The work of a paralegal requires very thorough attention to the details of the process of preparation for a trial. The attention to the details is so important because the results of the preparation stage mostly determine the success of the outcomes of the entire process. The first stage of the preparation process is the client interview (Hatch & Hatch, 2009). The usual interview consists of the three steps.
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The first step is listening to the client. This stage requires a significant amount of attention from the interviewer, and it should include various methods of storing the obtained information. It should include any useful tools that can be utilized to record the data coming from the client. It can be the notebook with a pencil or pen, any sound recording device, a video recording device, and any other tool that can be used to store the upcoming information. Therefore, the first step requires the provision of the mentioned tools and materials to get prepared for the listening part.
The second step is questioning the client. This part of the interview requires the use of the notes and the available audio/video materials that can help to form the appropriate questions, required to find out the essence of the situation, circumstances of the case, environmental factors, and any other details (Hatch & Hatch, 2009). This step requires the availability of the instruments allowing quick access to the recorded data, such as the laptop, for example, or an audio playing device.
The speed and quality of access to the recorded bits of data will determine the effectiveness of the third step of the interview – the advising. This part of the interview requires the use of the obtained materials, such as the client’s version of the case, the results of the questioning process, and the personal impression the client has made. This step may require the additional materials of the legislative nature that can be used by the interviewer to provide the best case-relevant solutions.
The following questions should be asked before the interview with a client starts. The first question is about the exact moment when the incident took place (Hatch & Hatch, 2009; Miller & Meinzinger, 2012). The answer to this question will provide information about the exact time of the incident to have sufficient background for the next steps. It is the base of preparation for the interviewing. The second question is about the exact details of the context in which the incident took place.
The core of the issue needs to be evaluated in the details to see the potential course of action that can be used in the case. The third question is about the place where the incident took place. This question is very important as well as it provides the background for the further investigation of the potentially harmful environment and the appropriate financial claims that the attorney would make on behalf of the client.
The fourth question is about the health condition of the client when the incident took place. It is important to know that the client’s health was or was not the reason causing the incident. Finally, the fifth question is about the potential witnesses of the incident, their availability, and credibility (Miller & Meinzinger, 2012). Eyewitnesses can be very helpful in achieving positive results as well as threatening the success of the case depending on the position they have regarding the incident. It is critical to have witnesses that can support the claims of the client.
As of the interrogatories, the following set of the questions is to be used during the preparation process (Miller & Meinzinger, 2016):
- State your personal information such DOB, social security number, address, and other relevant details.
- Did you commit any proven crimes in the past? If yes, please explain.
- This information is needed to see the past of the opposing party in terms of issues with the law since it can weaken the position of the defense.
- Have you been involved in a civil lawsuit before? If yes, please explain.
- This information is needed to evaluate the situation of the opposing party in terms of the previous experiences in court. It can be used to find other details that can compromise the defense of the opposing attorney.
- Provide your version of the incident.
- It is necessary to have the detailed vision of the opposing party regarding the incident. It can be used to find inconsistences in the versions and build the case using them.
- State your role in the incident.
- It is important to see why exactly the opposing side is involved in the lawsuit and how it became involved. It can be used to find the gaps in the defensive attorney’s course.
- Did investigation of any kind take place after the incident? If yes, please explain.
- This information can provide the attorney with the information about the inappropriateness or appropriateness of the reaction to the incident outcomes. It can help to weaken the position of the defense attorney in the case of failing to follow some mandatory procedure by the opposing party.
- Do you have any specialists in mind who can be your witness in this case?
- This information can help to find witnesses that will help to explore the incident case favorably to the client’s position. It can play a crucial role in the entire process.
- State the outcomes of any kind that the incident had caused.
- This information can help to see how the incident affected both parties. This data is critical for the case in terms of the desired results.
- State any details you consider relevant to this case.
- This information can help to see the vision of the opposing sides regarding the context and environment of the incident. It can be used to have the stronger position at the court as some details can matter more than the opposing party thinks.
- What are the consequences that the incident caused to your physical and mental conditions?
- This information should show how the incident has affected both parties. It should determine the course of actions of both attorneys.
Interrogations are tremendously important to use for the cases involving personal injury. These questions and the subsequent information can be used to strengthen the position of one of the parties if the answers of the other include inconsistences and issues (Miller & Meinzinger, 2016). There are two ways of using the responses of the opposing side to build the course of attorney’s actions. The first way is to emphasize the inconsistences and prove that these inconsistences are substantial enough to make the statements of the opposing party false and not worth of attention. In other words, the opposing side cannot prove its innocence, as its statements are full of inconsistences.
It is the easy way, but it can be severely opposed by the professional attorney of the opponents. The second way is to make the opposing party repeat the inconsistences in the court time after time, leading the witnesses to the conclusions that can be univocally recognized by the court as true. This way is much harder to follow because it requires a very thorough preparation and the availability of such inconsistences, but it is also much harder to oppose to by the opposing party’s attorney.
Hatch, S., & Hatch, L.Z. (2009). Paralegal procedures and practices. New York, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning.
Miller, R.L., & Meinzinger, M. (2012). Paralegal today: The essentials. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.
Miller, R.L., & Meinzinger, M. (2016). Paralegal today: The legal team at work. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.