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Chapter One—The Paralegal Professional True/False Questions 1. Generally, the terms “paralegal” and “legal assistant” are interchangeable. (T)
2. The principal function of paralegals and legal assistants is helping their attorney
supervisors prepare for hearings, trials, and other events, such as closings. (T)
3. The American Bar Association has expressed no opinions or viewpoints on legal assistants. (F)
4. The Department of Labor predicts strong growth for the paralegal occupation through the year 2010. (T)
5. The NFPA and NALA are two, prominent, national paralegal organizations. (T)
6. Paralegal and legal assistant education programs must be ABA approved. (F)
7. The American Association for Paralegal Education believes that academically qualified paralegals are those with bachelor’s degree in legal studies. (F)
8. As it concerns educational requirements, the U.S. Attorney’s Office requires that appropriate candidates for paralegal positions have a paralegal certificate. (F)
9. Paralegals who are members of either the NFPA or NALA may seek to earn certification titles (T)
10. Paralegals and legal assistants with certifications must maintain a schedule of continuing education credits. (F)
Multiple Choice Questions 1. The following organization is one that has no connection to paralegals and legal assistants:
A) The NFPA.
B)* The NBA.
C) The NALA.
D) The AAfPE.
2. All of the following qualification-options are generally included in a paralegal or legal assistant definition except:
C)* Personal Experience.
D) Work Experience.
3. Paralegals and legal assistants work in the following settings:
A) Law firms.
C) Government Agencies.
D)* All of the above.
4. According to the 2000 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the highest, median annual paralegal salary was for those who worked for:
A)* Federal government.
B) Local government.
C) Legal services.
D) State government.
5. According to a 1998 ABA survey on the use of legal assistants:
A) Lawyers in larger law firms gave greater responsibilities to their legal assistants.
B)* Lawyers in smaller law firms gave greater responsibilities to their legal assistants.
C) Lawyers in corporate law departments gave greater responsibilities to their legal
D) Lawyers in government agencies gave greater responsibilities to their legal assistants.
6. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, from 1998-2008 the largest projected increase in jobs requiring a certain level of education will be those jobs requiring a(n):
A)* Associate degree.
B) Bachelor’s degree.
C) Master’s degree.
D) Doctoral degree.
7. All of the following are stated goals of the American Bar Association except:
A) To promote improvement of the American system of justice.
B) To achieve the highest standards of professionalism, competence, and ethical conduct.
C)* To promote the use of legal assistants throughout the delivery of legal services.
D) To preserve the independence of the legal profession and the judiciary as fundamental to a free society.
8. Paralegal or legal assistant programs that want to be ABA approved must have at least the following number of semester hours, which includes general education and legal specialty courses:
9. The NFPA’s certification exam is known as:
10. Those who pass the NALA national certification exam are given the following title:
1.Why are paralegals and legal assistants considered valuable to the legal system?
It is certainly no surprise to realize that lawyers are quite expensive, yet also quite necessary. Many people either can’t afford the services of a lawyer, or believe they can’t. But, the use of paralegals and legal assistants has provided a win-win solution to the problem of the cost of legal services. Since the late 1960s, paralegals and legal assistants have been formally recognized as a distinct part of the legal team, separate from secretaries or other clerical personnel. And as the paralegal occupation has grown, its status—and occupational requirements—has increased. Paralegals and legal assistants, by virtue of their definition, engage in substantive legal work, the kind of work that lawyers do (with certain limitations and prohibitions). Because paralegals may engage in real legal work, provided they are appropriately supervised, the lawyers for whom they work are able to engage in other legal work. This allows the law firm to increase its revenue. However, clients will receive a smaller bill when legal assistants are used effectively because the work of legal assistants is billed at a lesser rate than that of lawyers. Therefore, the use of paralegals and legal assistants allows more members of society to be able to afford legal services, while at the same time allows employing lawyers at private law firms to increase their earnings. 2.Why is paralegal education an important component to being a paralegal or legal assistant, when having a paralegal education is almost never a prerequisite to being employed as a paralegal or legal assistant?
Nothing requires a paralegal or legal assistant to have a certain level of education, with the exception of California, which has educational prerequisites in its recent statutes on paralegals. However, even California’s statutes allow one to qualify as a paralegal without having any education beyond a high school diploma or GED, at least until 2004. Generally, one is a paralegal or legal assistant by virtue of being employed as one, which means doing substantive legal work. As to qualifications, most definitions of a paralegal or legal assistant describe a paralegal as one qualified by “education, training, or work experience.” That doesn’t mean that one should avoid a paralegal education. Increasingly, legal employers are looking for employees who have a post-high school education; in fact, the U.S. Attorney’s Office won’t hire a paralegal who lacks a bachelor’s degree. Practically speaking, new paralegals need to have some form of legal education, be it a certificate, an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, or some combination of the aforementioned. Furthermore, college-level, legal education programs didn’t exist at the advent of paralegalism, which is not the case any longer. Now, those wanting to work in the legal profession can give themselves a great boost by obtaining a legal education, since there is so much to learn about the legal system, as well as substantive and procedural legal subjects and legal research and writing. Furthermore, having a paralegal degree will benefit those who want to seek certifications from the national paralegal organizations. And, the reputation of paralegals and legal assistants will continue to improve among lawyers and the public as more paralegals and legal assistants are formally educated for their careers. Chapter 2—Ethics, Regulation, and Professional Responsibility True/False Questions 1. The practice of law is regulated at a national level. (F)
2. Certified paralegals and legal assistants are allowed to give legal advice. (F)
3. The ABA believes there is no need to license paralegals. (T)
4. No state licenses paralegals and legal assistants. (T)
5. Some federal agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, allow nonlawyers, including paralegals, to represent others. (T)
6. Rather than adopting ethics rules coming from the ABA, most jurisdictions create their own ethics rules. (F)
7. Paralegals and legal assistants who are members of either NALA or NFPA and violate those organizations’ rules of conduct will lose their ability to work as paralegals and legal assistants. (F)
8. Conflicts of interest stem from the problem of divided loyalty. (T)
9. An ethical wall is a phrase that describes how a paralegal must separate his or her personal opinions about the client from professional obligations. (F)
10. The attorney-client privilege applies to paralegals. (T)
Multiple Choice Questions 1. The following activities would be considered the unauthorized practice of law when done by paralegals or legal assistants:
A) Helping a client determine which type of power of attorney is the right one.
