Ethics embody the principles of conduct expected to be followed in a professional activity. The Illinois Paralegal Association, hereinafter "Association," recognizes the importance of ethical standards to the paralegal profession. The Association's Board of Directors commissioned an Ethics Task Force to create a practical guide that would assist the paralegal in understanding ethical concepts and how to avoid ethical infractions.
The ethical characterizations of The Illinois Code of Paralegal Ethics are consistent with the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by the Illinois Supreme Court for attorneys. The Illinois Code of Paralegal Ethics is intended to assist the paralegal to understand jurisdictional standards of ethical responsibility and to enhance the quality of the delivery of legal services.
Paralegal Ethics Task Force
The Ethics Task Force consisted of legal scholars and practitioners familiar with the enforcement of disciplinary rules, two authors of a textbook on paralegal ethics and paralegalslegal assistants with diverse legal backgrounds. The Task Force reviewed the Model Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, NFPA; The Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, NALA; The American Bar Association's Code of Professional Responsibility; and, the Illinois Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct, as guidelines to develop a unique jurisdictional authority governing ethical obligations and professional responsibility for paralegals.
The Illinois Code of Paralegal Ethics consists of rules set forth in lettered subsections with commentary. The rules are authoritative to the extent that they mirror the Illinois Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct. The Commentary is by explanation and example guidance with respect to the purpose and meaning of the rules. The Commentary is not intended as a statement of additional rules.
The Illinois Code of Paralegal Ethics is not intended as an exhaustive guide for the conduct of paralegals. Paralegals must continue to pursue familiarity and knowledge regarding ethical obligations and professional conduct. "The attorney instructed me to do it", is no longer acceptable rationalism regarding ethical responsibility.