Discovery in Civil Litigation Cases - Top 10 Paralegal Practice Tips


Paralegals can perform crucial informal and formal discovery tasks in civil litigation cases. When investigating the case facts and reviewing evidence, a knowledgeable paralegal should:
  1. Ask clients to immediately provide any and all documentation in their possession regarding the case.
  2. Review all available documents carefully. Obtain additional information from all additional sources outside of formal discovery requests, including but not limited to, the Internet, public records and fee-based database programs.
  3. Summarize the facts and supporting evidence. Discuss the legal issues and the necessary evidence to make a prima facie case with your supervising attorney.
  4. Know the applicable civil procedure and discovery rules, including local rules which may set forth additional discovery deadlines. Keep a copy at your desk and save the websites for local, state and federal rules on your web browser.
  5. Know the applicable state's ethics rules for attorney contact with witnesses, including medical providers and management employees.
  6. Maintain and develop form complaints and discovery documents in your office, using continuing legal education manuscripts, publications, articles, law libraries and go-bys from other legal professionals.
with the name and contact information for each witness, a summary of the witness' testimony or knowledge, and whether the witness has been interviewed and/or subpoenaed to the hearing.

  • Draft well-stated and clear discovery requests to be sent to the opposing party, based on a strong understanding of the case facts and necessary evidence.
  • Read the other party's discovery requests very carefully and review the client's file thoroughly when drafting responses to verify the facts and accuracy of the answers.
  • Attend litigation continuing legal education (CLE) seminars in your specialty areas and carefully review discovery articles and publications for legal professionals.

  • Lynne J. DeVenny is a N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal employed by Elliot Pishko Morgan P.A. in Winston-Salem. In addition to co-authoring Workers' Compensation Practice for Paralegals (Carolina Academic Press, 2008), she blogs for the paralegal profession at Practical Paralegalism (http://www.practicalparalegalism.com/). Along with The Paralegal Mentor, Vicki Voisin, she co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast at Legal Talk Network. She was included in OnlineBestColleges.com's "Top 100 Twitter Feeds for Law Students" and was named a ParalegalGateway.com Superstar for 2009.

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