Gathering evidence, indisputable facts, and basic information is perhaps the key assignment for a paralegal. When a lawyer requests information from a paralegal he/she is looking for a comprehensive report concerning the legal matter, and facts of the particular case. The lawyer needs to establish basis points before he/she can formulate an opinion or strategy on the case.
The paralegal is required to research the intricacies of the case in detail
Information that is pertinent to the legal matter in question includes:testimonies by witnesses or statements of facts, opinions and fact reporting from the client, research of state laws or legal matters which pertain to the case, and precedent or judicial hearings that revolve around the case in question.
In order to accurately and comprehensibly compile all relevant information a paralegal must abide by evidence law and fact law. Evidence law and fact law require for the proper delivery of accurate facts or evidence. Embellishments, exaggerations, or falsehoods are not acceptable according to these forms of law.
Granted these laws are not known to many participating in a legal battle, however; they are solidified laws which enforce a paralegal to fulfill his investigate and filing duties.
Evidence law is primarily designed to ensure clients, defendants, and all individuals engaged in a legal quarrel that the information presented is relevant and competent. Tampering of evidence, misinformation, and all forms of manipulation can result in the dismissal of evidence in court.
Although evidence law does not necessarily pertain to paralegals and their investigation process, it is still a code of conduct that must be respected and followed.
In order to compile an assortment of information a paralegal must use a multitude of resources. Although the information gathering process has shifted with the technological advancement of society, much of the information compiled in a paralegal’s affidavit stems from law books and court decisions.
The use of computers greatly facilitates a paralegal’s investigation; the use of the internet and online legal resources enable a paralegal to sift through thousands of state laws, legal documents, and judicial outcomes within a matter of minutes.
That being said, paralegals also take advantage of the tangible resources found inside the law office. Books on law help a paralegal pinpoint which legal matters should apply to what cases, as well as exemplify the different procedures and interpretations found in varying locations. Government resources are also used by paralegals to streamline the information gathering process.
When a paralegal is given an assignment there is a concrete goal to be reached. Given the particular context of the case, the paralegal must compile relevant information into one succinct and concise document.
The means for obtaining this goal are not however, explicit. A paralegal has the ability to pick and choose what resources he/she uses. The importance of their role is not based upon what resources they use, but instead, dependent on the quality of information gathered.