How Paralegals Can Perform More Effectively
Paralegals are essential in any legal proceeding and no lawyers can achieve much without the support of paralegals in their team. If you are seeking to become a paralegal after graduation from the law school, here are things you should do:
- Manage the firm’s user names and passwords: Law firms need to access email, directories, databases, social media and other online platforms to obtain and distribute information. In some cases, a pivotal piece of information could be hidden behind a locked account. It will be time consuming to ask around for username and password for the account. Paralegals may also need to regularly change passwords to increase the level of security.
- Monitor voice messaging: The legal community is a busy place and people often don’t have time to type instant messages. For this reason, information could be distributed through voice messaging. Any incoming voice messaging should be managed. Paralegals may need to write down transcript of the message and quickly deliver it to the recipient.
- Manage emails: A typical law firm needs to handle dozens, if not hundreds of email messages daily. Some of them contain critical information, moderately important details or just complete rubbish. Paralegals need to group emails with critical and moderately important information in the right categories. Spam and junk email should be immediately removed to the trash and the originating email address blocked to prevent further intrusions.
- Regularly cleanup workplace for documents: Clutter could really ruin productivity in the workplace. Huge piles of paper will take up valuable space and any workers need some empty spaces around them. Also, undisciplined work pattern could cause critical documents to get hidden in shelves, drawers and file directories inside computers. There should be weekly cleanup task, so clutter can be cleaned up and all important documents can be accounted for.
- Manage dates and calendars: When dates are managed, the legal team won’t miss or become unprepared for deadliness, trial prep session, witness prep appointment, depositions, pleading deadlines, conference calls, client meetings, closings and others. One missed deadline could result in another deadline, because the work pattern becomes disorganized. You should know that deadlines could sneak up on any firm, especially if people don’t function like their intended roles. Any inattentiveness could result in unwanted crisis.
- Talk with people who are leaving and plan to assume their office duties: Law firms have moderate turnover rate and eventually, someone will leave to seek new employment opportunity. A few days before the person leaves the firm, there should be a transition period. The person could inform paralegals about their current tasks and what documents that are needed. It would be difficult and sometimes, inappropriate, to contact the person when he/she already leaves the firm.
- Manage contact information: Law firms need to deal with many people, so you need to manage their contact information, such as name, home address, work address, cell phone number, office number, email address, social media links, instant messaging details and others. There are software solutions that can help to store contact information. Contact information can be grouped by cases, so it will be much easier to contact each individual.