October 23rd is National Paralegal Day. To honor paralegals everywhere, especially Rachel Cosby and our newest legal assistant, Carolyna Ramirez from Bleecker Family Law, we want to explain what paralegals do for your case.
The Role of the Paralegal
The South Carolina Bar provides voluntary paralegal certification. Paralegals can also work without certification based on their experience and training in South Carolina law. Whether you need help with a divorce, child support dispute, or other family law issue, your lawyer will likely have a paralegal working behind the scenes.
The primary difference between a paralegal and others on a law firm’s support staff is that paralegals perform legal work rather than clerical or administrative work. Generally, paralegals perform the tasks that require legal knowledge and training but do not necessarily require a lawyer other than for final approval.
Paralegals always work under the direction of a lawyer. But many have the freedom to work independently once a lawyer assigns a task.
Some of the tasks paralegals perform include:
- Preparing first drafts of documents
- Proofreading and formatting documents
- Filing documents with courts and agencies
- Organizing and managing case files
- Docketing deadlines
- Investigating the facts of your case
By performing these tasks, paralegals free up lawyers to focus on practicing law and advocating for clients.
In addition to legal support, paralegals also work directly with clients. Lawyers often have busy schedules. Paralegals assist in maintaining communication with clients.
Some of the client tasks paralegals perform include:
- Collecting client information at intake
- Setting up files
- Corresponding with clients
- Providing case updates
- Coordinating with clients to schedule meetings and depositions
- Alerting clients to upcoming deadlines and court hearings
In many firms, any time you cannot reach your family law attorney, you can contact the paralegal who is assigned to your case. The paralegal can provide information and pass your questions on to the attorney for a response.
If your case goes to trial, the paralegal will assist your lawyer before, during, and after court each day. The paralegal will make sure that your lawyer has all of the documents and exhibits needed for court at the beginning of the day. And at the end of the day, the paralegal will review the day’s proceedings and help the lawyer prepare for the following day.
The paralegal will review deposition transcripts for witnesses before they testify and identify potential areas for examination or cross-examination during trial.
If an urgent legal issue comes up during trial, the paralegal will assist the attorney in preparing for court the next day. Any time the litigator works, the paralegal works, too.
Any paralegals in the firm who are not assisting the litigator will often help the other lawyers in the firm to cover the trial lawyer’s duties.
Paralegals Make Lawyering Possible
Family lawyers can help you through complex family issues and emotionally draining disputes. Paralegals help family lawyers do their jobs. From organizing financial records to staying on top of filing deadlines, paralegals help prepare lawyers and clients so they can get the best possible outcome in their cases.
To put the paralegals and lawyers from Bleecker Family Law to work on your family law issue, contact us to schedule a consultation.