Best Practice Tips for Paralegals
Over the past few months, I have learned some essential best practice tips that I think would be incredibly valuable for all aspiring paralegals out there, just like myself!
This is more of a note to myself, but I thought I would quickly share with you here as well. This may come as common sense to a lot of you, but I do believe that sometimes the best advice are also the ones that are most simplistic.
(OR, if you are like me, you just need to hear it from someone else once in a while 😉 )
*Note: these tips are focused towards a small claims court/tribunal setting where most paralegal work is done 🙂
- Be Prepared — I wasn’t joking when I said most simplistic! Most of the work in a case is behind the scenes before you and a client gets to court. The legal research, the case laws, documents for the other party, a copy for the judge, sworn affidavits, copies of evidence, and the list goes on. Check. Double check. Triple check…did I mention to check?
- Be Concise — I am of the opinion that judges typically don’t like lengthy trials. Keeping things concise, and focus only on relevant facts of the case will most likely work to your advanatge. Make sure to condense your arguments into relevant points, and give every effort to limit any surprise submissions during a trial.
- Prep Your Witness — the credibility of a witness is extremely important to winning a case. A witness’ credibility is acessed live in a court room setting by the judge. The judge looks at the witness’ mannerism, speech, and will essentially rule on whether he/she believes what the witness is saying, which of course has a direct impact on your case.
- Get Familiar With The Court of Justice Act — court procedures of all three levels of court in Ontario, how costs are calculated at the end, roles of different judges etc. are all in there. It is also frequently referenced in case decisions (often when it comes to costs). I am making it a personal goal to get familiarized with it before I head out into the real world after my program
- “Make it easy for the court to rule in your favour” — This is something that one of my professors said in class that has really stuck with me. Our jobs as paralegals and advocates not only entail making strong arguments to advance our client’s claim. At the end of the day, our real job is to convince the court to rule in our favour. There are many components to being a good advocate but it’s important to not lose sight of the big picture: we must do everthing we can to make it easy for the court to rule in our favour. This means organized documents, meeting all deadlines, curteous professional demeanor, strong and rational arguments, and doing our best to anticipate all surprise elements that may arise during the course of the case.
I am sure in the near future I will be able to share even more detailed and indepth practice tips, I am merely scratching the surface here! So please stay tuned, and leave me a comment below if you have any questions!
Have a wonderful rest of the week everyone!