Chapter 1 one paralegal in civil litigation civ lit 2nd

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Chapter 1 one paralegal in civil litigation civ lit 2nd

  1. 1. Civil Litigation:Process and Procedures Chapter One The Paralegal In Civil Litigation
  2. 2. Civil Litigation  Legal disputes between parties  Seeks a remedy for a civil wrong  Tort injuries  Breach of contract  Differs from criminal proceedings  Alternate means of resolving the dispute have failed  The proper court must be identifiedCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 2
  3. 3. The Role of the Paralegal  Collection of information & evidence  Organization of information/evidence  Analysis of facts & law  Preparation of material for all aspects of litigationCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 3
  4. 4. Law Office Structure  Formal – written office manual with detailed job descriptions  Less structured – more flexible, loosely- defined roles with overlap possible  All members of the legal team are accountable to the client.  The entire team shares the responsibility, but the lawyer is ultimately accountable.Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 4
  5. 5. Client Relationships  Individuals, businesses, corporations  Clients are kept informed (inside corporate counsel, in corporate representation), increasingly by electronic communications  Paralegals may have the most direct & frequent contact with clients  Understand clients’ views & values  Understand the corporate culture.Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 5
  6. 6. Members of the Legal Team Lawyers  Managing partners  Senior or Junior Partners  Associates Paralegals, supervised by lawyers  Part of a team  “Floaters,” from a poolCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 6
  7. 7. Members of the Legal Team, cont.  Support staff  Law librarians  Legal secretaries  Receptionists  Information technologists  Bookkeepers  Mailroom personnelCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 7
  8. 8. Corporate Paralegals  In-house legal department  Attorneys  Paralegals  Support staff  May litigate or refer to outside counsel  In-house paralegals may supervise, keeping lines of communication open with outside counsel.Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 8
  9. 9. Supervisory Duties  In-house paralegals may be responsible for:  Tracking deadlines  Monitoring budgets  Reviewing documents  Maintaining the relationship with outside counsel.Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 9
  10. 10. Litigation Support Manager  Coordinates & facilitates the technology needs of the legal team  Works with the attorneys or paralegals to meet the technological needs for litigation  Obtaining evidence  Organizing information  Presenting evidenceCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 10
  11. 11. Information Technology Staff  Must understand:  The needs for technology in the office.  Legal ethical considerations  The need for remote access  The skill level of all the office users  Budget constraintsCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 11
  12. 12. “Partnering”  The attorney/paralegal partnership is most successful when:  Their work habits & personalities harmonize and complement each other  Everyone knows the facts, players & issues  They communicate effortlessly  The attorney can rely on the paralegal’s knowledge of the case as back-upCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 12
  13. 13. The Courthouse  Courts are frequently divided into:  Civil & Criminal Courts  Probate Court  Juvenile, Family Courts  Other government departments may be useful in litigation:  Tax authorities, recorders of deeds, central records  Prosecutors, public defendersCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 13
  14. 14. Paralegal Competencies  Typical litigation tasks include:  Legal research  Drafting pleadings & court briefs  Making copies  Interviewing witnesses  Employ support software  Paralegals possess a basic legal knowledge of court procedures, legal specialties, specialized court rulesCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 14
  15. 15. The Duty of Competence  Obligation to remain current through continuing legal education “A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.” --Rule 1.1, Alabama Rules of Professional ConductCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 15
  16. 16. Paralegal Skills  Management  Scheduling  Witnesses & exhibits  Workflow  Organizing and Categorizing  Work skills  Resourcefulness & commitment  Analytical skills  Interpersonal & communication skillsCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 16
  17. 17. “Soft Skills”  Paralegals must deal with the public (clients, witnesses, other law firms, court personnel) by being:  Prompt  Courteous  Organized  Culturally sensitiveCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 17
  18. 18. Resourcefulness  Organized, able to  Categorize  Prioritize  Co-ordinate  Utilize time efficiently  Creative, able to think “outside the box.”Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 18
  19. 19. Commitment  Even if interrupted, tasks must be finished.  Tasks, such as research, writing, filing and organizing will be completed within the necessary timeframe.  Honor commitments made to serve others, and recognize that others rely upon your word.Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 19
  20. 20. Analytical Skills  Step-by-step analysis of potential options, narrowing down possible answers  Identify facts  Identify legal issues  Contrast & compare them to existing laws & other casesCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 20
  21. 21. Interpersonal Skills  The ability to work and communicate with others  Positive attitude  Diplomatic  Flexible  Good rapport  A team player  Resourceful  Adaptable  ThoroughCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 21
  22. 22. “People Skills”  Sensitivity  Environmental  Odors, furniture placement, etc.  Cultural  Eye contact, chair positions, etc.  Communications  Oral, hard copy, e-mailCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 22
  23. 23. Communications Skills  Write & speak with clarity & brevity  Paralegal requirements:  Read with comprehension  Listen effectively (interpret nonverbal expressions)  Write & speak in clear, concise, grammatically correct English  Use persuasive language  Tailor communications to your audienceCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 23
  24. 24. Communications, cont.  Interpret or explain nuances and legal expressions (terms of art)  Economy of time requires that whenever possible, an idea be communicated the first time.  Your appearance should communicate professionalism.Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 24
  25. 25. Paralegal Litigation Tasks  Interviewing clients & witnesses  Maintain personal contact with clients, witnesses, opposing parties, court  Factual information interviews  Investigating facts  Verification of client’s story  Obtaining & reviewing (analyzing) recordsCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 25
  26. 26. Litigation Tasks, cont.  Organizing & managing case files  Track document requests, identify contact information for opposing counsel, file copies of all documents prepared for the case, including summaries & indices  Docket information, such as statutes of limitation, court appearances, interviews, settlement conferences, etc.Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 26
  27. 27. Litigation Tasks, cont.  Drafting pleadings & other documents  Obtain facts  Obtain the attorney’s theory of the case  Prepared draft, using form books or previously drafted documents as a guide  Have the supervising attorney review, revise, correct & sign the pleading prior to filing.Civil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 27
  28. 28. Assisting at Trial  Paralegals may provide a variety of support services to the attorney in trial:  Preparing & double-checking any electronic presentation devices for compatibility & operating condition  Shepherd the client & witnesses through the process  Prepare & present exhibits  Take daily trial notesCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 28
  29. 29. Administrative Tasks  Conflicts checking  Examine the firm database to determine that the opposing party has not been represented by the firm in the past  Explore apparent conflicts  Prepare notifications & releases when appropriate  Time-keeping  Create an accurate record of services & time spent for both future billing and firm managementCivil Litigation: Process and Procedures © 2009 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Goldman/Hughes 29

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