You might be an aspiring paralegal or want to know more about the career to decide if you want to become one.

If yes, one of the most common questions that might be popping into your mind must be:

What are Paralegals? And what do they do?

We’re here to shed some light on that.

In this guide, you can learn more about the top duties of a Paralegal.

What is a Paralegal?

First things first, let’s discuss what a paralegal is.

A paralegal is a professional who assists lawyers in their legal work.

They perform a variety of tasks, including conducting legal research, drafting legal documents (such as pleadings, contracts, and briefs), organizing and managing files, interviewing clients and witnesses, and providing general administrative support to attorneys.

While they can’t provide legal advice or represent clients in court, their work is essential in supporting lawyers and ensuring that legal processes run smoothly.

Top 10 Duties of a Paralegal

As mentioned earlier, a Paralegal works as an assistant to their attorney.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 duties of a Paralegal:-

Communicating with clients

A Paralegal has to deal with multiple clients on a regular basis. Hence, paralegals need to effectively communicate with the clients and explain all relevant facts about their cases or different procedures.

They also need to regularly communicate with lawyers and help them with both court procedures & research. As a paralegal, both your written and verbal communication skills need to be up to the mark.

Interviewing Clients

A Paralegal is also responsible for interviewing clients and witnesses who are involved in any case.

For instance, before a case, they might need to meet some of their clients one by one, understand the facts of a case, and also have interviews with witnesses while preparing for the case.

Legal Research

This is one of the most crucial roles of a Paralegal, wherein they have to navigate through different databases to accumulate facts and pieces of evidence for the case. They are also often expected to research judgments to write a good article or a report.


A Paralegal also assists the attorney in checking every legal document to ensure they are credible. Every fact of a case needs to be thoroughly investigated since every single detail counts.

Preparing Documents

Paralegals also support attorneys with preparing documents that can be used as a reference in the court during a trial. As a Paralegal, you must be aware of the type of documents that can be used for a reference in a court of law.

Drafting Documents

Another crucial role of a Paralegal is to draft varied types of documents, including agreements, pleadings, notices, contracts, etc. Most of the time, as a Paralegal, you’ll be required to draft various documents that are required for a case.

Read More: Paralegal Requirements 

Writing Reports

Paralegals are also often expected to write reports that are used to present cases. You will have to write reports that could be effective in an ongoing case.

Coordinating the cases

From 0 to 100, a paralegal manages the timelines and deadlines of varied cases. For example, let’s assume you have 3 cases in a day, and you’re confused about how to prioritize. In such a case, you can schedule the preparations a day before and prioritize each one of them accordingly.

Conducting case studies

Paralegals invest a large portion of their schedules in researching current and previous cases in any particular trial. You will be conducting case studies on the one hand and preparing necessary documents on the other.

Assisting attorneys during trials

Lastly, paralegals also help attorneys during trials with necessary papers, notices, files, etc.

Read More: Paralegal Qualifications

Salary of a Paralegal

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), the national average paralegal salary is $43,374 per year.

However, these salaries may vary depending on the experience, type of firm, size of the firm, location, and other related factors.


There are a few paralegal skills that you must incorporate in your resume to become a successful paralegal and have increased chances of employment; let’s take a look at them:-

  • Communication-
    Most often, paralegals have to deal with clients regularly, and hence, they need to develop and master both written and oral communication skills.
  • Legal Knowledge-
    This is one of the important skills to have as a Paralegal. Strong familiarity with precedents, cases, and reports can help Paralegals draft various documents easily.
  • Organization skills-
    Often having many cases and deadlines in one day, paralegals must know how to prioritize and manage the workload. They need to have good time management skills and ensure the delivery of all the tasks on time.
  • Attention to detail-
    There can be many documents that a Paralegal deals with at a time, and in such cases, even a little detail missed in any document can affect the case significantly. Thereby, Paralegals must pay close attention to every detail mentioned in documents.
  • Analytical Skills-
    A Paralegal must have good analytical skills to be able to make appropriate decisions wherever necessary.
  • Positivity-
    Paralegals must stay positive through every challenge while working on any case.
  • Technical Skills-
    In the present times, Paralegals are expected to maintain and organize their files via computer systems rather than using paper records. Hence, they should be aware of the recent software and data management systems so they can organize their tasks efficiently.
  • Time Management-
    As mentioned earlier, Paralegals usually handle many cases at a time, so they should have good time management skills.

