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Publicize within the law department the contributions that paralegals can make

As one method to encourage delegation to paralegals, to provide paralegals with challenging work, and to make everyone in a department aware of the capabilities of its paralegals, consider the approach of a 24-lawyer department in the health-care industry.

The administrator of the department “put together a comprehensive list of tasks that paralegals in this office are capable of doing – a way of marketing their skills.” The administrator realized that some attorneys did not have a good sense of what the paralegals were capable of doing, so she put together the list to publicize the paralegals’ capabilities. The quote and idea comes from Rees Morrison, Law Department Administrators: Lessons from Leaders (Hildebrandt Inst. 2004) at 28.

Paralegals in law departments are an under-exploited resource (See my posts of March 12, 2006 on ratios of lawyers to paralegals; March 29, 2005 and Oct. 18, 2005 on the lack of paralegals internationally and what to do about it; Jan. 3, 2006 on hiring experienced paralegals; Aug. 26, 2005 in increasing delegation to paralegals; June 28, 2005 about the trend toward “almond shaped” structures; March 18, 2005 on how far good paralegals can go; Nov. 6, 2006 on why to give them more responsibility; Oct. 26, 2006 on reverse secondment of paralegals; March 4, 2007 on their professional status; and Dec. 22, 2006 on the distribution of paralegals by practice area.).

Lawyers’ shortcomings – ignorance of what paralegals can do, fear of loss of power, lack of delegation skills – block the progressive and productive use of paralegals.