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Paralegals are not Lawyers, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

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From the Washington County (Oregon) Law Librarian:

Hot on the heels of yet another law library patron asking me to refer them to a paralegal instead of a lawyer (and we never, ever refer anyone to paralegals (aghhhh) or to specific lawyers – just lawyer referral services) and my posting the other day about Liability for Lawyer Referrals, I read this decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals, Wythe v. Harrell (docket number A133382).

Here’s an excerpt from the OJD Media Release, dated December 3, 2008, but the case itself is worth reading (and it’s only 4 pages):

Richard Wythe, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Bruce Harrell, Defendant-Respondent. Edmonds, P. J.

Plaintiff brought this negligence claim against defendant, an attorney, alleging that defendant committed malpractice by referring him to a paralegal to prepare marriage dissolution documents. The trial court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment, on the ground that the undisputed evidence demonstrated that plaintiff had no interest in having defendant represent him in the dissolution case.

Held: The trial court focused too narrowly on defendant’s evidence and did not give plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences that could be drawn from the averments in his declaration. Viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the record presented genuine issues of material fact as to what advice plaintiff was given regarding the use of a paralegal and whether plaintiff relied on that advice. Reversed and remanded.” (link to OJD Media Releases)