Paralegal Career Options

Qualified lawyers often have specialized assistants to aid them in their work, and it is these paraprofessionals who are referred to as paralegals. Paralegals can help lawyers in various legal divisions, ranging from clerical jobs to highly substantial legal work. These paraprofessionals are most often under the watchful eye of the attorney or lawyer they are assisting. As logic would say, it definitely is a good field to be in, but the looming difference is that a paralegal cannot do all the jobs or duties that a licensed lawyer can, and one of the biggest differences here is presenting or appearing in court. Paralegal careers generally involve helping the lawyer prepare for hearings/trials/closings, etc. But what are the other choices in this profession? Take a look…

Career Aspects

To be a lawyer, or at least be in the field of law is a long harbored dream to many. Unfortunately though, not everyone can make it there. The reasons could be varied. Maybe it’s the financial aspect, maybe it’s the academic (some people just cannot make it through law school for so many years). Whatever the reason, there is a way to work around it. The way to work around it in law is by picking a career as a paralegal. One of the most common, and perhaps even the best option for a paralegal is to join a law firm. Once a person has chosen the path of a paralegal, he must be prepared to take care of all sorts of jobs, especially since it makes for a great learning experience. But, what are the duties of a paralegal? Let’s get a look at it…

Duties
The growth for paralegals is fairly substantial as compared to what it used to be at one time. Opportunities vary right from law firms to companies that have departments dealing with all legal procedures. There isn’t a company which does not have to deal with at least the basics such as tax returns, contracts of various sorts, agreements, etc. It is at times like these that a paralegal has a lot to do, thus getting a chance at learning about his various duties. However, it is also essential to bear in mind that no matter what the amount of work indulged in, the possibility of a court appearance, is practically nil.

Goals
Starting off as a paralegal may sometimes lead you to believe that it is the end of your legal aspirations. Luckily though, it isn’t so. Even after having a paralegal career, goals can still be high, because the possibility of a promotion is always there. On doing a good job, and fulfilling duties well, it isn’t uncommon for seniors to allot more challenging tasks to the paraprofessionals working under their guidance. In fact, when preparing a paralegal resume, it is always a good idea to make your goals extremely clear. At this point, you could also make a mention of any achievement during your academic term. More specifically, one could also mention things such as internships or the likes, which will act as proof that you are indeed serious about what you do, and that the aspirations are real. Real potential can give you the chance to becoming a paralegal manager too, thus allowing you to earn more than the average paralegal salary too.

The fact that there may be doubt involved when it comes to the concrete details of paralegal careers, is no surprise. Reference to a good paralegal career guide in a case like such would then work as the best solution. You will get all the information that you were looking for and much more. Right from educational requirements, to duties and responsibilities, or even names of companies that hire paralegals, you’ll find it all in there. Going through a guide like this will help get rid of any apprehensions that may have taken over upon choosing to become a paralegal.

Working your way through this career is just as important as any other career. Becoming a senior in this field after years of the much required experience will also broaden your horizons, thus enabling you to secure even supervisory jobs in the future. So, good luck with your endeavor as paralegal.

Paralegal Studies

Students are enrolled in colleges and universities throughout the nation in order to pursue their dreams, utilize their talents, and improve the world for future generations. If you are one of these students, and you are unsure about your career path, you may be interested in learning about the numerous opportunities that a paralegal career has to offer.

Advance your written and analytical skills

Aside from earning a degree, you must also improve your writing and analytical thinking skills throughout your college career in order to succeed as a paralegal. By sharpening your skills in organization, project management, and attention to detail, you can easily transition from being a student to having a career as a professional once you walk across the podium and receive your degree.

Network

While you are still enrolled in a college or university paralegal studies program, you should strive to meet as many people in the legal field as you can. By joining a paralegal association, you will have an opportunity to meet various legal professionals, who will provide you with career tips, resources, and new networking opportunities. Networking contacts can offer advice and recommendations, and can also support you during your search for new opportunities to use your talents, education, and past work experiences to positively impact the legal industry. Networking can help you pursue more business relationships, mentorships, and new jobs.

Law firms utilize paralegal talent for project management services

Project management services are in constant demand by law firms. As a result, while handling large discovery requests, attorneys often seek help from their paralegals, who will supervise document review, especially at firms that do not have permanent project management teams or large discovery litigation.

