Although no one working outside the field of law really thinks that it’s true, ask any paralegal and they’ll tell you that ethics are the keystone of law!
Truth be told, a lot of people perhaps believe that abiding by the ethical standards is the key to any legal system in the world – after all, every country has its own laws. The rule of law though, is based on the integrity and honesty of a person who is liable for handling it. And yes, paralegals are a part of it.
In actuality, you don’t really come across people talking about ethical problems in an average lawyers workplace – since these are deep-rooted values, there’s hardly any reason for people to talk about it!
Almost every paralegal would’ve had a tough time imagining themselves stuck in a circumstance where they need to face certain demanding ethical dilemmas.
However, such situations can arise any moment and there are certain set of rules specifically intended to cover them. Luckily, most of the paralegals don’t run into it, but it often happens that malpractice litigation over ethical violation is a common aspect on dockets across the globe!
Well, punishment for breaking legal ethics can complete the range from a smack on the wrist to penalties to disbarment to the lawyer who’s held responsible. Since a paralegal isn’t pled guilty to the bar, it’s the firm or lawyer, they’ve been working for, who often gets punished. Obviously, this affects the resume and ends up in an indefinite exile from the field along with legal remedies imposed by the court.
You see, it is always those gray areas that are really hard for paralegals and solicitors to steer through. But, the below mentioned 3 legal ethics are the most essential ones, which none of the paralegals must violate.
Must show personal integrity and maintain a professional conduct
Similar to solicitors, even paralegals act as a representative of law. Since you belong to such a crucial field, you’re supposed to have a professional behaviour like teachers, counselors and doctors do. Or else, you might not just lose your credibility, but also your job.
Integrity and competence are 2 of the most essential things that every paralegal must exude. You must carry out your delegated task with due precision and diligence, and must strive for widening and improving your understanding and skills.
Must stay away from disputes or simply reveal them
Since it is of utmost importance for every paralegal to constantly maintain the client’s privilege, it is perhaps vital to shun from becoming a part of the tasks entailing disputes between a client from your previous workplace and the one from your present job. If not, the detail that you know could turn out to have an adverse effect on one or the other party.
What you, as a paralegal, must do if you happen to be in such a situation, is to let your employer or lawyer know about it and ask them to let you off from the case.
Refrain from offering legal advice
Although as a paralegal, you work closely with a solicitor and often need to carry out the tasks designated to you by them, you’re liable to refrain from practicing unauthorised law – put simply, you’re not supposed to offer legal help; not even something like helping someone with how to make a Will at home. It’s essential that you prevent implementing some activities which only trained lawyers are entitled to take up.
Giving legal advice and opinion are two of the most important things that you, as a paralegal, must steer clear of. Likewise, you aren’t allowed to set charges for several other legal services offered by your lawyer. If ever you’re found guilty of practicing unauthorised law, you’ll have to face some serious repercussions.
Whilst you’re doing your paralegal studies, you’ll probably get to learn about not just legal ethics, but several other crucial topics that can be critical in your future. Now, when working as a paralegal, it’s quite obvious for you to face numerous legal ethical predicaments. But it is during those situations when you’ve got to be on guard and endorse some of the highest legal ethics.