A person considering earning a degree and certification to become a paralegal may wonder, “How do paralegals engage in advocacy?” Paralegals perform many functions as assistants to lawyers, and advocacy may be one that they can do as a part of their paid work or as a volunteer. Knowing the ethical guidelines and methods in which a paralegal can engage in advocacy is helpful information to have for planning personal and professional goals.
Related resource: Top 5 Online Paralegal Degree Programs
Organizing Information for Others
One of the main duties of a paralegal is to find and organize information for litigators and lawyers on a case. They use their research skills and abilities to locate sources of accurate and precise information. They might develop a database or maintain one with resources, keeping the information current as sources change or information changes. The ability to organize information for others could facilitate advocacy by informing others about an issue or a population at risk.
Paralegals may be able to write letters on behalf of the people for whom they advocate. For example, the paralegal might draw on their ability to do legal research in order to indicate laws, court rulings and practices that are in support of the issue for which they are advocating. They might send these letters of advocacy to local, state or federal government officials. They may also contact members of the media in order to bring an issue to the attention of a greater number of people in the community. A paralegal might also consider writing a guest editorial or blog on the issue or population for which they advocate.
In-person meetings are another method of advocacy for paralegals. For example, a paralegal who advocates on behalf of senior citizens who are low-income and disabled might meet with local, state and national leaders in the area of health and human services. The paralegal might also schedule meetings with city council members, state legislators, and members of Congress. They might meet with the leaders of local, statewide or national nonprofits or businesses that have a vested interest in the issue. They may also conduct in-person meetings with other advocacy groups or individual advocates that have an overlapping interest.
Stay Up-to-date About the Issues
According to NAMATI Innovations in Legal Empowerment, another way that paralegals can engage in advocacy is through maintaining a high level of knowledge about the area in which they advocate. This might require meeting with government officials when new policies, procedures or laws are recommended. It might also include attending conferences or reading research and scientific publications about the issue. Paralegals might consider forming a focus group of other professionals who also advocate on the same issue. They could join an existing advocacy group on the issue, too.
Paralegals have many skills that could be helpful to a person who is in need of legal aid or other types of advocacy. A paralegal may want to hone or narrow the scope of their areas of advocacy in order to provide optimal service to their clients, such as advocating for the elderly or for people seeking asylum in the United States. Knowing, “How do paralegals engage in advocacy?” helps a person know more about the benefits and job duties of being a paralegal.