Paralegal Job Description | Duties & Responsibilities

If you are applying for a paralegal job, read this job description guide to see the duties and responsibilities you should expect.

A paralegal’s job includes drafting legal pleas and documents and organizing, maintaining, and keeping files.

Paralegals perform many legal duties, but there are many things a paralegal can not do.

They can’t give legal advice or represent clients in court, nor can they determine legal fees or sign documents that will be considered relevant in court.

But, this article is not about what paralegals cannot do, rather, it is concerned with what they can do.

There may be a long list of activities they are not authorized to perform, but they support lawyers and attorneys.

With their services, lawyers, and attorneys will have more time to perform other legal duties.

When employing a paralegal, employers look out for those with strong communication skills who work well under pressure.

It is always a good decision to know and understand the job description of a paralegal before taking up a job as one.

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What does Paralegal do?

Paralegals support attorneys, lawyers, law offices, or other legal entities. They are saddled with the responsibility of carrying out various duties within the legal field.

They conduct research and collate necessary information related to a case. 

Paralegals also prepare presentations for the clients of the attorney they work for.

Although there are so many things clearly stated by the law that paralegals are not authorized to do.

They are still authorized to assist the attorney in performing functions he or she should have done themselves.

Therefore paralegals need to have good knowledge of the law and legal systems. 

Even if they don’t have a law degree and are not authorized to practice law in any way.

Just like lawyers, paralegals usually decide to specialize in a special area of law.

Here are some of the common areas of specialization in law a paralegal can choose from:

  • Family law
  • Immigration
  • Government
  • Personal injury
  • Litigation
  • Cooperate law
  • Finance
  • Real estate
  • Law and Employment
  • Intellectual property

This list can go on, but I will stop here. The major message I was trying to pass is that paralegals can specialize in a particular area of law.

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What are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Paralegal?

I already stated that there are certain duties the law does not permit paralegals to perform.

But, the duties and responsibilities carried out by paralegals may vary.

Typically, a paralegal does whatever the attorney request that they do.

But this is as long as it aligns with the law’s requirements.

Here are some of the duties and responsibilities usually featured in a paralegal job description

1. Interviewing Clients

A paralegal must conduct interviews with clients.

During interview sessions, they take note of relevant points and information.

This information is passed on to the lawyer or attorney during the trial.

2. Assist Lawyers in Preparing for Court Cases

Although the law doesn’t permit paralegals to represent clients in court, they still play important roles before and during trials.

They assist lawyers or attorneys in preparing for trials and court hearings in every way possible.

Such ways include taking statements, conducting interviews and research, and helping lawyers prepare a legal argument.

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3. Drafting Legal Pleads and Documents

Paralegals are also responsible for drafting legal pleadings and documents, such as:

  • subpoenas
  • Deposition notice
  • Motions
  • Certification
  • Contracts
  • Briefs
  • Complaint

4. Behind the Scene Support

They also provide a lot of behind the scene support to lawyers and attorneys during arbitration, trial, mediation, administrative proceedings, and closings.

By doing this, they reduce the workload of lawyers. And help them focus on more important legal responsibilities.

5. Investigation

Paralegals are also responsible for carrying out investigations.

They do this by interviewing witnesses and clients as well as taking statements.

They all collate every piece of information they dim necessary for helping the lawyer hold a strong argument in court.

Other duties and responsibilities of a paralegal commonly featured in the job description include:

  • Filling case documents with courts
  • Organise and maintain files, exhibits, documents, and other important information.
  • Handle discovery
  • Assist lawyers or attorneys in preparing legal arguments and motions.
  • Perform administrative duties such as responding to calls and emails.

Aoo these duties and responsibilities are performed under the supervision of lawyers or attorneys.

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What Qualification do I need to become a Paralegal?

Paralegals do not often require formal training; they do a lot of on-the-job training under the supervision of attorneys and lawyers.

However, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies is preferred.

Although no formal training is mandatory for paralegals, they are expected to have good knowledge of legal terminologies, systems, and laws.

In some countries or states, paralegals require a license to practice.

Employers also prefer employing those who have previous working experience as a secretary in a legal setting.

What Skills does a Paralegal need?

The job description of a paralegal also features certain skills that employers look out for.

Possessing these skills helps a paralegal perform his or her duties easily.

Some of the skills usually featured in the job description of a paralegal include

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are very relevant for carrying out ba paralegals’ duties.

It plays a very vital role when interviewing witnesses and clients, as well as when making statements.

Therefore a paralegal should be able to communicate effectively verbally and in writing.

It is also important to note that effective communication involves listening as much as speaking.

A good paralegal should also possess good listening skills.

This way, he or she will be able to get every necessary information from witnesses and clients during the investigation.

2. Interpersonal Skills

It is also necessary for a paralegal to possess good interpersonal skills.

They should be able to develop good relationships with clients, lawyers, and attorneys as well.

3. Organisational Skills

Paralegals cannot do without possessing organizational skills.

That is practically the only way to organize and maintain numerous files, documents, and exhibits.

Often one case alone may have several files and exhibits.

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4. Ability to work under Pressure

Deadlines and pressure can put everyone under so much tension, no doubt.

But paralegals should develop the ability to remain calm and stable when faced with deadlines to meet up with.

Especially paralegals whose area of specialty involves litigation.

5. Multitasking

Being able to multitask will also be of great advantage to paralegals.

That way, more tasks can be done within a short time.

But multitasking will not always be possible, no doubt.

As such, prioritizing activities is always the best alternative.

We all believe in giving preference to a more important task, which is right. 

But it is also important not to ignore less important tasks to the point where they are left undone.

Where do Paralegals work?

There are not so many organizations or companies out there that employ paralegals.

This is probably because they cannot represent a client in court.

The typical employers of paralegals are law firms and agencies that provide legal services.

Vacancies are usually advertised online or through local newspapers and/or radio stations.

How much do Paralegals make?

On average, the salary of a paralegal in the United States is about $50,940 per year.

Their salary ranges from $31,400 to $82,050 per year.

These figures may differ in your geographical location.

Employers’ experience, qualifications, and location may determine a paralegal’s salary.

More experienced and qualified paralegals will likely earn better than their less experienced or qualified colleagues.

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Paralegal work Environment and Schedule

Paralegals usually work together with attorneys, lawyers, and other support staff.

Often, they have to meet and interact with people. Although, in some areas of specialization, interaction with people is more common.

Most of their work is done in offices; when necessary, they also attend court hearings with lawyers and attorneys.

Paralegals usually work full-time at regular working hours and days.

Whenever there is a deadline to meet up with, they may have to work overtime and during weekends as well.

What is the Disadvantage of being a Paralegal?

There are so many good reasons for becoming a paralegal.

But, this career path has its downsides. Some of the wishes include the following:

  • No career path
  • Stressful
  • Doing the same thing over and over again is more like a routine.
  • Lack of respect
  • Not authorized to practice law
  • Lack of appreciation

To learn more about the disadvantages of being a paralegal, click HERE.

But, as I said, this job has its good side.

Since we have listed some of the disadvantages, it is only fair we also list the advantage.

  • Becoming a paralegal is a good way to enter the legal system without a law degree.
  • You will have the privilege of meeting and helping so many people

Conclusion: Paralegal Job Description Guide

The bureau of labor statistics expects a 15% increase in job opportunities for paralegals from 2016 to 2026.

There will be more jobs; therefore, now is the best time to take up a paralegal job while you improve your qualifications and skills and gain experience.

By 2026, you should be qualified for a better position.

Although this guide on the job description of a paralegal was written with applicants in mind, it can also be used as a template.

Therefore, you should feel free to use it to support your goal.

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