B) Telling a client what statute applies to their situation.
C)* Both of the above.
D) None of the above.
2. The following state’s supreme court came very close to approving the licensing of its state’s paralegals and legal assistants:
A) New England.
B)* New Jersey.
C) New Mexico.
D) New York.
3. Which federal agency allows paralegals to represent others before it, without supervision?
B) Immigration and Naturalization Service.
C) Internal Revenue Service.
D)* Social Security Administration.
4. The most important set of ethics rules that a paralegal needs to know is:
A)* Whatever set has been adopted by the jurisdiction where the paralegal works.
B) The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
C) The NFPA Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility.
D) The NALA Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility.
5. The following statement about the relationship between lawyer ethics rules and legal assistants is true:
A)* Legal assistants are bound to follow lawyer rules of conduct since legal assistants work for lawyers, who are bound to follow those rules.
B) Legal assistants are bound to follow only those rules that directly mention legal assistants.
C) Legal assistants are bound to follow the ABA Model Guidelines on the Utilization of Legal Assistant Services.
D) Legal assistants are not bound to follow any set of lawyer ethics rules.
6. If a lawyer represents both the husband and wife who are seeking a divorce, that representation would implicate the:
A) Playing with fire rule.
B) Ethical wall doctrine.
C)* Conflict of Interest rule.
D) Work Product Doctrine.
7. An ethical wall is needed to:
A) Isolate an attorney or paralegal from other members of the firm in order to protect the interests of that attorney or paralegal’s former clients.
B) Protect against a breach of confidentiality.
C) None of the above.
D)* Both of the above.
8. The attorney-client privilege is founded upon the doctrine of:
A) Fair billing practices.
B)* Open communication.
C) Fair advertising practices.
D) Conflicts of interest.
9. The most important ethical consideration for those who work as freelance paralegals is to watch out for:
A) Over billing.
B) Inappropriate solicitation of business.
C)* Conflicts of interest.
D) Lack of certification.
10. In order for the work product doctrine to apply, the written materials must:
A) Have been prepared by an attorney.
B)* Have been prepared in preparation for trial.
C) Be admissible as evidence at trial.
D) Be admissions of liability.
Essay Questions 1. Why could it be said that it is more difficult for paralegals and legal assistants to understand their ethical duties than it is for lawyers?
For lawyers, there is no misunderstanding about what rules of ethics need to be obeyed, since lawyers are obligated to follow the rules of ethics that are in operation in the jurisdiction where those lawyers are licensed. Law licensure is jurisdiction-specific, not national. So, even though the ABA has rules of ethics in place, those rules have no direct effect on lawyer conduct, although the set of ABA rules that have been adopted in the lawyer’s jurisdiction apply. Paralegals and legal assistants aren’t licensed, as lawyers are, but paralegals and legal assistants still need to follow rules of ethics. However, there is no national, uniform set of paralegal ethics; there are paralegal rules, or guidelines, created by the ABA, the NFPA, and the NALA. Which one needs to be followed? The answer could be, none of them, because paralegals are required to behave with the same professional obligations of the lawyers for whom they work. Because paralegals are regulated through their supervising attorneys, who are responsible for the professional missteps of their nonlawyer employees, then paralegals need to know the attorney rules of ethics of the jurisdiction in where they work. Beyond that, many jurisdictions have adopted paralegal or legal assistant guidelines, but these apply to lawyers who use paralegals, and not directly to paralegals. Furthermore, those legal assistants that belong to a national legal assistant organization will need to follow the ethics codes that are operative on the member. This can get quite confusing. 2. What is the general rule on a conflict of interest, and give an example of a clear conflict of interest.
The general rule on conflict of interest (ABA Model Rule 1.7) cautions a lawyer against representing a client if the representation of that client will be directly adverse to another client, unless the lawyer reasonably believes the representation, “will not adversely affect the relationship with the other client; and each client consents after consultation.” This rule is designed to protect a lawyer against divided loyalty—favoring one client over another, particularly when those clients’ interests are in opposition to each other. Independent, objective judgment is required of lawyers, and the risk of impaired judgment is at the heart of conflicts of interest rules. An example of a clear conflict of interest would be if a lawyer were asked to represent a plaintiff and a defendant against each other in the same lawsuit. There is no way the lawyer could adequately represent one client’s interests, while at the same time adequately represent the other client’s interests, and if the lawyer were to do so, the lawyer would be disciplined.