- September 4, 2014
- Category: Latest
One of the more interesting professions, at least in terms of the name, is the paralegal. It’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t heard the word paralegal, yet it’s almost equally as difficult to find someone who knows what a paralegal does. This may be due to the multitude of ads and commercials that advertise paralegal training we all see, but seldom look into any further.
It’s obvious that a paralegal works in the legal industry to some capacity, but what are the details? What would you actually do and can you really be fully trained in a couple of years like it says in the ads?
Another name for a paralegal is a legal assistant, which kind of sheds some light on the role they play within a law firm. Basically, paralegals perform tasks that usually fall on the lawyer’s plate. The tasks vary in range and scope, but none of them include anything that would require a license to practice law.
This means a paralegal can’t dispense legal advice or represent anyone in a courtroom. However, they can perform investigative jobs and compile information that is vital to the case at hand. This may include reviewing similar past decisions and verdicts, finding precedents and assisting the lawyer as he or she prepares for court hearing, trials and similar events.
There’s usually lots of paperwork to be done if you’re a paralegal. This includes written reports, motions, drafts, shareholder agreements, trademark registration, detailed contracts and other documents essential to the case. Since there is so much paperwork involved in any legal situation, a lawyer needs someone who can get it all together while they take care of other aspects of the cases. The paralegal may also organize documents and get them ready for the lawyer in the courtroom during a hearing or trial.
Some paralegals will specialize in certain areas such as real estate, bankruptcy, labor relations, immigration, government issues or entertainment. Sometimes, this specialization comes about because of the firm that the paralegal is hired by. If they are hired by a real estate law firm straight from school, they may hone their skills in all aspects of real estate law. The same is true of the other specializations.
The two year programs advertised for paralegals are usually legitimate, and many community colleges offer them as part of their on going career training courses. Of course, you will also have the option to learn more about the subject and degree programs are also available in many schools, as well as certification programs.
Like many professions, the extra training and certification isn’t always necessary, but it will help you start out further ahead. It’s always wise to find programs that have been approved by the appropriate law association, because it will make it easier when searching for a job when the schooling is complete.
It’s easy to see that paralegals play a very important role in any law firm and that most lawyers would be completely lost without them. It takes a lot of work and dedication, but it can be a rewarding profession.
The author of the article is Jeremy Benson. He has been writing about finance, mortgage and Canadian law. Blogging is one among his greatest passions. Follow him on Twitter@jeremybenson19.
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