Paralegal Skills and Advice Centres > Checklists for Paralegal and Advice Centres > Checklist: Best Practices for Paralegal Case-Employees
Back to top

Checklist: Best Practices for Paralegal Case-Employees

The contents of this checklist are adapted from the Policy and Procedure manual of the Black Sash. Many of the points have been summarised or changed to make them more general. You will probably still find that the practices given here do not

all apply to your organisation. Use this as a guide and adapt it to suit your own needs.

  • Should be willing to go the extra mile for advice seekers
  • Advice seekers problems are seen as part of a bigger socio-economic problem which needs action from individuals as well as at a collective level
  • Dedication and commitment to work
  • Understand the core values of the organisation
  • Understand what it means to empower somebody
  • Have a vision of a society based on a respect for human rights
Case-Work Knowledge
  • Know the material in the Paralegal Manual and can work with it
  • Can give information to advice seekers based on the following primary laws:
    • COIDA
    • Labour Relations Act
    • Basic Conditions of Employment Act
    • Social Assistance Act and the Regulations
    • Prevention of Family Violence Act
    • Maintenance Act
    • Divorce Act
    • UIF Act

Remember: These are just examples; you must write down the laws that are relevant to your organisation’s work.

Understand the following and work with them:

  • Constitution of South Africa
    • Welfare White paper
    • Socio-economic rights
    • GEAR (government’s economic policy)
    • Know the problems experienced by rural advice seekers
    • Know and understand how to use the State institutions supporting democracy (for example, the SA Human Rights Commission, Public Protector, etc)
  • Able to identify, contact and refer to the process of –
    • Legal aid
    • Insurance Ombudsman
    • Pension Fund Adjudicator
    • Consumer institutes
    • CCMA
    • Independent Complaints Directorate of SAPS, Correctional Services and other sectors
    • Key bargaining councils of five main sectors presenting to the advice centre
    • Small Claims Court
    • Magistrate’s Commission and public prosecutions appeal divisions
  • Know how the office administration system works in respect of:
    • Administration systems
    • Budgets
    • The need for co-operation amongst staff
    • The need for honesty
Interviewing and Communication Skills

My interviewing and communication skills need to be excellent so that I can:

  • Present advice seekers with options to their problems which they can easily understand and suggest action to deal with problems which is in the advice seekers’ best interests and not what I think is best for them.
Case-Recording Skills

My case-recording skills need to be accurate and people must be able to read what has been written.

Keeping my Own Records
  • I know how to record problems on the computer
  • The monthly print-out of problems accurately reflects my work
  • I am up to date with recording cases on the computer
  • I record any meetings attended
Referrals Procedure

I can refer advice seekers to appropriate structures when necessary and appropriate and I send a professionally prepared report with any advice seeker when I refer them.

Effective Use of Time

I ensure that time-wasting is cut to a minimum.


My follow-up of cases is well planned, proactive and consistent, for example, recording dates to follow up, and making appointments when necessary.

Closing Cases

I follow up with advice seekers to make sure that I can close a case.

  • My writing is clear for all to read
  • My notes are filed in order of date received
  • The name of the person is clearly written at the top of the file
  • I put the files where others will know where to find them
  • All letters have spelling and grammar checked
  • All faxes have the fax record stapled to the letter
Identification of My Learning Needs

I am able to identify areas where I am weak in knowledge. I feel free to acknowledge this and will either find the information myself or will ask other staff members for advice.

Using Different Remedies

I am able to know what remedies to use to deal with different cases.

Analysing Trends in Case-Work

I can identify common problems of advice seekers, identify what is causing the problem and make the necessary interventions to deal with the problems.

Referring Cases to Court
  • I can identify good test cases that should be referred to court and understand the legal problem involved
  • I have kept a file of all the documentation and work done
  • I have explained to the client what action will be taken and the possible outcomes
  • I will frequently follow up the case with the attorney
Meetings with Other People and Organisations
  • I must work with members of my organisation and within the organisation’s strategy when planning a meeting and inform them who will be attending
  • I must prepare in advance and decide on priorities
  • I must be on time
  • I must send a follow-up letter to the person thanking them for the meeting and summarising what was agreed and prepare a report for my organisation