In this five-part series, you’ll learn the ins-and-outs of a law firm. With over a million licensed attorneys in the United States, law firms and legal offices are around every corner. People need assistance with everything from auto accidents to work injuries, that’s where lawyers come in. To give support, attorneys need help with small things like organization, to large things like marketing themselves. To give them the dedicated work they need, people like paralegals deliver.
Law firms can be found in the tallest skyscrapers to the corners of small towns. Legal help is needed at all corners of the country, that’s why what they do is so important. Everyone knows lawyers and the brilliance they need in the courtroom. However, just like any great person, there is someone behind the scenes. Paralegals are those people. When a lawyer needs assistance, paralegals answer the call.
At Dennis Hernandez & Associates, we take pride in the people that make the motor run. Dennis and his team of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Lakeland, Fort Myers, Bradenton and Orlando can help you get the compensation you deserve. Whether it’s a car accident or wrongful death case, we’ll be there every step of the way.
The American bar Association (ABA) defines a paralegal as, a legal assistant who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible. The nightmare that is paperwork, seems to be a never-ending battle. Paralegals have knowledge of the law, usually through education, which qualifies them to perform legal work.
If you’re looking for a down to the detail idea of what a legal assistant does on a daily basis, you’re not going to find it. Paralegals will never have the same day twice. They are trained to assist attorneys in every form of legal service. More often than not, paralegals will work within law firms, because direct contact with their supervising attorney is needed. Some may work for large corporation to assist them in legal matters, other may work in government. Occasionally, paralegals will even work from the comfort of their home. Freelance contract work is common for people with legal knowledge.
In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) accounted 325,700 employed paralegals within the United States. 73% of those paralegals worked at law firms.
Duties & Responsibilities
As mentioned before, paralegals never have the same day. The duties of their daily tasks change from case to case. Because of this fact, there are different subcategories of paralegals. Generally speaking, both subtitles will have similar duties and responsibilities.
– Litigation Paralegal
Without litigation paralegals, attorneys would be nothing. They are essential to smooth operation before, during, and after trials. With each separate trial comes thousands of different details that must be ironed out. Litigation paralegals investigate, deal with pleads, and aid in the discovery process. Before the case is handed to a lawyer, pre-claim investigation is always done by a paralegal. This will include interviewing witnesses, taking statements, and gathering evidence.
Litigation paralegals are also essential mid-trial. They organize exhibits, documents, and evidence so that it is readily available when an attorney needs it. The litigation paralegal is the most important job in the law office.
– Pre-Litigation Paralegal
Pre-litigation involves everything before a case occurs. These paralegals attempt to resolve the case before it goes through to court. Mediation is the most important part of a pre-lit paralegals job. Reaching a financial settlement before the litigation process begins can save money for everyone involved.
Duties for paralegals both pre-lit and litigation can include the following:
- Arranging mediation or “expert” evaluations
- Contributing to trial preparation
- Drafting legal documents and pleadings
- Organizing and managing files, documents, and evidence
- Filing documents with federal and state courts
- Interviewing clients to obtain information about the legal issue
Being a paralegal is not for everyone. Law in general, is an extremely challenging field that many people are not cut out for. Legal assistants need to be assertive enough to deal with clients and the ensuing difficulties that arise from that. They should also be detail-oriented in order to keep track of the minute things that go into each and every case. The following skills are the most important amongst employer reviews:
- Organization – Organization is important for all jobs, but paralegals need specific organizational skills. At one time, paralegals could eb keeping tabs on multiple different cases, and intaking more. If you’re unorganized, becoming a paralegal will not work for you.
- Communication – Firm communication skills are vital. Attorneys need constant contact with all of the information surrounding the case, if they don’t, their jobs will be harder than they already are. It’s also important to be able to communicate to any clients, interviewees, or expert professionals.
- Research & Writing – Researching is vitally important to building a case. Because of this, paralegals need all the research knowledge they can find. Finding relevant laws can help attorneys prepare legal documents.
- Handling Pressure – The pressure is going to be on every single day. There is money, time, and resources involved that make every case important. Multi-tasking should be a cinch for the good legal assistant.
The future outlook for paralegals is better than nearly all other jobs. According to the BLS, employment of legal assistants is projected to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028. If you’re looking into becoming a paralegal, now is the time to do it. Law firms are only growing, and the legal world has no decline in its future.