I have an automobile accident case. My lawyer is often on the phone when I call and my call is forwarded to his paralegal. What do paralegals do?
You didn’t hire a lawyer, you hired a law firm. In our firm a team of people works together to help every client. The paralegal is an important part of the team.
Our law firm’s paralegals are very involved in every case. They help us communicate with clients and do many other important tasks.
Lawyers – especially very good lawyers – tend to be very busy. Getting a lawyer on the phone is difficult because he or she spends a significant amount of each day on the phone or doing other tasks to help clients. That is why our firm and other firms hire and train paralegals on how to respond to most client questions – we want our clients to have their concerns addressed promptly and not have to wait for the lawyer to have time to be able to return the call.
One way to understand that relationship between a paralegal and a lawyer is to look at the more common example of a nurse and a doctor. Doctors do a good surrounding themselves with nurses and other professionals to aid in providing patient care. Thus, doctors try to limit their activities to those things only a doctor can do, and enlist the help of others to provide a large percentage of patient care.
So it is with paralegals and lawyers. My guess is that the paralegal you are speaking to has been trained to answer most questions that arise and knows when to bring in the lawyer to answer a question most appropriately addressed to the lawyer. In our office, paralegals not only assist in client communication but help coordinate communications with liability and health insurers, do initial drafts of typical documents and discovery responses, assist in the preparation of settlement packages, and assist in trial preparation.
Thus, I recommend that you continue to talk with the paralegal and appreciate the fact that the lawyer cares enough about her clients that she employs and trains good people to assist him in representing you.