Summary Judgment Preparation

The Paralegal Resource
September 27, 2012 — 2,295 views  
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While paralegals complete a variety of important tasks related to court cases, perhaps the most significant responsibility delegated to these professionals is drafting a motion for summary judgment. Crafting a document that properly explains a firm's intention to seek summary judgment must be done with care to increase the chances of success.

The First Steps

Drafting a motion for summary judgment begins with identifying the reason that the firm is seeking the summary judgment. Cases that fall into this category typically involve established facts that leave no one involved in the case with any doubt about the specifics of the activities and events leading to the trial.

Summary judgment means that all of the facts involved are not in dispute, so the motion for summary judgment must reflect this point. The aim is to avoid the requirement of a trial because neither side has taken issue with any of the facts related to the case.

Identify an Objective

A paralegal will need to clearly identify what the objective of the firm is in relation to filing a motion for summary judgment. While the objective is often to resolve the case without going through the time-consuming and costly process of completing a trial, a summary judgment can be related only to one party or key fact involved in the case.

Complete Thorough Research

Paralegals will need to use any professional legal databases that the firm subscribes to in order to conduct research for the purpose of drafting the motion for summary judgment. The focus of this research must be finding case law related to the case at hand. 

The research stage of summary judgment preparation will be the most time-consuming, but it is the most essential part of the process. Displaying knowledge of past cases related to the current case and demonstrating how case law supports the summary judgment can mean the difference between success and failure.

Avoid Costly Mistakes

Filing a motion for summary judgment involves a strict set of rules on everything from the paper and font used to the structure of the motion. Paralegals should research these requirements in their specific district to make sure that there are no issues involving something as simple as the weight of the paper that is used. Denial of a motion for any reason means that the motion will have to be filed again, and all costs associated with filing a motion for summary judgment will need to be paid a second time.

The Paralegal Resource