Although negativity and popular opinion may suggest otherwise, attorneys are expected to abide by some basic standards both in their professional and their personal lives. A paralegal is expected to adhere to the same standards as an attorney. The reason for this is based on general common sense: when a person in the legal field upholds high standards, both individuals and the public as a whole are much more able to place their trust in him. In the legal field, such trust is essential.
Whether one’s practice involves the sensitive subject of criminal law, the financial importance of tax or corporate or business law, or any other specialized or general law field, both the attorney and the assisting paralegal have the potential to effect significant change in a person’s life, either for the better or for the worse.
While professional competence is undeniably important, the standards which the legal professional adheres to is also a factor. In addition to upholding professional standards in the workplace and when doing field work, the person’s standards in his or her personal life are expected to be above reproach. The character points of integrity, ethics, and basic standards of morality, are not only required by the legal field but expected by the clients whom they serve.
As each and every client deserves not only competent representation but representation by those who take their role seriously, acceptable standards of behavior and lifestyle, absence of illegal drug use or abuse of alcohol, absence of prior criminal history, and the highest standards of both professional and personal ethics and integrity, are prerequisites and ongoing requirements for those who wish to be accepted into the paralegal field and continue to do well in it.
There is simply no legitimate place in the paralegal field for someone who is a recreational drug user, or someone who does not adhere to the laws in his or her jurisdiction, or other negative qualities which would not only diminish the person’s capacity to conduct her job duties effectively but would also diminish both the client’s and the public’s trust in her.
As a practicing attorney is expected to follow the professional code of standards, so is a paralegal equally bound to it. While the direct wording of this code is quite clear, it is actually common sense for a person who wishes to not only do the best but also be the best that she can be, both in her professional and personal life.
The paralegal field will give you many interesting, positive, exciting opportunities. A very important part of it is the professional status that you will have in this line of work. You must, however, be completely willing and completely able to maintain the highest possible standards not only on the job but in all of the other areas of your life.
The legal field is not for everyone; before making the final decision as to whether it is the right one for you, you should first assess your attitudes and priorities in order to establish that the high standards set forth for this field are not a sacrifice but your chosen way of life.