Paralegal's Role at TrialThe Paralegal Resource
October 10, 2012 — 2,367 views
Paralegal's Role at Trial
The role of a paralegal is crucial in the success of a trial attorney. The job of a paralegal includes but is not limited to trial preparation, interviewing witnesses, and preparing documents, files, and exhibits. Considering the fact that the paralegal assumes responsibility for many of the tedious tasks normally often performed by various members of the legal team, it’s important that along with well refined trial skills, the paralegal possess strong organizational skills and is consistently responsible, reliable, and detail oriented.
The paralegal’s role in trial preparation begins the moment an attorney is hired by the client. Throughout the early phases of trial preparation, the paralegal may assume the responsibility of initiating an investigation, which may require locating and interviewing witnesses, organizing files, and preparing documents amongst other tasks.
Often times, a paralegal will attend depositions in an effort to assist in the investigation process. While the paralegal may not play an “active” role in the deposition process, it is an important one. Information revealed at a deposition hearing may play a pivotal role at trial. Therefore, the attentiveness of the paralegal during depositions is essential, as through the questioning process, important previously unknown information may be revealed. Furthermore, the paralegals observation of non-verbal communication may lead to the discovery of valuable evidence which could be used in trial. Another common role of the paralegal in deposition is preparing the deposition summary, which is a document which provides a brief description of information gathered through deposition.
While there are many things that must be done to ensure a successful trial, witness preparation is an important factor. The attorney, however, is often unavailable to effectively prepare the witness for trial. A great paralegal, however, has acquired the skills to perform this function on behalf of the attorney.
It is common for the paralegal to play a large role in the discovery process. Discovery is a process of information gathering and exchange that takes place after a lawsuit is filed and before the trial begins. Some of the work delegated to the paralegal through the process of discovery includes maintaining calendar deadlines, conducting legal research, and drafting and filing legal documents.
Regardless of how an attorney may choose to utilize the paralegal’s skills, they often include these services and much more. The paralegal is highly valued, as a successful trial is dependent upon the services they provide.