By Shannon Fleming
Assistant Director of the FRP Program
As a Florida Registered Paralegal, you must adhere to the code of ethics. Many FRPs are uncertain about what conduct is prohibited. Pursuant to Rule 20-7.1(d) of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, a Florida registered paralegal may not:
* Establish attorney-client relationships, accept cases, set legal fees, give legal opinions or advice, or represent a client before a court or other tribunal, unless authorized to do so by the court or tribunal;
* Engage in, encourage, or contribute to any act that could constitute the unlicensed practice of law;
* Engage in the practice of law;
* Perform any of the duties that attorneys only may perform nor preform those that attorneys themselves may not do; or
* Act in matters involving professional legal judgment since the services of an attorney are essential in the public interest whenever the exercise of such judgment is required.
It is imperative that as a Florida registered paralegal, you familiarize yourself with the rules that regulate the FRP program, Chapter 20. Failure to adhere to the rules could result in disciplinary action.
Client Intake and Conferences
A paralegal may conduct the initial interview with a client under the following conditions:
* They clearly identify their nonlawyer status to the client;
* They are used for the purpose of obtaining factual information only;
* They give no legal advice; and
* The attorney remains responsible for the direct supervision of the paralegal.
A paralegal may not take or attend depositions. The Florida Bar v. Riccardi, 304 So.2d 444 (Fla. 1974); Florida Ethics Opinion 73-41; State of Florida v. Foster, 674 So. 2d 747 (1st DCA 1996).