The post, “Paralegal Do’s and Don’ts: What can (and can’t) a paralegal do for you,” highlighted what paralegals do to support their attorneys and provided an overview of those things paralegals cannot do. In answering the question, “what can a paralegal do for you,” we maintained a broad focus by considering the definition of a paralegal. In relevant part, a paralegal performs substantive legal work under the direction and supervision of an attorney; essentially, all the tasks an attorney performs, short of those considered unauthorized practice of law under the relevant jurisdiction.
Because legal work can vary significantly across areas of law, a good way to determine what tasks might be delegated to a paralegal is to consider the tasks you, as an attorney, carry out during the day. Still, sometimes it’s nice to see specific examples, so I’ve prepared a brief list that, albeit generalized, will hopefully start you brainstorming. Under the supervision of an attorney, a paralegal may:
• Plan, develop, and manage cases;
• Research and analyze legal issues;
• Make recommendations to the attorney based on review and analysis of a case or legal issue(s);
• Conduct factual research;
• Compile documentation;
• Interview clients and witnesses;
• Prepare clients and witnesses for deposition or trial;
• Prepare legal forms;
• Draft, analyze, and prepare responses to legal documentation (e.g., pleadings, discovery, contracts, settlements);
• Draft legal memoranda;
• Draft briefs;
• Produce or review document productions;
• Prepare for trial;
• Serve as a liaison between attorney, client, and opposing counsel;
• Maintain the docket; and
The list goes on.
Oftentimes, paralegals are not utilized to their fullest potential. What they can do is limited only by your imagination and willingness to mentor when it comes to new tasks. And, while that may sound daunting for the workload we generally have, if you think about it, every time you ask your paralegal to do something new, you’re providing instructions (guidance) and he or she is asking questions. Frequently, that’s all it takes to delegate new responsibilities. If you utilize paralegals in your practice already, talk with them about their abilities—you may be surprised! The more you utilize paralegals in your practice, the more you have to offer your clients.
Do you have questions about the utilization of paralegals? If you do, post them in the comments below or feel free to contact me directly.