Paralegals, or legal assistants, conduct legal research and assist lawyers in preparatory work for duties related to the scope of law practice. Paralegals analyze and sort through relevant information for court cases, using judicial decisions, legal articles and other case-supporting documents. Paralegals may also be responsible for less law office-related responsibilities, such as maintaining financial records and preparing tax returns.
Most paralegals are employed in law firms, but some also work in government and corporate legal departments. Paralegals can work within a broad range of specialties including criminal law, personal injury, family law, or real estate.
Employment growth for paralegals is projected to grow faster than average, but the field will continue to remain competitive. Paralegals with certification in paralegal studies or a degree from a paralegal program will have the best employment and advancement opportunities.
- Training programs usually include courses in legal research.
- Paralegals research and analyze relevant legal information to support cases and arguments.
- Most entry-level legal assistants have an associate's or bachelor's degree in a field related to paralegal studies.
- Experienced paralegals delegate workloads to other clerical staff and move to managerial positions.
- Employment opportunities for paralegals are expected to increase by 28 percent over the next 10 years.
Salary for paralegals depend on several factors, including education, training, location, and size of the legal office. Employers often prefer paralegals with certification from accredited institutions like the American Bar Association. The majority of paralegals work in law firms, but many also work in corporate and government settings. Paralegals perform administrative duties such as gathering information and data for legal proceedings, court cases, and litigation support.
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