Needed: Fact-Recording Paralegals
People file lawsuits and then wait. Their expensive attorneys burn up enormous amounts of time and money. The legal system imposes delays lasting months and even years before there is finally a serious attempt to sort out the facts. Often, that never happens at all; the parties simply settle the matter on terms that can be completely unfair to one or more parties.
At a time when the country does not have enough jobs for all of the people who need them, it makes sense to divert some of that money away from the attorneys, to paralegals who would be tasked for the specific purpose of nailing down the facts of the case. One way to do this would be to hold the parties, not the court, responsible for coming up with a coherent statement of those facts. Sanctions could be developed and revised to give parties an incentive to cooperate with the paralegal; for example, a party denying a point, and thereby requiring the other party to prove it, could be responsible for the expenses (or double the expenses, or the expenses plus fines) that the other party and the paralegal incur in proving it.
For this purpose, suitably trained paralegals could be registered with the court, as mediators and other professionals are, and cases could be assigned to them. This approach could result in more thorough and accurate development of the factual record – although not, perhaps, in a comparison against the imaginary world in which all parties have adequate legal representation. In the real world, people who wanted and could afford attorney representation in the factual phase could still have it; the essential point is just that parties would not be railroaded through a commonly bogus factual phase handled by an overly busy judge and overly expensive litigators.
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Tags: attorneys, courts, disputes, fact-finding, factfinding, judges, lawsuits, lawyers, litigation, paralegals