A paralegal is a trained law professional that usually assists a lawyer in his daily activities. Compared to a lawyer, a paralegal is able to perform a limited number of law-related tasks, most of them being administrative in nature. Individuals who choose the paralegal job description usually carry out their duties in an office-like environment, but also in the court of laws or other settings, as per the company’s profile.
What Does a Paralegal Do?
An individual occupying this position performs limited legal actions and grants technical assistance to lawyers. Furthermore, even though the law grants the paralegal the ability to perform certain operations such as filling out purchase contracts, researching the legal articles which may be relevant to a case, or interviewing a witness, paralegals are always working under the constant supervision of a lawyer.
Paralegal Job Description for Resume – Responsibilities
- Conducts legal research and prepares relevant material for court sessions.
- Analyze judicial decisions and laws and take minutes of the proceedings.
- Present the case to the client, and conduct the preliminary interview with the client before the lawyer arrives.
- Draft legal documents such as subpoenas, depositions, pretrial orders, legal briefs, and briefings.
- Perform administrative tasks such as calling clients or witnesses, programming interviews, filing court paperwork, handling shareholder documents, making travel arrangements, e-mailing the clients, and more.
Required Paralegals Skills
Communicational Skills. A candidate must have great verbal and non-verbal communication skills. More than once, they will have to conduct interviews with potential clients or to take down statements. This implies that the candidate must know what to ask and when to ask specific questions. Furthermore, the aspirant must also be able to understand and to anticipate the client’s needs and to find a suitable legal solution.
Language Skills. The candidate wanting the paralegal job description must demonstrate an excellent commandment of the English language, both in written and spoken form. Furthermore, knowing foreign languages will give them a greater chance of getting a job with a top paying company.
Field Knowledge. The candidate must be able to demonstrate that he or she knows the terms and terminology associated with the field of study. Upon employment, the professional can take additional law courses or review law-related notes from high school. Apart from legal duties, there are also administrative chores necessary, like drafting documents or answering e-mails.
Research Skills. Knowing what to look for is probably the most important skill a paralegal can have. A good specialist knows very well what resources to use, how to manage their time, and when to deliver it. As a general observation, the paralegal profession is a fast-paced work environment. Which means that this professional must be accustomed to strict deadlines.
How to Become a Paralegal Professional
Becoming a paralegal requires both formal and on the job training. One can become a paralegal by earning a degree or certification in any law-related domain. Usually, these courses don’t take more than one or two years, and there are countless law centers which offer them.
Education & Training Requirements
Most employers will require a degree or certification in law, which are usually emitted by Universities. One of these certifications is the LSAT exam. But there are some who need only a high school diploma or a GED. On the other hand, there are many employers who would settle for on the job training, rather than requesting formal education. This usually happens in towns or countries which do not have centers that can offer this form of certification.
Also, for someone wanting to become a paralegal, they must know that this occupation has a lot of branches. For example, there are many paralegals who work with criminal prosecutors, in order to help them build a case against a suspect. This implies taking down statements, and drafting various letters and documents. As well as researching the cases, and preparing the materials needed for the opening and closing statements.
In accordance with the paralegal job description, an individual occupying such a position can have many promotion opportunities. It all depends on their level of experience, furthermore, current expertise can also determine salary.
Like in other industries, individuals who had similar positions have more chances to get a job with a top paying company than others. Still, this doesn’t mean that entry-level candidates have negligible chances of getting a job with such a firm.
Paralegals usually work full time, with sometimes a requirement of more than 40 hours per week to meet deadlines. The paralegal industry is considered one of the most stressful occupations. This is so because representatives have to deal with deadlines and additional workflows. So, if you still want to seek a position in this industry, be ready to deal with a fair amount of stress.
Usually, all solicitors who want to occupy this position need to start off as project assistants. With the experience, comes the chance for promotion. Therefore, the candidate will be able to occupy the paralegal position and then become senior paralegals. But the career path for the paralegal job description does not wind up here. Individuals who are genuinely interested in the law can further hone their skills and knowledge to pass the bar exam and become full-fledged lawyers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, a paralegal can earn about $50,410 per year, with a rate of $24.24 per hour. The job outlook for this profession will see a 15% rise by 2016, which is more than the national average for any profession.
All in all, as far as the paralegal job description is concerned, individuals who want to take this career path have many things to look forward to. Some would be challenging work, above the average pay, and an exhilarating working environment. Let us know of your experience if you ever worked in the legal field.