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Paralegal Career

Paralegals carry out many important functions in the legal field. They work in law firms, corporate offices, hospitals, courts, government agencies, and many other businesses that require a legal department. There are a number of reasons why one can choose to become a paralegal. Some key factors that make it an attractive career include:

  • Positive job outlook
  • Good salary
  • Easy entry
  • Growth opportunities
  • Multiple employment options
  • Flexibility and stability
  • Variety of jobs to choose from

Requirements to become a paralegal

In order to become a paralegal, you will need to take the following steps:

  • Search for suitable paralegal institutes that are accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).ABA accredits those paralegal institutes that meet high standards of comprehensive paralegal education. You can find a list of accredited paralegal programs on the ABA website.
  • You will need to select a paralegal certificate, associate’s degree, or a bachelors’ degree in the field. A bachelor’s degree is likely to help you in acquiring a higher salary and offers more career options.
  • After the degree, you may acquire on-the-job training and experience related to the paralegal field you wish to join. Paralegals normally acquire skills on the job, with the help of supervised training.
  • Although, a certification is not required for paralegals, a voluntary certification may help the applicants in acquiring a paralegal job. Many national and local paralegal organizations offer these certifications to students who are able to clear the exam.

Types of Paralegal Careers

There are a variety of areas where you can specialize as a paralegal. You can join a paralegal field of your interest by acquiring relevant experience and on-the-job training. Following are some of the careers that you can pick as a paralegal.

Corporate Law Paralegal

As a corporate law paralegal, you will work with corporations to make sure that they follow all the operational laws and regulations. If you want to become a corporate law paralegal, you will require the following skills:

  • Strong organizational skills
  • Ability to maintain corporate minute books and shareholder documents
  • Word processing skills for drafting employee, lease, and manufacturing agreements

Criminal Law Paralegal

If you choose to be a criminal law paralegal, you will carry out many administrative activities related to criminal law cases such as arranging bail, receiving police reports, and finding photographic evidence. You can work as a successful criminal law paralegal, if you have the following skills:

  • Strong investigative skills and interest in examining physical evidence
  • Sound understanding of criminal laws and statutes
  • Ability to prepare criminal trials, draft motions for arrest, closing statements, and trial memoranda

Family Law Paralegal

As a family law paralegal, you will be required to work on administrative tasks related to family and domestic cases. You will normally collect background information on various aspects such as residence, employment, income, and liabilities. You will need the following skills to perform well as a family law paralegal.

  • Tactful communication in sensitive situations
  • Ability to serve as a liaison between family members and attorneys
  • Superior writing skills for reports, petitions, or custody agreement orders

Labor/Employment Law Paralegal

If you choose to become a labor and employment law paralegal, you will work with companies to make sure that all labor and equal employment laws are followed. In order to be an effective employment law paralegal, you will need to acquire the following skills.

  • Excellent research skills to find information on various types of labor relation laws
  • Strong organizational skills for maintaining company documents
  • Sufficient knowledge of unemployment laws

Administrative Law Paralegal

As an administrative law paralegal, you will have to ensure that all the procedures, laws, codes, regulations, and licenses created by administrative bodies are followed by general public. These administrative bodies include government, city, state, county, and federal agencies.  You can select this field if you have the skills mentioned below.

  • Analytical thinking and investigative research skills
  • Strong computational skills to utilize government information systems
  • Ability to prepare and maintain different types of legal documents

Intellectual Property Law Paralegal

If you become an intellectual property law paralegal, you will help attorneys in litigation related to trademark and copyright. Besides, you will keep a check on client trademarks to identify violations. If you find the field interesting, you will need to develop the following skills to perform well in your job.

  • Strong administrative abilities to prepare pleadings, case summaries, and other legal documents.
  • Familiarity with different types of intellectual properties such as an idea, name, phrase, or invention.
  • Ability to perform patent and trademark searches on databases, to find out if a trademark is available for use.

Real Property Law Paralegal

If you wish to become a real property law paralegal, your major tasks will include preparing purchase documents, interacting with lenders, and reviewing contracts related to property transactions. You will need the following knowledge and skills to become an effective real property law paralegal.

  • Strong communication skills to interact with buyers, sellers, lenders, and insurance companies.
  • Skills to assist buyers and sellers in writing deeds, clearing liens, and transferring ownership.
  • Sound understanding of real estate and financial terminology.

Paralegal Manager

As a paralegal manager, your major duties will include recruiting, hiring, and training new paralegals in performing different administrative tasks. You will need the following knowledge, skills, and experience to successfully perform your duties.

  • Excellent leadership and organizational skills
  • Ability to act as a liaison between paralegals and attorneys
  • Several years of experience in the paralegal field

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median wage for paralegals in May 2012 was $46,990. There is a positive job outlook for paralegals, as their employment opportunities are likely to grow at 17 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than the average of all occupations. Following are the reasons for better career prospects for paralegals:

  • Law firms are increasing their efficiency of legal services and reducing their expenses by hiring paralegals.
  • Law firms are restructuring their staff by hiring paralegals as support staff to perform administrative duties previously performed by legal secretaries.
  • The pressure from clients is making law firms decrease their billing costs. Paralegals seem to be a less expensive alternative, compared to lawyers.
  • Many large corporations are building in-house legal departments to cut costs. They require legal workers in many different settings, such as finance, insurance, consulting, and healthcare firms.

Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:What are my job prospects with a general practice paralegal qualification?

A:The employment outlook for a professional with a general practice paralegal qualification is favorable. This sector is expected to grow by 25% in the next six years. Paralegals can find themselves working in a variety of settings from federal facilities to private law offices. Prospective students are advised to search our website for a list of institutions offering these courses.

Q:While going through careers in Paralegal Studies, I came across Bachelor in Paralegal program. Can you brief me on the course work?

A:The search on careers in Paralegal Studies often leads you to various degree programs such as Bachelor in Paralegal. In this four year program, the students will be taught courses such as introduction to paralegal studies, drafting legal documents, legal ethics & law office organization, law office technology, advanced legal research and writing, civil litigation and criminal law and procedure.

Q:What skills do I need to have to have possible careers in paralegal or legal services?

A:Aside from educational requirements, careers in paralegal or legal services require; communication skills, analytical skills, business writing skills, decision making skills and problem solving skills. These skills will enable you to be a rational thinker in matters of importance. Careers in legal and paralegal services also require patience and adaptability to changing situations. Paralegals specially need strong research skills as that is a large part of their job.

Q:What is a Paralegal Career like?

A:A career as a paralegal requires full time work, with chances of overtime to meet deadlines. Paralegal work in law offices and perform tasks to support lawyers in their administrative or research work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals had an annual median pay of $46,990 in 2012 while the expected job growth from 2012 to 2022 is 17%.

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