Although paralegals are not qualified solicitors or barristers, they must understand and be well versed in law and the procedures of law. Most paralegals serve alongside practicing solicitors. They are also referred to as legal assistants and help lawyers in all their work like preparing for hearings, trials and any presentations which they may be called to make. Paralegals are usually employed by law firms. There are those who work in the legal departments of large corporate businesses and others are employed by government agencies.
Paralegals are assigned duties that include research for the preparation of case documents and affidavits and pleadings. They research laws and court decisions in relation to cases they may be working on. Paralegals are able to draft contracts, and agreements. They are not however allowed to present cases or provide legal advice; this is the attorneys duty. Although most paralegals specialize in particular areas like corporate law, criminal law, litigation, or labor law; all paralegals should be well conversed with administrative law.
Administrative law; in the Canadian Encyclopedia; is defined as, “one of the 3 basic areas of public law dealing with the relationship between a government and its citizens…” Its purpose is “…to ensure that laws are implemented and administered in a fair and reasonable manner. Administrative law is also known as regulatory law.
Administrative law is enforced by administrative agencies and is present in all branches of law including housing, health, employment, discrimination, criminal, etc. The lawyers who work in these areas have paralegals working under them. Because the paralegal does most of the research work for the lawyer, it is important for him to understand the depth of administrative law.
The paralegal must know the grounds in which certain laws can be enforced. He must have a thorough and clear understanding of the cases that merit defense and arbitration in order to be able to prepare adequate documentation for the case at hand. The paralegal must understand the rights of each citizen as defined in administrative law so as to prepare a competent defense. He must know about the rules and regulations governing employees of the government and all common citizens as defined by regulatory legislation.
The paralegal must know when administrative law can be used and where it can be used. He must be able to define who each item refers to and how to argue a case if there is a dispute or query. The paralegal must know the service procedures of administering regulatory law. He must also understand the filing procedures and what is involved in preparing the complaint.
If a case has to be presented within a given deadline, the paralegal must be aware of this so he can be able to work within the stipulated time. Because there might be a laid down procedure to be followed for a hearing, the paralegal must also know this so as to prepare and inform the affected party accordingly.
The paralegal needs to know what is allowed and what is not allowed and also what conditions apply to different people in different situations. He must be up to date with information on all acts passed or amended by the government that pertain to administrative law and procedures.
As pertains to administrative law; the paralegal must be well informed and up to date on any new laws and legislation which may have been passed. He must be thorough in his research, preparation and presentation. The paralegal should be able to provide advice and information on any administrative law issue as may be required whenever the need arises.