A paralegal (also known as a legal assistant) works in a law office for one or more attorneys to assist them in the execution of their practice. Many times a paralegal will be called upon to type written notes or transcribe recordings of meetings or telephone calls. A paralegal must also be organized and comfortable with research and document drafting; they also must have outstanding written and verbal communications skills.
In many operations, the attorneys may turn to their legal assistants to help with research and reporting. The paralegal is frequently be called on to draft legal documents as well. Additionally, the paralegal is often be tasked with maintaining the office, including making sure supplies are purchased as needed. Because a practice's attorney are frequently busy away from the office, the paralegal may be the first point of interaction for clients. They also usually handle a great deal of scheduling of meetings for the attorney, including appearances in court, depositions, and other obligations.
While many law offices consider individuals for this position who possess high school diplomas (or the equivalent), larger practices increasingly prefer individuals with some sort of secondary training in office or legal administration. Paralegals also need to be familiar with basic computer software, such as Microsoft Word and Excel.
Paralegal / Legal Assistant Tasks
- Gather and analyze research data, such as statutes, decisions and legal articles, codes and documents.
- Prepare affidavits or other documents, maintain document file and file pleadings with court clerk.
- Prepare legal documents, including briefs, pleadings, appeals, wills, contracts and real estate closing statements.
- Investigate facts and law of cases to determine causes of action and to prepare cases.
- Assist lawyers by researching legal precedent, investigating facts or preparing legal documents.