Although lawyers assume ultimate responsibility in regards to legal work, they often delegate a multitude of tasks to their paralegals. Also known as a legal assistant or legal aid, the paralegal performs many of the same tasks as a lawyer, nevertheless; they are explicitly forbidden from executing duties that are considered to be within the scope of law.
Paralegals are prohibited from setting legal fees, presenting cases in court, and giving legal advice to clients. That being said, the role of the paralegal is vital to the well being of a firm.
The most crucial task given to a paralegal revolves around his/her role in investigations of cases or laws. Lawyers are constantly busy, they interview prospective clients, field questions pertaining to legal matters, and constantly give advice as it pertains to particular cases.
Lawyers, in any field, rarely have time to make document requests or prepare investigations; most of their time is spent on the forefront of the legal battlefield. Investigations are critical for the fulfillment of a sound strategy. Paralegals perform investigations to reveal all of the facts relevant to the case in question.
The investigations will sort through the appropriate laws, precedents, judicial rulings, legal articles, facts, and all other materials pertinent to the particular case. In order to perform these tasks, paralegals must constantly make document requests. The job is tedious, paralegals are constantly on the phone with law enforcement agencies, other law firms, and courts making document requests to streamline the investigation process.
After all of the documents and facts have been properly organized a paralegal will prepare a written document, which essentially acts as a blueprint for an attorney. The attorney will take the report, review all of the information compiled by the paralegal and formulate a strategy based on the investigation’s findings.
Investigations performed by a paralegal greatly streamline the fact-finding process, and enable a lawyer to gather all pertinent information into one highly organized document. The intricacies within a legal matter can be highly complex and time consuming.
That being said, lawyers often are too busy to partake in document requests or investigations themselves, making the role of a paralegal vital to the success of a law firm. The report filed by the paralegal is essentially the foundation for which a lawyer can build his case. As stated before it’s like a blueprint, or manual which provides the lawyer with the pertinent legal issues, facts, and precedents relevant to the case in question.
There are many different roles within a law office; a legal document assistant or LDA, is an individual who specializes in the preparation of legal documents or instruments.
The role of a legal document assistant may vary based on jurisdiction or state, but all forms of LDA greatly assist in investigations and document filing within a law office. The process to obtain documents, judicial decisions, and facts relevant to the case is complicated and requires cohesion, and a highly organized format to effectively take on legal matters.