Preamble: A Licensed Paralegal Practitioner's Responsibilities.

[1] A licensed paralegal practitioner is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice. Every licensed paralegal practitioner is responsible to observe the law and the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct, shall take the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner’s Oath upon licensure as a licensed paralegal practitioner, and shall be subject to the Rules of Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Discipline and Disability.

Licensed Paralegal Practitioner’s Oath

"I do solemnly swear that I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution the State of Utah; that I will discharge the duties of licensed paralegal practitioner as an officer of the courts of this State with honesty, fidelity, professionalism, and civility; and that I will faithfully observe the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct and the Standards of Professionalism and Civility promulgated by the Supreme Court of the State of Utah."

[2] As a representative of clients, a licensed paralegal practitioner performs various functions. As advisor, a licensed paralegal practitioner provides a client with an informed understanding of the client's legal rights and obligations and explains their practical implications. As advocate, a licensed paralegal practitioner zealously asserts the client's position under the rules of the adversary system. As negotiator, a licensed paralegal practitioner seeks a result advantageous to the client but consistent with requirements of honest dealings with others. A licensed paralegal practitioner's representation of a client does not constitute an endorsement of the client's political, economic, social or moral views or activities.

[3] In addition to these representational functions, a licensed paralegal practitioner may serve as a third-party neutral, a nonrepresentational role helping the parties to resolve a dispute or other matter. Some of these Rules apply directly to licensed paralegal practitioners who are or have served as third-party neutrals. See, e.g., Rules 1.12 and 2.4. In addition, there are rules that apply to licensed paralegal practitioners who are not active in the practice of law or to practicing licensed paralegal practitioners even when they are acting in a nonprofessional capacity. For example, a licensed paralegal practitioner who commits fraud in the conduct of a business is subject to discipline for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. See Rule 8.4.

[4] In all professional functions a licensed paralegal practitioner should be competent, prompt and diligent. A licensed paralegal practitioner should maintain communication with a client concerning the representation. A licensed paralegal practitioner should keep in confidence information relating to representation of a client except so far as disclosure is required or permitted by the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

[5] A licensed paralegal practitioner's conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the licensed paralegal practitioner's business and personal affairs. A licensed paralegal practitioner should use the law's procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others. A licensed paralegal practitioner should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, attorneys, other licensed paralegal practitioners and public officials. While it is a licensed paralegal practitioner's duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a licensed paralegal practitioner's duty to uphold legal process.

[6] As a public citizen, a licensed paralegal practitioner should seek improvement of the law, access to the legal system, the administration of justice and the quality of service rendered by the legal profession. In addition, a licensed paralegal practitioner should further the public's understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system because legal institutions in a constitutional democracy depend on popular participation and support to maintain their authority. A licensed paralegal practitioner should be mindful of deficiencies in the administration of justice and of the fact that the poor, and sometimes persons who are not poor, cannot afford adequate legal assistance and, therefore, all licensed paralegal practitioners should devote professional time and resources and use civic influence in their behalf to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel. A licensed paralegal practitioner should aid the legal profession in pursuing these objectives and should help the Bar regulate itself in the public interest.

[7] Many of a licensed paralegal practitioner's professional responsibilities are prescribed in the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as substantive and procedural law. However, a licensed paralegal practitioner is also guided by personal conscience and the approbation of professional peers. A licensed paralegal practitioner should strive to attain the highest level of skill, to improve the law and the legal profession and to exemplify the legal profession's ideals of public service.

[8] A licensed paralegal practitioner's responsibilities as a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen are usually harmonious. Thus, a licensed paralegal practitioner can be sure that preserving client confidences ordinarily serves the public interest because people are more likely to seek legal advice, and thereby heed their legal obligations, when they know their communications will be private.

[9] In the nature of law practice, however, conflicting responsibilities are encountered. Virtually all difficult ethical problems arise from conflict between a licensed paralegal practitioner's responsibilities to clients, to the legal system and to the licensed paralegal practitioner's own interest in remaining an ethical person while earning a satisfactory living. The Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct often prescribe terms for resolving such conflicts. Within the framework of these Rules, however, many difficult issues of professional discretion can arise. Such issues must be resolved through the exercise of sensitive professional and moral judgment guided by the basic principles underlying the Rules. These principles include the licensed paralegal practitioner's obligation zealously to protect and pursue a client's legitimate interests, within the bounds of the adversarial system, while maintaining a professional, courteous and civil attitude toward all persons involved in the legal system.

[10] The legal profession is largely self-governing. Although other professions also have been granted powers of self-government, the legal profession is unique in this respect because of the close relationship between the profession and the processes of government and law enforcement. This connection is manifested in the fact that ultimate authority over the legal profession is vested largely in the courts.

