Professor Gloria Reeves
Paralegal Communication Skills
It is important for paralegal students who wish to have a successful career, to possess excellent oral, written, and tactful communication skills.
What is communication? Communication is a complex process of using words, sounds, volume, tone and body language to express or exchange information. It is how thoughts and feelings are transferred into words. Communication involves a sender, a receiver, a message, and feedback. What is a skill? A skill is the ability to perform an act with excellence. Every single person is obligated to communicate one way or another, communication is fundamental to both personal and professional life. Communication is not just about conversing; there are many factors involved. Some factors include, open and honest communication, adapting to situations, creating solutions, not conflict. These factors help build relationships with clients and professionals. When a paralegal is successful the law firm is successful as well. Excellent communication skills are the key to success. Why are excellent oral, written, and tactful communication skills important to reach success? Oral communication is imperative for success as a paralegal. A paralegal must transfer accurate information. It is also necessary to discuss communication procedures with the attorney to avoid negative results. Miscommunication or transferring incorrect information may be damaging to a case. For example, the client is scheduled to appear in court on May 12, 2014 but the paralegal informed the client the court date is scheduled on May 21. 2014. The client did not show up to court and the judge has ordered a bench warrant. Some damages can be reversed and others cannot be undone. The paralegal did not communicate effectively, communication is only successful when the receiver receives and understands the information. Miscommunication can also cause tension and conflict with the parties involved.
A paralegal must master the legalese language. Legalese is a specific and at times complicated language. An effective paralegal must transfer information openly and clearly. A paralegal must translate complex terms to easy terms to someone who is expected not to understand legalese or complex issues. An example of ineffective communication is when a paralegal responds the following statement to a client’s question on demurrers, “for a demurrer based on the statute of limitations to be sustained, untimeliness of the lawsuit must clearly and affirmatively appear on the face of the complaint and matters judicially noticed”. Paralegals are the liaison between the attorney and the clients as well as the attorney and other professionals it is vital for a paralegal to speak correctly and effectively. When the paralegal shows her skills with clients and professionals, she is not only demonstrating her intelligence but it builds trust and confidence as well. According to Morreale, Osborn, Pearson, (2000), “Students who cannot clearly articulate what they know may be wrongly judged as uneducated or poorly informed” (p.1).
Written communication skills are essential for aspiring paralegals. The majority of law office communication is in writing. Good grammar, spelling, punctuation, and good sentence structure are important factors of effective written communication skills.
Correspondence and legal documents must be free of errors. Legal documents may be complicated with a specific format, terminology, and font, therefore possessing this quality is crucial to succeed. Correspondence to a client must be written…