Janet’s Dilemma

There is often a fine line between what an attorney and a paralegal can do in a legal practice. 

Janet works as a paralegal for a sole practitioner specializing in real estate. At 3:00 p.m., a legal secretary brings Janet the fax of a real-estate contract that she has received from a client, Ms. Smith, and transfers Smith's call to Janet. Smith tells Janet that the attorney has promised to review the contract prior to closing the office, which is at 4:00 p.m. However, the attorney did not perform the review and had gone home for the day. Smith knows that Janet worked in real estate before working as a paralegal and is familiar with real estate closings.

Based on the above information, answer the following questions:

    What is the ethical dilemma posed by Janet’s situation?

    Do you think that Janet reviewing the document will constitute UPL (Unauthorized Practice of Law)? 

Analyze the situation. Justify your answers with examples and reasoning.

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