About

This site is the Durham Technical Community College Paralegal Technology Program blog.

What does a paralegal do? The National Association of Legal Assistants provides this explanation:

The legal assistant concept began to develop in the late 1960’s when law firms and individual practitioners sought ways to improve the efficient and cost effective delivery of legal services. Other factors entered into the development of the legal assistant field including the growing volume of work due to increased public awareness of legal remedies.

A legal assistant/paralegal cannot give legal advice, represent a client in court, set a fee, or accept a case, which functions are generally considered the practice of law. Working under the supervision of an attorney, the legal assistant’s work product is merged with and becomes part of the attorney work product. In communications with clients and the public, the legal assistant’s non-lawyer status must be clear. A legal assistant may perform any function delegated by an attorney, including but not limited to the following:

  • Conduct client interviews and maintain general contact with the client, so long as the client is aware of the status and function of the legal assistant, and the legal assistant works under the supervision of the attorney.
  • Locate and interview witnesses.
  • Conduct investigations and statistical and documentary research.
  • Conduct legal research.
  • Draft legal documents, correspondence and pleadings.
  • Summarize depositions, interrogatories and testimony.
  • Attend executions of wills, real estate closings, depositions, court or administrative hearings and trials with the attorney.
  • Author and sign correspondence provided the legal assistant status is clearly indicated and the correspondence does not contain independent legal opinions or legal advice.
  • Professionally, a paralegal’s time for substantive legal work (as opposed to clerical or administrative work) is billed to clients much the same way as an attorney’s time, but at a lower hourly rate.

(source)

Note: Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.

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