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RULE 20-7.1 GENERALLY

20 FLORIDA REGISTERED PARALEGAL PROGRAM
20-7 CODE OF ETHICS AND RESPONSIBILITY

RULE 20-7.1 GENERALLY

A Florida Registered Paralegal shall adhere to the following Code of Ethics and Responsibility:

(a) Disclosure. A Florida Registered Paralegal shall disclose his or her status as a Florida Registered Paralegal at the outset of any professional relationship with a client, lawyers, a court or administrative agency or personnel thereof, and members of the general public. Use of the initials FRP meets the disclosure requirement only if the title paralegal also appears. For example, J.Doe, FRP, Paralegal. Use of the word "paralegal" alone also complies.

(b) Confidentiality and Privilege. A Florida Registered Paralegal shall preserve the confidences and secrets of all clients. A Florida Registered Paralegal must protect the confidences of a client, and it shall be unethical for a Florida Registered Paralegal to violate any statute or rule now in effect or hereafter to be enacted controlling privileged communications.

(c) Appearance of Impropriety or Unethical Conduct. A Florida Registered Paralegal should understand the attorney's Rules of Professional Conduct and this code in order to avoid any action that would involve the attorney in a violation of the rules or give the appearance of professional impropriety. It is the obligation of the Florida Registered Paralegal to avoid conduct that would cause the lawyer to be unethical or even appear to be unethical, and loyalty to the lawyer is incumbent upon the Florida Registered Paralegal.

(d) Prohibited Conduct. A Florida Registered Paralegal should not:

    (1) 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;

    (2) engage in, encourage, or contribute to any act that could constitute the unlicensed practice of law;

    (3) engage in the practice of law;

    (4) perform any of the duties that attorneys only may perform nor do things that attorneys themselves may not do; or

    (5) 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.
(e) Performance of Services. A Florida Registered Paralegal must act prudently in determining the extent to which a client may be assisted without the presence of an attorney. A Florida Registered Paralegal may perform services for an attorney in the representation of a client, provided:
    (1) the services performed by the paralegal do not require the exercise of independent professional legal judgment;

    (2) the attorney is responsible for the client, maintains a direct relationship with the client, and maintains control of all client matters;

    (3) the attorney supervises the paralegal;

    (4) the attorney remains professionally responsible for all work on behalf of the client and assumes full professional responsibility for the work product, including any actions taken or not taken by the paralegal in connection therewith; and

    (5) the services performed supplement, merge with, and become the attorney's work product.
(f) Competence. A Florida Registered Paralegal shall work continually to maintain integrity and a high degree of competency throughout the legal profession.

(g) Conflict of Interest. A Florida Registered Paralegal who was employed by an opposing law firm has a duty not to disclose any information relating to the representation of the former firm's clients and must disclose the fact of the prior employment to the employing attorney.

(h) Reporting Known Misconduct. A Florida Registered Paralegal having knowledge that another Florida Registered Paralegal has committed a violation of this chapter or code shall inform The Florida Bar of the violation.

[Revised: 10/01/2011]