The Power of the Paralegal
Lawyers Weekly USA
November 24, 2003
By: Tony Wright
© 2003 Lawyers Weekly USA

Probative Production

The Many Faces of the Paralegal

"[Paralegals] are professionals with educations and are here solely to help attorneys," said Yellis, "and a lot of attorneys don't realize some of the tasks that we can do.  That's why we are on a quest to educate attorneys here in California," she said.

Paralegals can serve a variety of non-traditional functions in a law firm, including:
The Paralegal as Specialist
California paralegal Ray Goldstein is a perfect example.  Goldstein, who began his paralegal career later in life at the age of 40, played a key role in the $3 billion verdict against Philip Morris in June, 2001, won by Los Angeles small-firm attorney Michael J. Piuze.  (Boeken v Philip Morris, Inc., June 6, 2001.)

"Without Ray Goldstein, I was nowhere," Piuze told Lawyers Weekly USA following the verdict.  Goldstein's specialty is managing large numbers of documents -- in the Boeken case, more than 27 million pages of documents -- through a mastery of the database program Microsoft Access. "All the lawyers have it," said Goldstein, "but none of them know how to use it."

Now, said Goldstein, after working for four years, he has more than 6,000 documents in his tobacco litigation database, all linked, catalogued and indexed, which makes him an invaluable resource for lawyers who may be involved in tobacco litigation.

But his expertise using Access isn't limited to tobacco ligitation.  His skills are also in demand by lawyers involved in any type of complex litigation.

"I had an attorney call me the other day who had 1,300 images on a CD ROM and needed a structure to browse through them, code them and link them.  I created a vessel." he said, so that 1,300 random images become an organized resource for litigation purposes.

Goldstein also has digital imaging and PowerPoint presentation skills, which allow the attorneys who hire him to request and receive graphs, presentations and demonstrative evidence, often needed on the fly.

His proficiency with software programs like Access and PowerPoint, and his ability to churn out work product quickly and with little lead-time makes him a hot commodity.

“If you have a case in an ‘electronic courtroom,’ a technology-savvy paralegal would be invaluable – much more so than having a technical consultant,” said Davis, because the paralegal has both the technical and the legal skills.

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