Montana Association of Legal Assistants*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.

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 paralegal must not perform any of the duties that attorneys only may perform nor take any actions that attorneys may not take.

Canon 2 – 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.

Canon 3 – A paralegal must not: (a) engage in, encourage, or contribute to any act which could constitute the unauthorized practice of law; and (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.

Canon 4 – 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.

Canon 5 – 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.

Canon 6 – 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.

Canon 7 – 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.

Canon 8 – 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.

Canon 9 – 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.

Canon 10 – A paralegal’s conduct is guided by bar associations’ codes of professional responsibility and rules of professional conduct.

Montana Association of Legal Assistants*Paralegals
MALA is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization. PO Box 9016, Missoula, MT 59807

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