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Role of Paralegals in Communicating with Clients Clearly and Ethically

You have all been hired by a law firm that is in difficulty. The firm was seriously understaffed for several months and the communications to clients were not done well. Several disciplinary proceedings have been brought against attorneys in the firm.

  1. They did not communicate at all with some clients. When calls, texts, and emails from clients were not answered for weeks, clients assumed the worst and notified the state disciplinary authorities. The attorneys’ defenses are generally that clients should not have panicked, the cases just take time, and the clients should drop the proceedings since the cases are okay.
  2. The lawyers allowed paralegals to deliver legal advice to some clients. Sometimes the paralegals signed letters of advice and other times verbally gave advice. This has resulted in disciplinary proceedings. The attorneys claimed that they “checked on and approved” the advice before it was given, but that defense is not working.
  3. Still other clients claim that the law firm sent letters, signed by lawyers, but the communication method was unprofessional. The letters just said things like, “enclosed are documents…” and listed the titles of documents sent. The documents were not understandable to these clients.

What principles should the law firm follow to avoid these problems in the future? Cite your sources from the text and professional responsibility codes. Collaborate on solutions. Think!

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