By: Miguel Angel Virgen

The key elements of duty of diligence include promptness, an absence of procrastination, care, and determination. Diligence is connected to the duty of competence, and the ABA Model Rule 1.3 states, “A lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.” It is essential for not only lawyers, but also paralegals to meet deadlines, and avoid unreasonable delays. The risk of neglecting client matters may be mitigated by conducting an intensive investigation, understanding all the obligations of the client, such as debts, leases, pending and potential lawsuits, and other relevant information such as assets, and so forth. In light of Canon 9 of the NALA Code of Ethics, a paralegal is required to do “all other things incidental, necessary, or expedient for the attainment of the ethics and responsibilities as defined by statute or rule of court.” Paralegals are typically responsible for the control of law firms’ management software in matters regarding time deadlines, keeping the legal team updated. Proper care should also be put into every case to ensure the client is taken in a serious matter and their issues are resolved without unnecessary hardship. Reliable information may be collected during an interview, which would include critical facts that are important in making a knowledgeable decision on an important situation.

Confidentiality is a necessary factor in the legal process since there needs to be trust established between the attorney and the client in order for the client to trust the legal team in revealing essential information. Clients should feel comfortable in fully disclosing sensitive information, and can only be achieved if there is trust that all information disclosed will be held in the highest regard to confidentiality. People should not have to worry about their information being known to the public unless that fact is a matter of public record; even in regards to public records, client information should not be disclosed to others who have no need to know the information. There may be instances where private information about an individual may cause a person humiliation, or harm someone’s work life and or reputation from having confidential information leaked. As the saying goes, “Loose lips sinks ships” which is an idiom meaning of unguarded talk. As a general rule, legal staff should avoid talking about client matters outside of the law office to avoid exposing client confidence; however, talk should also be guarded while in the office when clients are waiting in the lobby, and telephone conversations may be in hearing range as to the name; or, other identifying information about the client that may be stated. Client confidentiality should also be kept in mind whenever sending emails since there may be instances where an email may be sent to the wrong recipient if there is not a proper care in attention to detail. Confidentiality is critical in the legal process, and law firms should seek to ensure that the legal team is informed of the specific procedures to safeguard client confidentiality, and documents should be handed out to sign, agreeing that they understand and will hold confidentiality to the highest regard.

References:

Confidentiality. Somers Robb & Robb. Retrieved from, http://www.robblaw.com/html/confidentiality.html

 

Due Diligence Law & Legal Definition. Hillstorm, Northern Lights. Updated by Magee, ECDI. Retrieved from, http://definitions.uslegal.com/d/due-diligence/

 

Virginia Koerselman Newman, J.D. Certified Paralegal Review Manual, 4e. 4th Edition. [VitalSource bookshelf version]. Retrieved from, https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781305483002/cfi/0!/4/2/2@0:0.00

 

National Association of Legal Assistants. NALA Manual for Paralegals and Legal Assistants: A General Skills & Litigation Guide for Today’s Professionals, 6e. [VitalSource bookshelf version]. Retrieved from, https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781305724105/cfi/8!/4/2/6/6/6/2/6/4/2/2@0:48.4

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