E-discovery is Changing the Role of a Litigation Paralegal

Technology is changing the litigation paralegal duties in a positive way.

In the past, any and all discovery would come to a litigation paralegal in physical form. It would arrive in piles of boxes (or truckloads full of boxes). The paralegal would then have to spend hours, days or even weeks sifting through all of that paper. Those colored post-its were a paralegal’s best friend! While some law firms do still prefer paper discovery, even though in some cases it is not complying with the rules, more and more of them are starting to use e-discovery instead. Most litigation paralegal duties remain the same.  But now it is also often their job to handle e-discovery, which means having to keep up with technology changes and court rules relating to electronically stored information. [Read the ABA’s article on recent amendments to FRCP] As e-discovery has evolved over the years, the litigation paralegal duties continue to change and expand. Proactive paralegals who actively want to increase their role at a firm may actively look for ways that e-discovery can help them shift their role from litigation paralegal to e-discovery paralegal. Here are just a few of the ways that this technology has helped the paralegal’s role change. e-discovery litigation

Allows for Better Planning

  In the past, little could be done before the discovery arrived. Almost everything that was done was reactive, instead of proactive. That is no longer the case for many litigation paralegals. Technology creates the opportunity to create a plan and implement that plan, so that much of the legwork is done before the information even arrives. For example, the litigation paralegal could make a checklist of tasks that need to be addressed when the e-discovery does arrive. A great way to do this is to look at what has worked with e-discovery in the past. How were you able to find the information your lawyer needed? How could those processes be used again to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and that you are also not wallowing in the process of searching for information? Legal hold activities are also a good place to start building your checklist, since no matter the case, the process of doing this will usually be essentially the same. Once the checklist has been started, it can be better tailored to the specific situation. You probably already have information about deadlines or timelines that need to be adhered to and can choose a day to start reviewing documents and generating new documents.

Helps Tech-Savvy People Get Ahead

Being able to quickly learn new technology is a skill that all paralegals need to be successful. As the role of the paralegal changes, it will become more and more important that you are able to adapt to new technology. Those who have already developed this skill and are therefore capable of quickly learning the e-discovery process, are more likely to get ahead than those who have never learned and are perhaps reluctant to learn this process. It is not enough to simply be tech-savvy. Technology, even in the legal profession, is constantly changing, which means that you need to be constantly learning about that technology, too. Even if you were up on all of the new technology when you graduated from your paralegal program, you might not still be on top of all of the tech a few years from now. Once you’ve gotten ahead, you need to stay ahead.  Just ask the Florida Bar. They recently added a requirement that attorneys and paralegals get 3.0 Technology Credits, in addition to their other continuing legal education. [Read the Florida Bar News]  An important aspect of a litigation paralegal’s duties is to stay ahead of the technology curve so that you know more about your team’s technology than anyone else on the team.

Enables You to Change Roles

Paralegals already have a wide variety of tasks that they are required to know how to do and take on with little to no direction from their attorneys. E-discovery is changing the way that most people look at the paralegal role. Instead of spending time chasing documents, they are becoming an extremely important part of technology decisions. There is no one better suited to support a litigation attorney than a well-prepared and well-rounded litigation paralegal with e-discovery knowledge and experience. Do you want to be the “go-to” person on your team when it comes to managing e-discovery projects? The E-Discovery Paralegal Boot Camp is e-discovery training designed specifically for litigation paralegals who want to expand litigation paralegal job duties and provides the tools to develop industry-recognized best practices of managing e-discovery projects instead of letting those projects manage you. As part of this course, you get our 20+ page template, the Standard Operating Procedures Manual to use on future e-discovery projects to help your e-discovery projects go smoothly. You don’t want the attorneys on your team to know more about e-discovery projects than you! Having a good handle on e-discovery is a must for litigation paralegals who want to excel in their careers. Fuel your litigation paralegal career with the E-discovery Paralegal Boot Camp.  Get a copy of our Meet & Confer Checklist to help get you started.

About the Author

Paralegal BlogAnn Pearson is the Founder of the Paralegal Boot Camp, specializing in training for paralegals that focuses on the important paralegal skills not taught in certificate programs. Ann started her paralegal career as a litigation paralegal and then was a manager of paralegals for many years prior to starting her own company in 2010.  When she’s not working, you can usually find her somewhere near an ocean – either scuba diving, boating, cleaning up a beach, or volunteering to help save sea turtles. Connect with Ann on LinkedIn.
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