Paralegal / Legal Assistant Career Guide

Paralegal / Legal Assistant Quick Links

  1. Paralegal / Legal Assistant Job Description
  2. Points to Consider
  3. Paralegal / Legal Assistant Careers
  4. Paralegal / Legal Assistant Education
  5. Paralegal / Legal Assistant Salary
  6. Paralegal / Legal Assistant Videos
  7. Famous Paralegal / Legal Assistants
  8. Paralegal / Legal Assistant Schools

A paralegal briefing an attorney for a case.

A Paralegal explaining a brief.

Paralegal / Legal Assistant Job Description

Paralegals, often called legal assistants, are an essential part of the legal world. Lawyers often delegate important tasks to paralegals such as preparing for court cases, hearings, meetings, or closings. Other tasks include gathering and analyzing information, researching current law and practices, and preparing legal documents. Paralegals are often responsible for organizing and tracking this important information, and having the information readily available to attorneys. Whereas paralegals often perform many similar tasks of a lawyer, they differ from lawyers in that they cannot offer services such as presenting cases in court or giving legal advice to clients.

Points to Consider

  • Paralegals can expect large employment growth in the future.
  • About 71% of all paralegals work for law firms and the remainder mostly work for corporate legal departments or for the government.
  • Paralegals do most of their work within an office, but may be expected to travel.
  • A paralegal can work in many different areas of the law, such as criminal law, real estate, intellectual property, and personal injury.
  • Paralegals usually work a standard 40 hour week, but may be expected to put in longer hours when there are deadlines to be met.
  • A paralegal is expected to uphold the ethical standards expected of the legal profession, and be courteous and respectful matter as they will often be in the public eye.

Specialized Paralegal / Legal Assistant Careers

  • Law Firm Paralegals work with attorneys within a law firm by assisting with responsibilities such as research, organization of files, and preparing legal documents.
  • Corporate Legal Paralegals assist attorneys with employee contracts and benefit plans, stock-option plans, and shareholder agreements. They monitor government regulations to ensure that the corporation is practicing within the law. They also may be in charge of preparing annual financial reports and loan documentation for the company.
  • Government Office Paralegals responsibilities vary by the agency in which they are employed, but the duties are similar to that of a law firm paralegal, including collecting and analyzing information, organizing files, and preparing for agency hearings. Some government office paralegals working for the public sector may work for the needy who cannot afford public legal assistance.

Paralegal / Legal Assistant Education

The job market for paralegals is growing and is expected to continue to grow, but it is still a competitive job market. The more educated and experienced a paralegal is the more employment opportunities will be available. Most entry level paralegals are expected to have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or a bachelor’s degree in another field such as criminal justice with a certificate in paralegal studies. Some schools may even offer bachelors or master degrees in paralegal studies. Although it is not required, training from a school or program approved by the American Bar Association can greatly improve a new paralegal’s job opportunities.

Paralegal / Legal Assistant Salary

Wages vary greatly by specialty, location, and employer, but the median range is anywhere from $29,260 to $73,450.

Paralegal / Legal Assistant Video


Famous Paralegal / Legal Assistants

  • Erin Brockovich was a real paralegal who participated in a tozic tort case that later became the basis for the movie Erin Brockovich.
  • Michael Strautmanis is a paralegal that became part of President Obama’s White House Staff.
  • Amanada Reeve is a paralegal that is now on the Arizona State Legislature.

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