What is a Forensic Lawyer? Responsibilities of Forensic Lawyers

images (5)You might be familiar with the forensic science. This has been included in the legal matters and it has helped law in various ways. It has been possible to enforce certain laws because of the forensic science. Previously there were certain cases which people were unable to solve because of certain reasons but because of the forensic law now these cases are easily solvable. The forensic law is almost like a boon to the attorneys. Crime and forensics have a great relation. The clues are collected from the place where a particular incident has occurred.

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What is the Difference Between a Paralegal and a Legal Assistant?

download (4)Throughout a long history of the legal profession, the terms paralegal and legal assistant have been practically synonymous. As the legal assistant community continues to evolve, a slight difference now exists. Just what is the difference between a paralegal and legal assistant?

All in a Day’s Work

Paralegals are more involved with legal research and legal case work than a legal assistant. Paralegals draft legal documents that often takes more research and background knowledge than that of a legal assistant. Most private firms hiring paralegals prefer them to have a background in political science or law to help in research or trial preparation.

Legal assistants are usually involved in managing the administrative tasks required by the paralegals and lawyers. They may be in charge of maintaining precise research and trial records. They are often responsible for making sure that court filing needs are successfully met. Most have a secretarial or clerical background. Their capabilities of precise record keeping and supporting multiple lawyers and paralegals can be indispensable.

Different Work, but Similar Pay

The difference between the two really comes down to the type of work they perform. Most working paralegals make between $35,000 to $50,000 a year, though salary is dependent upon location and experience. Paralegals working in metropolitan areas enjoy higher pay. They can also improve their salaries by earning a paralegals credentials program certificate.

In spite of the differences in the type of work each does, both enjoy similar rates of pay. A legal assistant’s salary also depends on the type of work and the location of the work. They, too, can improve their salaries through available certifications.

Know the Demands of Each Job

Regardless of which job direction you pursue, be aware of what you are getting into. Both of these jobs work in high pressure situations, either from law firms or government agencies. If you can handle a good deal of stress, it can be a good field as the industry is growing. Part of this stems from the vast amount of research that needs done to E-discovery, but it also stems from private firms wishing to save costs. If they can, they’ll give the task to a paralegal or assistant rather than a lawyer because it’s less expensive.

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The Importance of Legal Research

images (7)You can arrange to have legal research and writing done by a variety of services. One might think that nowadays in the democracy that we live in all the laws would be easily accessible to any ordinary citizen, but unfortunately that’s not true. Of course, you might be able to do some kind of limited legal research on your own but that’s all. For instance, if you know the number of a specific law you’d like to read, then you might stand a chance. However, if you are searching to find how a genuine law applies to your area of concern, then you’d have to read hundreds of pages until you find it and that simply won’t do.

Outside legal research is very useful especially when you want to research a whole area of law. In case you know how the law is organized, you might try, otherwise don’t waste your time as you won’t succeed. There is only one reason why our laws are so arduous, concealed and complex and it is because it gives power to legal professionals such as lawyers and legislators. This is how they get work which we could have otherwise done by ourselves. Consequently, if you need to understand a specific area of law concerning your business or rights, then you’d better consult a professional who will do your advanced search, or else you might waste many hours in vain trying to do it by yourself.

Generally you can try to cope without legal researchers. Often there are times when you can learn how to do legal research on a certain topic and you might be quite successful at it. For instance, I once fought for saving some of the last wetlands in the San Francisco bay. As our campaign lacked money for legal researchers we did it by ourselves. However, in our case there has already been much pioneering environmental work done, so it was not that difficult to do advanced legal search; we even managed to find the existing endangered species laws we needed. Legal research can easily frighten you and make you quit when you try it for the first time, that was the situation with us. However, we were determined to succeed and didn’t give up. After all, if you put some considerable efforts into fighting with the legal system, then even you, an ordinary citizen can take part in the democratic process.

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How to Find & Understand the Law

images (6)Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law” by Attorney Stephen Elias and the Editors of Nolo is another book in the huge legal library published by Nolo, a publisher that prides itself on making the law accessible to everyone. I’m an attorney, and I still like the books put out by Nolo, especially the ones on areas I’m not as familiar with, but want a little knowledge. Nolo always delivers.

