Chapter 1: Introduction to Family Law 12 Practice Family Law for the Paralegal 2nd Edition WilsonClass NameInstructor NameDate, Semester
LEARNING OBJECTIVES After this lecture, you should be able to:1.1 Describe the nature and scope of a 12 contemporary family law practice. Identify ways in which technology has impacted1.2 the practice of family law. Describe the role of a paralegal in a family law1.3 practice. Class Name Instructor Name Date, Semester Cont.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES After this lecture, you should be able to:1.4 Identify the major objectives of an initial client 12 interview. Explain why fee agreements and time sheets are1.5 important. List primary legal research resources used by1.6 family law paralegals. Class Name Instructor Name Date, Semester Cont.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES After this lecture, you should be able to:1.7 12 Identify basic ethical principles that guide the professional conduct of family law paralegals. Class Name Instructor Name Date, Semester
Learning ObjectiveAfter this lecture, you should be able to: Describe the nature and scope1.1 of a contemporary family law practice. 5
1.1 What is Family Law? • Family law is the body of law that deals with marriage, divorce, custody, adoption, support, paternity, and other domestic relations issues including matters related to non-marital couples and family units.
Characteristics of Contemporary1.1 Family Law – The ProcessWhat are some of the characteristics of contemporary family law as it has evolved over the past 5 decades?• The Process: ─ Increased focus on negotiation and alternative methods of dispute resolution (ADR) ─ Decrease in litigation ─ Increase in pro se proceedings ─ Introduction of no-fault divorce in the 1970s ─ Decreased focus on marital fault in spousal support and property division contexts ─ Increase of federal involvement in some areas of substantive family law such as child support 7
Characteristics of Contemporary 1.1 Family Law – The Parties• The Parties: – Increase in divorce and cohabitation – Increase in autonomy for individuals to negotiate their own terms in agreements: premarital, cohabitation, separation – Recognition of marriage as a partnership with economic and noneconomic contributions made by spouses – Recognition of equal rights to custody if fit parents – Increase in custodial rights for third parties – Shift to alimony as gender neutral – Expansion of definition of “family” – Recognition of same-sex relationships in a number of forms – Increase in use of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) 8
Learning ObjectiveAfter this lecture, you should be able to: Identify ways in which1.2 technology has impacted the practice of family law.
How has Technology Impacted1.2 the Practice of Family Law? General impact: •Technology has changed ways in which law firms create, obtain, store and retrieve information. •The paperless office looms on the horizon. •Digitally stored data has proved to be more convenient, accessible, compact, and transportable. •Members of the family law team must be aware of advantages and disadvantages of technology.
How has Technology Impacted1.2 Practice of Family Law?• Several courts manage dockets electronically and permit electronic filing.• Electronic data is discoverable.• Parties are obligated to maintain electronic data.• Computer forensics experts are used more often.• Software products are available to manage all aspects of office management.• Office websites are a key component of marketing a firm.• Forms, statutes, and cases are now available online.• PowerPoint presentations may be used during negotiations, hearings and trials.• Email is replacing snail mail to some extent. and related policies need to be established and observed. 11
Learning ObjectiveAfter this lecture, you should be able to: Describe the role of a paralegal1.3 in a family law practice.
What is a Paralegal or Legal1.3 Assistant? • A paralegal or legal assistant is a person who through formal education, training, and experience, has knowledge and expertise regarding the legal system and substantive and procedural law which qualifies him or her to do work of a legal nature under the supervision of an attorney. • A paralegal’s role in a firm varies based on a variety of factors: – Size of the practice – Scope of the practice – Skill of the paralegal – Style and expectations of the supervising attorney
What does the job description of a1.3 Family Law Paralegal usually include?• Tasks performed by family law paralegals commonly include: – Completing office management tasks: scheduling, billing, filing, etc. – Drafting correspondence – Participating in interviews – Locating governing law (statutes, cases, rules, administrative regulations) and forms – Drafting documents: complaints, motions, affidavits, trial memoranda etc. – Maintaining communication with the client – Researching legal issues• For a comprehensive generic job description, see Exhibit 1.1 Paralegal Job Description on page 5 of the text. 14
Learning ObjectiveAfter this lecture, you should be able to: Identify the major objectives of1.4 an initial client interview.
