Legal assistants and paralegals perform a variety of jobs to assist attorneys. These tasks typically include carrying out legal researches, creating documents, as well as organizing and maintaining paperwork.
Duties of a Paralegal
The following are the common duties of legal assistants and paralegals:
- Carrying out investigations on the facts of a given case
- Conducting research on regulations, legal articles, and relevant laws
- Maintaining and organizing paperwork in a physical or electronic database
- Preparing cases by gathering and arranging evidence and various other legal papers for the lawyer’s perusal
- Creating reports to help attorneys in their preparation for trials
- Drafting legal documents and correspondence, including mortgages and contracts
- Getting various formal statements such as affidavits to be used as evidence during trials
- Assisting attorneys during trials by taking notes, looking after exhibits, and reviewing transcripts of the trial
- Filing briefs, appeals, exhibits, and various other legal paperwork with the firm or the opposition counsel
- Calling attorneys, witnesses, clients, and other outside vendors to negotiate the timings of meetings, depositions, and interviews
What Does a Paralegal Do Exactly?
It is essential to know the important details regarding the profession before opting for a future in the field. Legal assistants and paralegals offer assistance to attorneys during their preparation for corporate meetings, trials, and hearings. However, a paralegal’s specified tasks may vary as per the size of the corporations or the area of law which they work in. For instance, in smaller firms, the duties of paralegals tend to differ more. Apart from organizing and reviewing paperwork, legal assistants are also required to create written reports that assist attorneys in determining how they would go about handling their cases. If attorneys, on behalf of their clients, decide on filing lawsuits then paralegals are utilized during the preparation of legal arguments and draft papers that are filed with the court.
On the other hand, larger corporations may require paralegals to work on a specified area of any given case, instead of giving them the responsibility to handle an entire case from the start to finish. For instance, a litigation paralegal can only have a look at legal material that is to be used internally, conduct research for attorneys, maintain reference documents, or organize and collect evidence for court hearings.
Litigation paralegals can help lawyers as they prepare for trials by coming up with exhibit lists, maintain document binders, or write up settlement agreements. A few litigation paralegals are also responsible for helping attorneys in coordinating the logistics of a trial, such as transporting documents and exhibits to the courtroom, reserving space in the office, and setting up equipment or computers.
The journey to become a paralegal is generally a two year process. Paralegals are usually required to have specialization in areas such as corporate law, litigation, personal injury, criminal law, bankruptcy, intellectual property, employee benefits, real estate, family law, and immigration. Additionally, paralegals who have enough experience usually assume supervisory duties and responsibilities, as they are delegated tasks to oversee team projects or assign work to other legal assistants.
What does a paralegal do when it comes to dealing with people? Legal assistants and paralegals mostly work in departments which consist of fellow paralegals, attorneys, and other supporting legal staff. Paralegals also have regular interactions with third-party vendors as well as clients.
Examples of Paralegal Positions
The following are common examples of the positions offered to paralegals:
- Corporate Paralegals: They mostly help attorneys with the preparation of shareholder agreements, companies’ yearly financial reports, employee contracts and stock-option plans. These types of legal assistants can review and monitor government regulations in order to make sure that the organization remains aware of any amendments in the legal requirements.
- Litigation Paralegals: They conduct research for attorneys, maintain paperwork which is provided by the clients, as well as organize and retrieve any evidence so that it can be utilized during trials and depositions.