Unit 2 seminar THE PARALEGAL PROFESSIONAL
SEMINAR BACK-UP PLANS LOSE AUDIO? Continue with a typed lecture. GET BOOTED OUT? Try to re-enter seminar. If that doesn’t work, try the Chat tab in your course. CAN’T GE BACK INTO CLASS AT ALL? Do not worry! Power points are posted in Doc Sharing and you can go back and listen to the seminar recording 24 hours after seminar ends.
DISCUSSION BOARD TIPS • 3 substantive posts per week minimum • Post timely. • Answer in depth. Build on another’s post. Incorporate course materials, research & experience. Of a opposing viewpoints in a courteous manner. • Explain why you agree or disagree. • Read every post, even instructor’s posts. • Review & edit your post before submitting. Use proper grammar, spelling, etc. (use spell check!)
LATE POLICY SUBMIT WORK ON TIME! (This is good practice for the legal world.) IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE LATE, EMAIL INSTRUCTOR. (I may provide an extension.) DON’T GIVE UP!!! Turning in something late I better than receiving a zero, no matter how late it is!
Other Administrative Issues • Check for new Announcements each time you enter the course. • Review the written assignment grading rubric. • Cite to sources. Avoid plagiarism. • Ask questions! Don’t be afraid to communicate with the instructor about issues, problems or concerns.
Assignment Checklist Unit 2 1. Seminar 2. Read Chs. 2 & 3 3. DB 4. Quiz 5. Written Assignment (Career Path Report)
CAREER PATH REPORT Draft a letter. For information on how to format a letter, check Rules for Writers & the Writing Center. 500 words is a good rule of thumb. Review the RUBRIC before submitting. Identify the roles, responsibilities & career options for paralegals & provide examples. Don’t make the letter personal only focusing on your interests. Educate about the many opportunities that exist for someone interested in the profession. Use spell check, proper grammar, punctuation!
UNIT 2 • ETHICS & PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY • REGULATION/LICENSURE • THE WORKPLACE
LAWYER REGULATION • Practice of law is regulated to protect public. • Lawyers must have a state license to practice. • Licensing requirements vary from state to state. -Education -Exam -Background Check -CLE’s • Discipline of license for violations
PARALEGALS NOT REGULATED • No licensure requirements for paralegals • No unified code of ethics for paralegals • Paralegal conduct monitored by private associations (if membership) and supervising attorneys hold responsibility • Some states provide for voluntary registration
UPL Someone who practices law without authorization from their state is committing Unauthorized Practice of Law or “UPL” Non-lawyers may not: • Give legal advice • Set legal fees • Accept of decline representation • Appear in court on behalf of client • Provide legal services
UPL (continued) • The practice of law is defined by each state. • UPL is defined by each state. • Varies from state to state slightly. • UPL ranges from criminal misdemeanor to felony but in all cases is serious.
UPL traps to avoid • Holding oneself out • Giving advice • Filling out forms • Representation of clients
NALA GUIDELINESwww.NALA.org DO NOT: • establish attorney-client relationship • set legal fees • give legal advice or opinions or answer legal questions • represent clients in court (unless specific statutory authorization) You MAY perform services if: • they do not require independent legal judgment • attorney maintains direct client relationship & control of client matters • attorney is supervising & remains responsible for all work • they supplement, merge with & become attorney’s work product. ALWAYS: • Disclose your status as a paralegal!
HYPO #1 UPL You are the paralegal working in a law office. Client calls & asks you not to bother lawyer because it “only costs me more money.” He asks you to make out a Power of Attorney for his mother, after all, “it’s only a form.” Can you do this?
HYPO#1 ANSWER No! It’s not “just a form.” Consultation with the attorney would be required to determine what things mom wants her power of attorney to cover (financial matters, health care decisions, nursing home admission, etc.) This requires some legal judgment and the paralegal cannot do this.
HYPO #2 UPL Client, who has been with the firm for a long time, calls & is greatly distressed. She is upset about her ex-husband & his obligation to pay child support. She has received a foreclosure notice. She also knows there is a support hearing tomorrow. She wants to know how much he will get from her husband. You have done all the legal research and know the answer. Can you tell her?
HYPO #2 ANSWER No! You have the natural desire to help and calm down the client and that is a good thing. However, you should never guarantee results of any kind.
ETHICAL OBLIGTATIONS • Required of every member of legal team. • Supervising attorney has Duty to Supervise. • Each State adopts its own Code of Professional Responsibility. • Enforced by the court in jurisdiction where attorney practices.
ETHICAL OBLIGATIONS - PARALEGALS • Paralegals have no single source of ethical rules • Paralegals must follow state rules that apply to lawyer • ABA Model Guidelines for Utilization of Paralegal Services http://ww.abanet.org/legalservice/paralegals/downloads/modelguidelines.pdf • NFPA & NALA have requirements to maintain membership & are good resources
COMPETENCE Requires legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness & preparation reasonably necessary for representation.
