Tuesday, April 22, 2008

D.A. Should Reduce Attorneys, Hire Paralegals

As we know, using paralegals can save law firms, corporations, and municipalities plenty of money.

The first-ever management audit of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office recommended the office replace a dozen attorney positions with more than twice as many less expensive paralegals.

The audit, performed by the county's contracted independent auditor, found attorneys were spending multiple hours a week on tasks that could be performed by a paralegal.

"The department therefore spends at least an additional $3.34 million per year to have attorneys rather than paralegals carry out many paralegal tasks,'' according to the audit.

The audit recommended reducing the number of attorneys in the office by 12 positions through attrition and using the funds budgeted for those positions to hire as many as 25 paralegals.

Needless to say, the recommendation was met with resistance from District Attorney Dolores Carr, who objected to the auditor's suggestion about reducing attorney positions.

"We disagree, however, that the additional paralegals can be provided simply by eliminating attorney codes. The audit failed to conduct any meaningful analysis of how the elimination of 12 attorneys would impact our ability to provide mandated legal services in courts as well as in the office," according to Carr's response. "The statistical calculation by the auditors to justify the reduction in attorney codes is too simplistic and an insufficient measure of the work that needs to be done."

She did, however, admit that the office needs more paralegals.

The office does need additional paralegals; Carr listed nine positions that would "significantly help," but she said they should not come at the expense of attorney positions.

My question is, has she looked at what the attorneys are doing? Can paralegals do it instead? Most likely, I'd bet.

(Source: cbs5.com - Local Wire)

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