If you have a passion for law, possess strong attention to detail, and excel at multitasking, you have the potential to thrive as a paralegal.
What is a paralegal?
A paralegal, also known as a legal assistant, is a professional who assists lawyers in various legal tasks. Paralegals are trained to perform legal research, draft legal documents, organize and maintain case files, assist in trial preparation, and provide general administrative support to lawyers.
They work under the supervision of attorneys and play a crucial role in supporting legal proceedings and the delivery of legal services.
If you’re wondering how to enter this field, find good job opportunities, and kick-start your career, let’s explore the various settings and tasks that paralegals typically engage in.
See more: What is a Paralegal
Where do paralegals work?
Paralegals are generally employed in law firms, corporate law departments, and government agencies. However, there are exceptions where paralegals may work in areas such as international law or criminal law, assisting with evidence gathering or accompanying attorneys to trials.
Some paralegals may also assist attorneys in complex cases, arranging meetings and working on documents, depending on the employer’s preference and the nature of the cases they handle.
With the advent of remote work, it has become more convenient for paralegals to work from home, as demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in order to establish trust and showcase their credibility, it is generally expected for paralegals to work in an office setting. Paralegals have the flexibility to choose the industry that they find rewarding and which adds value to their resume.
Let us explore the various industries and locations where paralegals may find intriguing opportunities.
- Corporate Law-
As a corporate paralegal, your main responsibility is to ensure that businesses comply with local and federal regulations in their operations, including matters related to employment, company mergers, and protecting the company from legal disputes.
In the corporate setting, paralegals support attorneys in various tasks, including court appearances if the company is involved in litigation. Additionally, you may also be involved in finance-related responsibilities, such as bookkeeping tasks.
Also see: Corporate Paralegal
- Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Nonprofit Law-
NGOs cover a wide range of fields, such as environmental protection, healthcare, and civil rights. Paralegals working in NGOs need to have knowledge of the specific laws related to their organization’s area of focus. Some paralegals in NGOs may have previous experience or background in fields like healthcare or environmental issues.
Paralegals in NGOs are involved in various tasks such as conducting research, handling paperwork, and even accompanying the organization to court. They often work on cases related to constitutional law or civil rights.
- Real Estate and Title Insurance Law-
Residential and commercial properties have their own legal departments. Paralegals working in corporations, banks, and private law firms may need to specialize in real estate laws.
While real estate transactions often involve buying and selling properties, each transaction can be unique for different buyers and sellers. Paralegals in this field are expected to have a strong understanding of real estate laws, pay close attention to details, and effectively handle the needs of all parties involved in a transaction.
Paralegals with a medical background are highly valuable in cases involving malpractice, work injuries, and labor law related to medical personnel. These paralegals, often known as paralegal medical consultants or nurse paralegals with RN licenses, can be found in law firms, hospitals, insurance companies, or consulting practices.
In law firms, they interview clients and provide a medical perspective to the legal team in malpractice suits or injury claims. In hospitals or doctor’s offices, they review procedures from a legal viewpoint, create policy manuals, and ensure proper handling of patient information.
In insurance companies, paralegals ensure policy compliance with medical professionals’ input. They advise on patient claims and medical malpractice cases that require both medical and legal expertise.
In consulting roles, they handle various healthcare projects, providing specialized advice for specific cases. Their medical experience, legal knowledge, and organizational skills make them in-demand professionals.
Also see: Paralegal Skills
- Government Agencies-
Government job listings at the federal, state and local levels frequently include positions for paralegals. Government departments require legal services, and paralegals play a crucial role in providing support in various areas of law.
Different government departments may seek advice on specific legal matters related to their specialization, such as housing laws or insurance regulations. If you have an interest in working for the government at any level and possess legal knowledge in specific areas, pursuing a career as a paralegal would be a suitable choice.
Find your place as a paralegal
If you have a keen interest in any of these areas of law, now may be the perfect time to enter the field. Starting with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies is a common path, although you can also consider a Paralegal Certificate program if you already hold a degree in another field.
Read: Paralegal Degree
These educational programs will equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to begin your career as a paralegal.
Also see: How to Become a Paralegal
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