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Legal Ethics and Responsibilities of the Legal Assistant

LSP 110W

Legal Ethics and Responsibilities of the Legal Assistant

LSP 110W

Course Description

Prerequisite: ENG 111 or OAT 151 with a "C" or better. Provides an overview of the various roles, responsibilities, and problems found in Legal Support Professional careers, and the legal ethics, legal terminology, and basic skills needed. Introduces legal forms and procedures, as well as computer skills and computer programs. Places substantial emphasis on the importance of legal ethics for the Legal Support Professional through study of the State Bar of Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct, and the National Association of Legal Assistants Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility. Addresses preparation for the CLA examination, the importance of communication skills, keeping track of deadlines, calendars, and mailing procedures. Credit may be earned in LAS 110 or LSP 110 but not in both. (45-0)

Outcomes and Objectives

Demonstrate an understanding of the role the legal assistant.

Objectives:

  • Differentiate between the types of legal assistant activities and the types of activities required to be done only by a licensed attorney.
  • Discuss the definition of the unauthorized practice of law (UPL) and legal ethics for the legal assistant.
  • Demonstrate basic skills utilized by a legal assistant, including computer skills, communication, knowledge of ethical guidelines, and legal terminology, research and writing skills.
  • Summarize the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) exam, including the topics covered by the examination, recommended areas of study in preparation for the examination, and the requirements for renewal of the CLA designation following successful completion of the examination.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the general operation of a law office, including knowledge of docket control and calendar systems.
  • Demonstrate the basic skills utilized by a legal assistant.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the limitations placed on a legal assistant pertaining to the unauthorized practice of law.

Demonstrate an understanding of communication skills utilized by legal assistants.

Objectives:

  • Recognize various types of communication skills; including written, verbal, and non-verbal.
  • Demonstrate communication skills through classroom discussions and written assignments.
  • Demonstrate communication skills utilized by legal assistants in gathering information and assisting the attorney in providing legal services.
  • Describe the difference between ethical and unethical communication in the law office.

Demonstrate an understanding of ethical guidelines governing attorneys and the legal support staff.

Objectives:

  • Describe the ethical guidelines contained in the State Bar of Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct, and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility.
  • Identify violations of ethical conduct in given situations and discuss appropriate action to be taken.
  • Identify the consequences of unethical conduct to the attorney and legal support staff.
  • Identify procedures which could be utilized by the legal assistant to avoid ethical violations in the workplace.
  • Perform writing assignments to promote learning of legal ethics, write assignments for the specific purpose of identifying ethical misconduct, and demonstrate the learning of legal ethics concepts through writing assignments.
  • Identify potential ethical problems and methods to avoid these problems.
  • Demonstrate the learning of legal ethics through writing assignments.

Demonstrate an understanding of entry level court system procedures.

Objectives:

  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of basic legal terms, procedures, and forms, including the commencement of a civil lawsuit and procedure to be followed from the filing of the initial pleading through entry of judgment.
  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of the federal and state court system, including the roles of trial courts, appeals courts, and specialty courts.
  • Describe the jurisdiction and venue of various courts.
  • Develop a basic legal vocabulary.
  • Prepare basic legal documents through writing assignments.
  • Demonstrate the learning of basic legal forms and procedures through writing assignments.

Demonstrate problem solving skills involving the use of good judgment.

Objectives:

  • Describe the importance of developing good judgment through awareness of proper ethical conduct in communications with all persons.
  • Differentiate between proper and improper use of judgment and ethical conduct in a given situation and be able to identify situations involving poor judgment.
  • Develop basic interview techniques, with emphasis placed on effective use of communication skills.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the need for proper interview techniques.

Perform writing tasks to promote the learning of all specific points of law herein.

Objectives:

  • Practice critical writing skills within the subject.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of subject through extensive writings.

Use writing skills for a specific audience.

Objectives:

  • Practice writing legal documents designed for a particular audience.
  • Evaluate need and level of legal knowledge of audience and write accordingly.