Montana Association of Legal Assistants*Paralegals

About MALA

The Montana Association of Legal Assistants*Paralegals

 

The Montana Association of Legal Assistants*Paralegals (MALA) was formed in 1992 by a concerned, dedicated group of 15 professionals who recognized the need for a paralegal organization.  In 1992 MALA also became an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants.  Since its formation, MALA has continually worked to promote the paralegal profession and to broaden public understanding of the role of paralegals.

 

MALA's Mission Statement

 

  • Foster active communication among legal assistants and act as a forum for the exchange of knowledge and ideas.
  • Promote and encourage the growth of the legal assistant's role in the legal community.
  • Promote the educational, professional, and ethical standards of the legal assistant profession.
  • Encourage a high order of ethical and professional attainment.
  • Further education among members of the profession.
  • Promote the education of the legal community in the utilization of legal assistants.

 

Definition of a Paralegal

 

The National Association of Legal Assistants defines a paralegal as a person qualified by education, training, or work experience who is employed or retained by an attorney, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.

 

MALA's Code of Ethics

 

It is the responsibility of every legal assistant to adhere strictly to the accepted standards of legal ethics and to live by general principles of proper conduct.  The performance of the duties of the legal assistant shall be governed by specific canons as defined herein in order that justice will be served and the goals of the profession attained.

 

The canons of ethics set forth hereafter are adopted by NALA as a general guide, and the enumeration of these rules does not mean there are not others of equal importance although not specifically mentioned.

 

Canon 1 -- A legal assistant shall not perform any of the duties that lawyers only may perform nor do things that lawyers themselves may not do.

Canon 2 -- A legal assistant may perform any task delegated and supervised by a lawyer so long as the lawyer is responsible to the client, maintains a direct relationship with the client, and assumes full professional responsibility for the work product.

Canon 3 -- A legal assistant shall not engage in the practice of law by accepting cases, setting fees, giving legal advice or appearing in court (unless othewise authorized by court or agency rules).

Canon 4 -- A legal assistant shall not act in matters involving professional legal judgment as the services of a lawyer are essential in the public interest whenever the exercise of such judgment is required.

Canon 5 -- A legal assistant must act prudently in determining the extent to which a client may be assisted without the presence of a lawyer.

Canon 6 -- A legal assistant shall not engage in the unauthorized practice of law and shall assist in preventing the unauthorized practice of law.

Canon 7 -- A legal assistant must protect the confidences of a client, and it shall be unethical for a legal assistant to violate any statute now in effect or hereafter to be enacted controlling privileged communications.

Canon 8 -- It is the obligation of the legal assistant to avoid conduct which would cause the lawyer to be unethical or even appear to be unethical, and loyalty to the employer is incumbent upon the legal assistant.

Canon 9 -- A legal assistant shall work continually to maintain integrity and a high degree of competency throughout the legal profession.

Canon 10 -- A legal assistant shall strive for perfection through education in order to better assist the legal profession in fulfilling its duty of making legal services available to clients and the public.

Canon 11 -- A legal assistant shall do all other things incidental, necessary, or expedient for the attainment of the ethics and responsibilities imposed by statute or rule of court.

Canon 12 -- A legal assistant is governed by the American Bar Association Model Code of Professional Responsibility and the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct.