By Laura E. A. Thirion, Kightlinger & Gray LLP
When a conversation starts with “Hey, you’re a paralegal, right?” you already know by the time the word “Hey” ends on their lips, that they are about to ask you a legal question. Avoiding these conversations is a frequent occurrence; it is, quite possibly, a weekly challenge for the most of us.
As we all know, we cannot provide anyone with legal advice as doing so falls into the realm of the unlawful practice of law, which is an ethical violation for a paralegal. In my opinion, the best way to face the situation is just to “grab the bull by the horns” and immediately interrupt them by saying “Yes, I am a paralegal, but I cannot, under any circumstance, give you any type of legal advice.” Be straight forward and, well, kind of curt, to make sure they remember that just because they are an acquaintance, friend or relative, doesn’t mean you’re the person who is willing to cross the line and give legal advice.
I find that being honest, direct and curt is the best way to handle most situations like this. Communication is KEY – in everything we (people generally) do. Be honest and direct to get your point across, but make sure you do it with a little tact. Just a little something to think about-–be honest, direct and curt. Try it!
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