Paralegal Ethics Guidebook
The Official Paralegal Code of Ethics

Paralegal ethics is a tricky path to maneuver. Read both my paralegal code of ethics & ethical morality of all in the National Association of Legal Assistants

The examination of paralegal morals and ethics isn't as tricky as the concept of ethics itself.

Also referred to as the moral philosophy, ethics is the study of right over wrong--the determination of what is acceptable and what is not.

It is, of course, impossible for everyone to agree on the specifics of ethics--to answer certain questions with black and white answers (such as: 'Is it wrong to kill someone if they are threatening your family after breaking in?' and 'Is justice absolute?')--so there is, instead, usually an organization of people that will agree on behalf of the community at large about the differences between right and wrong.

This is true of the collegiate world, the medical world, and certainly of the world of Law and Order.

With regards to the paralegal, it is the National Association of Legal Assistants that makes the rules we must follow.

Paralegal Code of Ethics: What it's All About

Paralegals are also known as legal assistants, and the NALA directly enforces our actions.

As a paralegal, you must follow the NALA code of conduct: the ten canons (or rules) that every working paralegal must adhere to.

The NALA first adopted their code of paralegal ethics in 1975 and it has been used ever since.

In the section below, we'll go over the ten canons so that you might have a better understanding of what paralegal ethics truly means.

If you want to become a paralegal, pay close attention to this section.

Paralegal Ethics: The Ten Canons

According to the National Association of Legal Assistants, there are ten canons that must be strictly followed by every paralegal.

This paralegal code of ethics contains the following rules (paraphrased here so that everyone can understand them):

  • Canon 1 - The paralegal can neither perform the duties that only an attorney can perform nor any duties that an attorney cannot perform.

  • Canon 2 - As long as the attorney is ultimately responsible for its outcome, a paralegal may perform any task given him or her by an attorney.

  • Canon 3 - The paralegal can't (1) contribute to any unauthorized practice of law, (2) create attorney-client relationships or set fees, or (3) violate professional ethics.

  • Canon 4 - The paralegal can use judgment based on his or her training and experience, but can't use independent legal judgment in place of the attorney.

  • Canon 5 - The paralegal must immediately disclose his or her status as a paralegal to each client, attorney, or other member of the judiciary at the start of any professional relationship.

  • Canon 6 - The paralegal must work to maintain a professional integrity and competency through proper education and training.

  • Canon 7 - The paralegal must keep and protect the confidence of the client.

  • Canon 8 - The paralegal must immediately disclose to the employer or potential employer any personal relationship that may conflict with his or her duties or the interests of the employer.

  • Canon 9 - The paralegal must do everything in his or her power to maintain the integrity of the code ethics.

  • Canon 10 - The paralegal's conduct is directed by the bar association's codes of professionalism and rules of conduct.

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