Organizing Your Family Law Practice - Support Staff Responsibilities
Support Staff Responsibilities
Support staff act only under the supervision of a lawyer. Chapter 6 of the Code of Professional Conduct for BC sets out rules for what legal assistants are permitted and not permitted to do. An assistant may interview clients and witnesses to gather information. He or she may not provide legal advice or handle substantive legal issues.
Subject always to the lawyer's review, the legal assistant may do the following:
- organize documents and files;
- schedule appointments, including coordination of discovery and trial dates;
- maintain bring-forward systems;
- draft correspondence related to routine administration;
- prepare lists of documents, pleadings and other court documents;
- research law;
- prepare memoranda of law;
- attend to document filings; and
- draft statements of account.
Be prepared for a high volume of documents to be exchanged between parties. It is crucial that you maintain a system to keep the documents organized and accessible. It is often most useful to organize documents in binders, sorted by date and by subject matter. Be sure to maintain an ongoing index of the documents. Your assistant should be responsible for keeping the documents organized. You should maintain a separate pleadings binder and your assistant should ensure the binder is kept up to date at all times with an index.
As with any file, ensure that your support staff sends copies of all correspondence, including emails, to your client. This keeps your client informed regarding the status of his or her file and prevents misunderstandings as the file progresses.