When a paralegal assists a lawyer with legal work, it can help a client save money. The paralegal must be under the supervision of the attorney.
What is the role of a paralegal?
The National Association of Legal Assistants defines paralegals as the following:
“Legal assistants, also known as paralegals, are a distinguishable group of persons who assist attorneys in the delivery of legal services. Through formal education, training and experience, legal assistants have knowledge and expertise regarding the legal system and substantive and procedural law which qualify them to do work of a legal nature under the supervision of an attorney.” See http://www.nala.org/AboutParalegals.aspx.
Although paralegals assist in the legal process, they cannot engage in the practice of law. Paralegals are not attorneys and cannot give legal advice, accept a case, set client fees or represent a client in court. Paralegals do however perform a variety of tasks to assist lawyers, including but not limited to drafting and preparing legal documents, conducting legal research, reviewing client files and interacting with clients.
What ethical responsibilities must paralegals abide by?
The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct does not legally bind paralegals. However, paralegals should conduct their work within the Model Rules that apply to lawyers. The ethical responsibilities of a paralegal ultimately lies under the supervising lawyer. The attorney must make good efforts to ensure that the paralegals conduct is abiding by all the ethical and professional codes of a practicing attorney. See the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct for more details. http://www.americanbar.org
How can paralegals help you save money?
The hourly rate for paralegals is lower than the attorney’s hourly rate. Legal matters could become costly if an lawyer handles all parts of a case without assistance by paralegals. In many cases, there is a considerable amount of paperwork needed in order to successfully complete a case. Lawyers can increase their efficiency in completing paperwork in a timely manner with the help of paralegals. Therefore, with the paralegal helping on parts of a legal matter at a lower hourly rate, the client’s ultimate cost is lower.
Under the supervision of a lawyer, paralegals can help reduce costs of legal work and save the client money by successfully completing many tasks that would otherwise be done by a lawyer.