One of the most important roles for a paralegal is client interaction. Lawyers will often handle initial consultations and interviews with clients at the beginning of a legal process; however, as trials grow increasingly long and complex, a lawyer may have to focus their attention to other areas to ensure that cases are resolved to the letter of the law. The presence of a paralegal can be felt throughout this entire process and can be useful well after litigation is finished as a part of maintaining the relationship between attorney and client.
Over the course of a trial, a whole host of paperwork may need to be filled-out and filed by a client. A paralegal’s job might include keeping track of that paperwork during ongoing litigation and ensuring that clients are kept up to date on any fees, forms, and documents the law firm may need from them. A paralegal also has the expertise to field questions from clients about the nature of this complex process, freeing up lawyers to continue pursuing the more intricate aspects of the legal process.
Some of this paperwork is also drafted by paralegals. While the drafting of legal documents must take place under the direct supervised of an attorney, a paralegal is often responsible for initially creating the document and smoothing over that process for an attorney.
Importantly, paralegals are also responsible for managing the final phase of a client-attorney relationship. Distributing settlements between the client and their attorney and identifying any outstanding debts and liens the client may owe at the end of a trial are an important part of ensuring a settlement process goes smoothly for everyone involved. Finishing well is a crucial part of maintaining healthy relationships with clients whose referrals could lead to business in the future.
Without the persistent presence of a paralegal, settlement proceedings could be a confusing and difficult process for clients and lawyers alike. However, their mediating touch helps to bridge the gap between the complexities of the legal system and everyday people caught up in it.