Norton Rose opts for paralegals to liberate solicitors

PETER REES, the new head of Norton Rose's commercial litigation departments, wants to increase the proportion of paralegals in the department to allow qualified lawyers to focus on the most demanding work.

Peter Rees took charge last week of the 70 lawyers in the department which has only eight paralegals, plus a pool of freelancers.

Rees stressed that the new policy would not mean a recruitment ban on lawyers.

“Litigation is booming after the recession, so we will be actively recruiting, but we are looking for the best lawyers,” said Rees.

“Using paralegals makes the work more interesting for qualified lawyers, who are rather wasted in paper-shuffling. Some paralegals are law graduates taking time out, so if they like the firm and we like them, we could offer them training contracts.”

Rees said the move is part of a long-standing policy in the department, instigated by his predecessor, Mike Lee, to make litigation more cost effective for clients.

Rees will continue the theme by introducing project management software which is about to be revealed to clients in the department's construction and engineering law group, of which he was previously head.

The software will automatically calculate fees, and plan a budget and timetable for proposed litigation.

It is also able to work out the cost of unexpected problems, like applications for interim payments and interlocutory hearings.