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Paralegals are often essential for lawyers to successfully practice law.
Paralegals conduct basic legal research, help review and prepare documents, and sometimes screen clients. Still, they are not lawyers and not directly subject to the ethics rules applicable to lawyers. But the lawyers who supervise their work are responsible for their actions and liable for any improper conduct.
Lawyers are responsible for ensuring that their paralegals' work conforms to ethics rules. If a paralegal's actions breach client confidentiality, compromise the attorney-client privilege, or are otherwise improper, the supervising lawyer is ethically responsible for that misconduct.
This program provides a practical guide to how ethics rules make supervising lawyers responsible for the actions of their paralegals.
- Conflicts of interest and the attribution of paralegal knowledge about client matters
- Determining when paralegal research and document preparation becomes the unauthorized practice of law
- How paralegals must be instructed about client confidentiality – and lawyer consequences on breach
- Attorney-client privilege implications when clients communicate with paralegals – and risk of inadvertent disclosure
- Issues when paralegals participate in discovery
- Fee sharing with paralegals