Jane Jones had advertised in the Yellow Pages that she was able to provide representation in uncontested divorces, wills and estates, as well as other services. It is outside the paralegal’s scope of practice to deal with matters involving wills or family law, including divorce. This was a direct violation of the Paralegal Rules of Conduct, “A paralegal shall not advertise services that are beyond the permissible scope of practice of a paralegal” (Rule 8. 02(3). As a paralegal, it would be important for Jane Jones to avoid misleading any potential clients so that they do not assume that she is a lawyer.
Jane Jones’ business name would have also been a violation of rule 8. 03 (1) and (2). “(1) In this Rule, “marketing” includes advertisements and other similar communications in various media as well as firm names (including trade names), letterhead, business cards and logos. (2) A paralegal may market legal services if the marketing; (a) is demonstrably true, accurate and verifiable; (b) is neither misleading, confusing, or deceptive, nor likely to mislead, confuse or deceive; and (C) is in the best interests of the public and is consistent with a high standard of professionalism. The business name Jane Jones used was Justice for All Inc. Inc implied that Jane Jones was a corporation, however, she was a sole practitioner. When Jane Jones was retained by Winston Burrows to provide him with legal assistance in regards to an appeal he wanted to file against the Worker’s Safety and Insurance Board, Jane Jones encouraged Mr. Burrows to engage in dishonest behaviour. Mr. Burrows had previously injured his ankle and received benefits from the Worker’s Safety and Insurance Board, but when his problems persisted he was denied increased benefits.
Jane Jones suggested that Mr. Burrows stop participating in vocational rehabilitation so that his injuries would appear more serious. Rule 3. 02 (4) states,” A paralegal shall not knowingly assist in or encourage any dishonesty, fraud, crime, or illegal conduct or advise a client or any other person on how to violate the law and avoid punishment. ” Mr. Burrows was urged by Jane Jones to seek an independent specialist who would be able to prepare a medical-legal report that would be used in a civil claim.
After Mr. Burrows received his medical-legal report Jane Jones drafted a letter to his employer, XYZ Department Store, without reviewing the contents of the medical-legal report. In accordance to Rule 3. 02 (18), “A paralegal who receives a medical-legal report from a physician or health professional that is accompanied by a proviso that it not be shown to the client, shall return the report immediately to the physician or health professional, without making a copy, unless the paralegal has received specific instructions to accept the report on that basis. Rule 3. 02 (19) also states that,” A paralegal who receives a medical-legal report from a physician or health professional containing opinions or findings that, if disclosed, might cause harm or injury to the client, shall attempt to dissuade the client from seeing the report but, if the client insists, the paralegal shall produce the report. Not only did Jane Jones fail to review the medical-legal report, but she also did not speak with the independent specialist before having Mr. Burrows meet him or her.
Since Mr. Burrows’ matter relates to an injury he received at work, it would be important for Jane Jones to ensure that any medical-legal report corroborated the facts. When Jane Jones sent a letter to XYZ Department Store she threatened to charge the company with fraud if they did not pay $25,000. 0 in damages to Mr. Burrows. Fraud is a criminal offence, and therefore Jane Jones would be in direct violation of the Paralegal Rules of Conduct by threatening criminal proceedings. “A paralegal shall not, in an attempt to gain a benefit for a client, threaten, or advise a client to threaten: (a) to initiate or proceed with a criminal or quasi-criminal charge; or (b) To make a complaint to a regulatory authority” (Rule 3. 2(9). In XYZ Department Store’s response letter to Jane Jones regarding Mr. Burrows’ case, the company said, “Personal injury actions are not available for workplace injuries, pursuant to the Workers’ Safety and Insurance Act. ”
Mr. Burrows’ subsequently learned that he had no grounds to claim damages against his former employer, XYZ Department Store. Jane Jones therefore, failed to act as a competent paralegal. For the purposes of this rule, a competent paralegal is one who has and applies the relevant knowledge, skills, and attributes appropriate to each matter undertaken on behalf of a client including, (a) knowing general legal principles and procedures and the substantive law and procedures for the legal services that the paralegal provides; (b) investigating facts, identifying issues, ascertaining client objectives, considering possible options, and developing and advising clients on appropriate courses of action; (c) Implementing, as each matter requires, the chosen course of action through the application of appropriate skills” (Rule 3. 1(4)).
Jane Jones should have known that Mr. Burrows did not have grounds for a claim against his company. As a competent paralegal she should have researched relevant case law and statutes related to Mr. Burrows’ case, or obtained Mr. Burrows’ consent to seek another licensee who could help her with the case, pursuant to Rule 3. 1 (3), “If a paralegal discovers that he or she lacks the competence to complete the task for which he or she has been retained, the paralegal shall: (a) decline to act; (b) obtain the client’s consent to retain, consult or collaborate with another licensee who is competent and licensed to perform that task; or (C) obtain the client’s consent for the paralegal to become competent without undue delay, risk or expense to the client.
The letter Jane Jones wrote directly to XYZ Department Store was also in breach of Rule 7. 02 (1)(a)(b), “Subject to subrules (2) and (3), if a person is represented by a legal practitioner in respect of a matter, a paralegal shall not, except through or with the consent of the legal practitioner; (a) approach or communicate or deal with the person on the matter; or (b) attempt to negotiate or compromise the matter directly with the person.
The Rules continue to say, “A paralegal retained to act on a matter involving a corporation or organization that is represented by a legal practitioner in respect of that matter shall not, without the legal practitioner’s consent or unless otherwise authorized or required by law, communicate, facilitate communication with or deal with a person; (a) who is a director or officer, or another person who is authorized to act on behalf of the corporation or organization; (b) who is likely involved in decision-making for the corporation or organization or who provides advice in relation to the particular matter; (c) whose act or omission may be binding on or imputed to the corporation or organization for the purposes of its liability; or (d) who supervises, directs or regularly consults with the legal practitioner and who makes decisions based on the legal practitioner’s advice (Rule 7. 02(4)(a)(b)(c)(d)).
Jane Jones should have communicated directly with XYZ Department store’s legal representative or obtained consent in order to speak with the store directly. When Jane Jones withdrew from representing Mr. Burrows, his new representative requested that Jane Jones produce Mr. Burrows’ file. Jane Jones refused to hand the file over to Mr. Burrows’ new paralegal, which was a breach of the Paralegal Rules of Conduct. Upon discharge or withdrawal, a paralegal shall, (a) deliver to the client or to the order of the client, all papers and property to which the client is entitled, (subject to the paralegal’s right to a lien); (b) subject to any applicable trust conditions, give the client all information that may be required in connection with the case or matter; (e) Cooperate with the successor licensee so as to minimize expense and avoid prejudice to the client” (Rule 3. 08(11)).
Jane Jones should have provided Mr. Burrows with a written statement, explaining why she had withdrawn, and she also should have complied with Mr. Burrows’ new paralegal. The Paralegal Rules of Conduct also say that a paralegal should do the following when withdrawing from a client’s case, “(c) Account for all funds of the client then held or previously dealt with, including the refunding of any monies not earned during the representation; (d) promptly render an account for outstanding fees and disbursements” (Rule 3. 08(11)). Jane Jones refused to produce a statement of account after withdrawing her services from Mr. Burrows.