Read More: Paralegal Tips To Fast Track Your Career

How to Become a Paralegal?

There are a few steps that you can take to become a successful Paralegal; let’s have a close look at them:-

Complete a two-year degree program-

To begin your journey in this career, you can get an associate degree in paralegal studies from a University. It will take 2 years to complete the degree program, and they are generally expensive.

You can also enroll in a diploma or a certificate program from a local community college. A diploma program is faster compared to a paralegal degree, and you can complete the same in 12 months.

Read More: How Long Does it Take to Become a Paralegal

Enroll in an Online Program – Recommended

You can obtain your paralegal certificate online by choosing online paralegal programs. It is crucial to check if they are accredited by the ABA (American Bar Association).

Choosing an online paralegal training program is always recommended, due to the several advantages it offers, such as:

  • Flexibility: They allow students to study at their own pace and from anywhere with an internet connection. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for those who are working or have other commitments.
  • Accessibility: Online programs make legal education accessible to a wider audience, including individuals who might not have the opportunity to attend traditional in-person classes due to location or other constraints.
  • Cost-effective: Often, online programs are more affordable than traditional on-campus ones. They eliminate commuting costs and sometimes offer lower tuition fees.
  • Diverse Learning Tools: Online platforms use various multimedia tools, such as videos, interactive quizzes, discussion forums, and digital resources, enhancing the learning experience and catering to different learning styles.
  • Self-Paced Learning: Some online programs offer self-paced learning modules, allowing students to manage their schedules and progress through the coursework at their preferred speed.
  • Networking Opportunities: Despite being online, these programs may still provide networking opportunities through discussion boards, virtual group projects, and connections with instructors and fellow students.
  • Current Technology Integration: They often integrate current legal software and technology, providing students with hands-on experience using tools commonly used in the legal field.

To know more about which program to choose for your paralegal training, you can check out our guide on paralegal schools.

Complete a Paralegal Internship-

When you’re done with getting the basic education for this role, your next step is to gain experience and hands-on practical knowledge. Hands-on experience with actual work can help you get ready for the workforce.

Earn a National Certification-

To expand your knowledge base and increase your credibility in the job market, it’s always suggested to earn a paralegal certification as well.

A few of the most common and reliable certifications for Paralegals are-

  • National Federation of Paralegal Associations- You can get two types of certification offered by NFPA.
  • American Alliance of Paralegals- AAPI generally offers a single certification program for paralegals.
  • National Association of Legal Assistants- There are two types of programs offered by NALA.
  • The National Association of Legal Secretaries- NALS has three types of certification programs for paralegals.

Apply for Paralegal Jobs-

Your last step is to apply for paralegal jobs that are in line with your qualifications, skill set, years of experience, type of organization/firm, etc.

Read More: paralegal interview questions


What do Paralegals Do daily?

Paralegals are most often found to be communicating with clients, conducting interviews of witnesses, recording their statements, preparing necessary documents, and other related work.

Read More: What is a paralegal?

What can paralegals do without the supervision of a lawyer?

The authority of Paralegals is very limited, as they have not practiced law in its entirety. However, they can be expected to assist individuals without giving them actual legal advice.

Read More: Paralegal vs Lawyer
Paralegal vs Legal Assistant

What degree do paralegals need?

A Paralegal is expected to have a 2-year associate certificate program or a bachelor’s degree.

What do real estate paralegals do?

A real estate paralegal makes sure that a law firm is running efficiently while providing them with clerical services in the real estate field.

What do corporate paralegals do?

A corporate paralegal is responsible for working on matters related to corporate law with the help of licensed attorneys. Corporate Paralegals play a crucial role in many corporate transactions while preparing different agreements and contracts, vetting them, and also assisting in research.

As a paralegal, you can choose your specialty and become an immigration paralegal, litigation paralegal, nurse paralegal, or remote paralegal.

Read More:

About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.