PLE427 - Ethics and Professional Responsibility

Outline info
Last revision date 2018-07-09 08:53:27.329
Last review date 2018-07-09 08:53:27.33

Subject Title
Ethics and Professional Responsibility

Subject Description
Independent paralegals must be licensed by the Law Society of Ontario. Law Society by-laws and Paralegal Rules of Conduct - both based in the Law Society Act - set out professional and ethical obligations of Paralegals. Paralegals failing to meet these obligations are subject to the Society's complaints and discipline process. This subject teaches students the permitted scope of practice of licensed paralegals and examines the Paralegal Rules of Conduct.

Credit Status
This is a credit course applicable to the Paralegal Certificate Program offered through the Faculty of Continuing Education and Training.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

1.  Analyze ethical issues which arise in the provision of legal services by paralegals to the public, including: confidentiality, conflict of interest and the charging of fees for legal services, and integrate and exemplify the professional values required of a legal professional.
2.  Explain the history of paralegal regulation.
3.  Explain the application of the Paralegal Rules of Conduct to the delivery of legal services by paralegals to the public, and the obligation of paralegals to adhere to the prescribed ethical standards within the authorized scope of practice for paralegals as set out in the Law Society Act.
4.  Interpret, analyze and apply the Paralegal Rules of Conduct.

5.  Interpret, analyze and apply the Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines.

6.  Identify and apply the following rules (contained in the Paralegal Rules of Conduct) to representative fact situations, in a manner that reflects the highest ethical and professional standards:
a)  Rule One - Citation and Interpretation

b)  Rule Two – Professionalism
c)   Rule Three - Duty to Clients
d)   Rule Four – Advocacy
e)   Rule Five - Fees and Retainers
f)    Rule Six - Duty to Administration of Justice
g)   Rule Seven - Duty to Licensees
h)   Rule Eight - Practice Management
i)    Rule Nine - Responsibility to Law Society

7.  Demonstrate an attitude of professionalism, as evidenced by an ability to meet deadlines, complete assignments and perform tests and in-class assignments as scheduled.

Essential Employability Skills
Communicate clearly, concisely and correctly in the written, spoken and visual form that fulfils the purpose and meets the needs of the audience.

Respond to written, spoken, or visual messages in a manner that ensures effective communication.

Apply a systematic approach to solve problems.

Use a variety of thinking skills to anticipate and solve problems.

Locate, select, organize, and document information using appropriate technology and information systems.

Analyze, evaluate, and apply relevant information from a variety of sources.

Show respect for diverse opinions, values, belief systems, and contributions of others.

Interact with others in groups or teams in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals.

Manage the use of time and other resources to complete projects.

Take responsibility for one's own actions, decisions, and consequences.

Cheating and Plagiarism
Each student should be aware of the College's policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism. Seneca's Academic Policy will be strictly enforced.

To support academic honesty at Seneca College, all work submitted by students may be reviewed for authenticity and originality, utilizing software tools and third party services. Please visit the Academic Honesty site on for further information regarding cheating and plagiarism policies and procedures.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.

All Modules One to Five Courses

It is your responsibility to ensure that program requirements and course prerequisites as outlined are met. Prerequisites are included for your academic protection. Course content and your instructor's teaching assumes that students are academically prepared and instruction will proceed accordingly. Students lacking prerequisites not only jeopardize their own ability to succeed but present unnecessary interruption. If you lack appropriate prerequisites (or advanced standing for the prerequisite course) you may be asked to withdraw or transfer to a more appropriatecourse with the risk of academic/financial penalty.

Topic Outline
I.  An introduction to the theory and principles of ethics in legal services

II. Legislation governing lawyers and paralegals

  • Lawyers and Paralegals as regulated professions
  • Law Society Act and associated regulations
  • By-laws governing Paralegals
  • Licensing process for Paralegals
  • The Law Society Paralegal Rules of Conduct
    • Rule One - Citation and Interpretation
    • Rule Two - Professionalism
    • Rule Three - Duty to Clients
    • Rule Four - Advocacy
    • Rule Six - Duty to Administration of Justice
    • Rule Seven - Duty to Licensees
    • Rule Nine - Responsibility to the Law Society

Mode of Instruction
Students learn through interactive classroom lectures, discussion and group problem solving.

It is the student's responsibility to save documents, articles and notes that the instructor has provided on Blackboard or in class. Students will not be able to access Blackboard as of the last day of the student's class.

Prescribed Texts
1. S. Patricia Knight, Ethics and Professional Practice for Paralegals, Emond Montgomery. 3rd Edition. 2015. ISBN# 9781552395974
2. Paralegal Rules of Conduct (may be downloaded at
3. Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines (may be downloaded at

Students will also be provided with hand-outs, and may be required to access additional materials from the Internet, as directed by the professor.

Promotion Policy

Grading Policy
A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online ( or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation
Grading is based on the following marking scheme:

Test  30%
Assignment 30%
Final Exam 40%

Materials permitted into tests and exams are at the discretion of the instructor.
Students must attain a grade of at least 50% to pass the course.

Please Note
  • Exams are evaluated on subject knowledge as well as correct language usage, organization, and mastery of the subject.

Absenteeism and Tests
  • Students should be aware that absenteeism will impact on their ability to achieve satisfactory grades.
  • If you miss a test, you must provide the reason in writing to the instructor prior to the next scheduled class. If your reason is accepted, you will be permitted to write a make-up test. Otherwise, you will be given a zero for the test. You must submit an original doctor’s certificate identifying the date, length of time of expected absence and the specific reason for your absence, or other appropriate documentation.
Academic Honesty

Students at Seneca College are expected to be honest and forthright in their academic endeavours. When students cheat on an examination, steal the words or ideas of another, or falsify their research results, it corrupts the learning process. A Seneca College degree, diploma or certificate signifies to society mastery of a set of defined learning outcomes in a designated field of study. If academic credit is obtained dishonestly, the value of every graduate's diploma in the field of study is diminished, as is the reputation of the college as a whole.

Penalties for Academic Dishonesty

The penalty for a first offence is a grade of '0' on the assignment or examination. The penalty for the second offence is expulsion for a time period determined by the Academic Honesty Committee, normally for a minimum of three terms.
For further information refer to the policies section of the Seneca College student handbook, or to the following website:

Prior Learning Assessment
Please be advised that, in accordance with current Law Society of Ontario Paralegal Education Program Accreditation Policy guidelines (September, 2017, ss. 2.15 and 3.8), PLA for prior work experience is no longer permitted in any of the compulsory legal courses in the certificate program, including the field placement. All students, regardless of prior work-related training must fulfil the requirements of all components of the Paralegal Program.

Approved by: Sandra Noble