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One of the Key Duties of a Paralegal: Working with Opposing Counsel
By: Jennifer Donini
One of the Key Duties of a Paralegal:
Working with Opposing Counsel
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that makes an attorney’s work possible. One of the key roles in most law firms is the paralegal. Paralegals handle a large range of work delegated to them by an attorney. One of the most important duties of a paralegal is communicating with opposing counsel.
In any given case, there can be hundreds to tens of thousands of pages of documents to review and exchange with opposing counsel. An attorney will rely on their paralegal to manage these documents and provide the other side with materials they are entitled to in a professional and timely manner. The attorney is also counting on their paralegal for coordinating appointments including vehicle or property inspections, party depositions, meetings, conference calls, and court appearances, just to list a few.
Each of these example paralegal duties require ongoing communication, both written and verbal, with the opposing counsel and their staff. For each step of the case, the paralegal monitors related correspondence, prepares documents as needed, speaks with the attorney and/or staff for the other party about the variety of upcoming appointments, and works under the direction of the attorney to keep the case moving.
Having good, quality communication as a paralegal, both oral and written, is essential. As an extension of the attorney, the actions of the paralegal become the reputation of the team and the firm. Each interaction that the paralegal has with opposing counsel can demonstrate how professional we are and how committed we are to helping our client.
While the paralegal is always advocating for their client, maintaining a good rapport with opposing counsel and their staff is an important factor as well. Professional courtesies for reasonable requests are more likely to be honored and can further benefit the client and the case overall. Of the many competing duties of a paralegal, working with opposing council is one of the most critical. It’s been my experience as a paralegal that this skill proves to be a win-win for all involved.