If you’re considering a career as a paralegal, you’ve probably already done your research. You know, for example, that paralegals (also known as paralegals) aren’t just junior lawyers. These can be people who are working on a law degree, but they can also be professionals who find a career as a legal assistant stimulating and rewarding. You probably also know that they can make a lot of money and gain a lot of respect. Here are some things you might not know about this career though.
Paralegals work hard
Some people think that paralegals spend all of their time sitting at their desks answering the phone. While that’s likely part of the job, they also do a lot of the prep and prep work required to take a case to court. They research cases, interview and help prepare witnesses for trial, prepare and organize case files, and take and organize trial notes. All of this must be clearly communicated to the lawyer.
Paralegals typically work in civil suits, divorces, and other litigation
Regardless of the storylines set by the television series, paralegals are generally not involved in upsetting criminal cases. Nonetheless, the jobs they do are important. The preparatory work carried out by paralegals could be the determining factor in deciding on child custody. They may work in estate planning, corporate law, and divorce cases, among others.
Paralegals must be detail-oriented
Court cases often have filing deadlines that the paralegal must meet. Legal briefs must be accurate. Figures and quotes must be accurate because the slightest mistake can have huge consequences for the customer.
There are several educational paths to become a paralegal
The minimum standard for training paralegals is a certificate that can be obtained in a matter of months. Lawyers generally prefer legal assistants with an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree and certification. An associate’s degree from places like ParalegalEDU.org contains the same legal preparation as the certificate, but with general education as well.
Associate degrees can be obtained in 18 months. The baccalaureates give students the basis for a general education with introductory legal studies. On this basis, students can build specializations and deeper knowledge with certifications. Additionally, a bachelor’s degree can be obtained through accredited online programs that allow students to continue in their current jobs.
“Paralegals need to keep abreast of developments in the legal field. This may involve taking courses, attending seminars, and taking advantage of other forms of continuing education.
Paralegals do not always respect office hours. If a court date is approaching, paralegals may need to complete briefs and prepare other forms. They may have to travel to question a witness or stay to reflect with a lawyer. Fundamentally, a career is about doing “whatever it takes” to get to court prepared and on time.
Work is determined by the prosecutor
Some offices are very structured and enshrined in the responsibilities of paralegals while others allow more leeway.
Work in a paralegal career can put you in the awkward position of having an employer with questionable ethics. You must maintain your ethical limits.
Legal assistants are professionals. Networking, continuing education, professional support and other considerations are provided by organizations such as the National Association of Legal Assistants. They also provide opportunities for continuing education and set standards for the paralegal profession.
Professionals, but not lawyers
Legal assistants can perform many tasks, but they cannot represent clients in court, give legal advice, or perform tasks assigned solely to the lawyer. They are also not allowed to take a case or charge fees for legal services.
Paralegals are invaluable to the lawyers they work for. Their salaries reflect this fact. A baccalaureate paralegal can also be the springboard for further education and becoming a lawyer. For the right person, a career as a legal assistant can be a rewarding and fulfilling profession.