Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wikipedia: Paralegal definition

Wikipedia's definition of a Paralegal:

"Paralegal is used in most jurisdictions to describe a paraprofessional who assists qualified lawyers in their legal work."

A couple thoughts:

1. Qualified? I guess that means they passed a bar exam. The sad part is that unsupervised newby associates are also considered "qualified" to make independent legal decisions (and we have to happily assist in their near malpractice).

2. "Assist" does not mean the following:

  * Do your work for you. I am not an underpaid associate.

  * Cover for you or reschedule hearings and meetings to accommodate your sport of choice. Instead, I will start informing opposing attorneys/ judges/ clients that you couldn't make it because your wife just left you after finding you in bed with another man in her underwear. Yes, I'm pretty sure that will be the last excuse I need to make for you.

  * Do all the work to prepare you for trial while you're enjoying the Florida sun the week before trial (true story). Perhaps I'll assign the same level of interest to that case and hire a camera crew to capture your surprise that I didn't bail you out. Oh, and then I'll refuse to work the weekend on trial prep because I already promised your wife I would help her move everything out of your house while you did your own work!!

  * I am not your walking task list or babysitter. It's not my job to tell you what your priorities are, when to do something, where you're supposed to be, who to call, or give you a briefing about a case when you get a call because you can't remember what a case is about. I think, instead, I'll start "accidently" getting the cases confused, and give you random facts about several cases. Besides, Secretary X makes worse mistakes. It works for her.  Maybe I'll give it a shot. Who knows? I might get a raise.

I think the definition should be:

Underpaid, overworked people who loved the law before the attorneys around them disabused them of the idea that paralegals assist and contribute to bring a case to conclusion.


  1. Ain't that the truth!!!! Sheesh!

    ps: At least the managing attorney hear seemed to know that newbie associates no absolutely nothing and told him that I am his boss until further notice. Muhahaha. So... I have the associate doing MY work for the time being and I'm enjoying every minute of it thankyouverymuch!

  2. That is certainly unique, in my experience. Insurance defense is the worst here. They use and abuse their associates for a few years, then dump them for the next cheapo newby, all without training them to practice law correctly. I think paralegals are great associate teachers because, when you know how the engine runs, you're far more likely to understand how to make the machine work.