As a family law paralegal, you will likely be called upon by family, friends, and acquaintances to give some “simple” legal advice. How should you handle these situations? Is it UPL for you to show someone what form to use? Should you be soliciting clients for your firm to represent or for you to give direct advice to? Further, let us analyze the situations below, and assume that you work at a law firm as a family law paralegal.
- A friend of yours Julia comes to you for help. She wants to file for divorce and asks if you can prepare the necessary pleadings.
- You are dining in a restaurant one night and overhear a conversation where one party is contemplating filing for divorce. The divorce will be uncontested and simple. You explain to them that you are a paralegal and are familiar with the necessary forms to file for divorce. You offer to help them file for divorce.
As a paralegal, are you allowed to do any of the aforementioned tasks? Is this unauthorized practice of law? Why or why not? Compare and contrast both situations.
Justify your ideas and responses by using appropriate examples and references from Westlaw (including primary sources such as cases, statutes, rules, regulations, etc.), government websites, peer-reviewed legal periodicals (not lawyer blogs), which can be supplemented by law dictionaries or the textbook. This means you need to use more than just your text and legal dictionaries.