Although paralegals can play a vital role in the legal team, they also must always comply with ethical limits on their participation. I am the paralegal and what do I do in this case.
You have worked closely with her and have been able to assist her by reading documents to her, and by reminding her of matters she has been forgetting. She is now schedule to prepare the key expert witness for trial and she has forgotten all of the medical information and legal strategy to be explored in the meeting. She asks you to cover the meeting, and not mention that you are the paralegal.
Do you have an ethical obligation to report this matter to the managing attorney of the law firm?
Should you let clients know about the attorney's problem?
Should you do nothing and continue to help the attorney?
What would you do?
SOLUTION This solution is FREE courtesy of BrainMass!
You have an ethical obligation to report this matter to the managing attorney of the law firm. You have been asked to cover the meeting and not mention that you are the paralegal. This action is against the ABA Model Guidelines for the Utilization of Paralegal Service and is against the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility of the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. The direct reason is that you have been asked to cover the meeting and not mention that you are the paralegal. This is a violation of two ethical principles. You the paralegal are not allowed to provide legal advice and opinions and you are not allowed to hold yourself out as attorney, or make unsupervised legal judgment. In this case you would have to give advice, opinions, and make unsupervised legal judgment when covering the meeting. Your supervisor also wants you to not to mention that you are the paralegal. This means that you hold yourself out as a lawyer. This according to ABA is unauthorized practice of law.
There is no obligation on you to let the clients know about the attorney's health problem. The clients belong to the attorney and not to you. Further, if you do nothing and continue to help the attorney, including doing those things that are disallowed by the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility of the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc, you will be performing unauthorized practice of law. In my case I would report the matter to the managing attorney of the law firm and allow him to resolve the matter with your supervisor. I will not do work that is unethical.