What Paralegals Should Know

The Paralegal Resource
December 31, 2012 — 2,501 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

What is defined as a paralegal? Are they legal secretaries or something more?

There are many community colleges that offer degrees to someone as a paralegal. Typically, it can be an associate's degree or a post-bachelor degree. That said, what more is important for such a person to excel?

A good paralegal such as a good lawyer should have high logical prowess. That is, they should be able to see a problem and find its strengths and flaws. With the current legal system and its importance on precedent a good paralegal should be able to best find the origins and strengths of a given case as it pertains to their investigation.

By that, investigation using Lexis as well as Westlaw is in order. A good paralegal should be able to use these systems to easily find cases that pertain to what it is they are investigating for their supervisor. Further, a good paralegal, if forced to use a library, should know what books to use pertaining to statutes and where to look for updates. Pamphlets in the back of books in the law library which indicate changes in the law associating with current law should always be viewed.

These changes are also reflected online. A good paralegal needs to look at legal precedent and decisions that have a yellow symbol or a red warning. Many times, there are legal cases that at one time were valid but no longer are valid. Sometimes, there are certain parts that still hold true, and some that have been struck down. A good paralegal should be able to look at each case and see what holds valid and is still applicable to law as in standing and what has been stricken and should not be mentioned.

Of course, with current innovations with the internet, many can also use such search engines as Google to find information and stray away from the more costly usual endeavors. In the future, this may be the greater choice, but as of now it is not recommended as the sole venture before a Judge. One should be the most current of law as possible. Lexis and Westlaw may have their flaws, but they are usually much more current than a general search engine.

The best of paralegals will know how to interview witnesses and to find them. It is keen to be availed of the whereabouts and those within any given area of their subject. That said, a good paralegal should be able to discover how best to interrogate without intimidating a witness and get the best possible information from them for their client's benefit. A good paralegal should be able to talk to a witness and at the same time turn them to sympathy for their client.

A good paralegal is worth their weight in gold. That said, a bad paralegal can sink the case.

The Paralegal Resource