Maryland's paralegals are not regulated, meaning that the state has not mandated any formal education or training requirements for paralegals. This enables aspiring paralegals to enter the field through on-the-job training or education.
Like other states, Maryland's Rule 5.3 does define the scope of practice of paralegals. Rule 5.3 requires that paralegals work under the supervision of an attorney who accepts responsibility for their professional actions.
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DEFINING THE DUTIES PERFORMED IN THE SCOPE OF LITIGATION PARALEGAL JOBS
Documenting the Record
Whether working in a law firm, for the government, in the legal department of a corporation or in other legal practice environments, documentation is everything. The work product in a personal injury case, a bankruptcy, contract or corporate law covers all the facts whether in the form of a conversation with clients or witnesses, interviews, phone calls, emails, creating a chronology of facts, interrogatories, deposition notices and subpoenas.They must draft pleadings, motions, legal briefs, affidavits, memos, perform research, data collection and all relevant information that must be committed to the official record under the supervision of the attorney. In addition, the paralegal is responsible for maintaining the record in accordance with the expectations and protocols of the court including Bates-stamping, duplication, redaction, indexing cases and appellate documents. They will also be required to calendar filing deadlines and hearing dates and file documents with federal and state courts.
Discovery and Pre-Trial
Handling document production requires intensive focus on organizing, reviewing and analyzing documents for production including medical records, scientific discovery and e-discovery. Research may span newspapers, periodicals, libraries, trade associations, media outlets or authorities, such as police and fire departments.
Litigation paralegals do everything to support the trial process including preparing and handling exhibits, assisting in preparing witnesses and voir dire in jury selection, taking notes before and during trial and managing trial documents. In addition to acting as liaison between internal contacts and external agencies or sources, they serve as same between attorneys and in-house staff. They coordinate and help set-up the trial logistics, observe the jury, take notes and mark documents as they are identified by counsel in the process of the trial as well as ordering transcripts from reporting services. They create, bind and distribute file copies as well as oversee fulfillment of requests to supply outside counsel or other sources with transcripts or courtesy copies.
Post-Trial, Appeal and Disposal
When a case goes to settlement, there is preparation needed including the information and data that are required to support the terms of the settlement. This includes producing the settlement brochures, drafting the settlement agreements and releases, producing distribution statements and negotiation checklists. In the event of appeal, there is yet more documentation and organizing with regard to identifying the areas that support the appeal or a joint appendix, assisting in researching and drafting appellate documents, filing with the courts and indexing cases for a table of authorities. If there is need for post-trial interviews with the jury, the litigation paralegal will conduct them. After all is said and done, the litigation paralegal is the one to review and prepare material either for storage or disposal once the case has been closed.