If we were to place our bets on the truth about great attorneys, here at WebPreserver, we’d wager that the majority of them did not get to be that way entirely on their own. While the best attorneys are no doubt talented and deserving, most of them become so because they have a strong support network, hard at work in the background. And perhaps no element of this crucial support system is more important than the paralegal. Paralegals are behind-the-scenes magicians – essential to the work of the successful attorney, and an indispensable element to the success of a firm. After all, one of the most important elements of practicing law is building an effective team to serve clients in the best manner possible. Happy, productive, talented paralegals are critical to making that goal a reality.
Paralegals handle countless tasks on behalf of the attorneys they work for. Research, review and organization of client files, preparation of documents, drafting of pleadings, organization and collection of evidence, and assistance with an endless array of legal tasks – All of these duties fall under the paralegal umbrella. What would a busy firm do without them? The simple truth of the matter is that effective, efficient paralegals help to support effective, efficient law firms, and it’s very difficult to have one without the other.
If you’re an attorney who has been practicing for any length of time, you know that this is true. And if you know that’s true, then you likely understand another important truth as well – if someone is so essential to the day-to-day operation of your firm, you want to keep them happy! After all, a happy paralegal makes a happier attorney, which in turn, contributes to a happier, more productive, and more positive working experience for the entire firm. Seems pretty simple and straightforward, right? You would think so, but unfortunately, this is not always the case.
While most attorneys intuitively understand this to be the truth in theory, in practice, reality can be quite different. As we have learned from talking to paralegals, firms, and attorneys across the country, many paralegals aren’t feeling as happy as they could be in their working environments. Many are stressed out, overworked, and feeling as if they are spinning their wheels working at tasks that seem counterproductive in our current digital age. While this may be true, the good news is, that it doesn’t have to be. While WebPreserver can’t claim to be able to solve all of a paralegal’s potential problems, we can help with a few big ones. And that’s a start.
Discovery in the Digital Age
For the vast majority of attorneys, the practice of law has been uniquely affected by the advent of social media. According to recent studies, 1,587,000 new Facebook posts are made every 20 minutes, one billion tweets are posted on Twitter every 48 hours, and more than 70 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram each day. There are over 3 billion people in the world who are currently using social media – That’s roughly 42% of the entire world population. 11 new people join social media every second. And those numbers will no doubt only continue to grow.
Even more importantly for those in the practice of law, studies have shown that the number of published cases involving social media evidence is nearly doubling every couple of years. eDiscovery is continually growing and changing, and the technology used to conduct that discovery is evolving at an increasingly rapid rate.
Unfortunately, many legal practices aren’t evolving at the same pace. In today’s world of social media and constantly changing technology, methods, like taking screenshots, that may have once seemed efficient and effective are now less so. Things that once seemed to be simple, safe, practices just simply aren’t anymore. Living in today’s technological world while remaining stuck in the data collection practices of the past is bad business – for you, for your clients, and, often especially, for your paralegal.
Why is this so? Why has the increased use of social media in the courtroom caused such headache for the paralegal in the office? The answer is simple. In the majority of firms without an IT support team, the responsibility for capturing the digital evidence needed in an increasingly vast number of cases often falls to the paralegals. We’ve heard the complaints about outdated collection practices from unhappy paralegals on countless occasions. Rather than spending their time productively completing necessary research, or drafting important pleadings, or coordinating other important aspects of your caseload, they’re trapped in front of the computer, endlessly taking Screenshot after screenshot, and slowly but surely accumulating a mountain of paperwork to sift through and organize.
As if this weren’t bad enough, the nature of social media often makes the taking of screenshots even more arduous, not to mention, in many cases, dangerous and risky for the ultimate outcome of your case. Stated quite simply – a screenshot often isn’t just a screenshot, especially when social media is involved. In fact, a screenshot is often much more (time consuming, that is), and much less (effective, that is), than the modernized and far more efficient collection method offered by WebPreserver.
Why is this so, you may ask? For starters, the amount of evidence that often needs to be collected for even one case can be substantial. We’ve seen many examples of cases where one party is an avid social media poster, and in which it has taken over a week of time simply to print the contents of one Facebook account. One person’s account alone can amount to hundreds and hundreds of printable pages. The nature of a screenshot means that capturing long-pages with scrolling, expandable content is next to impossible. As a result, if you’re trying to capture the entire Facebook account of a very active poster, for example, your paralegal will be stuck trying to do so by capturing it in many separate sections, for hours, and hours, and hours. That’s not even to mention the time spent organizing all of those screenshots after they’ve been printed.
On top of that, beyond the exasperation of printing, organizing, and keeping track of hundreds of pages, your paralegal will also likely encounter some frustrating formatting issues that will have to be addressed, and will add even more stress and time to an already exasperating process. Then, as if this weren’t already enough, we would be remiss to forget to mention the fact that a screenshot standing alone is a risky proposition in most courts – as most attorneys already know. As a result, you’re likely to be spending time obtaining and preparing affidavits to accompany those screenshots - which is likely even more work that will fall onto your paralegal’s plate. And even after you’ve asked your paralegal to spend endless hours printing, sorting, organizing, and obtaining affidavits, there are still no guarantees that your evidence will hold up in court.
The truth of the matter is that screenshots can easily be altered, and do not contain Metadata. There are plenty of authentication problems with screenshots, and there’s a decent likelihood that after putting your paralegal through the exhausting and counterproductive process of gathering and organizing all of that material, you won’t be able to use it in court anyway, as countless cases make clear. If you find yourself in exactly that situation, you’re likely to be heading back to your office, and asking your unhappy, overworked paralegal to do even more work frantically attempting to obtain the evidence you need in the correct format since you failed to do so in the first place. Sounds like a recipe for disaster and discontent, if you ask us.
And if you are asking us …… then we have the solution that you – and your paralegals – need. Here at WebPreserver, we have clients who regularly collect hundreds, sometimes thousands of social media posts for use in a single case. They realize that time is money, and that time, used wisely, and not spinning wheels needlessly, results in a happier, more productive firm dynamic overall.
With the WebPreserver Plug-in, which you can install on your browsers quickly and effortlessly, you can begin gathering the evidence you need, when you need it. Your paralegal will be able to capture the evidence that you want, even if it is voluminous, with one simple click. You’ll have the assurance that at the moment of capture, the content will be certified with a SHA256 Digital signature and timestamp, using certified Stratum-1 atomic clocks. It will be organized, easy to access, and maintained in pristine, recognizable, and easily exportable formats. With WebPreserver, preservation is automated and reliable, and safe. What would take weeks with an antiquated screenshot method will take only minutes. You’ll be happy, and just as importantly, your paralegal will be too!
Happy Paralegal – Productive Firm – Satisfied Clients
It’s just common sense that being tasked with more work that one person can effectively handle only increases stress in an already stressful profession. This quickly caused unhappiness, resentment, and burnout. No one wants to feel as if they aren’t able to give their best – and it’s almost impossible to give your best when you’re overwhelmed and just attempting to keep your head above water. Failing to meet deadlines, or being unable to produce quality work because you can’t keep pace with demand is a sure way to destroy morale. In that situation, everyone loses. WebPreserver is here to help everyone win. A happy paralegal stands behind almost every successful attorney, and a successful attorney usually ends up with a satisfied client. The logic is clear, and the choice is simple. Call WebPreserver today.