Conflict of Interest • Representation of a client should not be adverse to interests of another client. • Relates to all former, current & future clients. • Conflict Checks required. • Ethical Wall when applicable. • Freelance or contracted paralegals are at risk.
HYPO #3 – Conflict of Interest In 1999 lawyer represented husband & wife for purchase of house & to prepare wills. In 2005 husband & wife are getting divorced & husband wants the same attorney to represent him. Can the lawyer do this?
HYPO #3 - ANSWER NO! Not unless both parties are notified of the conflict of interest and agree that it is o.k. for the attorney to represent this husband.
CONFIDENTIALITY Attorney and legal team have duty to keep in confidence all information disclosed by client Encourages full disclosure. Clients freely & openly give all relevant facts without fear of disclosure. Breach by any member of legal team could lead to disciplinary action against supervising attorney.
HYPO #4 - Confidentiality Attorney & paralegal discuss client’s case in reception area of office & letter carrier comes in with morning mail. Is this a breach of confidentiality?
HYPO #4 - ANSWER YES. The presence of a 3rd party breaches confidential nature of the communication
HYPO #5 - Confidentiality You are at a restaurant with a friend talking about your new job as a paralegal. You are excited about a juicy divorce case you are working on. You don’t disclose the client’s name but you do share some facts about the case. Is this a breach of confidentiality?
HYPO #5 - ANSWER YES this is a breach. Any communication of information to a 3rd party breaches the confidence. This is a common mistake. It is not ok to discus the facts of any case in any setting. The world is small & you never know who knows whom. You may reveal just enough information that a listener could deduce who the client is.
HYPO #6 - CONFIDENTIALITY Client asks that all communication be via email. A settlement offer has been received from opposing counsel and a response prepared today. The client says just send it to his work email address. Is this ok?
HYPO #6 - ANSWER No this is not a good idea. Most employers have the right to examine email of employees and the email may not remain confidential. The attorney should advice client of this and it is the client’s choice if he waives the confidentiality. However, client should be informed.
COMMON CONFIDENTIALITY BREACHES Inadvertent disclosures happen all the time – don’t let them happen to you! • Hitting “reply all” accidentally on email • Misdialing fax number • Including enclosure to someone other than client or mixing up correspondence
Limited exceptions to Confidentiality • To prevent commission of future crime • To defend against a client in a law suit
THE PARALEGAL WORKPLACE Paralegals performs tasks & activities that assist the supervising attorney in representing clients. These tasks & functions vary according to the type of practice, size of firm or organization & skill level of the paralegal.
Arrangements & Organziations • Solo practitioners • Small offices, partnerships or legal corporations • Large national or global lawfirms • Corporations • Insurance Companies • Hospitals • Governmental entities
General Practice Generalists practice across the spectrum of law. Provides wide variety of duties for paralegals. Clients tend to be very diverse. “Shift gears” rapidly & stay current on wide variety of areas - risky
SPECIALTY PRACTICE Limited to 1 (or few) area(s) of law May be in legal department in large firm or small “boutique” firm Examples: criminal, family, probate, personal injury, medical malpractice, elder law, real estate, environmental, intellectual property, etc.
PARALEGAL SPECIALTIES • Nurse Paralegal or Nurse Consultants • Real Estate • Paralegal Manager • Any specialty area
OTHER OPPORTUNITIES • Government • Legal Department of Corporations • Self Employment
Paralegal Tasks & Functions Typical tasks include: • Conducting interviews • Communication (verbal & written) with clients • Preparing legal documents • Reviewing, analyzing, summarizing, indexing • Witness & client preparation for proceedings • Factual & legal research • File maintenance • Calendar • Office administrative functions • Time keeping & Billing
Corporate Paralegals • Reserve, prepare & file corporate names • Prepare articles of incorporation, minutes & bylaws • Prepare, issue & transfer stock certificates • Apply for employee id & tax reg. #s • Prepare shareholder agmts • Prepare & file annual reports, articles of dissolution, securities registrations • Perform other state & SEC required activites
Family Law Draft premarital agreements Prepare for termination of parental rights hearings Prepare adoptions documents Interview clients for information concerning • Current & previous marital status • Child & spousal support • Child custody & visitation
IMMIGRATION LAW • Prepare applications & petitions for filing with INS • Coordinate translations • Prepare visa applications • Assist in obtaining foreign work visas • Prepare documentation of status for INS
LITIGATION • Factual investigations; locate witnesses & evidence • Organize & maintain litigation files • Help prepare trial notebooks • Gather, review, summarize, index documents for trial • Locate experts & arrange for reports/depositions • Prepare interrogatories & responses • Help prepare for transcription & videotape depositions • Prepare or obtain subpoenas & arrange for service • Coordinate & arrange for preparation of trial exhibits • Prepare for jury voir dire • Attend trial & assist with witnesses, exhibits, & evidence • Prepare summaries of testimony during trial
THE END Questions? Email me at Jtootle@kaplan.edu or Post your question on ASK THE PROF Have a great week! Good luck!