Paralegals operate facilities that create web-based review systems

In 2007, the federal rules that governed electronic discovery (eDiscovery) were changed, driven by continued growth in litigation, as well as the explosion of electronic data in recent years. Paralegals are now needed to operate the remote, modular facilities that create paperless, Web-based review systems, as a process-driven model for electronic discovery, has been widely adopted, featuring the metrics and collaborative elements required to ensure a truly defensible process.

Experienced paralegals help law firms attain optimal success

Experienced paralegals can develop skills in organization, communication, delegation, and evaluation, making them just as effective as project managers. Law firms need to utilize the skill sets of paralegals to operate in an efficient manner.

As technology continues to evolve, paralegals can keep pace by increasing their knowledge of telecommunications, databases, Excel spreadsheets, and legal research software. In recent years, legal technology has created two new paralegal niches―litigation support and eDiscovery. By advancing their technological skill sets, paralegals will have a competitive advantage within the legal profession, as they successfully support law firms in both litigation and eDiscovery implementations.

By earning a degree and obtaining work experience through internships, you can have a highly rewarding and satisfying position as a paralegal professional. To obtain a position, you will need an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies, or a four-year degree in any discipline, in addition to a certificate in paralegal studies. By acquiring a high-quality liberal arts education, as well as a thorough understanding of the legal profession, you will be well-prepared for future career success.

What Does a Paralegal Do

As the name suggests, a paralegal is related to the field of law. They are not in mainstream legal procedures or lawsuits. A paralegal assists lawyers in things like interacting with the client for the first time, interviewing them, case preparation, legal research, courtroom assistance, draft legal documents, etc. A paralegal is a non-lawyer who assists lawyers in their day-to-day work.

Assisting lawyers can be one of the identifications for paralegals or they can have an independent status as license holders just like lawyers, who can offer legal services only in specific lower courts and administrative tribunals. However non-authorized paralegals cannot accept or present cases in any court, give legal advice, and set fees.

Law, being a very vast and complex field of profession, where all the details are kept in the mind while performing the duties, a paralegal is very helpful in assisting a lawyer and does the following:

– Interacting with the clients and interviewing them for the general basic requirements of a case, viz., facts of a case and interview the witnesses as well for their version of the story. Although this is not a very big deal which requires different set of skills, effective communication skills is one aspect which is very essential for the legal procedure, and takes up considerable amount of time from the lawyer’s schedule.
– Paralegals do the research work for every case with references provided by the lawyers, under whom they work. – Research also demands a huge chunk of time, which involves analyzing and organizing relevant material, gathering information, noting the key judgments, etc.
– Prepares documents for cases as well as for filing tax returns, drafting standard letters, for legal correspondence, letters for trust purposes, legal separation, contracts, agreements, etc.
– Paralegals also keep minute details of hearings, meetings, agendas, important deadlines, appointments, keep a track of the working hours spent on a case, etc.
– Preparing for the administrative formalities, making or procuring affidavits also come under the job description.
In the court, the paralegal helps the lawyer with the documents, handing them to him as and when he calls for it. Paralegals also help in filling up forms or petitions and thus rendering ample time to his boss to work towards the trial.
– Prepares written reports, attends court and administrative hearings and trials with the lawyer. Though most of the things that paralegals do may seem clerical in nature, they are of utmost importance in the whole legal arena.

The salary depends not only upon the size and strength of the firm he is with, but also the amount of work he is assigned among the ones mentioned above. Hope this article helped you in knowing what a paralegal does.

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!

How to Become a Paralegal

The process of dispensing justice is complex, and it takes many hands and heads to ensure that justice is done. Right from the law enforcement agencies, to lawyers, judges, courts, and the support staff that makes this possible, all play an important role in the process. If you are the kind of person who believes in the ideas of fairness and justice, who enjoys researching and analyzing information, you may have it in you, what it takes to become a paralegal. These professionals assist a lawyer, in his research and lay all the groundwork for the case being argued, under his supervision.

Are you the kind of person who follows John Grisham novels? Do you enjoy watching and following courtroom dramas? Were you interested in being a part of the high school debating team but rather than arguing, you enjoyed being the researcher? Are you the kind of person who, instead of dashing into the limelight, prefers being in the background and doing your job thoroughly? Then, you should think about becoming a paralegal.

