The COVID-19 pandemic quickly changed the way many people are used to living and working. Paralegals, specifically, have been deeply impacted by this rapid shift in the industry, and many have helped lead their firms through this new remote landscape. Here are five ways that
remote work has impacted paralegals.
Reprinted with permission of Mike Murray and the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. This article originally appeared in the Q2 2022 issue of FACTS & FINDINGS, the quarterly journal of NALA. Inquiries should be directed to NALA, 6450 S. Lewis Avenue, Suite 250, Tulsa, OK 74136, or by e-mail to [email protected].
The COVID-19 pandemic quickly changed the way many people are used to living and working. That was particularly true in the legal industry. In-person depositions, hearings, and even trials were abruptly halted. Cases began to pile up as everyone struggled to find new ways of working.
It became clear that a new approach was essential to move forward. The solution: virtual proceedings. Though not a new concept, prior to the pandemic, many legal teams were not fully versed in functioning remotely, perhaps out of a lack of necessity, disinterest, or an inadequate amount of time to master the tools. Whatever the reason, many firms were left with a steep learning curve and highly challenged to adopt new technology in a quick time frame.
Paralegals, specifically, have been deeply impacted by this rapid shift in the industry, and many have helped lead their firms through this new remote landscape. Here are five ways that remote work has impacted paralegals.
GETTING AN ATTORNEY’S ATTENTION
As long as there have been attorneys, paralegals have struggled to gain their attention. It used to be that if an attorney did not respond to calls or emails, paralegals could just walk down the hall and knock on their door. With lockdowns and most legal teams working from home, grabbing a moment with an attorney has become harder than ever.
So how does a paralegal communicate the importance of receiving a response? Maria Turner, a senior paralegal at Nelson Mullins in Atlanta, Georgia, recommends placing specific deadlines within an email communication. An example of this would be mentioning that you will be going forward with a specific action at a set time. If the paralegal doesn’t receive a response, they can assume it is safe to move forward as planned.
Another tip for gaining an attorney’s attention in a remote environment is to set an appointment on the attorney’s calendar as either a direct reminder or a specific time to discuss a time-sensitive request.
Whichever methods work for your team, one thing is clear: gaining an attorney’s attention has become a bigger obstacle for the paralegal.
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There are many advantages to virtual proceedings. There is no longer the stress of travel or arranging hotel rooms, no more worrying about weather delaying a flight or ensuring that specific documents are prepared in advance and on-site for a proceeding.