[11] To the extent that licensed paralegal practitioners meet the obligations of their professional calling, the occasion for government regulation is obviated. Self-regulation also helps maintain the legal profession's independence from government domination. An independent legal profession is an important force in preserving government under law, for abuse of legal authority is more readily challenged by a profession whose members are not dependent on government for the right to practice.

[12] The legal profession's relative autonomy carries with it special responsibilities of self-government. The profession has a responsibility to ensure that its regulations are conceived in the public interest and not in furtherance of parochial or self-interested concerns of the Bar. Every licensed paralegal practitioner is responsible for observance of the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct. A licensed paralegal practitioner should also aid in securing their observance by other licensed paralegal practitioners and lawyers. Neglect of these responsibilities compromises the independence of the profession and the public interest which it serves.

[13] Licensed paralegal practitioners play a vital role in the preservation of society. The fulfillment of this role requires an understanding by licensed paralegal practitioners of their relationship to our legal system. The Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct, when properly applied, serve to define that relationship.

Scope

[14] The Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct are rules of reason. They should be interpreted with reference to the purposes of legal representation and of the law itself. Some of the Rules are imperatives, cast in the terms "shall" or "shall not." These define proper conduct for purposes of professional discipline. Others, generally cast in the term "may," are permissive and define areas under the Rules in which the licensed paralegal practitioner has discretion to exercise professional judgment. No disciplinary action should be taken when the licensed paralegal practitioner chooses not to act or acts within the bounds of such discretion. Other Rules define the nature of relationships between the licensed paralegal practitioner and others. The Rules are thus partly obligatory and disciplinary and partly constitutive and descriptive in that they define a licensed paralegal practitioner's professional role. Many of the Comments use the term "should." Comments do not add obligations to the Rules but provide guidance for practicing in compliance with the Rules.

[15] The Rules presuppose a larger legal context shaping the licensed paralegal practitioner's role. That context includes court rules and statutes relating to matters of licensure, laws defining specific obligations of licensed paralegal practitioners and substantive and procedural law in general. The Comments are sometimes used to alert licensed paralegal practitioners to their responsibilities under such other law.

[16] Compliance with the Rules, as with all law in an open society, depends primarily upon understanding and voluntary compliance, secondarily upon reinforcement by peer and public opinion and finally, when necessary, upon enforcement through disciplinary proceedings. The Rules do not, however, exhaust the moral and ethical considerations that should inform a licensed paralegal practitioner, for no worthwhile human activity can be completely defined by legal rules. The Rules simply provide a framework for the ethical practice of law.

[17] Furthermore, for purposes of determining the licensed paralegal practitioner's authority and responsibility, principles of substantive law external to these Rules determine whether a licensed paralegal practitioner-client relationship exists. Most of the duties flowing from the licensed paralegal practitioner-client relationship attach only after the client has requested the licensed paralegal practitioner to render legal services and the licensed paralegal practitioner has agreed to do so. But there are some duties, such as that of confidentiality under Rule 1.6, that attach when the licensed paralegal practitioner agrees to consider whether a licensed paralegal practitioner-client relationship shall be established. See Rule 1.18. Whether a licensed paralegal practitioner-client relationship exists for any specific purpose can depend on the circumstances and may be a question of fact.

[18] Reserved.

[19] Failure to comply with an obligation or prohibition imposed by a Rule is a basis for invoking the disciplinary process. The Rules presuppose that disciplinary assessment of a licensed paralegal practitioner's conduct will be made on the basis of the facts and circumstances as they existed at the time of the conduct in question and in recognition of the fact that a licensed paralegal practitioner often has to act upon uncertain or incomplete evidence of the situation. Moreover, the Rules presuppose that whether or not discipline should be imposed for a violation, and the severity of a sanction, depend on all the circumstances, such as the willfulness and seriousness of the violation, extenuating factors and whether there have been previous violations.

[20] Violation of a rule should not itself give rise to a cause of action against a licensed paralegal practitioner nor should it create any presumption in such a case that a legal duty has been breached. In addition, violation of a rule does not necessarily warrant any other nondisciplinary remedy. The Rules are designed to provide guidance to licensed paralegal practitioners and to provide a structure for regulating conduct through disciplinary agencies. They are not designed to be a basis for civil liability. Furthermore, the purpose of the Rules can be subverted when they are invoked by opposing parties as procedural weapons. The fact that a rule is a just basis for a licensed paralegal practitioner's self-assessment, or for sanctioning a licensed paralegal practitioner under the administration of a disciplinary authority, does not imply that an antagonist in a collateral proceeding or transaction has standing to seek enforcement of the rule. Nevertheless, since the Rules do establish standards of conduct by licensed paralegal practitioners, a licensed paralegal practitioner’s violation of a rule may be evidence of breach of an applicable standard of conduct.

[21] The comment accompanying each rule explains and illustrates the meaning and purpose of the rule. The Preamble and this note on Scope provide general orientation. The comments are intended as guides to interpretation, but the text of each rule is authoritative.

Effective November 1, 2018