Job Description
Although, a paralegal is a legal assistant to a lawyer, he has no right to independently advise anybody on legal matters. An experienced legal assistant is like a lawyer’s shadow. He does a range of tasks, which primarily include the following:

– Handling of client interviews
– Contacting and following up with clients
– Conducting case investigation and witnessing interviews under a lawyer’s supervision
– Perform case background research and investigate facts
– Work on preparation of legal arguments
– Drafting legal arguments
– Organizing the entire documentation of case proceedings, research, and other paperwork
– Courtroom assistance to the lawyer during trial

These professionals are hired by law firms and individual lawyers, either as freshers or for their expertise in specific backgrounds. An experienced professional may decide to become a freelancer and work on a contract basis, for specific cases, with different lawyers. Employment opportunities exist in government offices, corporate companies, and even consumer organizations. This is definitely a great career for a person, who is willing to devote himself to acquiring expertise in legal assistance and applying it to streamline the procedure, for preparing a case.

Steps To Become One
Let us know about the educational background and certification, as well as the skill set, that you need to acquire. Here are some guidelines.

To become a certified paralegal, one needs to get a degree or certificate from a course conducted by any accredited educational institution, approved by the American Bar Association. It is good to go for such a course, after acquiring a bachelor’s degree, as most legal firms require it.

You require a maximum of four years of education, if you go for a degree course and two years for a certificate course. Cost to become one, will depend on the kind of institution and type of course you opt for. Some paralegals are chosen by companies or law firms, for their expertise in specialized fields of law and are later trained on the job.

One of the most essential skills required, is having an eye for minor details, understanding of legal procedures, and an ability to work hard. Skilled lawyers will never be short of work and neither will paralegals.

Paralegal Job Description

If you are interested in a career as a paralegal, than look no further. The job is very similar to that of a lawyer, with the exception that the former can’t offer legal advice or represent cases in the court of law. These professionals step in to help the lawyers do the many tasks that are needed to build a court case.

Educational and Skill Requirements

A paralegal is required to have effective communication skills. He should have a thorough knowledge of legal terminology. Most of them specialize in the litigation process and are fully qualified to help out the attorneys. The educational requirement for this job is the knowledge of law and computers. You can take a certificate course to become one. Bachelor or Associate degrees are also available. These degrees take about two years for completion. You can also voluntarily opt for related certifications from National Association of Legal Assistants, National Federation of Paralegal Associations, or American Alliance of Paralegals. The work environment in this job is mainly indoors with occasional visits to law libraries and courts. These professionals work in many industries apart from the legal world, depending on the area of specialization they choose. For example, there are patent, bankruptcy, nurse, immigration, and real estate paralegals.

Duties and Responsibilities

He is responsible for collecting relevant information related to a case such as researching the case laws, etc. He is supposed to crosscheck the facts and their validity. These professionals help the lawyers by doing the preliminary research before a legal document can be prepared. They perform the task of summarizing and checking legal documents. The drafting of documents is handled by them. Simple tasks like locating the witnesses, preparing the pleading, and obtaining affidavits are carried out by these professionals. They also, at times, keep track of files and transcripts and organize meetings. In short, they do the groundwork for the lawyer and assist him in his job. Since different types of paralegals specialize in different industries, their job description also differs. A nurse paralegal often works with attorneys who have cases relating to medicine. These professionals are specialized in medicine. A real estate paralegal has experience in the real estate industry and helps with case building and collecting research for the cases involving real estate. Bankruptcy paralegals are in high demand these days and are involved with cases pertaining to bankruptcy laws. Immigration paralegals assist clients through the process of immigration. Job description of those like patent paralegals varies accordingly. There are a plenty of career opportunities in this field as one gains a lot of experience to become a full-fledged legal attorney.

Salary

According to several surveys, the average salary is around USD 54,000 per annum. Paralegals working with law firms get paid the most. Salary for beginners can vary from USD 38,000 to USD 47,000 per annum, depending on whether they work for government or a corporate firm.

Working as such a professional can help a person interested in the field of law in getting the required exposure. Thus, try exploring as much as you can about this profession, and also make sure that you are firm with your decision of pursuing this career.