Not everyone can afford Lexis or Westlaw, the two biggest subscriber based on-line legal resources. In law school we had access to both, because both companies wanted to earn your loyalty for when you got out and started practicing. Many firms have one or the other, and I suppose large firms may subscribe to both. Even with access to one of these, I find that I can often find things faster and easier with free resources. Many states have statutes and such on-line these days. More and more are becoming available all the time.

That’s where the book “Legal Research” comes in. It provides easy to follow research methods to help you answer your legal questions. The book has sections for on-line research as well as information regarding law libraries for those who have access to one.

The book consists of 386 pages divided among ten information packed chapters. The chapters include:

One: Understanding the Basics of the Law. Brief descriptions of what the law is, sources of law, state versus federal law, and the court system. Too basic for an attorney, but for the layperson the book was written for, this is a good introduction.

Two: Finding Legal Resources. This chapter explains where legal information is located, primary and secondary sources, internet resources for legal topics, and legal research websites. It includes Lexis and Westlaw, but also other sites that are free. I like the tips and warnings through out the book as well. Good caution that not every opinion you find is good law. Obvious to someone who had it drilled into them during law school, but probably not known to many laypeople.

Three: Identifying Your Legal Issue. Things to know before you go looking, like is the case civil or criminal, figuring out the area of law you want to research, what resources will help you with what you need to find, and figuring out your legal research question. This is important, you want to know what you’re really looking for before you go searching.

Four: Finding and Using Secondary Sources. This chapter explores sources such as online resources (including a bit about deciding if reliable), self-help legal books, legal encyclopedias, form books, practice manuals, continuing legal education publications, law reviews, and so on. Many law firms will have a lot of these kinds of resources, and you will find even more at a law library. This chapter gives a brief overview of what these sources are.

Five: Finding and Using Constitutions, Statutes, Regulations, and Ordinances. These are the bulk of legislatively or administratively created law. This chapter explains how to find these resources and how to use them. It covers finding and using constitutions, finding federal statutes, finding state statutes, understanding them, finding regulations and other rules and ordinances. All of these are important depending on your particular issue. This chapter is a good introduction to this world of “laws” for those that are charting unfamiliar territory.

Six: Finding Cases. Some of our law is not found in statutes, but in the decisions of cases that have already been decided. These cases interpreted laws and are now the rule until legislature changes it, or another case overrules it. Roe v. Wade is an example of a famous case that is looked to regarding abortion law. This chapter helps the reader learn how to use citations to find cases, find cases on the internet, find cases in the law library.

Seven: Using Case Law. This chapter actually explains what a case is, how they are published, and how cases affect later disputes. If you matter relies on case law, this chapter will help you.

Eight: Validating Your Research. I pointed out the tip earlier, and this chapter goes further to help you make sure you have “good law.” It teaches you how to Shepardize a Case, a process we lawyers use to ensure the cases we are relying on are still good. If you are trying to make a case yourself, you must be sure you are relying on “good law.” These are the kinds of things lawyers know that many laypeople don’t.

Nine: Organizing and Putting Your Legal Research to Use. One thing clerks, legal interns, and associates spend a lot of time doing is research. Once you find the information, you must put what you find in written form for those that asked you to find it. This chapter provides the basics for writing a legal memorandum. Not as thorough as the semester class most first year law students take, but good for the non-lawyer. There is a brief section about going to court and the court process and about a couple pages on finding and working with a lawyer.

Ten: Research Hypothetical and Memorandum. Maybe it is because lawyer learn by case studies and examples that this chapter provides a research problem, how to discover the facts, and then how to approach the question to research. It’s very short, so it will give the non-lawyer a little example of how to look at the law and go about finding your answer.

The book chapters stop here on page 255. The next 100 plus pages is a glossary, which a person would not need if they have a legal dictionary. Nolo actually has a simple legal dictionary that won’t replace “Black’s” but is a good resource. Then there is a short appendix on topics and an index.

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