The impact of legal support staff on the legal industry has grown considerably from the past several years and it has actually become an essential part of legal services process. From the days when lawyers used to deal with lots of paperwork, legal support services and acolytes have played a tremendous role in the legal sector. From doing extensive legal research to outlining legal summaries and conducting meetings on behalf of the lawyers, the significance of legal staff has developed extensively in the past several years.
The legal consultant and other legal assistants have acquired more importance in legal teams with more number of prospects in the sector. According to a survey made, nearly one-quarter million acolytes are working in legal services and it is expected to rise by 15% in the upcoming years.
How the role of legal staff is changing?
In the past few years, scientific advancements employed in law firms have in some way distorted the lines that indicated the difference between legal acolytes or legal assistants and legal administrators. Both of these positions used to be separate and have distinct roles to play in providing legal services. However, from present situations, it can be seen that these two roles got overlapped and their responsibilities got altered eventually.
Usually, paralegal and legal assistant are individuals who offer non-lawyer legal support to accomplish certain legal tasks. These paralegals have adequate legal educational background and training to carry out practical legal jobs. Legal acolytes have enough experience and knowledge to handle any legal proceedings. This involves doing extensive case research, arranging interviews with people involved in the case, making a discovery, and outlining case briefly. All these chores are handled by the assistants on their own and are owed to their clients.
The role of a legal secretary is somewhat different from paralegals as they usually watch out for secretarial and clerical tasks, as guided and administered by a lawyer. The responsibilities of a legal secretary involve transcription, word processing, supervision of both incoming and outgoing correspondence, legal filings, and taking calls for a prosecutor. However, these tasks are not billed to their customers.
Although the role of both paralegals and legal administrators are different, they work collaboratively to assist the lawyers or attorneys in providing effective legal support services.
The exponential rise of legal staff requirement:
Due to the increase in complexities in legal proceedings, attorneys and lawyers used to handle extra workload and thus required added help of some individual who can help them in streamlining their legal work. Therefore, lawyers started searching for an efficient legal consultant and assistance in order to resolve cases in less time effectively.
The role of legal support has eventually got significant as it is not only responsible for handling clerical work but also helps in collecting witnesses for the case and then providing a brief summary of the case.
Hence, many universities started associate degrees and certificate programs in the field of legal training as more and more demand for legal assistance increased. Per the report, nearly 1000 schools and universities started offering legal training courses which are approved by the American Bar Association. Many firms ask for certificates when they hire a legal assistant thus having a degree or a certificate in legal training is a plus point in the resume.
How technology has impacted the role of legal staff?
Due to numerous technological innovations, a lot of things have changed with the advent of new gadgets such as laptops and smartphones. Although these electronic devices have streamlined the legal processes for the lawyers as they can work anywhere anytime. However, these have affected the duties of legal helpers such as the traditional clerical work has almost become obsolete as the lawyers can take care of their correspondence easily. Thus many firms have eliminated the need for legal support staff so as to increase efficiency in work and reduce costs.
Also, the legal assistants are required to perform legal research and they should be aware of the source from where they can get the necessary information. They are supposed to handle the legal discovery process which includes a huge pile of documents from where they have to extract important information and then provide legal process support to the lawyers and much more. All these tasks use to take a lot of time but technology has changed the face of these labour-intensive tasks and has helped the legal support staff to accomplish their work efficiently.
Staying abreast with technological trends is crucial
A significant change in the job roles of paralegals has been observed lately. Due to innovative technological advancements, many legal firms are adopting ways to make their work processing smooth and simple such as resorting to various software that helps in streamlining various legal tasks.
So today’s legal assistants need to be tech enthusiasts, they should know how to work with management software and should be aware of the federal e-discovery guidelines. Staying up-to-date with technology is essential to becoming a versatile legal support consultant.
Technology will develop endlessly in the coming years. The legal support staff will still be required to perform crucial functions in a law agency. But the staff should be willing to clasp technology and deploy changes in their working process, show scalability and the ability to face difficult tasks easily. In addition to this, the staff should be willing to work collaboratively to provide legal support services, regardless of how outdated or technically progressive a law agency may be.
Author Bio: John Smith is having 5-year experience in blogging. He loves to share his vast experience as a Business and legal consultant. He is a recognized expert in entrepreneurship and brand management, having worked with world famous brands.
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