by Noelle C. LeBlanc, Lincoln Derr, PLLC
Exactly what is a paralegal? Why should you care? Interesting question. Intriguing answer.
If you Google, “What is a paralegal?” you would come across the following:
“The American Bar Association (ABA) defines a paralegal as: A person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.”
The definition doesn’t sound important or glamorous; honestly it sounds pretty blah and boring. Either way, lawyers who partner with paralegals, clients who reap the benefits, and paralegals who are recognized as valuable team members know the truth.
In case you don’t…
Remember the classic story “The Wizard of Oz?” Dorothy and Toto navigating the harrowing Land of Oz in their quest to go home; banking on the hopes that “the Wizard” can make it all happen. Dorothy finally gains an audience with the “Great and Powerful Oz” only to uncover the mighty wizard is actually just an ordinary man “working magic behind the curtain.” Ironically, in spite of his ordinary appearance and limited magical abilities, he is the catalyst for Dorothy and Toto’s return home.
In the litigation world, paralegals are the “mighty wizards behind the curtain” working magic with education, training, skills and abilities to bring a litigation case “home.” To emphasize a few areas- paralegals handle the day-to-day progression of the case from inception to conclusion. Paralegals confirm the attorneys are on task, responsive, meeting deadlines, and prepared for any situation be it conferences with opposing counsel or ready for battle in the courtroom. Paralegals take on tasks (under the strict supervision of their attorneys) like communications with clients, court personnel, opposing counsel, experts and witnesses. Paralegals draft key pleadings for review by the attorneys. Paralegals perform important research and make sure that adherence to civil rules are being followed. N.C. Certified Paralegals, must meet high standards of education, experience and complete continuing legal education requirements annually. Furthermore, N.C. Certified Paralegals must adhere to the same ethics and professional conduct as their attorneys.
Best part of all… paralegal rates are substantially less than attorneys. Paralegals afford the attorney the ability to focus their talents on more complex legal work while providing their clients with exceptional, affordable services when they utilize paralegals to complete tasks that need only minimal review and supervision.
Bottom line: The answer to this question is paralegals are indeed the “magic behind the curtain” and they afford the client the security in knowing they are not only receiving exceptional client service but also receiving the most “bang for their buck!”
So my question to you…. Does your legal team include skilled paralegals? If not, you might be missing out on the “magic.”
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