Paralegals can be a vital part of your legal team. With your incredibly demanding schedule and daunting workload, you need the confidence of knowing you can delegate certain duties to highly capable professionals. When you’re in court, wearing barrister robes or other legal attire, you’ll rest easier knowing that your paralegal team is taking care of business.
Today let’s examine some ideas for making the best possible use of your paralegal resources.
Understand the abilities and limitations of your paralegal team. Paralegals bring incredible value to the table, but there are limits to what they can and cannot do as members of your firm. In Ontario, paralegals are permitted to appear at tribunals and in lower courts, such as small claims. This isn’t the case in other provinces, making Ontario an intriguing exception.
They’re also able to appear before a judge (in proper legal attire of course) to plead on behalf of a client for lesser charges.
Try to codify and separate paralegal and administrative duties. Paralegals are valuable resources, and their time generally comes at a higher premium. If your practice has grown to the point that you can retain both legal secretaries and paralegals, you would be well advised to delineate the duties and differences between the two. Here are a few examples:
- Setting up meetings and compiling meeting notes: generally done by legal secretary.
- In-depth research into cases, interviewing witnesses, and drafting certain documents: paralegal territory.
- Case and file organization, structuring, and archiving: this would fall to your legal secretary.
- Appearing in court, wearing legal attire, appearing before a judge in certain cases: definitely done by a paralegal.
Deliver clear and reasonable expectations for every assignment. When case load is high, it’s easy for the lines of responsibility to become blurred. Here are some elements to consider.
- Time allotment: how much time do you expect your paralegal team to spend on this case? Is there a specific number of billable hours? Is it more of a rough guideline?
- Areas of responsibility. If your case has specific aspects you want your paralegals to focus on – or some you want them to leave alone – be sure to lay those out early in the process.
Handcrafted Legal Attire For Your Entire Team
Whether it’s barrister robes for your next legal appearance or court attire for your paralegals, Harcourts offers the utmost in handcrafted quality. For over 175 years we’ve provided exceptional court attire, and our garments are still individually cut, sewn, and tailored in our downtown Toronto workshop. Simply request a quote and get ready to experience the Harcourts difference.