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Professional Responsibility & Legal Ethics

PLG-109
PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY & LEGAL ETHICS
3 Credits

This course is a part of:
Certificate Program
Associate's Degree Program
Bachelor's Degree Program

Anyone who works in the legal profession, whether an attorney or a paralegal, must have a fundamental understanding of the professional codes of conduct and laws dealing with the ethical obligations of members of the legal profession. This course covers the basic principles governing the ethical practice of law for both lawyers and paralegals. In addition, it provides students with the necessary tools for identifying and resolving ethical problems, and gives practical tips to implement in everyday practice. The areas that will be covered in this course include the regulation of attorney and paralegal conduct, confidentiality, the unauthorized practice of law, conflicts of interest, the handling of client funds, advertising, billing, fee splitting, disciplinary procedures and malpractice. Although this course will provide students with an understanding of the universal concepts of professional responsibility, each jurisdiction has its own minor variations on these concepts. Therefore, students are also encouraged to explore their local rules of professional conduct.

Course Objectives

At the completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Research ethical rules by utilizing the American Bar Association's "Model Rules of Professional Conduct."
  • Access the rules of professional conduct that are applicable in any jurisdiction throughout the country.
  • Describe the role of the paralegal vis a vis the attorney that he or she is working under.
  • Apply the distinction between "practicing law" and performing tasks permitted to a paralegal in order to avoid "unauthorized practice of law."
  • Describe the process through which a paralegal determines what client information is to be classified as confidential.
  • Describe when, to whom, and in what manner confidential client information may be disclosed.
  • Determine the point at which an attorney-client relationship has been formed.
  • Describe the duties of zeal and loyalty that legal professionals owe to their clients.
  • Describe the various factors that constitute a "conflict of interest."
  • Apply the ethical rules regarding the "business of law"; i.e., promotion and advertising.
  • Assess whether a fee charged by a law firm is reasonable or an unethical overcharge.
  • Describe the rules governing proper communication with the presiding judge.