The paralegal role has evolved in scope and depth, extending beyond skills in word processing and spreadsheet. With the increasing number of paralegal degrees online, the profession has flourished over the decade.
Their support in litigation has made them integral members of the firm. In Canada, people are proposing to allow paralegals to act in arbitration matters.
A crucial role for a proactive paralegal is researching and identifying expert witnesses, who can serve as decisive factors in many cases.
While the legal nurse consultant offers their technical knowledge in healthcare-related litigation areas such as medical malpractice, personal injury and product liability, the paralegal has a distinctly unique job.
Acting as liaison between the lawyer and the expert witness, the paralegal facilitates interviews in an ethical and timely manner.
Here are some of the areas where paralegals can utilize and apply their experience, knowledge and education:
Expert witness selection
The paralegal meets with the lawyer to determine the kind of expert witness needed for the case. They can seek advice and recommendations from colleagues or consult the firm’s database to guide their selection.
This is also where the paralegal can apply proficiency in information technology. By conducting a general search on social media sites and specialized national databases, they understand the case a little bit more.
Evaluation of Qualification
The paralegal is responsible for gathering the expert’s background, training and field of specialization by requesting for the expert’s curriculum vitae.
Before they retain the expert, the firm or the attorney carry out conflict checks to see to make sure there are no conflicts of interest and other ethical disagreements.
The paralegal also has to discuss the expert’s qualifications, fees and background with the client. Without the client’s express approval, they can’t retain the expert.
Commitment to ethical limitations
When interacting with the expert witness, the paralegal can’t provide any legal opinion regarding the case. They can only address concerns and question pertaining to legal strategy and analysis to the attorney or the trial team.
Litigations are difficult by nature, but a paralegal can better organize the process with effective communication and advanced critical thinking skills. With specialized roles, paralegals will continue as important members of the legal team.