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If you ask a classroom full of children what professions they want to practice when they grow up, it is rare to hear a child say that he or she wants to be a paralegal, unless the child has a parent who is paralegal. While there are romanticized depictions in movies and on television of lawyers contributing to the evolving case law tradition of the United states, seeking justice for the victims of crimes, and clearing the names of innocent people who have been accused, one would be hard-pressed to find an awesome paralegal character in pop culture. Nonetheless, much of the work accomplished in law firms is made possible by the efforts of paralegals. Although paralegals are undeniably helpful, and although they make law firms more efficient, there are some circumstances in which the only person for the job is your own lawyer. At the Schmidt Law Group, you will always be able to contact your very own injury attorney when you need one.
What Paralegals can and can Not do in Arizona
Paralegals are assistants to lawyers; they do not go to law school or take a bar exam. They earn their paralegal certificates through programs of study at universities and community colleges; perhaps you have seen advertisements online or on television for paralegal studies programs. A major part of a paralegal’s job is to draft documents, especially those related to estate planning or family court matters such as divorce. Paralegals help lawyers by conducting research and drafting legal documents such as memorandums and summaries of depositions. Paralegals cannot give legal advice in a professional context, appear in court as a client’s legal representative, or sign court documents on behalf of a client. In practice, everything a paralegal writes must be reviewed by a lawyer.
Arizona employs more than 5,000 paralegals; only nine states have more paralegals. Since 2003, Arizona has formally recognized the profession of “legal document preparer.” Thus, some paralegals practice independently of law firms; of course, they can only offer a limited range of services.
When You Need to Speak to a Lawyer, Not a Paralegal
Giving legal advice is one of the duties exclusive to lawyers. More specifically, paralegals can give professional advice related to claims, but not lawsuits. If you are a party in a lawsuit, the person you need to talk to is your lawyer. Paralegals can help by researching and writing documents, which the lawyer will review, but the person whose responsibility it is to help you, the client, make decisions about the lawsuit is the lawyer.
Contact Eric Schmidt for Professional, Personalized Service in Personal Injury Cases
Eric Schmidt is an Arizona lawyer who works on personal injury cases; he never assigns paralegals tasks that they are not authorized to perform. His goal is to help clients recover damages in their cases, not to run a huge business. Contact Eric Schmidt in Phoenix, Arizona, and you will always be able to work directly with a lawyer when that is what your situation requires.