Major Objectives of Initial Client1.4 Interview • Identify the client’s need for services • Discuss goals and expectations • Determine whether the client and attorney will establish a relationship • Discuss the scope of representation and potential fees, costs, and payment terms • Introduce members of the team and their respective roles • Discuss the nature and scope of attorney-client confidentiality and privilege • Identify any urgent issues or deadlines • Gather basic intake information • Agree on a course of action and follow-up plan
Learning ObjectiveAfter this lecture, you should be able to: Explain why fee agreements and1.5 time sheets are important.
1.5 Fee Agreements and Billing• A variety of fee agreements are used. (See Exhibit 1.2 on pages 9 and 10 of the text.)• Contingent fees are generally not permitted.• There is a trend towards “unbundling” of legal services.• Letters of engagement and non-engagement help reduce misunderstandings and malpractice actions.• Billing and fees are a major source of malpractice actions: Fees charged must be fair, reasonable and documented. 18
Characteristics of an Effective1.5 Fee Agreement• It is executed at the outset of representation.• It is written in plain language and translated into the native language of the client if necessary.• It clearly describes the scope of services to be provided (and in some instances not to be provided).• It specifies the fees to be charged for members of the family law team working on the client’s case.• It identifies costs the client is responsible for paying such as travel, postage, telephone, copies, etc.• It identifies conditions that may trigger termination of the agreement. 19
Learning ObjectiveAfter this lecture, you should be able to: List primary legal research1.6 resources used by family law paralegals.
Components of the Family Law1.6 Paralegal’s Basic Library• Statutory codes• Court rules• Case law• Practice manuals• Form books• Legal dictionary• Citation manual• Legal newspapers 21
Learning ObjectiveAfter this lecture, you should be able to: Identify basic ethical principles that guide the professional1.7 conduct of family law paralegals.
1.7 What are Ethics?• Ethics are standards or rules of conduct to which members of a profession are expected to conform.• Ethical rules or canons are often laid out in professional rules of conduct for attorneys and for paralegals such as:• The American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules for attorneys adopted in most all states in one form of another• The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) Canons (See Appendix A of the text) 23
Can attorneys be held liable for1.7 the conduct of their paralegals?• Attorneys may be held liable for the acts of their paralegals performed within the scope of employment under the doctrine of respondeat superior.• The ABA has Model Guidelines for the Utilization of Legal Assistants for the reference of supervising attorneys. 24
Major Ethical Issues Encountered1.7 By Family Law Paralegals• For a basic summary of Paralegal Ethics in a Nutshell – The Basic Do’s and Don’ts, see Paralegal Application 1.6 on pages 15 and 16 of the text.• Major problem areas encountered by family law paralegals include:• Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) (See Case 1.1 in the text on pages 14 and 15: Columbus Bar Association v. Thomas)• Conflicts of interest• Breaching client confidentiality 25
Difference between Attorney-Client1.7 Privilege and Client Confidentiality The Attorney-Client The Rule Of Attorney- Privilege Client Confidentiality•Is established by statute. •Is established in rules of professional conduct.•Refers to the client’s right torefuse to disclose, and to •Refers to the duty of anprevent the attorney from attorney not to revealdisclosing, confidential information relating tocommunications between the representation of a clientclient and the attorney unless subject to limited exceptionsthe communication concernsfuture commission of a crime. 26
Chapter Summary1.1 Describe the nature and scope of a 12 contemporary family law practice. Identify ways in which technology has impacted1.2 the practice of family law. Describe the role of a paralegal in a family law1.3 practice. Class Name Instructor Name Date, Semester Cont.
Chapter Summary1/4 Identify the major objectives of an initial client 12 interview. Explain why fee agreements and time sheets are1.5 important. List primary legal research resources used by1.6 family law paralegals. Class Name Instructor Name Date, Semester Cont.
Chapter Summary1.7 12 Identify basic ethical principles that guide the professional conduct of family law paralegals. Class Name Instructor Name Date, Semester
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