Training Manual for Paralegal Trainers on Minority Rights

What is a Paralegal?

A Paralegal bridges the gap between community, lawyers and judicial system. S/he helps dissemination of legal information; follow up of cases, investigation of cases etc. He can help in pre-litigative work, which is very crucial and if not done well, can affect the entire case adversely.

Most of the times, a common person finds it very difficult to understand the technical legal procedure. Not knowing the procedure, not having information of law and fear of the judiciary leads to people suffering injustices and not fighting for their rights. A paralegal has knowledge of law and procedures and attempts to simplify them.

Unlike many people, who think going to the court will get them justice, a paralegal knows what the courts can do and what they cant. S/he understands the strengths and limitations of the legal system s/he also knows how to strategically use the system for maximum benefit.

Most people find it difficult to articulate their problem from a legal perspective. Law does not deal with injustices, it deals with illegalities. The courts intervene only if there is a violation of a law. Merely saying that there has been an injustice done to me will not move the legal machinery. A paralegal adds a legal perspective to social issues. S/he has the ability to convert a social problem into a legal case. Most people find it very frustrating to deal with a lawyer. While a lawyer is interested only in a legal case, the common person expects some one to help them through their problem. A paralegal is the link between the common person and the community and the lawyer. S/he identifies with the community in the just-unjust framework and juxtaposes it to lawyers in the legal-illegal framework.

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