6 Essential Tools Every Paralegal Must Know About
Takeaway: Paralegals must understand (1) Document management, (2) Legal research tools, (3) Case management software, (4) Communication & collaboration tools, (5) Continuing education resources, and (6) eDiscovery software.
Paralegals make a huge difference in running a law firm. But they need the right tools.
Paralegals play a pivotal role in the functioning of law firms, especially in small to midsize firms where resources are often stretched thin. With the legal landscape becoming increasingly complex and the workload of paralegals expanding, having the right tools is not just a matter of convenience but a necessity for efficiency and effectiveness. So, let’s explore the essential tools that can help paralegals manage their increasing responsibilities and stay productive.
1. A document management system to stay organized.
E.g., iManage, NetDocuments, and Worldox.
A reputable DMS allows paralegals to store, manage, and track electronic documents and images of paper-based information captured via a document scanner. So, it helps you organize a potential mess of valuable data – which is essential in a legal setting where quick access to the right documents can be pivotal. Just make sure your DMS comes with airtight security, a ‘version control’ to track document revisions, and integrates with other tools like a case management system, an eDiscovery service, and billing software.
2. Legal research tools to build a defensible case.
E.g., Westlaw, LexisNexis, Bloomberg Law, and Fastcase.
Legal research tools provide access to an array of legal documents, case laws, statutes, and legal journals – allowing paralegals to gather necessary information and precedents. Just make sure the tool you choose has a vast enough collection of resources, is updated regularly, and has advanced search capabilities so you can quickly hone in on specific legal documents or case laws.
3. Case management software for productivity.
E.g., Clio, MyCase, and PracticePanther.
Case management software is a centralized platform that integrates various aspects of legal case management, including tracking of case details, managing deadlines, organizing client information, and overseeing billing and financial details. This software is perfect for paralegals, who often juggle multiple cases simultaneously and need to maintain high levels of organization and efficiency. Here, too, there are some must-haves for the software you choose. For instance, it should store all case-related documents, correspondence, and notes in one location, making it easier to retrieve and reference information when needed. It should come with deadline/calendar management (tracking important dates and integrating with email and calendar apps). It should allow you to create, store, and manage legal documents. And it should allow you to keep detailed client records, including contact information, case history, and specific preferences or notes.
4. Communication & collaboration tools for teamwork.
E.g., Slack and Microsoft Teams.
You’ll need efficient communication and collaboration to stay in control of your case. And the right tools can break down silos, foster teamwork, and ensure that all team members, including paralegals, attorneys, and support staff, are aligned and informed. (This alignment is vital for meeting deadlines, managing client expectations, and approaching case management systematically.) Here are features to look out for: Instant messaging and chats, file sharing for real-time collaboration, video conferencing, and task management (to assign and track tasks).
5. Continuing education and online resources for growth.
E.g., NALA, NFPA, and AAfPE.
Paralegals in small to midsize law firms must stay informed on recent trends and continually hone their skills. And continuing education (via paralegal associations) and online resources are crucial in this ongoing professional development. Platforms like Udemy and Coursera offer courses on a variety of subjects, from legal fundamentals to specialized areas like intellectual property law, compliance, or legal technology. But the real power comes from joining paralegal associations like the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), and the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE). Because, here, you’ll get specialized resources, courses, webinars, and networking opportunities.
6. eDiscovery software for efficient data reviews.
E.g., GoldFynch, Relativity, or Logikcull.
The discovery phase in legal proceedings can be daunting, with massive volumes of data to sift through. eDiscovery (electronic discovery) software streamlines this process by providing tools to collect, process, review, and produce electronic documents as part of the discovery process. GoldFynch, in particular, is designed to be intuitive, affordable, and loaded with useful tools for small and midsize law firms. For instance, it has a powerful search engine to find niche files and keywords, a tagging tool to help organize and retrieve related documents, a redaction tool to remove sensitive information, and a production wizard to present files in multiple formats.
eDiscovery services are particularly important. So, if you haven’t chosen one yet, consider trying GoldFynch.
- It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know exactly what you’re paying for: its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
- It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing files is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up-front how much you’ll be paying. You can upload and cull as much data as you want as long as you stay below your storage limit. And even if you do cross the limit, you can upgrade your plan with just a few clicks. Also, billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
- It takes just minutes to get going. GoldFynch runs in the Cloud, so you use it through your web browser (Google Chrome recommended). No installation. No sales calls or emails. Plus, you get a free trial case (0.5 GB of data and a processing cap of 1 GB) without adding a credit card.
- It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch, and you’re good to go. Plus, you get prompt and reliable tech support (our average response time is 30 minutes).
- Access it from anywhere, and 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.
Want to find out more about GoldFynch?
For related posts about eDiscovery, check out the following links.
- A Complete Glossary of Essential eDiscovery Terms
- A Quick Primer on GoldFynch’s eDiscovery Software
- A Free PST Analyzer to Check If Your eDiscovery PSTs Are Intact
- Use This In-Browser PST Viewer to Explore Your eDiscovery Emails For Free
- The Secret to Choosing the Best Low-Cost eDiscovery Software for Your Small Law Firm
- How To Make Your eDiscovery Productions Less Hackable
- Is Social Media the Future of eDiscovery?