If you’re interested in becoming a paralegal, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. The paralegal job description may be very broad, yet specific at times. Their tasks range from gathering or investigating facts about a case, and conducting research. They also prepare legal documentation for lawyers and attorneys as they enter the courtroom. Paralegals may also organize or maintain paperwork or file documents on computer systems. Many paralegals write up summary reports for lawyers as they prepare for trials. Paralegals will sometimes contact clients or witnesses, as to interview them or receive facts for their version of events. Preparing witnesses to testify may also be one of the job duties that a paralegal will need to do. They may need to get affidavits or other statements used as evidence in court hearings.
According to the BLS, specific job duties may also call for paralegals to have some knowledge in other fields. For example, many paralegal must be familiar with IT database management and computer software technologies. The reason for this is due to the fact of collecting materials. Materials by paralegals may be emails, data, documents, websites, and accounting information.
Continuing Education as a Paralegal
Although a paralegal is not subject to receive a license to work as a paralegal, many employers will prefer a paralegal to earn a certification from an accredited ABA-approved degree program. National and regional organizations do offer a paralegal certificate to those wanting to improve their chances at a reputable employment company by earning a paralegal degree. Many entry level paralegal jobs also expect candidates to acquire certain skill sets with the paralegal field. Skills provide knowledge, and help students learn more about the degree programs available to paralegals. These skills may include:
- Communication skills: Paralegals should be able to document and present credible research to their supervising lawyer or attorney.
- Computer skills: Being familiar with computer technology for research and litigation purposes is highly important. Paralegals also use IT programs for organizing and maintaining important documents.
- Interpersonal skills: Paralegals work one on one with clients in most cases, more than the attorney themselves. They need to show professionalism in the workplace. Also, they must be able to develop good relationships and make clients feel comfortable when speaking with them.
- Research Skills: Paralegals gather relevant facts and research information and prepare drafts for attorneys.
- Organizational skills: Paralegals tend to take on many cases at one given time. So adapting to change quickly is a must, especially when dealing with deadlines.
Where Paralegals or Legal Assistants find employment?
Over the past year or so, paralegals and legal assistants held close to 338,000 job positions within the legal system, according to the BLS. One of the largest employers that offers positions for paralegals and legal assistants are legal offices or government-run legal service providers. Some paralegals will find employment with insurance offices, financial offices, or state facilities that offer legal aid to clients in need. Many work environments for paralegals are often fast-paced with multiple clients at the same time. No matter where you find employment, paralegals tend to work in groups or teams. Doing so helps to get the job required of them complete in a timely manner, and provides the necessary legal support that attorneys and lawyers are looking for.
Typical Work Schedule of a Paralegal
Most paralegals and legal assistants tend to put in many hours at work. They almost always work full time and some may work more than forty hours in the average work week to meet their deadlines. Prospective candidates for a paralegal position are currently very promising. The field itself continues to grow and there is no evidence of the workload slowing down. In fact, paralegal and legal assistant jobs expect to grow by 15 percent through the year 2026. Making the paralegal job field one of the most steadily increasing careers that graduates put their education endeavors toward. Companies and organizations are hiring more paralegals or legal assistants as well. This is due to their businesses and clientele that seem to increase over the past several years.
Why a Paralegal?
Let’s face it, every once in a while someone is going to need a lawyer, and each law firm or law office will need a paralegal by their side. In our society today, there are more chances of car accidents, credit fraud, or just the standard neighbor dispute. So, becoming a paralegal would be one of the most worthwhile and sought out job position for graduates to commit to. With all that a paralegal does for their employer, it’s no doubt that their position would be most appreciated and revered, wherever they work.