Coordination between a paralegal and law enforcement is an essential part of any criminal case, and this means that paralegals themselves are often deeply involved with local and state police departments as they work on behalf of a law firm’s criminal clients. As with any legal industry job, however, it’s important to remember that there are many legal specialtise and only a small number of paralegals will actually work on criminal cases and interact with law enforcement. Business law paralegals, for instance, would rarely have a reason to work with law enforcement as they work on corporate mergers, acquisitions, and other routine procedures. The most likely times of interaction between paralegals and the law enforcement industry can be found below.
The Discovery Phase of a Trial
One of the most important duties assigned to paralegals is to participate in the discovery phase of a crucial criminal case. This phase involves performing a large amount of research on the criminal incident itself, the arrest procedure, the behavior of law enforcement officials involved, and the legal precedent set in similar cases that have already been decided. Discovery can easily make or break a law firm’s case for or against a criminal client, and that means there is much interaction between paralegals and their counterparts in police departments or local courts. In general, paralegals will want to get official copies of any warrants, arrest documents, fines paid, bail set, and any other critical details that might help their client.
While much of this information can be obtained electronically, there are some cities and states where paralegals will have to make a trip to the local police precinct and present identification to acquire key documents. This is perhaps the most common reason for paralegals to directly interact with local police forces and their counterparts in public law departments.
Filing of Documents On Behalf of Clients
Another reason for paralegals to interact with law enforcement and public departments is to file essential paperwork during pre-trial or post-trial procedures. Even in law firms that don’t handle criminal cases, it may be necessary to work with law enforcement when preparing key documents. Keep in mind that paralegals will often handle paperwork on behalf of child or spousal abuse victims, companies facing criminal or fraud investigations, clients pursuing bankruptcy, and numerous other cases.
This is why so many law firms require their paralegals to have experience using both electronic filing software and in-person file clerks in their state of employment. Without this experience, it could be hard for paralegals to perform procedures properly. Improper filing could simply delay legal proceedings and lead to more significant costs for attorneys and their clients.
Careers Within Law Enforcement
Of course, one key way to work with law enforcement is to land a paralegal job within a police department or a local court. These jobs rely on the regular interaction of paralegals with law enforcement to convey information and prepare public documentation in all kinds of cases, from those that are criminal in nature to cases that simply involve a small claim or dispute between two private parties. Though not a plentiful as jobs in the private sector, this is still a big area of hiring for qualified legal assistants and paralegals in today’s economy.
Law Enforcement Interaction is a Key Part of the Job
The legal system depends on quick interaction between law enforcement, paralegals and attorneys. It is for this reason that most professionals should plan on at least a few interactions between themselves and their local police officers, commissioners and judges. When it comes to providing the best possible services to clients, a paralegal and law enforcement must work together.