Knowing the line between a paralegal and attorney

(Eda Rosa) #1

As a paralegal you should know that providing legal advice is not what we are here to do. We are here to assist others in need of the education and knowledge of topics that are causing a problem in their life. Plenty of people come to me and say “what would you advise?”… I simply say “well this is what the law states and this is how we can use that law to help you in rectifying your issue(s).” Remember paralegals are NOT attorneys.

(Mohammed Aman) #2

Yeah true Eda, i suppose that’s the burden that comes with having knowledge and being empowered, people do tend to look to you. One may get carried away because clients give paralegals these roles and they can either abuse it or do it justice. That is why ethics become a cornerstone of Paralegal work and focusing on principles of “Do no harm”.

This post got my attention as just this week i was working on an access to justice project documentation and found myself having draw roles and boundaries for stakeholders including community paralegals.

It is important to draw the line between giving information as is provided by law, policy or procedure and personal opinion, although one would make a case for paralegals because of experience giving advise being careful however to give an informed risk analysis.

(Eda Rosa) #3

Absolutely. If you ever need anything let me know. I am always here to assist.

(Mohammed Aman) #4

Thanks, I’ll definitely reach out. I have actually worked with paralegals who would benefit greatly from linking with you. Let me just go ahead and mention them here @zena @makkahyusuf get the rest of the team involved

(Ali Hassan) #5

Great information, in my Country some Paralegals themselves brand as Lawyer or Attorney. It is our duty to educate them their status so as to avoid confusion to our citizen. We need to make clear boundary

(Mohammed Aman) #6

Interesting @alihaji where are you from?

(Ali Hassan) #7

Zanzibar, Tanzania


Ali Haji Hassan

Program Officer and Advocate

Zanzibar Legal Services Centre

Zanzibar, Tanzania

(Eda Rosa) #8

Absolutely,it is very easy to stray away from the paralegal role as at times I find it that clients prefer to speak to the paralegal versus the attorney. At times attorneys can forget that clients are lay people seeking legal assistance due to lack of knowledge/time/insecurity etc. I feel paralegal mostly are the bridge of communication in such cases.

(Eda Rosa) #9

Unbelievable. In the United States most of the states if not all have what is called a “member search” which is a website that you can look up the name and see if they are licensed in the state or even licensed some even provide disciplinary history within the last 10 years.

(Ali Hassan) #10

Great to hear that, but now I think the position will change soon after the year to get Legal Aid Policy, and now the law is in the process

(Ali Hassan) #11

Legal Aid Policy 2017

(Makkah Yusuf) #12

Well in my community most clients can’t access the attorney because of their charges so the only option they have left to get assistance and impact in whatever information they need is through paralegals. So I agree like @Cnior says we as paralegals need to know where our boundaries reach so that we don’t over do ourselves and end up doing more harm than good. @eda i would love to hear more about this since it’s in line of my daily activities, thanks in advance.

(Ali Hassan) #13

I get the picture through the post of @ Eda, there are alot of areas that the problem happen. We need to solve this challenge to our people. I plan to write the post about Vakili, Advocate and Paralegal as fa as our law is concerned.

(Ailey Hughes) #14

This is an interesting discussion. It’s my understanding that in some countries, paralegals are actually empowered to represent clients in court for cases under a certain monetary level. When lawyers are few and expensive, this seems like it could be a good approach - as long as paralegals are professionalized and well-trained. What do you think?

(Ali Hassan) #15

It is great approach, but it brings confusion to the citizen. I think paralegals should be open about their position. Community need them especially the shortage of lawyers as you said. In my country paralegals can apply the position of Vakili and can present the clients from Primary Court and Kadh’s Court. There are some paralegals that my Organization trained them and started as Vakili after some time they took further studies like law degree and now are prominent lawyers

(Eda Rosa) #16

@makkahyusuf Absolutely, you can ask me whatever you want

(Jodianne Snape) #17

In Jamaica, we say “know you place”. I stick to the simple tasks. Simple documents and tasks that does not require the attention of an Attorney is what is offered to the public as a service from my business. What I do is differentiate between the services offered.

(Eda Rosa) #18

Well it depends on the case. Like everything in law its a case by case basis. I feel like no matter how much training/experience as a paralegal you encounter you do not have the training of an attorney. In the USA we have an ethics committee and one of the pledges… is that you represent the client within their best interest. At times a paralegal can know more than a certain attorney … however the paralegal may not have all the tools to properly portray the representation of the client

(Eda Rosa) #19

Paralegals can defiantly educate the people … that’s actually one of our best assets. But we need to know that we are not attorneys’ at the end of the day the difference of being a paralegal and attorney is not just a degree it’s the proper training and even paralegals such as myself that have been in the business for 15 years still have some learning to do. We want what is best for the people and the unknown may hurt them

(Eda Rosa) #20

This is wonderful. Where was this policy processed?

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