- Code of ethics
PREAMBLE: A paralegal must adhere strictly to the accepted standards of legal ethics and to the general principles of proper conduct. The performance of the duties of the paralegal shall be governed by specific canons as defined herein so that justice will be served and goals of the profession attained. The canons of ethics set forth hereafter are adopted by the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc., as a general guide intended to aid paralegals and attorneys. The enumeration of these rules does not mean there are not others of equal importance although not specifically mentioned. Court rules, agency rules and statutes must be taken into consideration when interpreting the canons.
DEFINITION: Paralegals, also known as paralegals, are a distinguishable group of persons who assist attorneys in the delivery of legal services. Through formal education, training and experience, paralegals have knowledge and expertise regarding the legal system and substantive and procedural law, which qualify them to do work of a legal nature under the supervision of an attorney.
The following are the NALA Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility Canons, which have been adopted by the Smoky Mountain Paralegal Association.
CANON 1: A paralegal must not perform any of the duties that attorneys only may perform nor take any
actions that attorneys may not take.
CANON 2: A paralegal may perform any task which is properly designated and supervised by an
attorney, as long as the attorney is ultimately responsible to the client, maintains a direct relationship with the client, and assumes professional responsibility for the work product.
CANON 3: A paralegal must not: a) engage in, encourage, or contribute to any act which could constitute the unauthorized practice of law; and b) establish attorney-client relationships, set fees, give legal opinions or advise or represent a client before a court or agency unless so authorized by that court or agency; and c) engage in conduct or take any action which would assist or involve the attorney in a violation of professional ethic or give the appearance of professional impropriety.
CANON 4: A paralegal must use discretion and professional judgment commensurate with knowledge and experience but must not render independent legal judgment in place of an attorney. The services of an attorney are essential in the public interest whenever such legal judgment is required.
CANON 5: A paralegal must disclose his or her status as a paralegal at the outset of any professional
relationship with a client, attorney, a court or administrative agency or personnel thereof, or a member of the general public. A paralegal must act prudently in determining the extent to which a client may be assisted without the presence of an attorney.
CANON 6: A paralegal must strive to maintain integrity and a high degree of competency through
education and training with respect to professional responsibility, local rules and practice, and through continuing education in substantive areas of law to better assist the legal profession in fulfilling its duty to provide legal service.
CANON 7: A paralegal must protect the confidences of a client and must not violate any rule or statute
now in effect or hereafter enacted controlling the doctrine of privileged communications between a client and an attorney.
CANON 8: A paralegal must disclose to his or her employer or prospective employer any pre-existing
client or personal relationship that may conflict with the interests of the employer or prospective employer and/or their clients.
CANON 9: A paralegal must do all other things incidental, necessary, or expedient for the attainment of the ethics and responsibilities as defined by statute or rule of court.
CANON 10: A paralegal’s conduct is guided by bar associations’ codes of professional responsibility and rules of professional conduct.