Some of the more in demand paralegal services include researching case law and briefing them to attorneys. A paralegal might also prepare court documents and file them at a local courthouse. Other times, he may participate in the discovery process, which is the gathering of evidence. The paralegal may also prepare exhibit folders and trial notebooks for a lawyer to use during a hearing.
In many jurisdictions, judges use decisions from prior cases to make their decisions, which is known as case law. It can be helpful for an attorney to know what case law pertains to the situation he is dealing with. For this reason, paralegal services often involve legal research, the process of looking up cases that have already been decided. A paralegal might do this by searching a database or visiting a law library.
After finding applicable case law, a paralegal may need to brief his attorney on what she has found. This can require reading the decision of the court, known as the opinion. He might also compare the facts of that particular case to those of the client. These paralegal services let the counselor know what the strengths and weaknesses of the case are.
Paralegal services are also used to create legal documents. This could be in the way of court motions, complaints, subpoenas, or appellate briefs. The reason for this is that these professionals are often familiar with the required format of these documents, as well legal terminology. Legal assistants might also be called upon to file paperwork at the courthouse, as they are often acquainted with the process as well as what deadlines need to be met.
Legal teams rely heavily on discovery, which is the gathering of evidence, to prepare their cases. Paralegal services are often involved in this process. This can involve running background checks, taking photographs, interviewing witnesses, and preparing questions for the opposition to answer. A legal assistant might also look through boxes of documents in order to find out more about the individuals involved, as well as the circumstances.
A paralegal might work full-time, part-time, or as a freelancer. The services he provides to law firms can often be invaluable, as this person may possess skills and knowledge that many clerical workers do not have. People who are interested in this career field may want to learn a little bit about the law and court systems before working in this capacity.