Becoming a paralegal is a great career choice, and it’s easy to see why. Job growth is exploding, the pay is great, and there are low barriers to enter this profession.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs for paralegals are expected to grow 12 percent through 2028. This is much faster than the average for all occupations.
Many law firms are struggling to be more efficient and to lower costs, so they can serve all who need legal services. Paralegals help them do this, because their billing rates are lower and they can take some of the workload off attorneys.
According to legal scholar Neal Bevans, paralegals are the center of the law firm, “keeping cases moving along, contacting witnesses, reminding attorneys, and handling correspondence and trial documents.”
So, what does a paralegal do?
If you’re thinking about becoming a paralegal, it is important to know exactly what a paralegal does.
Not all paralegals have the same duties. In fact, your job will depend on your employer and the type of law services they provide.
However, there are some common duties that you can expect to find in most, if not all, paralegal roles:
Most paralegals communicate with clients on a fairly regular basis. Of course, this could be in-person meetings, email, or phone conversations.
Client and Witness Interviews
As a paralegal, you will be responsible for locating and interviewing all people associated with a case.
Paralegals find answers to legal questions by checking for legal precedent cited in briefs or at trials. Furthermore, every lawsuit, case, appeal, and legal process involves some amount of legal research.
Paralegals will find themselves drafting many forms of legal documents, correspondence and pleadings. So, while an attorney must sign off, the paralegal creates these documents for the attorney.
Paralegals summarize depositions, testimonies, and interrogatories. Lawyers need this information extracted and condensed for quick review.
Paralegals are responsible for preparing and issuing subpoenas, assisting in preparing witnesses, setting up exhibits in the courtroom, and researching and evaluating prospective jurors.
Paralegals will handle almost every aspect of discovery, which is the exchange of information between opposing parties in a lawsuit.
It is the job of a paralegal to manage files, documents and exhibits and ensure they are ready and easily accessible any time the attorney needs them.
Paralegals are often responsible for filing legal documents with federal and state courts on behalf of clients and attorneys.
What can a paralegal not do?
While paralegal duties can vary depending on what an attorney delegates, there are laws in place that specify what a paralegal cannot do in their role.
Paralegals cannot give legal advice. Additionally, they must always work under the supervision of an attorney. Paralegals also can’t represent clients in court or sign documents that will be filed in a court.
Lastly, they cannot establish legal fees on their own.
How to prepare for a paralegal career
If you like to work with people, are extremely organized and detail-oriented, and you like research, becoming a paralegal could be a great career. The Certified Paralegal program from ed2go, can fully prepare you for a successful career as a paralegal.
As part of your courses, you will gain these skills and create a professional portfolio to show potential employers.
It also includes expert resume help as well as membership and access to the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) Certified Paralegal (CP) Exam Review courses.
To learn more about our online paralegal courses, click on the links below: