Chapter 15

The Official Word: Ethical Codes for Legal Professionals

IN THIS CHAPTER

Bullet Understanding the importance of ethics in the legal profession

Bullet Reviewing the rules of professional conduct

Bullet Appreciating the ethical codes of paralegal associations

Attorneys and paralegals are considered legal professionals. Paralegals perform many of the same tasks as attorneys and have similar responsibilities to the attorney’s clients. For this reason, as a paralegal, you’ll be expected to know and abide by the rules of professional conduct in your jurisdiction. In most states, these rules are very similar to the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Most of these rules apply to both lawyers and paralegals.

Additionally, paralegals must follow other special rules that define the types of duties they may perform. Essentially, paralegals may do anything an attorney does except give legal advice, set fees, and try cases in a court of law. Some states allow laypersons (people who aren’t attorneys) to fill out forms for clients for certain types of legal matters, like bankruptcy, as long as they don’t give legal advice about the form and don’t suggest to clients what ...

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