A Paralegal is also known as a corporate paralegal.
They are trained individuals that assist lawyers in carrying out legal services.
These services include organizing and preparing legal files for trials and cases.
Paralegals work full-time and sometimes overtime when a pending trial or a looming deadline requires their services.
Let us consider some paralegal duties and responsibilities.
Article Road Map
Paralegal Duties And Responsibilities
A paralegal is a complex job. As law firms search for ways to streamline their processes and reduce costs, paralegals now take on responsibilities previously reserved for lower-level attorneys.
Today’s paralegals even provide legal services on behalf of federal administrative agencies.
Some courts even allow them to appear in court for certain motions and hearings, although this would never involve providing legal representation.
However, the primary purpose of a paralegal is to free up lawyers’ time so that lawyers can do things that pertain only to lawyers, such as advising clients and appearing in court.
Nevertheless, here are the duties and responsibilities of a Paralegal:
- Summarizing cases and preparing reports for lawyers
- Submission of documents to courts
- Monitoring changes in the legal framework and providing timely updates on these changes
- Mediation or expert psychological assessments in family law matters of divorce and custody
- Contribute to the preparation of the trial in court practices
- Providing behind-the-scenes courtroom support for negotiations and court proceedings or arbitration, mediation, administrative proceedings, and closings
- Drafting of legal documents and filings, including deposition notices, subpoenas, motions, certificates, contracts, information, and complaints
- Investigating cases by interviewing clients and witnesses and conducting legal research on case law and precedents
- Handling discovery — the exchange of certain information between opposing parties to a lawsuit
- Organization and management of files, documents, and exhibits
- Filing documents in federal and state courts
- Preparation of sworn statements, legal correspondence, and other documents for lawyers.
- Meeting with clients, lawyers, and other professionals and discussing the case details.
- Filing of lawsuits with the court clerk.
- Help with exam preparation by organizing exhibitions and assisting with other tasks as needed.
- Prepare briefs, wills, contracts, real estate closings, lawsuits, appeals, and other legal documents.
- Management and coordination of law firm activities, including delivery of summonses.
- Collection and analysis of statutes, decisions, legal articles, codes, documents, and other data.
- Calling witnesses to testify at the hearing.
- Maintaining an up-to-date law library by tracking legal volumes.
- Do your legal and factual research.
- Identify relevant court decisions, statutes, legal articles, codes, and other related materials
- Cross-check and verify the information
- Prepare written reports
- Prepare correspondence
- Review legal forms and documents for accuracy
- create and maintain databases and files
- Review and monitor new and updated laws and regulations
- Maintain a law library
- Coordinate law firm activities such as service of subpoenas
- Find and interview witnesses
- Help the lawyer in the courtroom
- Cloud computing and social media are also changing the nature of legal research—a large part of a paralegal’s job.
Requirements Of A Paralegal
There are essential requirements that one must meet to be A Paralegal. Some of these requirements include:
- Strong oral and written communication skills.
- Excellent organizational skills.
- Certificate of completion of an ABA-approved paralegal certification education and training program or an associate degree in paralegal studies.
- Associate Degree.
- Proficiency in Microsoft Office, specifically Outlook, Word, and Excel.
- You must have the capacity to function effectively in a busy, team-oriented environment.
- Experience with office administration.
Skills Of A Paralegal
For one to be a successful Paralegal, there are certain skills they must possess. Some of these skills include:
Ability To multitask
A paralegal is a deadline-driven profession, and multiple cases may require action within the same limited period.
You may have to multitask on more than one case file almost simultaneously, be on the phone about one matter while sorting trial exhibits in another—and making mistakes because you’re overwhelmed or distracted is not the answer.
Lawyers must have excellent organizational skills to manage voluminous files and exhibits that can number hundreds in one case.
Strong Research And Writing
These skills are essential for writing files, research memoranda, correspondence, and other documents.
Lawyers must regularly interact with clients, professionals, court staff, and lawyers other than their employers.
The ability to handle pressure and looming deadlines can be essential in some specialties that involve a large amount of litigation.
Qualifications Of A Paralegal
Most Paralegal professionals undergo training on the job rather than in a classroom setting.
However, most organizations or law firms require Paralegal candidates to have at least a certification or an associate’s degree in paralegal studies.
Firms may hire candidates with bachelor’s degrees in any field, but an industry-recognized paralegal certificate is desirable.
Although, some areas may require Paralegals to obtain a license or register with the designated authority.
Nevertheless, below are the qualifications of a paralegal:
- Certification or associate’s degree in paralegal studies, although a bachelor’s degree is preferred
- A minimum of two years of experience as an assistant
- Inquisitive mind and strong research skills
- Functional knowledge of legal database software
- Experience preparing legal reports
How To Be An Efficient Paralegal
An effective paralegal must have excellent verbal and written communication skills and communicate effectively with clients and attorneys. They will also need these writing skills to draft and proofread legal documents.
An efficient Paralegal must regularly sort, manage and archive various client documents. They should also have impressive computer skills as they regularly use multiple applications to organize information and input data.
It is essential to know that Paralegals do not give legal advice, represent clients in court, sign legal documents or establish legal fees like lawyers; instead, they work under the close supervision of a lawyer.
It is okay to say that paralegal is a people’s profession.
They can work in a corporation, law firm, or for the government, although most of their duties and responsibilities are in offices.