The paralegal profession is critically important in the legal field.
A lawyer relies heavily on the work performed by a paralegal to effectively perform his/her duties. Yet, the work of a paralegal is not always given its just due. Some might think this is a professional service that only emerged on the current legal landscape in recent years.
That wouldn't be accurate as paralegals have been around for some time.
The office duties of a paralegal are to, essentially, assist and support a lawyer. A paralegal doesn't perform any of the official duties of a lawyer but does provide needed support to deliver on the expectations of the client.
When a lawyer has to handle all the additional areas of support related to legal work, he or she can't effectively deliver his or her legal services to the client.
It doesn't benefit anyone for the attorney to do it all.
The official recognition of the paralegal profession began in 1968. The American Bar Association (ABA) deemed the work of a paralegal was necessary for proper representation of clients.
One other area where the work of a paralegal was necessary was the realm of affordability. In the most basic of terms, paralegals contribute to lowering legal fees.
The duties can be delegated to a paralegal charging far less per hour. This enhances the client's ability to afford services.
Another benefit to the development of the paralegal profession is lowered costs offers greater access to attorneys. Such concepts of greater access to legal professionals were common during the 1960's. This sentiment likely contributed to the development of the paralegal profession.
The Human Element
Additionally, a lawyer has only has so much time and energy for case management within a work day. No one benefits from an overtaxed attorney. A paralegal, on the other hand, boosts the effectiveness of service and representation.
However, paralegals are not mere assistants. They privy to many aspects of legal representation. This is why during the early inception of the profession, the ABA was quick to institute rules of ethical behavior for paralegals.
The Current Status of the Profession
The job of a paralegal has become commonplace in all legal firms due to the critical service such professionals provide.
Currently, there are all manner of college degrees and accredited certification programs intended to help one enter the field of paralegal services.
These programs cover all ranges of specialized law practices.
The future of the paralegal will likely expand just as the legal profession expands. Truthfully, there will always be an increasing need for lawyers which means there will be further expanded need for paralegals.
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