Looking for information about paralegals? A paralegal is the assistant who does most of the delegated legal work that happens in a law office. Paralegals are frequently called legal assistants, and they often perform many of the same tasks that a lawyer will perform on a daily basis. Read on for more information about what to expect when you become a paralegal.
What Paralegals Do
A paralegal has the primary job duty of helping the lawyers they work with get ready for court, corporate meetings, and other responsibilities. A legal assistant does a lot of the preparation and investigation work that a lawyer needs ready before a trial starts. They may also handle most of the organization for a law office and work on the written reports, plans, and arguments that an attorney needs to make an argument. Many paralegals work on drafting a lot of the more regular paperwork an attorney has to handle as well.
Paralegals can end up working in just about any area of law, though once someone has been working as a legal assistant for awhile they may end up specializing in the the specific area their employer covers. The job of a paralegal will depend largely on the kind of company they are working for. A paralegal working for a corporation can end up working on employee contract issues and financial concerns, for example, while a paralegal working for the government may end up writing material that explains policies that the agency they work has in place.
Who Employs Paralegals?
Most law firms and legal offices need to hire paralegals to help with the work load. You can also find paralegals and legal assistance working with corporations and in government offices. Corporate legal assistants usually work a normal corporate work week, but paralegals who work in smaller law offices can sometimes end up working much longer hours during busy times of the year.
What Education to Get
There are a few colleges out there who offer bachelor's and master's degrees in paralegal studies, though finding a program like this can be difficult. Associates degrees are available in paralegal studies for people who are interested in getting into the field quickly. For someone who already has a bachelor's degree it is possible to take a shorter training program that hands out a paralegal studies certificate. Sometimes someone will be hired and trained without taking a formal paralegal studies program first.
Getting a Job As a Paralegal
The job market for paralegals and legal assistants tends to get larger and smaller with the business market in general, though it is currently a job that is in high demand. It is safe to assume that paralegals will continue to be in demand as long as the population continues to rise, and the need for paralegals out side of law firm jobs is growing steadily as more and more corporations realize it is cheaper to keep their legal department in house. Some paralegals are able to work freelance as well by selling legal services to businesses and corporations that need it.
Joe Cline writes articles about Austin civil law firm happenings and legal topics, but is not a lawyer. If you'd like professional legal advice, contact a licensed Austin civil lawyer and Austin litigation expert such as Guillermo Ochoa Cronfel, at The Cronfel Firm for legal advice and counsel.