The creative deployment of the paralegal staff improves the quality and efficiency of the services provided by the Criminal Practice. Paralegals within the Criminal Practice work with attorneys, social workers, investigators and other professional staff to assist in the attorneys’ case preparation and client representation.
Criminal Practice paralegals come from varied and diverse backgrounds. They include graduates of American Bar Association-approved paralegal studies programs, criminal justice undergraduate programs and graduate student programs as well as staff who were promoted internally and trained in-house in conjunction with Baruch College of the City University of New York. The Criminal Practice provides training throughout the year and has created a comprehensive manual for daily use by paralegals.
When new paralegals join the Criminal Practice, they receive six weeks of introductory training through the Society’s Paralegal Certificate Training Program. The training curriculum introduces a wide array of topics relating to the legal and criminal justice systems, with a particular emphasis on defending criminal cases. The training features a strong paralegal ethics component and focuses on client relations and the development of interviewing techniques. Paralegals are also introduced to the proper use of law libraries and trained to use Westlaw and other internet resource tools. Finally, paralegals learn about the Criminal Practice’s client services and case management system, and are trained to understand how criminal cases flow through the court system.
To promote quality representation through paralegal support services, the Criminal Practice conducts monthly assessment meetings, provides written annual performance feedback and regular individual supervision.