Early Case Assessment Strategies for Paralegals

The Paralegal Resource
February 15, 2013 — 2,085 views  
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Litigation can be expensive and cases can continue for years. In the current scenario of tough economic times, clients are depending on their legal advisors to produce favorable outcomes. Different studies have shown that ECA (Early Case Assessment) evaluation, if performed correctly, can help in saving money and giving favorable outcomes to clients. No matter how complex the case is, ECA can be an advantage not only for the client, but also for the legal team.

ECA enables the legal team to determine the best method to proceed with the case. It reduces litigation expenses and helps attorneys prepare an accurate lawsuit budget.

Elements of ECA

ECA is a management approach that includes steps to collect information on laws and gather facts within 60 days. The accumulated facts should be related to the case and help in:

  • Evaluating different matters of the dispute
  • Developing a strategy for litigation
  • Formulating a litigation budget
  • Preparing for early discovery conferences.
  • Formulating a plan for settlement

ECA should be a familiar process for a paralegal. Many of its tasks are based on time-honored case preparation and research. To get the most from the early case assessment process, you need to understand the steps and the process required to accomplish it.

Creating a Team

You need to ensure that the legal professionals working in your team know who is responsible for which task. Make sure the outside and in-house councils know their orders and are informed about who is handling which area of the case.

It can be a problem for the client if the litigation team does not know the tasks of each member. High profile attorneys can lose information and momentum while tracking a corporate contact, just because the team from the outside council does not know whom to give the information to. Get resources from participant groups and stakeholders of the company for the case. Identify technical professionals to help you with the case if need arises in the future.

Determining the Key Players

To get an accurate overview of the case, to know what actually occurred, and to find out about its key players, you need to follow standard practices like compiling important evidence, drafting witness memos, forming witness questionnaires, and interviewing witnesses. The information compiled is reviewed by litigators, and help in producing an initial story of the case.

Such type of investigatory work is an essential part of ECA and must be completed as early as possible by the crack team. A list of the case’s key players, their employment dates, responsibilities, departments, and their titles should be available instantly to the litigation team. The information-gathering process must be performed as soon as litigation begins to make sure the legal process is defensible and on target.

Advantages of ECA

ECA provides you with numerous advantages. For instance, when working with new clients, early assessment of the case gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your dedication toward the case. For repeat or long-term clients, you will be able to prove through your performance that ECA improves outcomes and increases efficiency.

ECA can reduce disagreements between clients and attorneys. Clients may have their own opinions on the case and may want to use a specific approach to achieve the desired outcome. The assessment of the attorney strives to give an objective review of the client’s case, providing an understanding on all elements such as the legality of the corporate’s actions, skills of the opposing council and the judge, and the credibility of the witnesses. By giving your clients an impartial and independent analysis of the case, you can generate more realistic and accurate expectations regarding the outcome of the case.

The Paralegal Resource