Positions and Issues - Ethics
One of NFPA’s Core Values is its commitment to our profession’s Code of Ethics. NFPA established the Ethics Board to fully address ethical concerns raised by and about paralegals. The Ethics Board is composed of both NFPA and non-NFPA members, professionals dedicated to upholding the most stringent ethical standards at NFPA.
NFPA first published its Model Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility in May 1993 (updated in 2006). This document was comprehensively updated on June 18, 2022 , and retitled the “ Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility ” , and the Guidelines for Enforcement were sunsetted.
The Ethics Board provides informal opinions on ethical issues facing paralegals, as well as answering fundamental ethics questions and educating paralegals, legal professionals, and the public about legal ethics through CLEs and articles.
Anyone can request an informal ethics opinion by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Please see NFPA Guidelines for Rendering Ethics and Disciplinary Opinions
NFPA Ethics Board
Ethics Chair: Pamela J. Starr, CBA, J.S.M. email@example.com
Amy Jo McGuigan
Caren Mansfield, CLA
Vince Vaellino, J.D., Non-NFPA Member
Dr. Robert N. Diotalevi, Esq., L.L.M., Non-NFPA Member
NFPA Ethics Publications
- Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility
- NFPA Guidelines for Rendering Ethics and Disciplinary Opinions
- The Ethical Wall and Its Application to Paralegals (2009)
- Paralegals and Conflicts of Interest (currently under review as of 10/2021)
NFPA Informal Ethics and Disciplinary Opinions
- What are the ethical implications, if any, for the misuse and misrepresentation of NFPA's paralegal certification?
- Under what circumstances is a paralegal expected to report future criminal activity to the appropriate authorities?
- What are the general ethical duties of a paralegal when communicating via social media?
- What are a freelance paralegal’s duties regarding maintenance of file materials after their assignment by a supervising attorney has been completed?
- What are a paralegal’s duties, obligations and responsibilities to the client when a supervising attorney has been incarcerated?
- What are a paralegal's obligations and responsibilities when an attorney becomes impaired due to age or disability?
- Whether or not volunteering to draft bylaws or being asked to draft bylaws for a “Neighborhood Association” would be an ethical violation?
- Can a paralegal continue to work in a law office during the thirty (30) days his/her attorney supervisor has been suspended from the practice of law?
- What steps should a law firm take to preserve client confidentiality when it hires or otherwise uses outside persons or businesses?
- What means of compensation can a paralegal receive for referring business to their firm?
- Is there a "published" rule on paralegals receiving part of settlements in cases?
- What are the ethical implications concerning disbarred attorneys teaching paralegal courses?
- What language relating to a paralegal's education, training, experience or recognition can be included in advertising to the general public?
- What are the ethical implications concerning the unauthorized practice of law as it relates to paralegals communicating in cyberspace?
- What are the ethical implications concerning client confidentiality, if any, of paralegals communicating in cyberspace?
- What are the ethical implications, if any, of freelance paralegal solicitation of attorney clients?
- Are contract paralegals retained by attorneys in law firms, corporations and other legal entities, required to comply with the same ethical obligations as employed or traditional paralegals?
- Is it ethical for a paralegal to bill clients for tasks which are more clerical and non-professional than substantive in nature?
- May a paralegal with whom a conflict of interest in a legal matter has been identified erect an ethical wall? If so, what steps should be taken to erect and adhere to that ethical wall?
- Is it ethical for a legal assistant to have her/his name appear on the law firm letterhead provided that the legal assistant's designation is clearly indicated?
- May an individual employed by a corporation use the title "paralegal" when the corporation does not employ in-house counsel to supervise or be accountable for the individual's work?
Non-NFPA Legal Ethics Resources