Paralegal Duties

The field of law is complex and constantly evolving. With the growing social, political, and economical fabric of the society, the challenge to maintain effective law and order has risen drastically. And so has the workload and stress on lawyers. Catering to the diverse cases in innumerable fields, a lawyers’ profession is generally a race against time! This race has necessitated the need of legal assistants, also called paralegals. Just like medical assistants assist doctors, legal assistants help lawyers in successfully completing their tasks.

Duties of a Paralegal
There are innumerable tasks that are expected from paralegals, right from researching a case, to filing of case forms in the courts. A paralegal is directed by senior lawyers to do thorough research for some case and then update the lawyer about the relevant points of the case. One of the duties is to check the legal documents, and validate them for submission in the court. These duties are not just limited to office work, they are also responsible for scheduling meetings, appointments, and locating witnesses for the lawyers. It won’t be an exaggeration if it is said that a paralegal forms an important part of a lawyer’s success.

A good paralegal can help his lawyer by executing his responsibilities in an excellent manner. His duties also include managing corporate clients, and acting as a source of communication between the lawyer and clients. Since the lawyers can’t always be available for meetings, paralegals are expected to manage and take necessary information from the clients.

There are various specializations of paralegals, and as per the industry they can have varied job descriptions. For example, paralegals working with attorneys in cases of medicines are called nurse paralegals, and they help in cases related to pharmacy! The duties of bankruptcy paralegals are linked to bankruptcy laws. Bankruptcy paralegals are in great demand during a harsh economy wherein the bankruptcy lawsuits filed are in large numbers.

Educational Requirements
The educational requirement for becoming a paralegal is a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies, or, in some cases, a master’s level course. The American Bar Association (ABA) approves the certificates and degree courses in paralegal studies. Besides this, it is mandatory for the candidate to pass the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) exam conducted by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Effective communication skills are of prime importance, as paralegals have to deal with different types of people.

Salary Range
Working as assistants to lawyers is an enriching experience for any learner, and so prospective paralegals must take maximum advantage of the opportunity and learn the skills of this field. The salary range for the lowest 15% of legal assistants are found to be between USD 25,000 to USD 30,000. The highest salary has been up to USD 70,000 (approx) and is enjoyed by paralegals working in fields related to intellectual rights and property taxes.

As we can see, this is a growing field and there is appreciable competition to be recruited as legal assistants of established lawyers. This field presents great career opportunities to its aspirants, and anybody interested in law can pursue it to gain good experience. The duties of a paralegal demand an imposing personality with very good interpersonal skills. So, prepare yourself likewise and then enter into this field. All the best!

Legal Assistant Salary

No one can deny the workload and stress that lawyers, especially established ones, have to go through during their daily tasks of handling cases and proceedings. To reduce the workload of lawyers, assistance is of prime importance. This need of expert trainers who can help lawyers in carrying out various tasks has led to a drastic rise in legal assistant jobs. This job offers great career opportunities as it introduces them to practical experience in the law profession, that can be of significant value to their career development. Besides tremendous opportunities, the salary is also a driving factor that motivates aspirants to go for these jobs.

Job Description
Though lawyers are the main decision makers in chalking out the plan for handling a particular case, generally, they delegate their tasks to legal assistants or paralegals so that they can get time to handle other crucial parameters of the case. The most important task of legal assistants is to help lawyers prepare for closings, hearings, trails, and corporate meetings. They are expected to identify and submit reports, legal articles, corresponding case studies, judicial decisions, and other material for legal proceedings. In other words, they help in all types of work that require any legal formalities for any case.

Average Salary
Since legal assistants handle diverse challenges, their salary varies greatly. The income potential depends on education, training, and work experience. A legal assistant with training and education from a coveted institution is preferred by employers as it is an indication of the required skills in an employee. The size of the employer and geographic location also impacts the average salary. If an aspirant is working in a big law firm that has established itself over certain number of years, then he will be able to earn a decent salary. In today’s time, the need of legal assistants in fields such as real estate, bankruptcy, and medical malpractice, has grown significantly. Many firms and hospital care units pay a decent salary to paralegals who are ready to work with these units. The salary for professionals with one to four years of experience is usually between USD 28,000 to USD 42,000. Legal assistants who have worked for a period of 5 to 9 years can enjoy salaries in the range USD 30,000 to USD 43,000. An experienced legal assistant with work experience of about 10 to 19 years earns between USD 37,000 to USD 54,000. Besides the salaries, they also enjoy various perks and benefits. Paid sick leaves, yearly bonuses, 401(k) retirement plans, health insurance, and other types of necessary insurance schemes ensure their security.

The salary also depends on the type of specialization. According to research, in 2009, salaries for in fields like intellectual property, tax, and securities were the highest. Legal assistants in these fields were able to earn salaries as high as USD 65,000. Nowadays, there are more opportunities to scale up the ladder in the field of legal assistance as this field gives its aspirants tremendous scope to learn and upgrade their skills. So, if you are interested in the career of a legal assistant, then you can certainly take it as an opportunity to learn the basics of law in a practical manner.