Often loosely thought of as assistants to attorneys, paralegals are actually far more. Paralegals are indispensable to law offices, responsible for crucial organization and fact-gathering that holds the office and its cases together.
Here are some of the things a paralegal is responsible for:
Legal research and investigation
Paralegals help law offices prepare for trials and cases, conducting extensive research and preparing presentations for attorneys and clients. Litigation paralegals, in particular, often lead the investigatory phase of a claim - they track down witnesses, take statements, gather evidence, create case files, and assemble fact chronologies.
While client interviews are generally not left solely up to the paralegal to conduct, they are typically present during these interviews and privy to the granular details of cases so they can best assist with preparations. The paralegal will often create written summaries of client interviews for attorneys.
Legal documents can include correspondence, pleadings, complaints, subpoenas, interrogatories, deposition notices, pretrial orders, and legal briefs. A paralegal must be an excellent written communicator with a scrupulous eye for detail. Flawlessly drafting documents is crucial to every case.
Law office administration
Depending on the size and structure of the office, some paralegals are expected to also perform secretarial and administrative tasks like answering phones, filing paperwork, returning calls, and scheduling. In smaller firms, paralegals will do more varied work and more of the heavy lifting in cases. In larger firms, a paralegal’s area of expertise will likely be specialized, allowing him to learn everything about a particular area of law or a particular type of case.
If spending time in law libraries rivets you, but you haven’t gone to law school, a paralegal position might be a great fit.
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For more information, please contact:
Niki Zotou, Manager - Compliance