Drawing the Line: Your Ethical Limit as a Paralegal


Learning ethics is only possible through practice, but ironically, you need to be aware of it before starting your career. In all fields, there are things that you must absolutely know before starting, and as a paralegal student, this is one of your foremost responsibilities.

Sometimes, the line between a paralegal and a lawyer becomes blurry. With the exception providing legal advice and representation, the two have a lot in common, especially in their daily tasks. This reinforces the importance of a mentor. He or she can guide you and set boundaries early on.

Furthermore, this is reason enough to expand your knowledge while you’re still in paralegal school. Your course will most likely focus on the more important parts of the job, and in some subjects, you’ll have to employ your curiosity to further your growth.

On Limits and Retainers

Once you get your paralegal career up and running, giving legal advice is the one thing you’ll be most tempted to do. Your experience in the court and handling clients gives you an experience as close to being a lawyer, but always remember, only a licensed attorney can do it.

Furthermore, the unauthorized practice of law expands to several areas, including taking a retainer’s fee. Clients pay for rock-solid legal advice from a lawyer, their representative. Accepting the client will still depend on your boss, and any retainer fee a lawyer must handle.

A lot of what you’ll do will also require official approval from a lawyer, including filing a report or responding to the opposing party’s correspondence.

You’ll find further information here, which you will be wise to include in your study file. It’s hard to commit a mistake in practicing law because of the potential consequences: invalidation of evidence, ethical breaches, and other similar outcomes that will have wide repercussions.

Awareness and Understanding

A school will teach you a lot of things, but soon enough, you’ll encounter situations your paralegal manuals may not have answered. What if a lawyer did something unethical? What if you committed an unethical action and didn’t know about it? What if you pushed your opinion in court?

Blame a lack of judgment or desire to see the truth, it’s still more important to be aware and understand the situation, and your limitations as a paralegal.

Dedicate yourself to becoming a top student, and try to learn what books won’t tell you. The combination of formal and practical education is your safeguard in having a successful paralegal career.