Guidelines for the Utilization of Paralegals
By authority of Rule C24, Rules of Integration and Management of the Utah State Bar, the following Guidelines for Utilization of Paralegals govern members of the Utah State Bar and Paralegal Division:
A - Paralegals shall:
- Disclose their status as paralegals at the outset of any professional relationship with a client, other attorneys, a court or administrative agency or personnel thereof, or members of the general public;
- Preserve the confidences and secrets of all clients; and
- Understand the Rules of Professional Conduct, as amended, and these guidelines in order to avoid any action which would involve the attorney in violation of the Rules, or give the appearance of professional impropriety.
B - Paralegals may perform services for an attorney in the representation of a client, provided:
- The services performed by the paralegal do not require the exercise of independent professional legal judgment;
- The attorney maintains a direct relationship with the client and maintains control of all client matters;
- The attorney supervises the paralegal;
- The attorney remains professionally responsible for all work on behalf of the client, including any actions taken or not taken by the paralegal in connection therewith; and
- The services performed supplement, merge with and become the attorney’s work product.
C - In the supervision of paralegals, attorneys shall:
- Design work assignments that correspond to the paralegal’s abilities, knowledge, training and experience;
- Educate and train the paralegal with respect to professional responsibility, local rules and practices, and firm policies;
- Monitor the work and professional conduct of the paralegal to ensure that the work is substantively correct and timely performed;
- Provide continuing education for the paralegal in substantive matters through courses, institutes, workshops, seminars and in-house training; and
- Encourage and support membership and active participation in professional organizations.
D - Except as otherwise provided by statute, court rule or decision, administrative rule or regulation, or the attorney’s Rules of Professional Conduct; and within the preceding parameters and proscriptions, a paralegal may perform any function delegated by an attorney, including but not limited to the following:
- Conduct client interviews and maintain general contact with the client after the establishment of the attorney-client relationship, so long as the client is aware of the status and function of the paralegal, and the client contact is under the supervision of the attorney;
- Locate and interview witnesses, so long as the witnesses are aware of the status and function of the paralegal;
- Conduct investigations and statistical and documentary research for review by the attorney;
- Draft legal documents for review by the attorney;
- Draft correspondence and pleadings for review by and signature of the attorney;
- Summarize depositions, interrogatories and testimony for review by the attorney;
- Attend executions of wills, real estate closings, depositions, court or administrative hearings and trials with the attorney;
- Author and sign letters provided the paralegal’s status is clearly indicated and the correspondence does not contain independent legal opinions or legal advice; and
- Conduct legal research for review by the attorney.
E - A lawyer may not split fees with a paralegal nor pay the paralegal for the referral of legal business. A lawyer may compensate a paralegal based on the quality of the paralegal’s work and the value of that work to the law practice. A lawyer may not compensate a paralegal based solely upon a quota of revenues generated for the firm by a paralegal’s work on a specific case or a group of cases within a certain prescribed time period, although a paralegal may participate in a firm’s profit sharing plan. Guidelines tailored to a specific practice area may be promulgated from time to time to further guide the Bar in the proper utilization of paralegals subject to review by the Supreme Court Advisory Committee and the Utah Supreme Court.