New Hybrid Paralegal Profession Inspiring Many
. For many people the thought of not utilizing computer technology to manage information in law offices makes little sense. Lawyers today require access to huge document databases as well as people around them who can make Hollywood quality video productions in order to present their cases well in court. As a result, a new niche in the legal profession has developed that combines the skills of a computer specialist with that of a paralegal. This hybrid is called a legal technology specialist.
Also known as a litigation support specialist, this position began in document management but has expanded to include the development of trial graphics and courtroom presentations. When developing courtroom presentations anything from creating digital presentations to simply setting up projectors in the courtroom may be required. This allows the visual presentation of cases such as accident reenactment. Some lawyers also find it valuable to set up projectors and document cameras while others need access to new pre-wired courtroom systems which often include electronic podiums.
Much of this change in courtroom presentations is due to the fact that the majority of jurors are used to visual media gaining much of their information through television programming or the Internet. This can have positives as well as negatives because what jurors see is much harder for them to forget than what they hear. Lawyers utilizing these services, therefore, are very cautious about how they design and present their cases especially when going before a jury. This change, therefore, has left a huge need in the legal profession for specialists in this field.
Those with technical knowledge have the expertise to work a variety of technologies to assist a lawyer with a variety of needs, but often fail to have the legal background to understand exactly how and why things need to be presented as they do. Additionally, they would be limited in their ability to offer recommendations.
Paralegals, on the other hand, are well versed in courtroom procedures and the law, but often lack the technical expertise to go beyond the job description. The litigation support specialist, however, not only understands the law, but also has the technical expertise to create presentations and displays for the courtroom that meet legal mandates.
With the evolution of this career field, many legal firms are now encouraging those entering school to consideration the profession of litigation support specialist. According to Gary Melhuish, manager of litigation support services at a law firm in Philadelphia, “The best litigation support personnel are able to not only operate the relevant software, but make intelligent and practical suggestions to the attorneys on how the software can assist in the review, production, and presentation of the evidence.”
The computer specialist and paralegal professions are not automatically interchangeable. Just because one can perform the technical aspects of the job, doesn’t necessarily mean they will be able to pick up on the legal facet. On the other hand, not all paralegals have the technical expertise to transition into the litigation support field. Fortunately, today many schools are picking up on this need and providing coursework that will provide the requirements and demands of this new field. For those unsure as to which field of the paralegal profession to select, this hybrid option could be the one that’s perfect for you and should be researched carefully before a decision is made.