Role of Paralegals in Communicating with Clients Clearly and Ethically

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You have all been hired by a law firm that is in difficulty. The firm
was seriously understaffed for several months and the communications to
clients were not done well. Several disciplinary proceedings have been
brought against attorneys in the firm.

  1. They did not communicate at all with some clients. When calls,
    texts, and emails from clients were not answered for weeks, clients
    assumed the worst and notified the state disciplinary authorities. The
    attorneys’ defenses are generally that clients should not have panicked,
    the cases just take time, and the clients should drop the proceedings
    since the cases are okay.
  2. The lawyers allowed paralegals to deliver legal advice to some
    clients. Sometimes the paralegals signed letters of advice and other
    times verbally gave advice. This has resulted in disciplinary
    proceedings. The attorneys claimed that they “checked on and approved”
    the advice before it was given, but that defense is not working.
  3. Still other clients claim that the law firm sent letters,
    signed by lawyers, but the communication method was unprofessional. The
    letters just said things like, “enclosed are documents…” and listed
    the titles of documents sent. The documents were not understandable to
    these clients.

What principles should the law firm follow to avoid these problems
in the future? Cite your sources from the text and professional
responsibility codes. Collaborate on solutions. Think!

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