The Client as Part of the Legal Team

The traditional concept of the legal team looks much like a corporation or government organizational chart with a rigid hierarchy of commands, responsibilities and duties for the attorney and the law office staff. This traditional view of the legal team suffers from several flaws, the most prominent of which is that if fails to recognize the role of the client. The importance of the client to the law office is often recognized only to the extent of acknowledging that without the client there is no case and no fee.

However, recognizing the importance of the client to the law office is not the same as recognizing the client as part of the legal team; rather it keeps the client apart from the team and, to a great extent, from the very legal matter which brought the client to the attorney. Effective management of the client in litigation and other legal processes requires that we change the conception of those roles from the traditional view to one that accounts for the interrelationship between the client, the paralegal and the attorney, and the joint responsibility and involvement of all members of the legal team for the facts, the file and the docket in achieving a successful outcome.

These interrelationships and responsibilities appear more complex than they have often been characterized.  The goal for the effective, empowered paralegal is the ability to understand and manage each of the key factors including the client. When the client is a full-functioning member of the legal team, management of interrelated aspects of the legal process becomes much easier.

I will be posting more on making the client part of the legal team soon.

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