Most of us who decide to become a paralegal do it because we want to help others. So, just how do paralegals make a difference in both private practice and when working in the public sector?
Working in Private Practice
Working in private practice means that you work for a law firm or a business. It’s not a government agency and that’s what makes it private. It is privately owned as opposed to being funded by the public through taxes. Private practice is one of the main ways that paralegals are employed. People who are looking to get a divorce go to a family lawyer. People who need to create a last will and testament go to see an estates lawyer. People who are hurt in a car accident go to see a lawyer who is experienced in personal injury. Those are all examples of private legal practices. Paralegals don’t represent clients in court.
Working in the Public Sector
When you work as a paralegal in the public sector, it means that you work in a federal or state agency that is supported by tax dollars. Maybe you work for the state prosecutor’s office. Maybe you work for the public defender’s office. Regardless of what government office you work in, you make a big difference!
We are the first point of contact for clients. After the client enters into a relationship with the attorney, paralegals are often the first point of contact going forward. We take the phone calls. We make the appointments. We provide a professional level of empathy. When paralegals take the time to patiently listen to clients and their concerns, a big difference is made in the experience that the client gets from the law office.
We provide reassurance to both lawyers and clients. As paralegals, we have our hands in a lot of client matters. We schedule things. We make sure that deadlines are met. We provide reassurance to attorneys that we’ve taken care of the necessities so that they can focus on the legal problem. After all, paralegals are trained to handle a lot of important matters so that the lawyer can take care of issues that they are trained to do. Often, clients prefer to talk to paralegals. Clients don’t feel as intimidated when they speak with us as they may when they speak with their lawyer. Our presence and our ability to get them information that they need is very reassuring.
We get to know people. Clients, other paralegals, lawyers, and even court staff often contact us. We get to know a lot of people. This can make a big difference when we’re trying to make sure that a particular legal matter flows along as it should. It also makes a difference because we learn the subtle signs of when someone may not be telling us the truth. We learn how to ask the right questions to get the full answer that we may need.
Paralegals Make a Difference
Paralegals make a difference in the lives of their supervising attorneys, clients, and even in the lives of others. With good communication skills and organizational skills, we continue to make a difference each and every day!