The Valuable Role of a Paralegal in Successful Litigation
Undervalued, underappreciated, and underestimated, paralegals are actually most often the lynchpin of any effective and successful litigation. Paralegals typically prepare the bulk of the prep work on any complex litigation matter. It is a common misconception that a paralegal’s duties are limited to basic legal research and the preparation of court filings. However, the breadth of their work is extensive. More specifically, a paralegal can prepare complete pleadings for attorney review (such as an entry of appearance, a withdrawal of appearance, notices of intent, pretrial submissions, etc.), initiate drafts of more complex court filings for attorneys to utilize as templates, file pleadings electronically, prepare written discovery responses, etc. Paralegals often serve as the guiding force in case management by managing deadlines, tracking filings, and issuing calendar entries.
In fact, the responsibilities of a litigation paralegal often can vary depending on the firm or their particular brand of their specialty. For example, a paralegal specializing in medical malpractice work will often subpoena medical records they deem to be relevant based on their own independent understanding of the case, summarize the medical records for the attorney’s ease of use and for use in future filings, and even prepare base case evaluations for the client’s use based on their own understanding of the medical records and the case as a whole.
Furthermore, litigation paralegals are often expected to engage in a hands-on approach with the preparation of trial materials at every stage. Paralegals frequently assist in deposition preparation by preparing and gathering documents. Paralegals also create extensive mediation binders for use in potential settlement cases. When a case actually reaches the trial stage, litigation paralegals are instrumental in the organization of exhibits and materials and drafting outlines as a base for potential opening statements, direct examination, and cross-examination of witnesses.
In summation, the potential for a litigation paralegal is limitless. Gross McGinley’s skilled team of paralegals are an integral part of our legal team, allowing our attorneys to work effectively and efficiently on behalf of our clients. Their efforts in the preparation of pleadings, legal research, case preparation, and management are considerable in keeping a case moving forward and controlling the costs of litigation for clients.