Is helping people win their cases a dream for you? Do you want to help bring justice to people?

If your answer to the above questions is a yes, then paralegal might be the best career choice for you.

But you might be wondering,

what exactly is a paralegal? And what do they do?

We’re here to answer all of that and more.

So let’s get started.

A paralegal works in the legal field and is primarily responsible for assisting lawyers.

The day-to-day duties of a paralegal involve overseeing tasks such as trials for submissions, communicating with the clients, etc.

In addition to paperwork, paralegals are also required to conduct interviews, collect statements and handle the tasks assigned by their attorneys.

Some paralegals work closely with lawyers to support the investigation process. evaluating evidence and preparing legal arguments.
In addition to managing the administrative requirements of lawsuits, these professionals have the skills that enable them to interpret legal documents.

Demand for Paralegals

The demand for paralegals has constantly been on the rise as law firms are hugely dependent on them.

As per the data given by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there have been 352,800 jobs for Paralegals with a median pay of $56,230 per year and $27.03 per hour.

According to the BLS, the job outlook for paralegals for the next ten years (between 2021-31) is also said to increase by 14%, which is much faster than the average.

This means more paralegals will be required across the country than ever before.

Skills Required to Become a Paralegal

To become a paralegal, you need to be competent and have a specific skill set.

Let us take a look at some such paralegal skills

Organizational Skills

Paralegals generally assist attorneys with organizing documents and other paperwork for their cases. They are also responsible for organizing different events, scheduling meetings, client data, and maintaining paper filing systems.

To be successful in this role, your organizational skills need to be on point, and learn to do various tasks systematically.

Legal Knowledge

A Paralegal is required to have a sound familiarity with judgments, statutes, and different legal terminologies. A strong understanding of legal terms can help Paralegals draft several documents, interpret them, prepare affidavits, review the documents, and communicate the legal information to clients and courts as well.

Communication Skills

A Paralegal must have good communication skills, as they are mostly required to liaise between several parties, including attorneys and clients. A Paralegal with strong communication skills can easily communicate with clients and explain complex topics (& legal terms) with ease.

Additionally, paralegals with strong communication skills can be asked to handle emails and phone calls and prepare & draft different letters and pleadings.

Time Management

Paralegals with good time management skills usually manage multiple tasks easily, which helps them adhere to the strict deadlines set by the court.

A law firm prefers paralegals who can map out their day & prioritize important tasks efficiently.

As a paralegal, you have to handle clients and perform legal and administrative duties for law firms. This means you’ll have multiple tasks, and you will need to know how to manage your time effectively.

Attention to Detail

A paralegal might have to go through several client data or case files. This sometimes means that you will have to go through hundreds of pages.

Attention to detail becomes imperative, as a tiny detail can have a significant impact on the case.

Analytical skills

A paralegal is expected to use logical reasoning and analytical skills to analyze data and information as it becomes available.

Technical Skills

A Paralegal with good technical skills and knowledge is preferred. As a paralegal, you need to record information shared by the clients, manage bills, and create several reports.

Paralegals need to be proficient in applications like email, Microsoft Word, and other data management software to navigate through different important tasks.

Apart from skills, you also need to fulfill other paralegal requirements, which include education requirements and certification.

Types of Paralegals

Family Law Paralegal

A family law paralegal assists lawyers with cases involving situations like:

  • Divorces
  • Child custody disputes
  • Adoption proceedings

A family law paralegal is expected to gather evidence for preparing trials. They are also expected to be empathetic to help families & give them support as they navigate through emotional problems.

Immigration Paralegal

An immigration paralegal is required to assist immigrants in completing naturalization forms. They may also be of assistance in:

  • Political asylum
  • Business immigration matters
  • Work or student visas
  • Deportation

Litigation Paralegal

A litigation paralegal can be seen working with a client who is looking to sue someone, and hence they are required to prepare for the trial by handling the e-discovery process and interviewing witnesses.

Some other responsibilities may also include:-

  • Analyze statutes, legal articles, and constitutions
  • Manage the public perception of the case
  • Taking notes for the lawyer in the courtroom

The majority of them work for an attorney who focuses on a particular area of law. For instance, an attorney might only take on cases involving bankruptcy or personal injury.

As a paralegal, you’ll be primarily responsible for working around this area of law.

Government Paralegal

A government paralegal is expected to work with government officials involving local, state, or federal government. They are also required to help deputy public defenders or city attorneys with their cases.

Their responsibilities may also include:-

  • Reviewing official military correspondence
  • Developing training materials for legal programs
  • Presenting at educational seminars
  • Reviewing government documents for compliance with existing regulations

Intellectual Property Paralegal

Patents and trademarks are the areas of expertise of intellectual property paralegals. They frequently complete tasks like:

  • Assisting clients in completing the necessary paperwork to secure ownership of their brand-new idea or invention
  • Keeping an eye on the market for copyright infringement
  • Assisting the client in any infringement-related lawsuits, they might file
  • Researching intellectual property law

Corporate Paralegal

In a law firm, you usually have to handle multiple clients and organizations. However, a corporate paralegal works for a single corporation or a business. They are part of a company’s legal team.

They work with the internal departments and assist with paperwork and corporate proceedings. Other responsibilities can include –

  • Review of contracts,
  • The preparation of corporate resolutions
  • Renewal of company licenses,
  • Writing executive summaries, noting minutes of the meeting, and more.

Healthcare Paralegal

Healthcare paralegals help lawyers with the following:

  • Health care laws
  • Malpractice
  • Nursing home negligence
  • Insurance claims

If you have prior experience in healthcare or healthcare laws, it will be easier for you to navigate these duties.

