Saturday, June 7, 2008

Take Up the Charge!

Acting With Integrity

Deputy District Attorney Tracy Hughes provided insight into the issue of UPL and illegal document preparers at her May 30th rogue document preparer presentation. Ms. Hughes was particularly forthcoming about the time restrictions and budgetary limitations surrounding the DA's ability to enforce the laws intended to protect consumers. The aftershock has resulted in a a controversial, yet understandable question: "If there is little or no chance of enforcement; and if I am caught, and all I have to do is register; why should I comply?"

Why indeed? It all comes down to personal and professional integrity and respect for oneself and for the law. The legal system has put bread and butter on my table since before I was born; my mother having been a 50 year legal secretary/paralegal. I went on to work in law firms and have always respected and revered the legal profession - I always believed law to be an honorable pursuit.

The law is a stylized set of rules and procedures established to maintain peace and provide a means for redress of wrongs. If we, who work in the law, disobey or fail to recognize the laws, we are showing disrespect for our chosen profession. More importantly, we are failing ourselves and those who championed the cause for non-attorney legal service providers over twenty years ago.

Yes, it is normal to think that there is no use in spinning our wheels worrying about compliance - our own and of course, the rogues. And, it is normal and maybe even easier to ignore rogues, thinking that we can't make a difference. But, in the end, if you fail to act, you are only sweeping this issue under the rug. Our committment to maintain the highest standards should transcend any apathy felt upon learning that there are inherent issues associated with enforcement. We must do our part to protect consumers by helping to clean up our profession. We must show our own integrity and respect for the law. This is our task, our duty - our charge as legal document assistants and as professionals.