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Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Small town paralegal in the city. Once ran a law office, now being run by one. Med mal defense litigation. I think it's growing on me.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Good People to Know: Paralegals at Other Firms

This should be a given for any career-minded, relationship-oriented paralegal, but it's also helpful for lawyers and other legal professionals. First, though, I will explain why it is so important for paralegals.

These are the people with whom you will be in contact in order to schedule depositions, send settlement agreements back and forth, and receive updates on case progression. For instance, while depositions are usually few and far between in my firm's practice, when we do have to have one, I get to speak with the opposing side's paralegal regarding dates, times, and places. When I need to find out whether the other side has submitted a proposed order or how long it will be before we receive discovery answers in a case, I speak with none other than the paralegal. Being on good terms, being able to toss in friendly small-talk about the last association conference, these things make a big difference.

There are also situations, non-adversarial in nature, that give rise to the need for another paralegal. You may find yourself attempting to draft a document you've never drafted before. Perhaps a paralegal friend will have a sample of that document (any confidential information fully removed, of course) for you to use. I have used my contacts to find information for domestic abuse victims, to draft documents, and to get tips on procedural matters. I've also found that my out-of-state contacts provide encouragement and good career advice.

As for why attorneys should get to know paralegals from other firms, the reasons are numerous. First, the Boss himself has told me that if he needs information from another law firm, his first stop is the paralegal/secretary. He believes that many times, especially in our local firms, the assistant will know about the status of the case right off the top of her head faster than the attorney will. This probably has to do with the fact that the assistant is the person marking the schedule and making sure everything is done on time and according to procedure. Lawyers may also want to get to know paralegals because it is that much easier to find someone to hire when you're tapped into the scene. Only last week, I received a mass email notice from an officer of my local organization that an area attorney is looking for a paralegal. If she has not found someone yet, she will very soon. Another acquaintance of mine who is a new attorney contacted me soon after taking the bar, requesting that I keep my ears open for a tentative legal assistant for her.

No matter which role you fulfill on your legal team, get to know paralegals at other firms. The rewards are many: networking opportunities, new forms, access to general helpful information, quick access to case statuses, possible job tips, etc. With a little effort you can have the legal world at your fingertips, and you might make a few good friends in the process.

1 comment:

  1. You are completely right. I wish I knew more paralegals in Oklahoma. I don't have a lot of time to go to OBA or OLA meetings.