A Paralegal's Guide to Ethical Use of TechnologyThe Paralegal Resource
February 4, 2013 — 2,249 views
Paralegals are professionals who provide assistance to lawyers in their legal work. Due to the nature of their work, these professionals are very much in contact with the day-to-day developments in technology. However, since they are bounded by several rules and ethics, paralegal professionals should be very much careful while dealing with the latest technological developments. A small mistake from your side can even cause you to lose your professional practice license itself. Given below are certain guidelines to be observed while using the latest developments in e-discovery.
Using the Internet
Paralegal professionals will have to use the Internet constantly in regard to their work. But, they should also see to it that they do not take undue advantage of this e-discovery. Paralegals, who communicate via the Internet, should follow some basic rules and ethics. They should take care not to get involved in any form of unauthorized law practice on the Internet. This includes giving legal opinions and advices on issues. This rule is put forward to restrict the unwanted exchange of legal matter over the internet. To avoid getting into trouble, it is advised that you provide a disclaimer with your communication, stating that no specific legal advice is provided. Such a disclaimer which states that you are a paralegal, and the information provided is not a legal opinion or advice, can be held in your favor if the question of ethical behavior arises. This will also be very useful when you are posting communication in public forums for multiple readers or in social networking sites.
Using Software Programs
One of the main duties of a paralegal professional involves the exact and proper filing of all the data. With the development of technology and digital discovery, legal software has been developed to help with this work. Such software simplifies the tasks like timekeeping, research, and case management. Since paralegals deal with sensitive information and client data, they should be extremely careful while using these modes of digital discovery. You should always see to it that your electronic filing systems and software programs are secure and safe, without the possibility of information getting leaked out. This is extremely important to protect the integrity and confidentiality of the case you are handling.
Using Mobile Phones
Mobile phones serve a very important purpose and in this age of e-discovery, one cannot survive without them. Paralegals should be very much careful while discussing legal issues over cell phones. This is because cell phone conversations can be overheard or tapped and this can lead to the leakage of confidential information regarding your case. But, there can be instances where you do not have any other way, but to convey as piece of legal information over your cell phone, in a public place. In such a situation, try to use code phrases as much as possible to convey the information. Also, if you go into the voice mailbox of a number, do not leave your information over there as it can be easily hacked. Leaving a message that there is an urgent issue and an immediate call back is required will suffice for that instance.