ALA CODE OF PROFESSIONAL ETHICS

The legal profession and business must adhere to high ethical standards to maintain public trust. This ALA Code of Professional Ethics sets forth guidelines or standards for the ethical administration of legal practices — private firms, legal clinics, corporate legal departments, governmental agencies and the courts.

Legal administrators at all levels must become familiar with these standards and incorporate them into their everyday performance. They also should study and comply with all ethical guidelines of bar associations and law societies which apply in their own jurisdictions. Furthermore, they must take the lead in communicating relevant standards to staff personnel who may be less familiar than lawyers with the ethical guidelines of bar associations and law societies, and in communicating appropriate policies and procedures to lawyers.

Principles and Rules of Conduct Honesty

The professional legal administrator shall:

Integrity

The professional legal administrator shall:

Objectivity

The professional legal administrator shall:

Competence

The professional legal administrator shall:

Independence

The professional legal administrator shall:

Professional Responsibility

The professional legal administrator shall:

Confidentiality

The professional legal administrator shall:

Service

The professional legal administrator shall:

(Adopted April 1991)

 

MEMBERSHIP CRITERIA AND CLASSES

Membership in the Association shall be comprised primarily of individuals engaged on a full-time basis in the management of legal organizations and shall consist of Regular and Associate members as defined and provided for in these bylaws.

Membership in the Association is not open to consultants and vendors who are engaged by legal organizations.

Membership in the Association is a privilege not a right and in addition to the specific criteria set forth in subsections (1) and (2) below, application for membership in any class of membership may be denied for cause including but not limited to conviction of embezzlement, theft or other crime, or similar factors clearly bearing upon character and fitness issues related to the best interests of the Association.

(1) REGULAR MEMBERS. Regular membership in the Association is limited to:

A. Legal administrators, regardless of the title by which that individual is recognized within his or her organization, engaged in the management of a “legal organization” as defined below. “Legal administrators” are persons who (i) exercise management responsibilities on a full-time basis or, if not full time, devote at least 75% of their working time to performing the management responsibilities of their position; (ii) manage others or manage an important function which renders high-level technical or other specialized services to the organization; (iii) occupy a position which involves the exercise of independent judgment without close daily supervision; and (iv) are employed, in a position which is or is eligible to be classified as exempt, by a single “legal organization” – such as a private law firm, legal service clinic, corporate legal department, college or university legal department, governmental legal agency, court system, charitable legal agency, or some other organization which is primarily engaged in the practice of law. Eligible persons may perform all relevant management duties personally or, in the case of the delegation of such duties to subordinate staff or the contracting of any such duties to third parties, must retain responsibility for those duties.

In general, a “legal administrator” is either (i) the principal administrator in the organization, (ii) the administrator/manager of a branch office of the organization, or (iii) someone who reports directly to the principal administrator or branch administrator and has responsibility for one or more of the organization’s major functional management or administrative areas. [1]

B. Practicing lawyers who have the principal lawyer executive management responsibility in their legal organization and who devote no less than 75% of their working time to that responsibility and function. Individuals potentially meeting this criteria would include the managing partner of a private law firm or the chair of a law firm executive committee; the General Counsel in a corporate legal department; and the head of a governmental agency legal department, such as a state Deputy Attorney General with agency administration responsibilities.

C. Unemployed legal administrators who are not serving as consultants or vendors and who have met the criteria for Regular Membership are eligible to continue as Regular Members until expiration of a 180-day period measured from the date on which they are no longer employed as legal administrators. After the expiration of the 180-day period, unemployed legal administrators are eligible to continue as Associate Members and to renew as Associate Members (other eligibility requirements of Associate Membership notwithstanding), provided such legal administrators are not serving as consultants or vendors and are actively seeking employment as a legal administrator.

D. Individuals who have been designated as “Life Members” by the ALA Board of Directors. Life Members include all Past Presidents of the Association, as well as those individuals who have rendered extraordinary service to the Association and upon whom the Board has conferred such status. Life Members have all the rights and privileges of Regular Membership, but they are not required to pay Association dues. Those Life Members who do not otherwise meet the criteria for Regular Membership may not hold international or national elective or appointive office in the Association but may serve as members of committees.

Regular members have all the rights and privileges of membership, including (except as provided in Article III(1)D., above) the right to hold any international or national elective or appointive office.

(2) ASSOCIATE MEMBERS. Associate Membership in the Association shall be available to those individuals who are interested in legal administration and management, who do not meet the criteria for Regular Membership, and who are either:

A. Practicing lawyers with an interest in law firm administration and management;

B. Individuals engaged in an ongoing employment-type relationship which involves providing continuing management services of the types described in Article III(1)A., above, including the footnote to that section; 

C. Retired Regular Members of the Association who are not otherwise employed;

D. Unemployed legal administrators who have exhausted their eligibility for Regular Membership but meet the requirements of Associate Membership under Article III (1) C., above;

E. Full-time teachers of business, organizational management, law or law-related disciplines at institutions of higher learning, as well as deans with administrative and management responsibilities at such institutions;

F. Full-time students in business, management, law or law-related studies at institutions of higher learning;

G. Bar association executives with management responsibilities of the type described in Article III(1)A., above, including the footnote to that section; and

H. Other individuals not specifically excluded from membership who have and demonstrate an interest in the management of law firms and other legal organizations, and who do not qualify for Regular Membership in the Association.

Associate members may not hold international or national elective or appointive office in the Association. Other policies governing the participation of Associate Members in the Association, as well as the nature and extent of benefits accruing to Associate Members, shall be determined from time to time by the Board or, as delegated by the Board, the Executive Director.



[1] The major functional management or administrative areas are General Management; Financial Management; Human Resources Management; Systems Management; Facilities Management; Marketing or Business Development Management; Practice Management; Management of Training and Development Activities; Legal Assistant Supervision and Management; and Management of Lawyer Recruiting activities.