Like in any other legal jobs, ethics is one of the most significant aspects of being a paralegal. People expect that you’ll do everything by law, as you’re working in the fields of law, after all. However, many things in this profession don’t seem so black and white — ethical gray areas that you find difficult to deal with.
Before the Job
As a paralegal, your ethical behavior must begin long before you take a job. After completing paralegal classes online and getting your associate’s degree, of course, you want to get hired as soon as possible. However, in many states, you can’t be a paralegal if you have felony convictions, multiple misdemeanors, and even bad credit ratings. So if you’re interested in becoming a paralegal, make sure you stay away from anything that might tarnish your name on a background check.
On the Job
Not all employers are honest. In the same way, not all lawyers are ethical. So what if an attorney in your firm asks you to do something unethical or even illegal? What if almost everybody in the firm does the same unethical act? It’s hard to navigate these gray areas, as, for sure, you don’t want to get fired for being disobedient. Perhaps, you have a family to support and you need the job to pay for rent, food, and other necessities. Some old folks in the field would say, it all boils down to what kind of a paralegal you want to be.
Ethical matters have always been difficult to tackle with. But for a more concrete resolution to this issue, here’s a question you must always ask yourself, ‘Does the act violate anything in the lawyer’s code of conduct?’ That is an effective guideline for you as a paralegal, as it is for lawyers. If you’re going to end up in jail for doing an unethical act, then you must not consider doing it in the first place.