The Purpose of Paralegals
Today’s paralegals are extremely “organized, educated, and technologically savvy,” according to solaw.com. The website reported that a recent Paralegal Technology Survey in Law Office Computing revealed that 88% of the paralegals responding had access to the Internet and 47% used it for legal research. Interesting enough, paralegals, not office managers, frequently make the technology purchase decisions in the office, like arranging for high-speed Internet access or litigation support software. Technology has created a niche for many paralegals, whose supervising attorneys would just as soon leave the technology up to someone else so that they can focus on legal arguments and theories.
Perhaps the most significant impact that paralegals have had upon the legal profession might be their billing rate, which is lower than that of an attorney. For this reason, paralegals make legal services more affordable and accessible to clients. Because a paralegal must work under the supervision of a licensed attorney who is required to oversee her work, the end result is high-quality production at a more affordable cost to the client.
According to lawcost.com, one of the most significant factors leading to inflated legal costs is law partners and associates performing “paralegal tasks” and billing them out at partner and associate rates, and advises legal clients: “You have the right to insist that if paralegal tasks are performed by attorneys, those tasks should nevertheless be billed to you at paralegal rates.” Cost conscious clients will no doubt heed this advice as they scan their monthly invoices more carefully than ever before.
Another advantage that a paralegal provides to a legal team is giving an attorney the opportunity to delegate the workload, which not only eases the stress of a heavy caseload, but also helps cases to proceed toward resolution more quickly and efficiently, creating a win-win situation for both the law firm and the client.