Working as a paralegal is a somewhat different experience in different areas of the legal sector. Between some areas, the differences are subtle and between others they can be quite marked. The personal injury (PI) sector is the second largest legal services market in the UK, and the many paralegals who specialise in this area require some quite particular skills, and many of the tasks they routinely carry out are associated quite distinctly with this particular kind of legal practice.
Skills of a Personal Injury Paralegal
While a paralegal in the personal injury sector requires the same kinds of skills as their counterparts in other areas, there are subtle differences in which of those skills are the most important to the work. Dealing with things like work accident compensation claims make organisational, multitasking, and prioritisation skills even more important than in some other types of legal practice. Personal injury paralegals will also have to be able to change and re-evaluate their priorities at short notice, and to regularly take new information on board and learn new things.
On top of this, working in the personal injury sector will require dealing with people who have been through unpleasant experiences, are recovering from painful injuries, or who may have injuries and conditions that they will never fully recover from. As such, it is important to have a personable and sensitive manner.
The Work of a Paralegal in the PI Sector
Some of the tasks of personal injury paralegals will be familiar to those working in such roles in other sectors, while others are a bit more distinctive. A lot of a PI paralegal’s daily work will be client service. This involves dealing directly with clients to learn more about their situation, as well as screening potential clients and making sure to stay up-to-date with the status of cases.
Paralegals will also generally do a lot of preparation and drafting work. This includes preparing drafts of recovery responses, and getting many of the formalities, paperwork and documents such as witness statements and evidence lists in order. Paralegals are also often responsible for dealing with medical professionals and organisations in order to request and obtain reports and statements to support a case.
If a compensation claim progresses to court, paralegals can also be called upon to help prepare both clients and witnesses for the trial process, and to select and prepare exhibits for use in court. When cases do progress to court, the involvement of paralegals will not by any means end in the preparatory stages – a paralegal will continue to assist and support a solicitor in all aspects of the case.