Most people who are not in the legal field wonder, “What does a paralegal do?” and are unsure of the differences between them and a legal document preparer. Here is everything you need to know about their roles to help you figure out which type of professional will best suit your needs.
What does a paralegal do?
A paralegal works under a lawyer’s supervision to help with filing, legal research, document preparation, organizing evidence and paperwork for an attorney’s review, plus summarizing reports for pre-trial prep, among other things. They also help with facilitating communication between clients, witnesses, lawyers, and others involved with a case.
One of the key things to be aware of when working with a paralegal is that they must always work with a lawyer’s supervision. Also, paralegals cannot provide you with legal advice – only an attorney can do that.
How is this different from what a legal document preparer does?
A legal document preparer is specifically trained to help you get your legal documents filled out and filed correctly, without the supervision (or high costs!) of a lawyer. They cannot give you legal advice, nor can they represent you in court. Currently, Arizona and California are two states where you can hire a certified legal document preparer.
Because a legal document preparer is not an attorney, they are best if you’re looking for a cost-effective, do-it-yourself legal solution. Many legal matters, such as filing for divorce, amending child support payments, and more, are easily handled with the aid of a legal document prep service.
Another thing that you need to be aware of is that legal document preparers do not have attorney-client privilege. This means that if they are ordered to do so by the courts, they have to share the information requested.
Legal document prep services are a great option if you can’t afford the help of a lawyer, or if your case is so straightforward that hiring an attorney would be overkill.
Due to their training, your document preparer will know their limits and refer you to a qualified attorney if needed.
Now you know the answer to “What does a paralegal do?”
Now that you know the difference between a legal document preparer and a paralegal, you’ll be well-equipped to make the right choice when hiring someone to help you navigate through your legal matters. Remember, if your main worry is not knowing what forms to fill out, or how to complete them correctly, a document prep service could be the perfect solution. Also, if you’re unable to afford a lawyer, hiring someone to help you fill out all the paperwork required for your case is definitely a step up from trying to do it all alone. On the other hand, if your case is complicated, you need representation in court, and you can afford it, the combination of a paralegal and lawyer will be a better option for you.