Paralegals can be a valuable asset to any law firm, providing litigation support to attorneys in a number of different ways. This assistance can range from something as minor as scheduling and coordinating hearings all the way to drafting substantive legal arguments. Unfortunately, paralegals can also detract from the legal services you expect from your law firm.
Although paralegals can assist attorneys in meaningful ways, many law firms carry the duties of their paralegals too far. One of the persistent problems found among high volume foreclosure firms, both on the bank side and on the homeowner side of litigation, is that paralegals are relied upon too heavily. Paralegals should not be your primary contact at a law firm, nor should they draft a majority of documents in your case or have any say whatsoever in strategic matters.
Even worse, some people call themselves paralegals, yet they do not have any formal training. These detestable surrogates hold themselves out to the world as paralegals, yet they have not been schooled in any aspect of the specialized skills necessary to be an effective and ethical paralegal. Left unchecked, these questionable paralegals can result in heavily unattractive and obnoxious experiences for clients and the justice system as a whole.
Be sure to look any attorney you are considering hiring directly in the eye, to ask the following:
(1) Are the paralegals at your law firm trained at an institution of higher learning in paralegal practices?;
(2) Will I be able to speak to my attorney whenever I wish, or will a paralegal or receptionist be my primary contact; and
(3) Have you or any attorney at your firm ever taken strategic litigation advice or suggestions from a paralegal at your firm?
Should the attorney waver, admit that their paralegals are unqualified, admit that paralegals are their clients’ primary contact, or admit that they or other attorneys at their firm have taken strategic direction from a paralegal, you should think long and hard about risking your home and your money to hire them. Don’t risk hefty paralegal problems and the oversized risks they entail.
First, our paralegal studied a graduate level curriculum at Texas State University, and received a certificate in paralegal studies from that same institution. Some “paralegals,” by contrast, simply give themselves the weighty title of paralegal without any study or certification to back up their oversized claims. Secondly, our paralegal is not our clients’ primary contact at our firm. Each attorney is receptive and responsive to communications from clients. You will not have to argue with our receptionist to talk to the attorney you hired, as is the case at some firms. Thirdly, our paralegal never drives the litigation strategy of our firm.
No matter what, be sure to ask any Florida foreclosure attorney you are considering whether their paralegal practices match up with ours. Do not take the risk of paying your hard earned money to defend your most important asset to hire a firm that engages in questionable paralegal practices and procedures.