COVID-19 has impacted many professions and drastically altered how we go about business in 2020. Due to the pandemic, many organizations are having their employees work from home. Paralegals are no exception. The paralegal profession has seen a rise in the number of virtual and remote positions, requiring the work done by paralegals to become increasingly digital, with many paralegals conducting their work from the safety of their home.
Entry-level paralegals may begin having to shift their job search to find open positions at small law offices, non-profit or volunteer organizations, with solo practitioners, or through legal/paralegal networks as a result of the changing job landscape in the wake of COVID-19 (Dahquist & Shelton, 2020).
COVID-19 has not only impacted what jobs are available, but also how currently employed paralegals go about their day-to-day duties. The paralegal profession has had to adapt to virtual e-filing systems and the ever-changing virtual state and federal hearing systems. Paralegals are now learning new filing systems as several states are expanding the electronic filing systems for the courts. Paralegals are also being asked to help in filing emergency orders, reviewing employment and contract policies, and working with attorneys to assess the implications of COVID-19 on their legal cases (Dahquist & Shelton, 2020).
As work continues to move to a virtual format, one of the biggest challenges facing law firms and the paralegal profession is how to ensure that the valuable and sensitive information utilized by the law firm is securely stored and protected (Shanks, 2020). To ensure that the sensitive information of the law firm is stored and organized properly; paralegals, attorneys, and the IT department have had to work closely together to ensure the proper storage and organization of case information. One of the networks law firms may use to help organize and store their case information is eDiscovery (Shanks, 2020). The paralegals who work with this system may have to step into a new role as a liaison between the IT department, attorneys, and clients (Shanks, 2020).
In summary, the paralegal profession has had to adapt quite a bit due to COVID-19. Since the pandemic has resulted in many employees working remotely, paralegals and other law professionals have had to adopt additional digital security measures. Paralegals are now expected to work with the attorneys, courts, and IT departments to assist in networking, filing and storing sensitive case information, and adapting to any new policies and procedure that federal and state court systems may adopt due to COVID-19.
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By: Arabella Stamper, EKU Graduate Assistant
Dahquist, S., & Shelton, A. L. (2020, June 4). The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Paralegal Employment and Education. Retrieved October 19, 2020, from https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/blog/blog_5/
Shanks, A. (2020, June 26). Paralegal Jobs and the Effect of COVID-19 on the Law Office. Retrieved October 19, 2020, from https://www.strategicrecruitmentsolutions.com/general/paralegal-jobs-and-the-affect-of-covid-19-on-the-law-office/