Understanding Your Legal Team – More Than Just A Lawyer
Sooner or later, you are going to be introduced to the legal profession. This will usually require you to hire a lawyer. This is a surprising task for many people because they don’t realize that a legal team is much more than just a lawyer. In this article, we take a look at the usual members.
The legal team obviously starts out with the lawyer in question. This is the person you meet with when considering who you are going to hire. This person is known as the lead attorney if they are in a law firm or just -the lawyer- in a sole practitioner situation. A law firm has two or more attorneys while a sole practitioner is just one lawyer. Regardless, the lawyer acts more as a CEO of the legal team than you might realize. He or she will guide the team during the workup to trial, but other people will do most of the actual work. This is run of the mill in the legal profession, but often surprises clients.
The associate is a lawyer that does most of the actual work on a case leading up to trial. The associate tends to be younger and is gaining experience until they are ready to actually go to trial. The associate may issue requests to the other party, take depositions and attend basic mandatory court hearings. The associate will also often write letters updating you on the case. The lead attorney will read these to make sure the case is being handled they way he or she desires.
The paralegal is not an attorney, but is more of an assistant. The paralegal is charged with much of the grunt work. This means gathering and organizing documents. It also means speaking with you, the client, regarding any questions you have. A good paralegal is worth their weight in gold for a busy lawyer.
The secretary is the gatekeeper for the attorney. The secretary is a natural skeptic given all the sales calls that come in during the day. Being friendly with the secretary is a smart move. You are much more likely to get through the gate than be told the lawyer is in court or out at a deposition.
It is the rare lawyer that works alone on a case. The amount of grunt work is simply too excessive for it to be feasible. When dealing with your legal team or interviewing a perspective lawyer, make sure to know all the parties involved. It will make things run smoother.