Lawyers often hug the limelight in the courtroom. All eyes seem to fall on the attorney offering arguments, presenting evidence, and questioning witnesses. Despite being the focus in every trial, lawyers cannot be as effective as they need to be without paralegals to support them.
Good paralegals are the backbone of a law practice. They help in every way they can to ensure the success of a case. They're more than just assistants to lawyers—paralegals actually play a major role in the preparation and completion of legal proceedings. Here are four of the main responsibilities of these legal professionals.
1. Gathering Information
Any kind of information is valuable to a lawsuit. Letting relevant matters slip past can make or break a case during trial. This is why paralegals are always on hand to help lawyers collect information. These legal professionals are often ready to obtain copies of all investigation files, including police reports, coroner's findings, or any piece of information relevant to the case. It's also their responsibility to store all information in computer databases for easier organization and retrieval.
2. Preparing Legal Documents
Preparing and organizing documents are some of the tasks legal professionals shouldn't underestimate, especially during complex cases. Accessing important documents at a moment's notice can make a big difference in the course of a lawsuit, which is why paralegals apply extra effort in organizing paperwork. They help draft legal documents, conduct research, or arrange requests before a case. Paralegals also often assist in writing reports and preparing presentations for clients.
3. Meeting and Interviewing Clients
Paralegals do not handle cases themselves, but they work alongside lawyers and clients. They gather testimonies from all concerned parties to help lawyers prepare for arguments. Some paralegals meet with and interview witnesses when the lawyer is unavailable.
4. Arranging Schedules
Time is of the essence when it comes to lawsuits, especially if the case is subject to a statute of limitations. Paralegals arrange schedules to help lawyers and clients meet case deadlines. They maintain organized calendar systems for setting and saving important meetings and dates, especially for filing motions or submitting court documents. Though they don't always sit with clients during meetings or court trials, they keep themselves updated with everything that's going on with the case.
Paralegals take on these - and more - responsibilities depending on their specialization. Their work is not just limited to courts, but also extends to the many other legal practice areas of law firms, corporations, and other types of organizations.
If you're interested in finding out more about paralegals and their responsibilities, contact Center for Advanced Legal Studies at 800-446-6931. CALS is a great resource and will glad be to answer any questions you may have about how to get started in this profession.