Print Version
Previous PageFile uploaded: 10/9/2018

Rule15-708. Character and fitness.

(a)Standard of character and fitness. A Licensed Paralegal Practitioner?s conductshould conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service toclients and in the Licensed Paralegal Practitioner?s business and personalaffairs. A Licensed Paralegal Practitioner should be one whose record ofconduct justifies the trust of clients, adversaries, courts, and others withrespect to the professional duties owed to them. An Applicant whose recordmanifests a significant deficiency in honesty, trustworthiness, diligence, orreliability shall be denied licensure. The Applicant has the burden of proof toestablish by clear and convincing evidence her or his fitness to be licensed asa Paralegal Practitioner. Applicants must be approved by the LPP AdmissionsCommittee prior to sitting for the Paralegal Practitioner Examinations. At anytime before being licensed as a Paralegal Practitioner, the LPP AdmissionsCommittee may withdraw or modify its approval.

(b)Investigative process; investigative interview. Investigations into thecharacter and fitness of Applicants may be informal, but shall be thorough,with the object of ascertaining the truth.

(b)(1)The LPP Admissions Committee may conduct an investigation and may act with orwithout requiring a personal appearance by an Applicant.

(b)(2)At the discretion of the LPP Admissions Committee, an Applicant may be requiredto attend an investigative interview conducted by one or more members of theCommittee. The investigative interview shall be informal but the Applicantshall have the right to counsel and shall be notified in writing of the generalfactual areas of inquiry. Documentary evidence may be provided as part of theinvestigation, but no witnesses will be permitted to appear during theinterview. The interview shall be a closed proceeding.

(b)(3)After an investigative interview has been conducted, the Applicant shall benotified regarding whether or not she or he has been approved to sit for theParalegal Practitioner Examination(s). Applicants who are not approved will benotified regarding those areas that are of concern to the Committee. AnApplicant seeking review of the decision must request a formal hearing withinten calendar days of notice of the Committee's decision. The request must bemade in writing and provided to the LPP Administrator. The hearing will beconducted in accordance with Rule 15-708(c).

(b)(4)The Committee may determine that an Applicant must take corrective actionbefore approval of her or his application can be granted. The Applicant shallbe notified in writing of the action required. No later than 30 days prior tothe date of the Paralegal Practitioner?s Examination(s), the Applicant mustprovide written documentation to the LPP Administrator proving that therequired corrective action has been completed.

(b)(4)(A)If the documentation is not provided as required within 30 days prior to theParalegal Practitioner?s Examination(s), the Applicant must, instead, submit tothe LPP Administrator, a written request to transfer to a future exam date,including the payment of the prescribed transfer fee. The request must specifywhen the corrective action will be completed and which future examination(s)the Applicant intends to take.

(b)(4)(B)The exam must be taken within the next two scheduled Paralegal PractitionerExamination(s). An Applicant is entitled to one transfer only.

(b)(4)(C)The application of an Applicant who neither takes corrective action norrequests a transfer shall be considered withdrawn.

(c)Formal hearing. In matters where the LPP Admissions Committee decides toconvene or an Applicant so requests, the LPP Admissions Committee shall hold aformal hearing. The formal hearing shall be a closed proceeding and may be scheduledwhether or not preceded by an investigative interview.

(c)(1)A formal hearing shall be attended by no fewer than three LPP AdmissionsCommittee members. Five calendar days before the hearing, the Applicant and theCommittee must provide a list of witnesses and a copy of any exhibits to beoffered into evidence. If an Applicant chooses to submit a written statement,it must also be filed five calendar days before the hearing.

(c)(2)Written notice of the formal hearing shall be given at least ten calendar daysbefore the hearing. Notice shall be sent to the Applicant at the address in theapplication. The notice shall include a statement of the preliminary factualmatters of concern. The matters inquired into at the hearing are not limited tothose identified in the notice, but may include any concerns relevant to makinga determination regarding the Applicant's character and fitness.

(c)(3)The formal hearing will have a complete stenographic record made by a certifiedcourt reporter or an electronic record made by means acceptable in the courtsof Utah. All testimony shall be taken under oath. Although no formal rules ofevidence or civil procedure will apply, an Applicant has the right to counsel,the right to cross-examine witnesses, the right to examine the evidence and theright to present witnesses and documentary evidence. An Applicant is entitledto make reasonable use of the Bar's subpoena powers to compel attendance ofwitnesses and to adduce relevant evidence relating to matters adverse to theapplicant.

