The typical day for a paralegal is difficult to describe. That’s because this is a dynamic position, and the basic job description varies. On any given day, the “routine” may consist of interviewing witnesses, reviewing thousands of documents or assisting an attorney in the courtroom. This means that the paralegal must be prepared for unpredictable events and be capable of considerable time management and prioritization skills.
Paralegals: The Backbone of the Law Firm
Although a paralegal is not qualified to dispense legal advice, they still perform a vital service in the legal community. What paralegals do varies depending upon the area of law in which they practice. For instance, the typical day for a paralegal who works in business litigation will be quite different from one who focuses on intellectual property. Nonetheless, it can be generally stated that paralegals provide a broad range of support for attorneys, performing tasks that it is not cost effective for the attorneys to take on themselves.
Document Review and Organization
Regardless of practice area, most paralegals are responsible for sifting through reams of documents. The attorney may ask them to locate all documents pertaining to a specific date or business transaction. Then, it is up to the paralegal to find those documents, organize them and code them so that they can easily be located again.
In fact, locating and organizing documents often takes up a good portion of the paralegal’s day. Once documents with pertinent information are located, they must be entered into a tracking system that allows anyone involved in the case to be able to find them efficiently for further review. They paralegal may be responsible for filing and organizing all of these documents.
Client and Witness Interviews
Depending upon the legal practice, the paralegal may be asked to conduct initial client interviews to determine whether or not the individual has a case that should be reviewed by the attorney. Additionally, paralegals frequently conduct interviews with clients or witnesses to obtain further facts or clarifications regarding the case. This fact finding helps to guide the attorney’s efforts so that they may make more efficient use of their time. Sometimes clients and witnesses come to the law firm for interviews, but the paralegal may occasionally be required to travel to them, which can add a level of interest to the job.
Drafting Documents and Legal Researching
Any legal matter requires the drafting of myriad documents. Many of these contain standard language that can be copied and pasted from prior cases. The paralegal may also insert new verbiage that the attorney will review before the documents are filed.
Paralegals are frequently charged with conducting in-depth legal research. Their goal is to find prior court cases that may have set a precedent for the one that the attorney is currently working on. Services like LexisNexis are often used for finding pertinent case law. The findings from the research may be used in drafting documents or passed along to the lawyer for their use.
Paralegals are dynamic professionals who may spend their days reviewing countless documents or talking with clients and witnesses. Whether they are drafting important legal paperwork or looking for precedent-setting court cases, the typical day for a paralegal is always interesting and full of challenges.