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What is a Paralegal?

What is a Paralegal? PhotoCommonly referred to as legal assistants, paralegals perform a wide variety of tasks to help out qualified lawyers in all aspects of law practice. All types of organizations employ paralegals. But most of the time, paralegals work for law firms, government offices and corporate legal departments.

The work of a paralegal

Generally speaking, the work of a paralegal is quite impossible to tell apart from the duties and responsibilities of the Solicitors. This kind of profession is people-oriented. Paralegals work hand in hand with lawyers, legal secretaries and other paralegals while communicating with clients, court personnel and witnesses.

In short, paralegals are trained professionals who have the legal capacity to assist lawyers in doing clerical tasks, drafting legal documents, managing cases, conducting factual legal research and many other challenging assignments. However, a paralegal may not give direct legal services to the public except if permitted by law.

Education and training

Some paralegals have completed formal education ranging from formal programs to associate or even bachelor’s degree. But there are also some paralegals who only have on-the-job experience. In the United States, there is no regulation as to who are qualified to work as paralegals but California is an exception. In this particular state, paralegals may only perform properly delegated tasks under the supervision of a qualified attorney.

Qualities of a paralegal

In order to have a successful career as a paralegal, it is very essential to have exceptional communication skills, both written and oral. You also need to have excellent computer and keyboarding skills since you will be required to use Microsoft Office products to carry out your work. More importantly, you need to possess good organizational abilities. You must be good at dealing with stress and pressure which are rather inevitable in this kind of profession.

The importance of a paralegal

In the legal profession, paralegals serve as the support staff upon which solicitors rely on for effective operations. The legal team would be incomplete without the presence of paralegals. If you will have a career as a paralegal, you are going to play a very significant role in the legal process. You will find yourself working closely with barristers and solicitors. Your work will entail tasks in the office to the courtroom as well as duties ranging from law library to the negotiating table.

Legal tasks that do not require a bar license are often performed by paralegals. Many businesses may prefer to employ paralegals to do such tasks in order to lower costs because a lawyer would normally charge more than what a paralegal gets per hour.