But if you’re just starting out, you’ll have to dig deep into the Health care coverage Transportability and Responsibility Act (HIPAA) guidelines. In addition to that, you will also need to know how Federal medical care and Medicaid work.

Basic knowledge of these laws will enable you to assist attorneys effectively in violation investigations and serve as a liaison between patients and doctors. A nurse paralegal is a type of healthcare paralegal.

Real Estate Paralegal

A Real estate paralegal is required to do the paperwork for their clients about buying and selling properties. Some other common duties for real estate paralegals include:

  • Reviewing mortgages and other documents, such as trust letters, and statements of adjustment
  • Drafting sales and purchase contracts
  • Ordering certificates of title and due diligence searches
  • Monitoring the deadlines
  • Creating a closing checklist
  • Preparing necessary closing documents

Apart from major types of a paralegal, a freelance paralegal or paralegal working from home is referred to as a remote paralegal.

Estate Planning and Probate Paralegal

As an estate planning and probate paralegal, you may be required to assist several families in analyzing their financial situation and drafting their wills. You can also be expected to meet the families when any of their family members die while organizing and liquidating the assets.

See more on: Types of Law Paralegals

Salaries of a Paralegal

Paralegals, in general, earn high salaries due to their high demand in different industries. However, the salaries of paralegals can vary depending on many factors, including location, experience, and the types of industries in which they work.

As per the data given by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there have been 352,800 jobs for Paralegals with a median pay of $56,230 per year and $27.03 per hour.

The industries with the highest employment and average wage for Paralegals include:

  • Legal services, with an average mean estimate of $55,690 and employment of 258,310.
  • Federal Executive Branch (OEWS), with an average mean wage estimate of $73, 580 and employment of 15,480
  • Local government, excluding schools, and hospital (OEWS) Designation, with average mean estimates of $57, 770 and employment of 14,890
  • For paralegals in Management of Companies and Enterprises, with an average salary estimate of $78,480 and employment of 7250.

Paralegal Salary vs Salaries In Other Industries

  • Brokerages, Insurance Related Activities, and other Agencies, with an annual salary of $ 52,970
  • Supplies Merchants and Professional and Commercial Equipment Wholesalers, with an annual salary of  $ 48,940
  • Outpatient Care Centres, with an annual salary of $ 44,680
  • Mail-Order Houses and Electronic Shopping, with an annual salary of $ 44,420
  • Insurance Carriers, with an annual salary of $ 44,390

The average paralegal salary is higher compared to these careers. The careers mentioned above don’t require a degree. So if you’re fresh out of high school, and want to start a career with a higher earning potential, then you can consider enrolling in paralegal schools.

The States with the highest employment rate for Paralegal include:

  • California, with an employment of 34, 710
  • New York, with an employment of 30,400
  • Florida, with an employment of 30,000
  • Texas, with an employment of 25,780
  • Illinois, with an employment of 13,630

The states with the highest average mean wage for Paralegal include:-

  • California, with a mean wage, include $70,290
  • New York, with an average mean wage of $63,270
  • Florida, with a mean wage of $53, 940
  • Texas, with a mean wage of $56,030
  • Illinois, with a mean wage of $60,920

See more: Myths About Being a Paralegal

Roles and Duties of a Paralegal

A paralegal’s primary responsibilities entail supporting attorneys. They generally provide senior lawyers with assistance by preparing and organizing the documents for their meetings, hearings, and other events.

In law firms where paralegals are required to maintain confidentiality and decorum.

However, it is to be noted that paralegals aren’t permitted to address their clients in court.

You probably want to know more about what do paralegals do. Let’s have a look at the roles and duties of a paralegal:-

  • Collecting Documents: On behalf of the attorney, paralegals have to collect documents and information from clients, expert witnesses, and other sources.
  • Conducting case studies: To ascertain what a lawyer might anticipate in a similar case, paralegals also need to invest their time in researching both current and previous legal cases.
  • Writing documents: Reports and legal documents for current cases are drafted by a paralegal.
  • Making motions and pleadings: A paralegal drafts and may file a motion or pleading for an attorney to use in a court case.
  • They also assist attorneys during trials: Compiling, storing, and distributing information, notes, and reports to the attorney.
  • Getting documents ready: The paralegal is responsible for supporting documents for the attorney to use for reference or filing with the court while the attorney prepares to begin a case.
  • Client interviews: Paralegals also conduct client interviews and ask relevant questions from their clients.
  • Getting in touch with customers: Clients are contacted by a paralegal at all stages of the legal process.
  • Fact-checking: Documents and legal filings are effectively fact-checked by paralegals to ensure that they contain correct information.

Here’s more on Paralegal vs Lawyer

How to Become a Paralegal?

There are three ways by which you can become a Paralegal:-

Completing a Two-Year Associate Degree Program

The first step is to complete a two-year associate paralegal degree program. A lot of community colleges offer paralegal certificate programs that take two years to complete. These programs teach students about the legal system and the responsibilities of the job.

Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

After you complete your two-year schooling program, you also have the option of adding to your credits by opting for a bachelor’s program in a related field.

Online Course Programs

The third option is to enroll in an online paralegal program, where you can learn about the roles of a paralegal in an affordable, accessible, and cheaper way. Online course program also allows you to finish your course in as little as 4 months, unlike traditional courses that take years.

If you want to know about the step-by-step roadmap to start your career as a paralegal, then check out how to become a paralegal.


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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.