Paralegals Page

Paralegal Ethics: Avoiding the Unauthorized Practice of Law

, The Legal Intelligencer

   | 1 Comments

They are out there. Perhaps you have encountered a paralegal engaging in the unauthorized practice of law (UPL).

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What's being said

  • Hope

    Excellent article; however, I would point out that when we are literally creating these pleadings, letters, etc., is that technically the "unauthorized practice of law" or are we just doing our jobs as we have learned them (through schooling or on-the-job training). The attorneys merely change a comma here and there, and voila! Having had this debate with a many, I feel (it is not the the unauthorized practice of law), others feel it is. Mind you, this does differ from state to state-some attorneys rely more heavily on their legal secretaries, some their paralegals. I can tell you from personal experience that having been a legal secretary in NJ for 15 years, all the secretaries I worked (including myself) with were relied on very heavily for paralegal/attorney-related work. Naturally, I was not exposed to all facets of same but often it was fly by the seat of your pants and hold your breath hoping it came out correct! That said, you always learned something and were responsible for your actions and the attorneys were involved. In my current state, the attorneys prepare most of their work but do rely on their paralegals for some of the heavier document preparation. At the end of the day, paralegals and legal secretaries do just need to keep it ethical and remember that the attorneys are the attorneys for a reason!

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