Running a law practice was always a hectic task from maintaining various operations at the same time to streamlining countless activities to make a better workflow. It’s next to impossible for a lawyer to take a closer look at each and every piece of work closely.
It’s one of the most vital needs in practicing law: building an effective work team and workflow to serve clients better or I would say in the best possible manner, that’s where Paralegals come into the picture. Paralegals can be a key element in the team, especially in increasing cost efficiency. Paralegals can be a great source of assistance to attorneys and save time for attorneys by handling micro-management tasks. In this blog, we will discuss how paralegals can help you effectively streamline workflow in your law firm, but firstly what are paralegals?
What are Paralegals?
A paralegal is an existent who holds him or herself out as a paralegal, through training or experience, and who works under the direct supervision of an attorney. A paralegal is authorized to perform a wide variety of work, including, case planning, development, and operation; legal exploration; canvassing guests; fact gathering and reacquiring information; drafting and assaying legal documents; collecting, and exercising specialized information to make an independent decision and recommendation to the supervising attorney; and representing guests before a state or civil executive agency, if allowed by law. Although attorneys assume ultimate responsibility for all legal work, they delegate numerous tasks to paralegals. Paralegals perform numerous analogous tasks as attorneys, still, they’re explicitly banned from carrying out duties considered to be within the compass of the practice of law, similar to giving legal advice, and representing cases in court. One of the most important tasks a paralegal has is helping attorneys prepare cases for agreement or trial.
What can Paralegals assist you with?
- Prepare Legal Documentation
Preparing legal documentation is something that tops the list of all things a paralegal should do. From drafting legal discovery notices to forms and pleadings, a paralegal prepares every sort of documentation that can assist an attorney.
A report quoted earlier this year that a major part of the time of lawyers is gone in filing paperwork for attorneys, that’s where paralegals helping in preparation paperwork can help lawyers to free up a substantial amount of time for more important tasks.
- Review and Organize Information
Reviewing and organizing files is time-consuming when done manually, if a lawyer gets involved in this procedure it is going to take precious time from the lawyer’s daily schedule. Similarly hiring a paralegal for tasks such as these would be a waste of manpower. Tasks that can easily be automated by law firm case management software.
Through case management software you can easily review and organize files by just typing a few keywords and access, update and review through easy sorting and save hours of the time of your firm and efforts of your paralegals.
- Conduct Legal Research
Legal research is a vital part of any case study although it’s time-consuming. As a lawyer, if you are spending your time doing research you are losing a major part of the time that can be easily replaced by a paralegal.
Under the supervision of a lawyer, a paralegal conducts legal research and strikes off the time-consuming task of conducting factual and lengthy processes from your list and freeing up your time for more essential task
- Increase Law Firm Efficiency
Hiring paralegals for your law firm can effectively increase your law firm productivity, by delegating tasks and non-billable activities to your paralegal. Assigning tasks to your paralegals gives them time to focus and excel in those areas, plus they regularly communicate to your clients which gives long-term benefit to providing them with excellent client service.
Additionally, the paralegal team acts as support staff in taking care of day-to-day tasks and taking off the extra time spent on administrative tasks from your plate. So you can spend more time with your clients and on your billable time.
- Cost Effectiveness
Hiring a paralegal doesn’t just make you efficient but also is cost-effective, as hiring a paralegal as support staff will handle almost every administrative task, it also saves money to you and your clients as paralegal charges fewer fees than attorneys.
To be more cost-effective, law firms have reduced costs for almost any activity that can be automated or can be handled by support staff like paralegals.
- Interviewing Witnesses and Clients
Interviewing witnesses and clients is an important part of a case study and it’s a part that can be easily handled by a paralegal. It’s important to train a paralegal in such a way that while intervening with clients and witnesses client confidentiality should be maintained and the client should feel comfortable.
A paralegal should also possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills to assist lawyers with interviews effortlessly. Having excellent skills will streamline the flow of communication between clients and paralegals.
- Manage Client Communications
Communicating effectively to clients is the key for any law firm practice, that’s where paralegals come into the picture. Clients want to stay informed and updated to date with details of their cases; the attorney in charge should know properly what a client needs. It becomes difficult for an attorney to communicate every micro detail with clients.
Paralegals can fill this gap by effectively communicating and understanding the needs of clients. Paralegals can make clients feel heard without lawyers spending time on communication. This type of client relationship goes a long way towards providing a quality client experience.
What can Paralegals can’t do?
- Practicing Law
Paralegals can practice law, although they have considerable knowledge of the legal sector, practicing law is outside their work boundaries as they are not licensed to practice law. Also to avoid unauthorized access, practice law paralegals should work under the supervision of an attorney.
- Give Legal Advice
As we mentioned before, paralegals do have knowledge about law and communicate to clients regularly but they are not lawyers. They should not give any legal advice to their clients and should communicate in a way that is not misinterpreted as legal advice.
- Acceptance or Rejection for Cases
Paralegals do work under the supervision of attorneys and have quite a knowledge about cases and clients but it’s not up to a paralegal to establish a relationship between lawyer and client so paralegals cannot accept or reject cases.
- Rate Fixation
A paralegal is not responsible or allowed to fix rates for lawyers’ billable hours. It’s unethical and a paralegal can’t accurately measure the work efforts of a lawyer.
Now you know what a paralegal is and how they can assist you. Hiring a paralegal can substantially increase your efficiency, reduce your in-house costs and streamline your workflow.The key to proper hiring of paralegals is to know what their role is in your law firm, well qualified lawyers can provide you with valuable assistance to you and your law firm by being directly under the supervision of a lawyer.Paralegals can do all sorts of work that an attorney would do otherwise, this includes management of clients and communication, preparing legal paperwork, assisting attorneys with preparation of trial, and analyzing documents. Paralegals can take up the responsibility of mostly all administrative tasks which frees up time from lawyer schedules that can be utilized for more important tasks.