Paralegal's Role at TrialThe Paralegal Resource
May 13, 2013 — 1,222 views
Paralegals are the very valuable assistants to attorneys in the litigation processes. They are considered as very vital parts of a trial team and have tremendous trial skills. Their responsibilities involve the co-ordination of various tasks that are to be accomplished before, after, and during trial. They have many major responsibilities and duties that can, most often, make or break a case.
During the Investigation
Paralegals are the ones who lead the pre-claim investigation. Their responsibilities in this respect include locating as well as interviewing the witnesses, taking the witness statements, collecting evidence, developing case investigation files, and also preparing a timeline with the facts of the case.
During the Pleadings
During pleadings, the paralegals role varies depending on if he/she is working on the defense's side or the plaintiff's side. If they are working on the plaintiff's side, the paralegals assist in the preparation of pleadings, which include the complaint and the summons, along with the supporting affidavits. When working on the defense's side, paralegals work with the defendants for investigating the allegations made, and preparing responses as a part of the trial preparation.
During an Appeal
These paralegals also help in identifying issues for the appeal by gathering as well as organizing the documents for the record on an appeal, placing indexes in cases for an authorities table, providing assistance for research, drafting all the appellate documents, as well as filing these documents in the court.
During the Discovery
Most of the time that a paralegal spends during a case is spent on the process of discovery. These paralegals assist the attorneys for the preparation of requests and interrogatories. Paralegals, who are working for the defense's side have the responsibility of locating certain people, within the organization of the defendant, who can help them in developing responses for the interrogatories during the depositions. These paralegals also have the responsibility of conducting a factual research and gathering all the relevant information from the various resources available, which include newspapers, the fire and police departments, libraries, as well as the media.
During the Pre-Trial
Paralegals play a very crucial role in the process of pre-trial. This is the point in the trial where their organization and communication skills are tested to the maximum. These paralegals are burdened with the responsibility of indexing and organizing exhibits, preparing the trial binders, as well as managing all the important files. These paralegals also have the additional responsibility of serving as the liaison between their trial team and the third party members, which include the witnesses, the clients, the experts, the vendors, and the courtroom personnel.
During the Trial
While the trial is in process, the paralegals have the responsibility of setting up the exhibits inside the courtroom, evaluating, and researching potential jurors, preparing as well as issuing subpoenas, and helping in the witness preparation process. They also continue to serve as the liaison between the clients, the experts, the vendors, the witnesses, and their trial team during the trial process.
During the Settlement
The litigation paralegals assist the attorneys with, is in the process of case settlement when the trial has concluded. Their responsibilities also include the gathering as well as organizing of the data needed for the settlement, and also the creation of settlement brochures, negotiation checklists, and distribution statements.