The Undefinable Legal Assistant
I was recently asked by a vendor what I did. I replied with a laugh because one or two sentences would not cover all of my day-to-day responsibilities. I believe that most Legal Assistants and Paralegals would have the same response. So, my answer to him was based on the following skills, abilities and education I, and my fellow Paralegals, possess:
- Customer Service: In this era of social media, Internet communications and voicemail, clients still seek a voice on the other side of a phone. I answer the firm’s phone, email and fax and contact the potential clients to help the attorney get a sense of what is the client’s situation, It is easy to rely on the ease and efficiency technology provides us, but personal interaction and an empathetic ear is invaluable to someone having the worst day of their life.
- Technology Support: The attorney I currently work for admits that he is “technology challenged”. I am certain there are still “old school” attorneys who are unfamiliar with the latest communication and research tools available. So, the ability to organize paper and electronic client files on a back up drive and on the cloud, manage a Google/Outlook calendar, access local rule forms, find court cases and trial dates, to name a few, allows an attorney to maximize his or her time and concentrate on cases.
- Legal Education: A knowledge of legal processes, rules, documents, etc., allows a Paralegal to enhance an attorney’s ability to represent clients. It is not uncommon for an attorney to not be versed in current citation standards, case research methods, standardized web based court documents, etc. By having this understanding and education, we support the attorney’s effective client representation.
Legal Assistants work behind the scenes with clients, opposing attorneys’ staff, clerk of courts, to name a few, while organizing case documents, fixing equipment and restoring Internet service. Our ability to create order out of chaos and remain calm under pressure makes us super heroes and vital to successful outcomes for attorneys and clients.
Blog author Margaret Powers is the Legal Assistant to Floyd B. McKissick Jr., Esq. of McKissick & McKissick in Durham, NC. She is a graduate of Meredith College’s Paralegal Program and have been a state and nationally certified Paralegal since 2012. Learn more at http://www.linkedin.com/in/margaretpowers.