What the Paralegal Wants You to Know
Paralegals help lawyers in a million little ways every day. They keep a legal practice running efficiently and allow lawyers to give their clients the best representation possible. But, for this relationship to work smoothly, you’ll need to observe some basic etiquette. Keep these tips in mind when working with the paralegals at your first legal job:
1. They need to be kept in the loop.
When clients call for updates on their cases, your paralegal wants to be able to give them information. Keeping the paralegal up to date means that he or she can get your clients the information they need without having to pull you from what you are currently working on.
2. They need to be treated like professionals.
The best piece of advice you can get for dealing with paralegals: they need to be treated with the same level of respect that you expect from your superiors. Be professional, courteous and appreciative of the work that they do.
3. They need some direction.
Paralegals are generally self-motivated, but, they also appreciate some communication about what you want and need. If there are specific tasks you need completed sooner than others, let them know so that they can direct their energies in the most efficient direction possible. If you have a specific direction you want to take on a case, your paralegals need to know so they can provide support.
4. It’s okay to delegate.
While there are a number of tasks that, legally and ethically, a paralegal can’t take on, they are able and willing to help in a number of areas. Don’t feel that you need to handle every piece of communication and research yourself. Be willing to let your paralegals pick up some tasks for you so that you can concentrate on the core functions your clients need.
5. Give them the occasional challenge.
A certain amount of a paralegal’s day is spent filing, copying and performing other simple and repetitive tasks. To keep the paralegals you work with challenged and engaged, give them more interesting and challenging tasks occasionally. Have them research areas of law that are new to them or interview witnesses. By making sure that they have tasks that stretch their abilities, you can keep them excited about work and get the best out of them.
Every office relationship has its complexities. By fostering a strong relationship from day one with the paralegals that work in your office, they can be of the greatest assistance to you and help you be the best lawyer you can be.