Mayowa Odusanya completes article series on Legal Assistants with Task Review
In the last published article in a series, Mayowa Odusanya reviews the tasks suitable for legal assistants. Certain restrictions apply when delegating legal tasks, explains Mayowa Odusanya in his final article.
Paralegals can be delegated any task normally performed by a lawyer, as long as the lawyer supervises the work (except those specifically proscribed by law). For example, Paralegals can review and organize client files, conduct factual and legal research, prepare documents for legal transactions, draft pleadings and discovery notices, interview clients and witnesses, and assist at closings and trials. But Paralegals (and their supervising Attorneys) must always avoid the "unauthorized practice of law." Generally, Paralegals may not represent clients in court, take depositions, or sign pleadings. In addition, Paralegals may not establish the attorney's relationship with the client or set fees to be charged, and may not give legal advice to a client.
The continued usage of Paralegals in the profession is also a mandate of pure economics. Paralegals significantly reduce attorney burden and costs. In many instances it affords the practitioner the ability to lower legal fees in certain practice areas. They are also extremely valuable in their ability to maintain increased client communication and contact which further enhances client satisfaction and customer service. Paralegals also are of tremendous economic value to the law firm or office, as their hourly time spent on individual cases may be billed to the client separately, and at lower rates for the clients. Such staff may increase client satisfaction and provide a significant additional income stream for the law practice if managed effectively. Additional benefits to the firm as well as the community is the usage of Paralegals in Pro Bono activities and services. Paralegals enhance the ability of law firms to provide significantly more pro bono legal services as they could have through attorneys alone.
Mr. Odusanya notes that, as in every aspect of the practice of law, utilizing Paralegal services comes with corresponding ethical considerations for the attorney or firm. Attorneys are ultimately responsible for the work product of Paralegals. Even more, Attorneys are also responsible for the ethical conduct of the Paralegals whom they employ. Any transgressions by the Paralegals may subject the Attorney to professional discipline. This is due to the fact that Paralegals are not directly subject to any rules of professional conduct promulgated by courts, legislatures, or government agencies, the (supervising)
Paralegals play an indispensable role in the legal profession, and if the predictions are correct, that indispensable role will continue to expand as economic pressures force law firms and businesses to become ever more cost-effective. While the job outlook for Paralegals is bright, this may adversely affect Attorneys, whose work will migrate as much as technical and ethically possible to Paralegals. - The complete article will be published on his blog at https://modusanya.blogspot.com/
Mayowa Odusanya is an expert in the fields of criminal law and real estate. Mr. Odusanya's education includes Florida International University, College of Law, Juris Doctor, 2009; Florida A. & M. University, B.S., 2005.
Mayowa F. Odusanya