About Paralegal & Legal Assistants Careers
May 2017 median income is $50,000 in the USA.
What Paralegals and Legal Assistants Do
- Paralegals and legal assistants may conduct legal research.
- Paralegals and legal assistants perform a variety of tasks to support lawyers, including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants Daily Task:
- Investigate and gather the facts of a case
- Conduct research on relevant laws, regulations, and legal articles
- Organize and maintain documents in paper or electronic filing systems
- Gather and arrange evidence and other legal documents for attorney review and case preparation
- Write or summarize reports to help lawyers prepare for trials
- Draft correspondence and legal documents, such as contracts and mortgages
- Get affidavits and other formal statements that may be used as evidence in court
- Help lawyers during trials by handling exhibits, taking notes, or reviewing trial transcripts
- File exhibits, briefs, appeals and other legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Call clients, witnesses, lawyers, and outside vendors to schedule interviews, meetings, and depositions
Paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers prepare for hearings, trials, and corporate meetings.
Corporate paralegals, often help lawyers prepare employee contracts, shareholder agreements, stock-option plans, and companies’ annual financial reports. Corporate paralegals may monitor and review government regulations to ensure that the corporation is aware of new legal requirements.
Litigation paralegals maintain documents received from clients, conduct research for lawyers, retrieve and organize evidence for use at depositions and trials, and draft settlement agreements. Some litigation paralegals may also help coordinate the logistics of attending a trial, including reserving office space, transporting exhibits and documents to the courtroom, and setting up computers and other equipment.
Paralegals also specialize in legal areas, such as personal injury, criminal law, employee benefits, intellectual property, bankruptcy, immigration, family law, and real estate.
How to Become a Paralegal or Legal Assistant
Most paralegals and legal assistants have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree in another field and a certificate in paralegal studies.
Associate’s and bachelor's degree programs in legal or paralegal studies usually offer paralegal training courses in legal research, legal writing, and the legal applications of computers, along with courses in other academic subjects, such as corporate law and international law. Most certificate programs provide intensive paralegal training for people who already hold college degrees.
Employers sometimes hire college graduates with no legal experience or legal education and train them on the job.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Communication skills. Paralegals must be able to document and present their research and related information to their supervising attorney.
Computer skills. Paralegals need to be familiar with using computers for legal research and litigation support. They also use computer programs for organizing and maintaining important documents.
Interpersonal skills. Paralegals spend most of their time working with clients and other professionals and must be able to develop good relationships. They must make clients feel comfortable sharing personal information related to their cases.
Organizational skills. Paralegals may be responsible for many cases at one time. They must adapt quickly to changing deadlines.
Research skills. Paralegals gather facts of the case and research information on relevant laws and regulations to prepare drafts of legal documents for attorneys and help them prepare for a case.