When you need legal representation, one of the first people you will speak with is a Paralegal.
Paralegals work with attorneys in advancing your legal claim, and a paralegal is typically the first person you will speak with about your claim. They will interview you. They will research and make phone calls. They will do conflicts checks. They will draft documents and pleadings for your attorney and for you. And they are also bound by the same ethical and confidentiality rules that bind attorneys.
When you first contact an attorney’s office to see if you have a claim, the Paralegal will conduct a brief (generally 15-20 minute) telephone interview, asking all of the pertinent questions and getting as much detail as possible so they can summarize the claim for the attorney to review. Paralegals are unable at any point to provide legal advice. So, asking, ‘Do you think I have a case?’ is not something they can answer. Every case and claim are different. Determining whether we are able to assist you in pursuing an action is up to the attorney.
Next Steps: Summary Process and Conflicts Check
When the initial interview is complete, the Paralegal will draft a confidential memo or email to the attorney detailing your claim. This summary will include the names, dates and pertinent details you provided during your interview. During this summary process, the Paralegal will run a Conflicts Check. This is computerized research to determine whether the firm has represented any of the parties in the past, if we have used any of the parties as experts in a previous case, or if we have some type of professional or business relationship with any of the parties. If the answer is yes to any of these searches, we may not be able to assist you with your legal claim. We will advise you promptly that we cannot assist and may refer you to another firm that may be able to help. We will not be able to tell you where the conflict lies, because we also have a duty of confidentiality to our clients. We have that duty to you as well. Even where we cannot represent you due to the conflict, we are bound to not disclose the fact that you called or the nature of the inquiry.
If the attorney determines that they may be able to assist you, the Paralegal will contact you to set up the face-to-face meeting. During that meeting the attorney will interview you further, asking more detailed questions. The Paralegal, at the attorney’s direction, will begin to draft any needed correspondence, fee agreements, and authorizations. As the claim advances, you will work with both the attorney and Paralegal on gathering records, answering discovery requests, and preparing for depositions, mediation, and trial. Attorneys and paralegals work as a team.. The Paralegal is often the client’s main point of contact as the case progresses. All information provided by the Paralegal to the client is at a very high level, and is designed to give the client a certain level of expectation and understanding. The attorney will provide the client with the legal reasoning, advice, and representation. Your attorney-Paralegal team will be with you every step of the way during your claim.
Legal claims are not easy, nor are they a quick process.
The role of a great Paralegal is to be a legal translator to the client and a teammate to the attorney. They serve as the conduit to the attorney-client relationship and enhance your relationship with the attorney and the firm.
If you or a family member would like to consult with an attorney about a potential case, contact Murphy & Landon for a free consultation: 866-939-8100 or 302-472-8100.