Jo Hamilton, a HammondTownsend paralegal, gives a glimpse into what the paralegals do each day. A paralegal assists a lawyer with specific legal tasks.
In a typical day, Jo handles a lot of different activities. “Every day requires choreographing the critical tasks with the essential tasks with the normal tasks,” she says. As she describes it, “Every day starts with a list of tasks that need to be accomplished. The morning starts by checking emails – by the time I get in there are typically a good handful waiting for me on top of previous emails that still need attention. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission’s online site is checked to see what new documents may have been uploaded to each attorney’s page. This site is consulted multiple times a day so that I can keep a watch on activities on clients’ cases. The phone may or may not start ringing early on. Many calls require an action to add to the others, all of which cry for attention. Attorneys may or may not need attention. The attorneys’ calendars are consulted to see what is coming up and what is a must-do.” Let’s break down the tasks she mentions.
Paralegals work on multiple cases at once, since cases progress at different rates: some injuries are fresh and the legal work is just getting started, while others are wrapping up. For each case, the paralegal assists the attorney with communication with the client, communication with the court, and keeping all of the paperwork straight for each case.
Client Contact and Communications
Jo is the primary point of contact for clients whose cases she works on. If a client has a question about their case or needs to schedule a time to talk with their lawyer, they will call or email Jo about it. They will also send Jo documents from the court they receive in the mail, mileage receipts, medical bills, and other documents relating to the case. If HammondTownsend receives any information that the client needs to see, Jo will make sure it gets out to the client. Paralegals are the foundation of communication within a workers’ compensation case, making sure that information is distributed correctly.
Lawyers and paralegals work together to make sure that all of the necessary material is gathered for a case and to see what steps are next. Are they waiting on a report from a doctor? Are they preparing for an evidentiary hearing? Jo works with the attorney assigned to the cases she is working on and discusses each case individually. She checks the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission website multiple times a day to see if new documents have been uploaded for the cases she is working on, and the lawyer’s calendar to prioritize tasks for upcoming cases.
As Jo describes it, “Taking on workers’ compensation cases automatically means taking on minutiae to the nth degree.” She juggles constant communication with multiple stakeholders, including the client, the attorney, and the Commission, and keeps the parts of a case moving.
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