Law and order are important components that help our society to function properly. By pursuing a paralegal career, you will be eligible to participate in the world of law, giving you not only a useful and employable skill set, but also a very satisfying and rewarding career.
What do Paralegals do?
Paralegals are professionals who assist lawyers in the various aspects of practicing the law. Paralegals can find work in small businesses and corporations, both private and public legal firms, or with the government. Paralegals are supervised by lawyers and often do supporting work such as researching legal topics, writing up paper work and drafting motions, meeting with clients and other lawyers for briefings, and preparing evidence to be used at trials. Depending on the specialty, paralegals can also assist lawyers with building a case and with presenting the case at trial.
Paralegals can do much of what lawyers can do, however, there are rules that must be followed and these can differ by state. Essentially, paralegals are not permitted to do anything that constitutes “unauthorized practice of the law”; this generally means that paralegals are not allowed to give legal advice without the explicit instruction of a lawyer, they cannot represent a client in court other than as a supportive member of a lawyer’s team, and they are unable to set legal fees. Anything else a lawyer does is fair game for paralegals – lawyers supervise the work and as a paralegal gains more experience, they can often be trusted to do work on their own with minimal supervision.
What are the Benefits of Becoming a Paralegal?
There are many positive considerations in relation to becoming a paralegal. If you have a passion for legal matters, a paralegal career gives you an avenue into the world of the law. The length of education to become a paralegal is much shorter than for becoming a lawyer, and though a paralegal cannot practice law independently, they can do virtually most of the work a lawyer is permitted to do. A paralegal career offers job stability and the type of work a paralegal does can be tailored to suit different interests. There are also a number of different ways to become a paralegal, and this flexibility makes it possible for people in different financial or familial circumstances to consider this career option.
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One distinct benefit of becoming a paralegal is that it is possible to focus on different areas of the legal world. Some people are more drawn to family court, others criminal court, and still others civil court. A paralegal could choose to focus on litigation, intellectual property, estate services and virtually any other specialty that is offered by lawyers. When studying to become a paralegal, it is advisable to consider which area of law you would have a passion for and tailor studies with that eventual goal in mind.
Becoming a paralegal is one way to contribute to our society in a way that is both meaningful and personally gratifying. Paralegals contribute significantly to the practice and application of the law and their contribution is greatly valued.
NALA - for Paralegals and Legal Assistants