Continuing his article series on legal assistants, William B. Blanchard reviews training issues
In the newest published article on the role of legal assistants in the law office, real estate lawyer William Blanchard reviews training and work assignments
Legal Assistants are a crucial part of a law practice, and their role continues to expand. In fact, the job outlook, unlike for many other professions, is quite bright. Paralegals must undergo specific education, training and/or work experience and are utilized by many different employers, including individual practitioners, law firms, corporations and various government agencies. Different certifications and credentials are available to classify the Paralegal experience. In the traditional law firm setting, the Paralegal's time is primarily spent on substantive legal work which is billed to clients at market rates, similar to other professional staff, but at a significantly lower rate than would be charged had an Attorney been solely utilized to handle such work, as was standard in the past. This hourly billing option distinguishes Paralegals from other non-lawyer staff members. However, many legal or quasi-legal organizations do not specifically bill for Paralegal time, such as Real Estate Title Firms, Immigration Law Firms, or Bankruptcy practices. Thus, in many organizations, time spent on administrative or clerical functions is not billable to the client's case.
Due to Ethical Rules, Paralegals will never completely replace Lawyers. Only licensed attorneys may give "legal advice" to clients, and ethical rules in all U.S. States are uniform in that Paralegals are strictly prohibited from doing so. Paralegals also are prohibited from directly accepting a client's case, setting any fees, or representing a client in court (unless specifically authorized by the court, see below). All U.S. States require attorneys to be licensed and most have regulations imposing strict penalties for anyone who engages in the unauthorized practice of law. In fact, there are rules requiring appropriate supervision of Paralegals.
Doomsday talk persisted in the recent past that technology was set to fully replace the Paralegal industry as a result of software upgrades and automated advances. At least one major law firm today uses highly sophisticated software for research previously conducted by Paralegals and even Attorneys. Many predicted the end of the Paralegal profession. The Associated Press issued a report in 2013 which claimed that an increasing number of Attorneys were using software and other technologies to do the work previously performed by Paralegal staff. It is certainly true that such software and technologies can enable solo practitioners to handle most or all of their workload without the need for any Paralegal. However, in 2014 the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasted a continuing positive growth rate of 8 percent growth from 2014 to 2024, and then in 2016 readjusted that figure to a 15 percent growth from 2016 to 2026 – again documenting continued growth from its original projection.
The complete articles will be published on the blog of Mr. Blanchard at https://williamblanchardblog.blogspot.com/
About William B. "Bill" Blanchard - William B. Blanchard is a real estate attorney with offices in St. Charles and Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. Bill specializes in representing real estate clients for purchases and sales as well as home owner real estate tax assessment appeals. Mr. Blanchard gained distinction as a real estate assessment attorney by representing 23 Will County senior citizen home owners before the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board and winning every case; this in addition to several successful appeals before various County Boards of Appeal.
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William B. Blanchard, Esq.
St. Charles, Illinois