(c)(4)Written findings of fact and conclusions of law shall be issued no later than45 calendar days after the formal hearing and any subsequent inquiries havebeen concluded. In computing the period of time, the last day of the period shallbe included, unless it is a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday, in whichevent the period extends until the end of the next day that is not a Saturday,Sunday, or a legal holiday. ?Legal holiday? includes days designated asholidays by the state or federal governments.

(d)Factors related to character and fitness. In addition to the standards setforth in Rules 15-708(a), and 15-708(f) and Rule 15-717 if applicable, the LPPAdmissions Committee may use the following factors to decide whether an Applicantpossesses the requisite character and fitness to be licensed as a ParalegalPractitioner:

(d)(1)the Applicant's lack of candor;

(d)(2)unlawful conduct;

(d)(3)academic misconduct;

(d)(4)making of false or misleading statements, includingomissions;

(d)(5)misconduct in employment;

(d)(6)acts involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit ormisrepresentation;

(d)(7)abuse of legal process;

(d)(8)neglect of financial responsibilities;

(d)(9)neglect of professional obligations;

(d)(10)violation of a court order;

(d)(11)evidence of mental or emotional instability;

(d)(12)evidence of drug or alcohol dependency;

(d)(13)lack of diligence or reliability;

(d)(14)lack of civility;

(d)(15)denial of admission to the bar in another jurisdictionon character and fitness

grounds;

(d)(16)past or pending disciplinary action by a lawyerdisciplinary agency or other professional disciplinary agency of anyjurisdiction; and

(d)(17)other conduct bearing upon character or fitness to belicensed as a Paralegal Practitioner.

(e)Assigning weight and significance to prior conduct. In making a determinationas to the requisite character and fitness, the following factors should beconsidered in assigning weight and significance to prior conduct:

(e)(1)age at the time of conduct;

(e)(2)recencyof the conduct;

(e)(3)reliability of the information concerning the conduct;

(e)(4)seriousness of the conduct;

(e)(5)factors underlying the conduct;

(e)(6)cumulative effect of conduct or information;

(e)(7)evidence of rehabilitation;

(e)(8)positive social contributions since the conduct;

(e)(9)candor in the admissions process;

(e)(10)materiality of any omission or misrepresentations; and

(e)(11)acceptance of responsibility for past conduct.

(f)Civil, criminal, or disciplinary charges.

(f)(1)Where bar complaints, civil cases, or criminal charges are pending, anApplicant's character and fitness review may be held in abeyance until thematter has been resolved by the authority in question.

(f)(2)An Applicant convicted of a misdemeanor offense or who has entered a plea inabeyance to any criminal offense may be asked to appear before members of theLPP Admissions Committee for an investigation interview or a formal hearing. Indetermining whether the Applicant is of good character, the Committee willconsider the nature and seriousness of the criminal conduct resulting in theconviction(s), mitigating and aggravating factors including completion of termsand conditions of any sentence imposed, payment of restitution if applicable,and demonstration of clearly proven rehabilitation.

(f)(3)A rebuttable presumption exists against licensing of an Applicant convicted ofa felony offense. For purposes of this rule, a conviction includes entry of a nolo contendre(no contest) plea. An Applicant who has been convicted of a felony offense isnot eligible to apply for licensure until after the date of completion of anysentence, term of probation or term of parole or supervised release, whicheveroccurred last. Upon an Applicant's eligibility, a formal hearing may be held asset forth in Rule 15-708(c). Factors to be considered by the Committee include,but are not limited to, the nature and seriousness of the criminal conductresulting in the conviction(s), mitigating and aggravating factors includingcompletion of terms and conditions of a sentence imposed and demonstration ofclearly proven rehabilitation.

(g)Review. An Applicant may request a review of a formal hearing decision. Thereview will be conducted in accordance with Rule 15-715.

(h)Reapplication. Reapplication after denial in a character and fitnessdetermination may not be made prior to one year from the date of the finaldecision (including the appellate decision, if applicable), unless a differenttime period is specified in the final decision. If just cause exists, the LPPAdmissions Committee may require an Applicant to wait up to three years fromthe date of the final decision to reapply. If a reapplication period longerthan one year is set for a delicensed Paralegal Practitioner, then the timeperiod is subject to approval by the District Court hearing the petition forreinstatement.

 

Effective November 1, 2018