When you first hire an attorney to take on your case, you may speak with one attorney, multiple attorneys, staff, and assistants. For example, you may have day-to-day communications with the legal assistant or paralegal at the office, and contact with the attorney less frequently. This allows the office to internally prepare your case most efficiently.
However, an attorney will be the one to actually try your case or argue at your hearing, assuming it reaches any type of hearing or a trial. But often, the attorney will bring a paralegal, legal assistant, or another attorney with him/her. What is the rationale behind this?
Well, as mentioned above, you may have had significant contact with a legal assistant or paralegal in the case. Their knowledge of the intricacies of the case may be helpful, as many attorneys are focused more globally on your case and your objectives. Also, there are so many pieces of trial to put together. For example, exhibits are often handed out and questions jump around. Having a second set of hands and ears can help keep matters organized.
The assistant can also provide a second set of eyes. Many aspects of trial are visual. In fact, all of the senses come into play. How is the judge responding? How comfortable does the witness appear? This insight to the attorney can also help the attorney adjust the dynamic, given what appears to be working or not working so well in the courtroom.
If the attorney’s questions are not being well-received, the assistant can write a note to the attorney that it might be best to rephrase or move forward. Assistants or other attorneys (depending on the needs and complexity of the case) can also keep track of other aspects of the trial.
For example, when a new witness is about to be called, the assistant can go summon the witness. This keeps the trial moving, and allows the attorney to organize thoughts and notes for a minute or two. Also, in cases where special findings are requested (specific findings and conclusions from a case), the assistant can take detailed notes regarding the testimony of all parties, exhibits, and objections and the like.
By having a second set of hands, eyes, and ears, the attorney on your case can better focus on the main issues of trial, without having to wear several or all of the hats on trial day. Realizing the many complexities of hearings and trials and allowing an assistant to help with the load can help alleviate the burden on everyone.
In some cases, this may make it more or less likely you near or reach your legal objectives.
By understanding the important role of the assistant and the benefits of thesame, you can help receive the most effective hearing/trial. Ask questions of trial strategies beforehand so you know who all will be there, and how to best communicate during trial.
Just as there may be multiple people in the operating room during a medical procedure, and some duplication in role, when your serious legal matter is at hand, the need for assistance may be necessary and, thus, it is not uncommon for these individuals to aid during trial.
We hope that this blog post has been informative on the role of assistants during trial. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.