Maybe some of you don’t know what a Family Law Paralegal does. Did you know that a paralegal can do everything an attorney can do, except give legal advice and represent you in court? The following is just a bit of what a paralegal does in a Family Law office.
Client Intake – The paralegal can be the first person you speak with when you call an attorney’s office, depending on the size of the firm. The paralegal will usually speak with the client to get a little more information on what the case is about, such as divorce, custody or visitation. The paralegal is not being nosy, they need to know what is going on so they can determine how much time you will need when you meet with the attorney. They also need to know if there is an upcoming court date, as that will determine how quickly you need to see the attorney. Answering the paralegals questions as thoroughly as possible helps immensely.
Managing the Client File – The paralegal makes sure that all documents prepared or received are updated in the client file, this also means that the paralegal usually opens the file and makes sure all of your contact information is updated so that the attorney and the paralegal can contact you when necessary. It is important that you notify your attorney’s office of any changes to your address, phone numbers and even your e-mail address if that is your preferred method of contacting your attorney’s office.
Preparing the Documents for Your Case – The paralegal takes the information you provide and incorporates it into the documents needed to file with the Court. It helps the paralegal to have all of the information needed before the documents are completed. If your attorney or the paralegal requests information, such as a client questionnaire and requests specific information or documentation from you, it is helpful to get this to them quickly to avoid repeated requests and additional cost to you for the repeated requests. Remember, you are not the only client that the attorney or paralegal is working with and if your information is not provided, the paralegal will be unable to complete the documents for you in a timely manner.
Contacting the Court – The paralegal is usually the person who contacts the Court or responds to calls from the Court regarding your documents. The paralegal usually has a good business relationship with the judge’s judicial assistants, (JA’s) which is helpful to the attorney and to the client if documents become lost or take longer than usual for approval. The paralegal also prepares the documents for Court filing and makes sure that the opposing counsel or other party is served with the documents in a timely fashion as required by statute.
Client Communication – As stated above, the paralegal is usually the person you, the client, will speak with when you contact the attorney’s office. Anything you say to the paralegal is treated as attorney-client privilege and will never be divulged except to the attorney. This means what you tell the attorney or paralegal stays in the attorney’s office and is never talked about to anyone else outside of the attorney’s office. Maintaining client confidentiality is essential and the best paralegals know this.
So, the next time you talk to your attorney’s paralegal, remember that what they do for you, they are also doing for the rest of the attorney’s clients. If you have any questions about your case, just ask the paralegal. A good paralegal will always take the time to answer your questions or if they can’t at that very moment, will tell you when they can have the answer for you and get back to you with it.