American Alliance Definition of Paralegal:
A paralegal is a person qualified by education, training or work experience who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is ultimately responsible or who is authorized by administrative, statutory, or court authority to perform substantive legal work.
American Alliance Position on Paralegal Education:
The American Alliance advocates a Bachelor's Degree that includes, or is combined with, a paralegal studies program for persons entering the profession. Members are encouraged to continue their education throughout their careers. It is recommended that they participate in no less than 9 hours of continuing legal education annually, including at least one hour of ethics.
The American Alliance Position on Regulation
The American Alliance supports the regulation of paralegals and advocates the following components to be a part of any regulatory scheme: formal paralegal education, experience, continuing legal education and a Code of Ethics. Further, its members recognize that any regulatory scheme and its contents (preference for certification, licensure, registration, bar/court rules etc.) will vary in each jurisdiction. The American Alliance will be proactive in advocating the supporting regulation that enhances the growth of the paralegal profession and will assist any local paralegal organization by responding to regulatory activities within that organization's jurisdiction.
The American Alliance Position on Short-Term Programs
The American Association for Paralegal Education (“AAfPE) has adopted a policy statement on short-term programs. The American Alliance agrees that short-term programs do a disservice to the paralegal profession and opposes any program that does not meet minimal standards as set forth by AAfPE (www.aafpe.org
). The American Alliance strongly recommends quality paralegal education provided by formal institutions that are ABA approved or are in substantial compliance with the ABA guidelines. Therefore, the American Alliance applauds and supports AAfPE for its statement regarding short-term programs.
The American Alliance Position on Unauthorized Practice of Law
The American Alliance recognizes that with the increase in non-lawyer personnel who are entering the legal profession, the issues of the unauthorized practice of law (“UPL”) has also increased. In the delivery of legal services, the American Alliance fosters the ethical standards that a paralegal shall not engage in the unauthorized practice of law. Accordingly, each American Alliance member shall follow its Code of Ethics, in addition to the rules and laws concerning UPL for the state where he or she is employed.
The American Alliance Mission Statement and Goals:
The purpose of the American Alliance is to advance the paralegal profession by focusing on the individual paralegal.
The goals and standards are to:
• Establish minimum educational criteria
• Adhere to ethical standards
• Provide networking opportunities
• Create a resource center
• Associate with national and local organizations
THE AMERICAN ALLIANCE OF PARALEGALS, INC.
CODE OF ETHICS
1. A paralegal shall not engage in the unauthorized practice of law.
2. A paralegal shall keep confidential any and all information, documents and other materials entrusted to him or her or acquired in some other way during the course of the legal representation of a client. The confidentiality shall be maintained before, during and after the legal representation unless the client has given consent or disclosure is required by law or by court order.
3. A paralegal shall avoid conflicts of interest and shall immediately disclose any potential conflicts of interest to his or her employer.
4. A paralegal shall ensure that his or her status as a paralegal is disclosed at the beginning of any professional relationship with the attorney, client, personnel of a court, or the personnel of an administrative agency.
5. A paralegal shall follow all provisions of the rules of professional conduct for a paralegal of the state in which he or she is employed. If no such specific code for paralegals exists, then a paralegal shall follow the attorney's code of ethics as it applies to paralegals within that state.
6. A paralegal shall maintain personal and professional integrity.
7. A paralegal shall attain a high degree of competency through education, training, and experience.
8. A paralegal shall maintain a high degree of competency by engaging in continuing paralegal education on an annual basis.