Paralegals are a vital component to the legal industry. While many believe that paralegals stick to administrative work throughout the day, they often carry out a wide variety of tasks from the moment that they are hired. As time goes on, many paralegals may even find themselves engaging in unique and rewarding work as they become proficient in their duties. For those that would like to enter the legal field but are not yet ready to commit to law school, here is a closer look at five common jobs that a paralegal may carry out after being hired.
1. Working With Technology
For paralegals that are new to a firm, it is prudent to expect a lot of work with technology. This often begins with updating, managing, and sharing databases for evidence, clients, and cases. For firms that do not have an IT department, a paralegal that is proficient in technology may even find themselves working with network issues, bug fixes, and software installation.
2. Client Interaction
Corresponding with clients will often be the most important job of a paralegal. While the lead attorneys and partners may carry out the initial consultation or interview, the paralegal will often be the primary contact for most clients. This typically includes a wide variety of tasks ranging from the collection of information and answering phones to preparing depositions or organizing court dates.
3. Office Organization
While it may not be the most glamorous aspect of the job, it is something that needs to be done and it will often fall on the shoulders of a paralegal. While this does not necessarily entail cleaning the office, all paralegals should expect at least some organizational work. This will often include filing paperwork, adding information to digital databases, and even keeping the office tidy throughout the day. This is especially true in the first few years at a firm as the paralegal is just learning the ins and outs of the industry and are not yet ready to take on more complex legal work.
4. Specialize in a Field
Paralegals are somewhat of a self-regulated industry and do not require as much extensive schoolwork as an accredited lawyer. That being said, this does not mean that the paralegal will not find themselves specializing within a specific field as they spend more time within a single firm. For example, if a firm specializes in tax law, paralegals may find themselves focusing exclusively on financial laws and statutes, further building up their own skillset for the future.
In the end, many cases are going to be won or lost according to the time and energy that is put into research. Whether it is dredging up past trials in order to cite rulings or simply checking in on the background of various parties, research may be monotonous but it is often invaluable. As a paralegal builds up their reputation, they will often be given more responsibility with the research that will become integral to the attorney’s case.
Many know that a paralegal will help to build cases with essential legal tasks, but few know exactly what they are going to do from day to day. These five aspects are only the beginning when it comes to some of the complex projects put before a paralegal that will make them invaluable to a firm.
Amy Thomson writes about technology, career-success, and education. When she’s not writing she is skydiving over the Rocky Mountains.