The Paralegal Association; be familiar with the NALA Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility. If you join The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), ensure you are familiar with their Model Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility.
Remember, paralegal education is an ethical responsibility.
Until next time, Happy Writing,