Preparing for a trial is hectic, stressful and demanding — no matter the nature of the dispute, nor the jurisdiction involved. The litigators are busy with the development of their case and anticipating the arguments of their opponents, not to mention the filing of pre-trial motions and determining how to approach cross-examination of witnesses.
Amid this controlled chaos, though, paralegals can play a crucial role on the trial team by bringing order and providing vital support during the final stages of trial preparation.
The role of a paralegal will vary from case to case and firm to firm, but here are four key roles these professionals can fulfill in those crucial days prior to the start of trial:
- Document Management
No matter how big or small the case, managing the files and documents associated with a trial is the priority. If you skip this step, you can expect major bumps in the road later on. LexisNexis experts advise that the simplest way to organize documents is to create folders that follow the chronological nature of the trial:
- Case Law
- Closing Arguments
- Trial Management — this folder might contain everything you need to handle the details of the case (e.g., tasks to complete, contact list for all parties associated with the trial, etc.).
- Task Management
Depending on the technology in your workplace, the idea is to place all the deadlines in the case on a shared calendar and set reminders starting a week or two ahead. Litigation consultants advise that, at a minimum, you should put it on your own calendar or create a free private calendar by using Google Apps.
- Fact Management
The more complex the case, the more files there are. And the more files there are, the harder it is to get a handle on relationships, patterns or contradictions in the evidence. Software tools such as the LexisNexis CaseMap® solution can help you manage and analyze your case by using a simple interface to review all the trial documents. Use technology products to tag and connect sections of documents that support or deny claims from opposing counsel, for example.
- People Management
From the opposing counsel to witnesses, from juries to judges — a good paralegal has to be able to manage a range of people. Building relationships with key players is essential. For example, veteran paralegals are often encouraged by the litigators to touch base regularly with their key witnesses. A paralegal who can help manage the cast of characters in a case is one who provides tremendous value in the final stages of trial prep.
CaseMap brings together the relevant facts, documents, cast of characters and issues of each case — as well as legal and investigative research — into a centralized repository for improved case assessment. This allows users to maximize case knowledge, see connections they might otherwise miss and better collaborate with colleagues on a matter. The CaseMap software suite has won more than 50 legal industry awards for its innovative use of technology that helps litigators better manage their cases.
To view a brief demonstration of CaseMap 12.1, please click here.
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4 Key Roles for Paralegals in Trial Prep