Paralegals, otherwise known as legal assistants, are trained to assist and support lawyers in order for them to deliver legal services. They are usually found working in law firms, the government, corporations, or any other legal practice environment, as long as an attorney supervises them.
While paralegals work closely with lawyers, they cannot give any legal advice nor represent any client in court.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Paralegal
After obtaining a paralegal degree online or in a university, a paralegal can be assigned all sorts of tasks that can help lawyers with their case. Some of the most notable ones include:
- Investigate all the facts and evidence related to the case
- Interview witnesses and clients
- Draft legal documents, such as depositions, pleadings, subpoenas, briefs, and motions
- Conduct legal research to be used for creating a presentation
- Make sure that all documents are properly organized
- Assist attorneys during trials
- File all necessary legal documents
Skills a Paralegal Must Posses
An aspiring paralegal must possess certain skills in order to become a successful one. These skills include a strong knowledge of legal terms and state and federal rules of legal procedures, as well as substantive law. Because paralegals are in constant communication with clients, vendors, experts, court personnel, and lawyers, they must possess exceptional communication skills.
They should also be organized and must exude a ‘calm under pressure’ persona so they can effectively manage hundreds of exhibits and files of the cases they are handling. Furthermore, they are expected to draft pleadings and other legal documents, so they must have excellent writing and research skills.
To become a paralegal, you may look for a law firm that is willing to train you even without any experience or education as a paralegal. You may also earn an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a paralegal certificate.