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Do It Your Self: The risk of assigning investigations to the legal support staff

art2-7-16In this Internet age there is a wealth of online investigative sources that can prove helpful to a legal case. The majority of law firms employ support staff that routinely develops information from these sources that is used in connection with a given case. This is why Texas statutes governing investigators applied an exemption related to practicing lawyers and their employees.

There are many paralegals and legal researchers who are extremely skilled in conducting online and other investigative work on behalf of their firms’ clients, and could hold their own in an investigations company. However, ability and experience should be the yardstick by which the legal support personnel’s limitations are established. If the requirements of the assignment exceed the staff’s skill set, there are pronounced risks.

Tradition holds that physicians operate under the ethical charge, “First do no harm,” which is a good motto for legal professionals as well. A legal assistant who, through lack of skill or experience in investigations, commits errors or omissions can certainly do harm to the case. This can lead to a variety of unsuitable outcomes, not the least of which is reputation.

Another point to ponder is the possibility of mitigation of the attorney-client privilege pertaining to the work product. Ancillary to this is the potential that the member of the legal support staff conducting the investigative work might be called as a witness by opposing counsel.

A decision to assign complex investigative work to the support staff, especially matters such as surveillance and extensive individual or corporate background profiles, can backfire. The experienced professionals at ResultQuest are skilled at managing the process and product of investigations—always with your client’s best interest in mind.

Call us at 713-781-9040 to discuss how we can help you craft an investigation that most effectively addresses your need to develop “Knowledge for Informed Decisions®.”