People often mix up the responsibilities assigned to a legal secretary and a paralegal. The former is, essentially, an office staff doing administrative tasks. They are responsible for transcribing reports, organizing files, and managing the lawyers’ schedule.
As for the paralegal, their job description is doing procedural legal work. They don’t usually have the same educational background as certified lawyers, but paralegals gain knowledge of the law through experience or legal courses.
Here are five primary duties every paralegal should expect to perform:
- Conducting Legal Research
A paralegal assists a lawyer in the aspect of helping him or her prepare for the case. Case research often include investigating the facts, identifying laws, other case results, and information relevant to the case. All the data gathered will be used by the lawyer to build up the case.
- Interviewing Clients and Witnesses
It’s important to remember that paralegals do not handle initial interviews with a client. While they are present, their primary objective is to take down notes. As for the witnesses, a paralegal should be able to gauge if they are telling the truth.
- Lawyer’s Right Hand
One of the more important work of a paralegal is helping lawyers comply with the schedule. Some other responsibilities include calling clients, other lawyers and court personnel to arrange hearings, depositions, meetings, and trials.
- Drafting Legal Documents
For this sole reason, a paralegal needs to be proficient in written communication. Most of their days are spent drafting subpoenas, pretrial orders, trust agreements and other types of contracts.
- Accompanying the Lawyer to Trials
Since paralegals are largely responsible for building a case, he or she must be present during trials and hearings. This could vary based on a paralegal’s field. A corporate paralegal usually deal with shareholder documents, while a criminal law paralegal handles police reports and such.
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