Paralegal Assistant Career Information
A paralegal is a person who helps qualified lawyers in coping with their office work and paper work. Also known as legal assistants, they have now become almost indispensible to law firms. In some countries, many paralegal assistants in America work as notary publics as well. A major chunk of a paralegal assistantís work involves going through legal documentation relating to trials, hearings, hearings and other similar legal proceedings. A lot of paralegal assistants also do background research work for practicing lawyers in the case that they may be dealing with. Paralegal assistants arenít necessarily confined to offices; often they accompany lawyers to the courtrooms and provide counsel during trials.
Skills required in being a paralegal assistant
The intense nature of a paralegal assistantís profession warrants a lot of hard work and dedication. Since legal intricacies are commonly encountered in the profession, there is a pretty heavy emphasis on precision. Paralegal assistants, therefore, have to be very well read, well researched and update with the latest amendments in law. Courses specific to paralegal assistants are offered by many universities and a minimum of a Bachelorís degree is a common pre-requisite asked by many law firms for employment. Of late, with the increasing number of online and software documentation, the need to have relevant computer skills is also becoming quite important. Paralegal assistants in many firms are required to prepare and hand in reports that lawyers would present in court for which they have to be well organized and systematic.
Statistics from the National Employment Matrix estimate that there will be an increase in the number of paralegal assistants employed by 74,100 from 2008 to 2018. That is a 28% increase within a decade. These statistics also indicate that the number of industries/ vocations, other than courtrooms and conventional law firms, will offer increased opportunities to paralegal assistants. With increasing level of responsibility and promising job prospects, the future certainly does look good for paralegal assistants.
A paralegal assistantís career path often depends on the type of work environment he or she chooses. Those employed in newer corporate legal consultant firms are bound to have slightly different career progression patterns when compared to conventional courtroom based law firm employees. However, a majority of paralegal assistants continue to support attorneys in the courtroom. As and when they gain experience, paralegal assistants are assigned with greater duties and more serious cases. Advanced qualifications and certifications are known to positively influence career progression.
Subjects of relevance for paralegal assistants
Areas of law such as malpractice by bankruptcy, doctors, real estate, insurance frauds, divorces and other areas of specific litigation may be areas that paralegal assistants choose to specialize in. Each subject tends to have its perks and ultimately it is the paralegalís interest that dictates his or her choice of area. Corporate law usually has elements from many different subjects and it has lately been finding increased preference by paralegal assistants.