What does a Paralegal or Legal Assistant do?
Many paralegals- in the past also called legal assistants work for law firms, however, they can be found in organizations of all types as well as government agencies and corporate legal departments. The terms paralegal and legal assistant have been interchangeable in the past; however it has been a more common trend that law firms are calling their secretaries legal assistants. This does not entitle them to be a paralegal. Therefore it may be pertinent call yourself a paralegal nowadays. Paralegals are skilled in the preparation of affidavits, legal correspondence, electronic filing systems and assist in preparing for trial. A paralegal would be responsible for preparing contracts, legal documents, wills and various other documents, such as, real estate closures.
How to Become a Paralegal
Most paralegals acquire an associate’s degree or a certificate in paralegal studies from a college or vocational school. Coursework may include an introduction to legal law, research, writing, ethical, and litigation content. However, if they would like to advance their careers they may pursue a bachelors or masters degree in legal studies. Many larger law firms and government legal departments prefer these higher degrees over an associate’s degree.In addition one may want to get certified, this is voluntary in most states it can provide an edge over other applicants when applying for employment. Look at https://www.nala.org/certification for more information
Job Description of a Paralegal
Paralegals assist in the preparation of law cases. They would need to be informed of and give information on case details to professionals and clients and file pleadings with the court clerk. The paralegal would investigate facts in a case and do research with public records, prepare cases, confirm pertinent sources and analyze research data. The person would coordinate the law office and direct the activity which would include the delivery of subpoenas.
A paralegal would be knowledgeable in transcription, stenography and various other skills for a law office. They should be strong communicators in order to work smoothly and well with superiors, peers and clients. They should also be skilled in reading comprehension, time management and listening.
Paralegals work in law firm offices or libraries. At times they may need to go out into the community to interview clients for investigation as well, but more often they are indoors. Lawyers sometimes have the paralegals accompany them to depositions at the courthouse. Most work full time and during the week; though there may be special circumstances that require them to work overtime. Deadlines, troubled clients, and sensitive subject matter can be stressful, therefore they must work well under pressure. In addition they must possess strong written communication skills and be very detailed oriented; this is pertinent to the documentation and investigation and can be determinately if something is missed.