Since this is hardly the first recession many of us have weathered, some of the articles we're reading could have been written in 2001 or in any of the other more infamous economically turmoiled times. However, the concerns may be the same but with regulation, more client awareness of what paralegals can do and increased utilization of paralegals, the stakes get higher each time.
A recent article in The New York Lawyer states that hard economic times causes the number of malpractice suits against law firms to skyrocket. Not a pretty picture for anyone. Particularly vulnerable, the article notes, are real estate attorneys. When I read an article like this I sure wish they would say "real estate attorneys and paralegals" because many of the assignment areas listed are covered by paralegals. Just a few of those targeted areas include: closing documents, title reports, poorly drafted contracts, zoning and escrow issues. Many claims against lawyers include allegations of errors in transactions ranging from conflicts of interest and closing mistakes to poorly drafted contracts and zoning and escrow issues. Other areas attracting malpractice law suits include conflict of interest, trust & estates, family law and more.
Paralegals: Play It Smart. Get out your checklists, take a webinar, seminar, refresh your ethics classes, ask more questions than you need to, get a buddy system going and above all, work as closely as you can with your supervising attorney. In this era of "more sophisticated assignments" for paralegals, it is not unheard of for paralegals to make mistakes that could have otherwise been avoided, if only they had known. And while in most cases, it is the attorney in charge of the assignment that will be held responsible, why, oh why, would you want to put your job, your attorney, your firm and your client at risk? Do the right thing responsibly. Don't write and wish. Safeguard yourself and your work through some simple holiday advice: making that list and checking it twice!
To all my readers: Thank you for your continued support of all we do - from our conferences to our publications of KNOW, The Magazine for Paralegals and SUE, For Women in Litigation - Have a Happy and Peaceful Holiday. Here's to an outrageously successful 2009. Lord knows, we need it!