Monday, February 2, 2009

Paralegals Can Serve the Public as Well as Lawyers

A fantastic piece that ran on AZBiz.com on Friday, Paralegals can service the public as well as lawyers these days, describes the role of legal document assistants in Arizona.

Today there is an intermediate level of professional, not a lawyer for certain but more than a secretary. He or she is the paralegal, licensed by the Arizona Supreme Court. They are required to take a series of courses to educate them specifically to prepare documents. This is far more economical for the client, and depending on how they are used, relieves busy lawyers of the more routine work that is required so often.

Most astoundingly to me, paralegals are licensed to offer their services directly to the public and many can and do so without legal supervision. As non-lawyers, they cannot give legal advice but if you know what you want to do, they can prepare any forms you might need to do it. The more professional offices will file your documents with the appropriate court or agency.

Many times you know you need a will or a trust, a divorce, a corporation, any of the many family law adjustments, real estate documents, living wills, or some other clear-cut action. This is perfect for the paralegal who is well-educated and experienced in creating these documents for a lot less cost than an attorney who would do the same thing.

In my mind, the paralegal is about in the same relationship to lawyers as a nurse practitioner is to a physician. They may not have the same education, background or foundations of their work, they are not experienced in doing surgery or trying cases in court. But they know the practical nuts and bolts of routine events that constitute the majority of the medical and legal activity most people are involved in.

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