It is true to say that in the year 2007, the cost of legal aid has become so expensive that it is fast becoming out of the reach of most individuals and small businesses. This introduces significant problems to people and small companies which find themselves in the situation where they need to get expert legal advice. One option is the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approach. This approach might work well when remodeling the house or servicing your car, but is fraught with dangers and difficulties when you need to deal with something as complex as the law. Getting it wrong can end up costing you, or your company, a lot of money. It can lead to bankruptcy, or worse still – a conviction and jail term.
Another solution is to use the services of those legal professionals who are not lawyers or attorneys but are still well trained in all aspects of law – the Paralegals. To enter the legal profession, paralegals undergo thorough training, often at law schools and universities, and need to register with various legal authorities who then issue them with a license permitting them to practice.
A common misconception is that you, the prospective client, cannot engage the services of a paralegal directly and need to first consult with lawyers or attorneys. This is just not true. There is nothing stopping you from seeking the assistance of a paralegal in the first instance.
Paralegals can do pretty much everything which attorneys and lawyers do except appearing in court and providing legal opinion. In fact when you engage the services of lawyers or attorneys, the chances are that they will have outsourced much of the research work to a paralegal anyway. Go direct to the paralegal and save!
As in the case of any legal professional consultation, the paralegal will meet with the client to conduct a preliminary interview. At the conclusion of this interview, the paralegal may decide that he/she is not suited to help you and would refer you to an attorney or lawyer for assistance. The very last thing a paralegal wants is to get into a situation where he can be sued by you for negligence. In this case it is best to cut your losses, pay the paralegal fee, and seek expert advice from a lawyer or attorney.
But if the paralegal decides that he can help you, you can be assured of getting expert legal advice for the fraction of the cost of the same advice from the more expensive lawyer or attorney.