Paralegals have been around for a long time. Over the years, they became the main support system for legal consulting experts and judges. As of today, 98% of lawyers use paralegals as a significant part of their daily work. Paralegals are now an integral part of legal teams in both small and big firms due to their knowledge of how laws work. They help not only with research but also with drafting papers and contracts that legal consulting experts need to prepare for their clients or court hearings. In exchange for this, paralegals can expect job security as well as opportunities to climb up the career ladder since most law firms promote from within.
In all those years together, there is one thing legal consulting pros constantly observe about paralegals – their need to adopt certain habits that would make them better at their jobs. After working with paralegals for several years, lawyers started compiling a list of ten practices they recommend to all members of legal teams. Below are just some simple examples given by experienced lawyers that will help save time and effort for everyone involved, especially the client.
Learn How to Search
There is no way around this because even the best research legal consulting professionals rely on public records and statutes to support their claims. A first-time attorney or law student can prepare a complex argument only based on secondary sources such as treatises and form books. However, looking into public records and statutes gives more opportunity for case law research which can be used to back up their arguments. Even if you have a good secondary source, it is still recommended that you search for relevant case law that can support your position.
Know How to Teach
Legal consulting experts know how to do legal research because they went through a rigorous study of the same subject in law school. They understand what they are looking for and where to find them faster than anyone else who does not have formal training on the matter, including paralegals. Paralegals should make use of this fact by taking advantage of opportunities to teach lawyers some tricks on how to look for certain types of cases or statutes since most attorneys only touch the surface when finding information from public records. You can also take this time to inform lawyers of the difference between primary and secondary sources.
Develop the Habit of Checking the Details
It is easy to get overwhelmed when you are doing a lot of research at once. This can lead to paralegals having inaccurate citations or using terms that may not be legally accurate in court documents such as forms and briefs. Paralegals should make it a habit to check their work for details such as punctuation, spelling, grammar mistakes, and citations that might lead to misinterpretation or missing out on important information from either primary or secondary sources because of careless mistakes like these.
Learn How to Work with Attorneys
Paralegals need legal consulting pro’s approval before sending drafts and final copies of court documents. This makes it important to develop good relations with your lawyer so you can know what they need and how you can help them get their job done. Legal consulting professional may not always be available to answer questions but they should still leave instructions on which parts of the law need to be referenced for future reference even if they do not have time to write it down themselves.
Learn How to Work with Clients
Paralegals must learn how to work with clients too since most of the time, they are the ones who will sign off on final papers after everything is double-checked by legal consulting professionals. Worse comes to worst, some client representatives might tell you what they want in their papers when in reality these things are not true. Paralegals should learn how to stand their ground and draft papers accordingly without sounding too pushy or defensive when working with clients who constantly change what they want in their final documents.
Learn How to Find Case Law
Many attorneys do not know this but they can use the Internet to look for cases that may help them in court hearings or trials even if it is not a legal matter between two parties. Knowing where and how to search for different keywords and phrases on Google can lead you to an online library of case law that lawyers would find helpful when filing motions, drafting memorandums, and preparing trial exhibits such as charts and diagrams.
Know What You Are Looking For
This means that paralegals need to learn about the different types of legal cases that exist and how they are used. For example, family law involves domestic relations like marriages, adoptions, or divorces. It is important to know your facts because it would be foolish for paralegals to research custody rights if the case does not involve children since these factors can vary greatly depending on age.
Know How to Approach a Legal Case
There are times when paralegals need to partner with an attorney who specializes in certain areas of law such as criminal defense or personal injury claims. Knowing what these things mean beforehand helps paralegals understand how these cases work and what they should look for when doing their research on public records. It also improves efficiency and productivity in research time since these paralegals will be able to immediately find the information, they need without having to waste too much time looking through irrelevant documents.
Understand Different Types of Legal Documents
This means that paralegals should know the difference between different court forms such as motions, complaints, subpoenas, and summonses depending on their respective jurisdictions. Knowing how to properly use these types of documents also helps search engines like Google index them correctly when someone searches for these things online which can lead to other cases or legal briefs that lawyers may find helpful in similar cases or proceedings.
Develop the Habit of Finding Other Paralegals’ Work
Paralegals serve a vital role in any law firm because they help attorneys and other professionals find relevant data online. Lawyers cannot do this because it will be a breach of legal ethics if they copy someone else’s work without giving them credit for it. Paralegals can help connect lawyers to resources that have been cited or published by another lawyer so they can use the same information in their cases without having to redo all the research work from scratch. This makes paralegals’ jobs easier since they do not have to spend too much time looking for new data and worrying about whether this information has already been used in previous court hearings or case proceedings.
Law firms need these types of professional paralegals to win their cases and meet deadlines. If you are passionate about working with lawyers one-on-one, interacting with clients directly, or being part of a team that is responsible for making the final decisions on whether to settle or go to court over a legal matter, then paralegal work is for you.
Aspiring paralegals should know these ten things before they enter into any field of law because it will give them an advantage when applying for entry-level jobs in major cities.