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.
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.
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!