Paralegals: Finding the Fine Line Between Information and Le …

By: Danubia Arias, Paralegal

A paralegal is not allowed to give legal advice because it would be considered unauthorized practice of law. The unauthorized practice of law is rendering services that require the professional judgment of lawyers. While a paralegal may well know the answer to a specific legal question or understand different legal documents, he or she does not have a law degree, has not passed a bar exam, and is not regulated by the State Bar Association.

To the average client, it is not always clear what is or is not legal advice. Legal advice is telling or advising a client what they should do in a certain situation and it can also constitute giving the client any information that would lead them to make a legal decision for their case.

Even though a paralegal cannot give legal advice, accept a case, or represent a client in court, they do work very closely with the attorney and play a huge role in the communication between the lawyer and the client. The paralegal serves as a liaison between the client and attorney.

It is natural to reach out to the paralegal first with questions because his or her hourly rate is significantly lower than the attorney’s. If the paralegal cannot answer the question without providing legal advice, he or she can always refer the client to an attorney that can help.