Why Paralegals make great EEO Investigators
A paralegal’s education, training, and experience can be put to good use without working as a paralegal. In today’s job market, many paralegals are branching out and finding fun and interesting things to do with their skills. Working as an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Investigator is a unique opportunity for paralegals wishing to change careers, seeking additional autonomy in their work, seeking a higher income potential, and
seeking the freedom and flexibility that comes with owning their own business. The EEO Investigator role is less well-known and often requires an inside track to become a part of this coveted field. EEO Investigators are people officially designated and authorized to conduct inquiries into claims raised
in EEO complaints. Here are the top five reasons why paralegals are uniquely positioned for this opportunity:
1. Gathering and reviewing record evidence in an integral part of any investigation and one in which paralegals are well-suited to perform. Gathering records is an essential part of conducting EEO Investigations where it is often necessary to collect documentation such as medical records, previous grievance documentation, email and other written correspondence related to the accepted issues. Much of this documentation is must be requested directly from the agency. Other documentation (such as applicable policies and local memorandums) can be retrieved directly from the internet.
2. Affidavit Development and Legal Interviews are a Key Component of the Investigative Process. The development of affidavits is a key job requirement for EEO Investigators. Affidavits must contain all questions necessary to solicit information that will allow a trier of fact to determine if the legal standards
were met to conclude whether illegal discrimination occurred. Additionally, speaking with or obtaining written testimony from key witnesses is also a key component of investigative work. All material witnesses must be interviewed and any records that relate to testimony provided must be carefully reviewed. Paralegals often have great experience both in constructing witness interrogatories and in listening closely during the interview process to what key witnesses are saying and ascertaining where there is a need to follow up on new information.
3. Investigators, like paralegals, must have the ability to develop impartial and appropriate factual records. Conducting an EEO Investigation requires the ability to objectively gather witness testimony and record evidence directly relevant to the accepted issues involved in an EEO case. Successful investigators then must summarize the evidence collected to allow a trier of fact to draw a legal conclusion. Paralegals are uniquely suitable for this work as in doing documentary research, summarizing records and witness testimony, and summarizing depositions, interrogatories and testimony directly parallels this requirement. Additionally, the legal requirement that prohibits paralegals and legal assistants from giving clients legal advice mirrors the requirement of investigators to remain impartial throughout the investigation and to refrain from offering any legal conclusions. Investigators must concern themselves
only with providing factual evidence of the case to allow a trier of fact to decide on the case. 4. The ability to develop clear correspondence to witnesses that do not contain legal opinions or legal advice is a requirement of the Investigator’s Job. Paralegals author and sign correspondence to witnesses that do not contain independent legal opinions or legal advice. The ability to clearly communicate case information without violating the impartial role of
the investigator or providing the appearance of issuing legal counsel is a necessity of the position. Paralegals and legal assistants are familiar with this practice and often excel in this job requirement.
5. Conducting Legal Research is a skill that parallels the investigative research EEO Investigators must perform to fully investigate a case. Paralegals must be knowledgeable about the law and know how to continue to research the law to be effective at their job. Each case requires the paralegal to apply any number of laws for the case to be successful. Similarly, EEO Investigators are responsible for understanding the underlying case law and theories of discrimination that guide the formulation of affidavit questions and are required in the final report to allow a trier of fact to draw a legal conclusion.
This requires an understanding of legal principles to guide the questions and research necessary to provide sufficient information to legally support or legally disprove a claim of discrimination. Paralegals are accustomed to conducting research on federal, state, or local legislation and case law to support a case. This background serves them well in the EEO Investigation field.
6. Paralegals tend to pay attention to detail, a skill necessary to the successful EEO Investigator Successful EEO Investigators tend to be detail-oriented individuals. A good paralegal focuses not only on the bigger picture but will pay special attention to the small details as well. It is those fine details that will
often make or break a case in the courtroom. From the presentation of the facts to the order in which those facts must be stated, details are extremely important. Paying attention to detail is an invaluable skill for a Paralegal. Similarly, presenting a legally sufficient investigative report requires investigators to
pay attention to the details. Records and testimony given must match or follow up questions must be asked to fill in gaps or discrepancies. Policies or records cited must be included under record evidence in the final report. Paralegals are usually accustomed to paying attention to the small details that tend to make a big difference and this serves them well as EEO Investigators.
7. Paralegals tend to be interested in the law and the legal process The first and most obvious trait of a paralegal is a special interest in law, legal issues, and legal proceedings. Most paralegals work in law firms, government agencies, not for profit organizations, and large and small corporations. The
world of law is very fast-paced, complex, and specific requiring someone who is meticulous and detail-oriented. Paralegals play a pivotal role in the preparation of legal documents, organizing files, and conducting the research that will support a case in court or to complete a legal process
within ongoing corporate negotiations or contracts. Paralegals also tend to gravitate toward problem solving and research. All these attributes make
paralegals perfect for the role of an EEO Investigator. Similarly, successful EEO Investigators also lead the preparation of legal documents, conduct the research needed to provide factual information for the case, and present the information that will allow a trier of fact or judge to make a supported legal conclusion.
8. Paralegals are generally good at multitasking. As with any career choice, a paralegal must master more than one skill to succeed at their job. The study of law itself requires a significant amount of information to be learned and then applied to the appropriate case or situation. Paralegals are often working on several cases on any given day. They must be accurate, disciplined, detail-oriented, and highly organized to keep track of all the various tasks and cases which they are focusing on at any given time. They must employ their legal, communication, and organizational skills in various capacities at any given time. These traits are also required of the successful EEO Investigator who usually works on multiple cases at a time and requires a significant
amount of information be learned and applied to the appropriate case or situation.
9. Paralegals tend to possess strong interpersonal communication skills Working with the law requires one to both write and speak effectively. Thus, this is true both for paralegals and EEO Investigators. For paralegals, documents include correspondence, pleadings, complaints, subpoenas, deposition notices, and legal briefs to name a few. For both paralegals and EEO Investigator, there is a focus not only on what is said, but also how it is said. Attention must be paid to language, grammar, and word usage in recognition of the fact a sentence can move the balance of a case. While paralegals strive to ensure the work benefits a client, EEO Investigators work to ensure impartiality so that a trier of fact can make a legal determination based solely on the facts of the case. Both cases require a command of communication skills to achieve an objective. Verbal communication also needs to be clear and concise so that any information being conveyed is understood by the listening party. Both fields also require a mastery of the art of human social interaction. Paralegals and Investigators both must be able to explain and discuss certain case related issues and procedures with persons involved in the case. They must be able to explain legal procedures and documents in layman’s terms to individuals not familiar with the law. Both fields often involve high-stress situations which requires a paralegal or investigator to communicate effectively, keep a positive attitude, and remain personable while
maintaining consistent professionalism.
10. Paralegals tend to be flexible and willing to always learn new things. The field of law is vast and constantly changing. Successful
paralegals and investigators are malleable to always learn new things- new law, new policies, new procedures, new ways of thinking. Plans in both fields can change quickly and being flexible allows both Paralegals and Investigators to continuous grow and learn and adapt to new situations. Why Paralegals Choose to Become EEO Investigators The benefits of being an independent EEO Investigator are numerous. EEO Investigators often own their own business and enjoy the freedom and flexibility that comes with owning their own schedule, managing their own workload, and organizing their own work. Additionally, being an EEO Investigator can be highly lucrative and can command anywhere between 25,000 to 200,000 a year. Investigators work in various capacities within the industry. Opportunities that come with being a certified EEO Investigator are vast and abundant. EEO Investigators can choose to be independent contractors, business owners, or work directly for government agencies, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, private companies, or law firms.