What Does a Paralegal Do? Job Description of Paralegals and Legal Assistants & How to Become One

William Miller

What does a paralegal do? A lot of people don’t actually know what the job entails. This article will give you a little more insight into what the job is like and what someone in this career might do on a day-to-day basis.

Keep reading if you’re thinking about becoming a paralegal or just looking for answers to the question: what does a paralegal do?

What Does a Paralegal Do?

A paralegal is a professional who provides support to lawyers by performing various legal tasks. Paralegals are not lawyers, but they play an important role in the legal profession. They typically have an undergraduate degree in paralegal studies or a related field, and they must complete a paralegal certification program approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). What does a paralegal do on a daily basis?

Paralegals perform many different tasks, but their primary responsibility is to conduct legal research and gather information that will help lawyers prepare for trials and cases. They also draft legal documents, such as contracts and wills, and they may even assist in trial preparation, such as interviewing witnesses and organizing evidence. In some states, paralegals may even be allowed to represent clients in certain legal proceedings, such as small claims court.

The role of a paralegal is growing more and more important in the legal profession, as lawyers are increasingly relying on them to handle a variety of tasks. This means that there are many opportunities for those interested in a career as a paralegal. If you are detail-oriented, organized, and have good research and writing skills, then a career as a paralegal might be the right choice for you.

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Types of Paralegals

There are three main types of paralegals: litigation paralegals, corporate paralegals, contract paralegals and legal secretaries. What does a paralegal do on these job positions?

  • Litigation paralegals work on cases that go to trial. Their duties include gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and preparing documents for trial. They also often work with the trial attorney to prepare for trial.
  • Corporate paralegals work for businesses and help with a variety of tasks, such as preparing documents for business transactions, researching laws that affect the company, and organizing corporate records.
  • Contract paralegals specialize in drafting and negotiating contracts. They must have a thorough understanding of contract law and be able to draft complex contracts.

Where Can a Paralegal Work?

A paralegal can be useful in a variety of settings, including working for law firms, corporate legal departments, government agencies, and non-profit organizations providing legal services. In each of these settings, a paralegal perform different tasks and has different responsibilities.

For example, a paralegal job in a law firm might include being responsible for conducting research, drafting documents, and assisting attorneys with trial preparation. A paralegal working in a corporate legal department might be responsible for contract administration, compliance, and risk management. And a paralegal working in a government agency might be responsible for investigatory work, policy analysis, or litigation support.

The specific duties of a paralegal will vary depending on the type of employer, the size of the employer, the geographic location, and other factors. However, there are some common tasks that a paralegal may be responsible for no matter where they work. What does a paralegal do in general? These everyday tasks include:

  • conducting research;
  • drafting documents;
  • assisting attorneys with trial preparation;
  • contract administration;
  • compliance;
  • performing specifically delegated substantive legal work;
  • risk management;
  • giving legal advice;
  • investigatory work;
  • policy analysis;
  • litigation support.
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No matter what setting a paralegal works in, they perform an important role in the legal system. Paralegals are often the backbone of a law practice or legal department, and their skills are essential to the success of their employer.

How to Become a Successful Paralegal?

There is no one-size-fits-all path to becoming a paralegal. Some individuals may have a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies, while others may have a degree in another field and complete a paralegal certificate program. Still, others may have no formal education but may have on-the-job training and experience as a part of a legal team.

Most states do not require paralegals to be licensed or certified, but many employers prefer to hire individuals who have got a certificate in paralegal studies or legal studies.

If you are interested in becoming a paralegal, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success. First, consider completing a paralegal program at a community college or online school. Second, take advantage of opportunities to gain experience through internships or volunteer work. Finally, stay up to date on the latest industry news and trends by joining professional organizations, such as NALA, and reading publications. With the right education and training, you can become a paralegal and start your career in the legal work.

To be a successful legal assistant, be sure to select an area of law that you find interesting (family law, criminal law). Familiarize yourself with the different types of legal documents, and learn to use legal research databases. Be detail-oriented and organized, and have strong writing and communication skills.

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Paralegal Career Outlook & Paralegal Salary

The paralegal profession is expected to grow by 10% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual salary for a paralegal was $56,230 in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job prospects should be best for those who have completed formal education in paralegal studies and who are proficient in computer applications related to the legal field, such as document management software and court-related research databases. Candidates with strong writing skills will also be needed to prepare reports and correspondence.

Working as a paralegal or legal assistant can be a very rewarding career. Not only are you working in an exciting and challenging field, but you can also make a good salary.

What does a paralegal do? Now you got all the information you need. If you are interested, try to find a reputable paralegal training program in your area and start your career in a law field.

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