Paralegals are often thought as an assistant to the lawyer. While this is generally true, paralegals are expected to have specific knowledge in law, and are qualified to perform legal tasks that may overlap with a lawyer’s duties.
Paralegals can become qualified by taking a short education course or volunteering in case work for a substantial amount of time. Paralegals perform a variety of tasks on a daily basis, but here are four tasks a paralegal is often expected to perform.
While a paralegal is expected to perform law-specific tasks, it is common for their duties to include office administration, especially if they are working for a smaller firm. It is often easier to hire just a paralegal, rather than an office administration assistant in addition.
Paralegals may be asked to perform tasks such as filing papers, answering phone calls, and organising files. They may also be in charge of maintaining the schedule of the lawyer they assist, and calling people or scheduling meetings to help the progression of a case.
While a paralegal does not typically conduct the initial client consultation, they will normally observe and take notes in order to ensure their preparation for conducting subsequent interviews. Paralegals may be responsible for later interviews with clients or witnesses, which they will summarise for their lawyer.
Legal research and presentations
One of the key tasks of a paralegal is doing the legal research and creating a presentation for the client’s case. A paralegal will often be the one to gather relevant information for a case, including the relevant laws, legal articles, and precedents.
After researching into a case, a paralegal will often compile, summarise, and analyse a report for the lawyer, so that they are able to determine the direction of their legal strategy.
This cuts out a lot of time for the lawyer and creates an efficient system.
Drafting legal documents
Paralegals will also spend a lot of time drafting legal documents, such as correspondence, pleadings, and legal briefs. Because of this, it is essential that paralegals have a high degree of written communication.
Ultimately, a paralegal provides legal and administrative assistance to lawyers, allowing for a more efficient work flow process.
They will often shadow the lawyer they assist, attending trials in court, or meetings with clients, in order to be well-informed on cases. This ensures that they are well-equipped to assist the lawyer.