Reduce the State Budget: Hire Paralegals

Every state and local government is looking for ways to reduce costs while maintaining services. None needs to do so more than California. In today’s Capitol Weekly: The Newspaper of California Government and Politics,” Malcom Maclachlan asks “Should AG hire more paralegals?” and pretty much answer the question affirmatively in an article that makes a good case for the effectiveness and efficiency of professional paralegals.

Maclachlan notes,

But there appears to be one cost-cutting trend in the legal industry that the AG’s office has not kept up with: hiring more paralegals. These are lower-cost employees who can do much of the support work for attorneys, including some tasks that are often carried out by attorneys.

“There has been a push, and clients have forced the push, starting in the early or mid ’90s to lower the costs of their legal bills and use as many lower-level, inexpensive people as they can,” said Tom Chase, owner of Chase Legal Professionals Inc. in Folsom.

“Paralegals are definitely part of that process,” added Chase, who is not an attorney but has managed four different law firms. He also taught a course on law firm management at the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge Law School from 1989 to 2004.

Maclachlan also addresses explanations (excuses) given by AG spokespersons, e.g., “The spokesperson for the AG also said that the litigation-heavy nature of their work limits the numbers of paralegals they can use. Many law firms do most of their work outside of court—filing real estate or tax documents, or other work that does not involved the inside of a court room.   But Chase says the law firms that hire a lot of paralegals are often the same ones that do a lot of litigation. Paralegals often sit in on depositions and summarize them, or organize exhibits for trial.”

It is a good sign for the paralegal profession that reporters like Maclachlan recognize and report on the role paralegal can play in the delivery of legal services regardless of the sector in which that service is delivered – something that you, I, Dupont, and the ABA have known all along!

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