A paralegal is a person qualified by education, training, or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency, or other entity who is qualified to work as a paralegal pursuant to California Business and Professions Code §6450.
The SEQUOIA PARALEGAL ASSOCIATION, a professional organization recognizes the importance of continuing legal education, member mentorships, and the personal and professional standards of paralegals needed to provide the highest quality of legal services to the public and the legal community.
THE SEQUOIA PARALEGAL ASSOCIATION adopts the following definition as ethics: The discipline of dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.
The SEQUOIA PARALEGAL ASSOCIATION adheres to and adopts the following Code of Ethics from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) to ensure the highest standards of professionalism and integrity by its members:
A paralegal must not perform any of the duties that attorneys only may perform nor take any actions that attorneys may not take.
A paralegal may perform any task which is properly delegated and supervised by an attorney, as long as the attorney is ultimately responsible to the client, maintains a direct relationship with the client, and assumes professional responsibility for the work product.
A paralegal must not: (a) engage in, encourage, or contribute to any act which could constitute the unauthorized practice of law; (b) establish attorney-client relationships, set fees, give legal opinions or advice or represent a client before a court or agency unless so authorized by that court or agency; and (c) engage in conduct or take any action which would assist or involve the attorney in a violation of professional ethics or give the appearance of professional impropriety.
A paralegal must use discretion and professional judgment commensurate with knowledge and experience but must not render independent legal judgment in place of an attorney. The services of an attorney are essential in the public interest whenever such legal judgment is required.
A paralegal must disclose his or her status as a paralegal at the outset of any professional relationship with a client, attorney, a court or administrative agency or personnel thereof, or a member of the general public. A paralegal must act prudently in determining the extent to which a client may be assisted without the presence of an attorney.
A paralegal must strive to maintain integrity and a high degree of competency through education and training with respect to professional responsibility, local rules and practice, and through continuing education in substantive areas of law to better assist the legal profession in fulfilling its duty to provide legal service.
A paralegal must protect the confidences of a client and must not violate any rule or statute now in effect or hereafter enacted controlling the doctrine of privileged communications between a client and an attorney.
A paralegal must disclose to his or her employer or prospective employer any pre-existing client or personal relationship that may conflict with the interests of the employer or prospective employer and/or their clients.
A paralegal must do all other things incidental, necessary, or expedient for the attainment of the ethics and responsibilities as defined by statute or rule of court.
A paralegal’s conduct is guided by the American and California Bar Associations’ codes of professional responsibility and rules of professional conduct.