Profile of a Paralegal

What does every successful, highly-functional legal operation have in common? First-rate paralegal support. Yet few understand what a paralegal does and the essential role they play in the legal industry.

Believe it or not, good paralegals often go unnoticed. That’s because when a first-rate paralegal is running the show, there’s very little “drama.” They anticipate and meet deadlines. They gather and organize relevant information in a systematic fashion. They ensure all relevant parties are kept up-to-date through clear and timely communications. Furthermore, this steady, mature, team-player minimizes interpersonal “friction” and defuses potential blowups. And finally, a good paralegal deals with unexpected “surprises” promptly and professionally.

What Does A Paralegal Do?

Specific duties vary greatly, making a job description hard to define. The role can be impacted by the type of law practiced and the organizational culture. That said, here are some common daily tasks:

  • Gather, organize, and maintain evidence and documents to prepare for trials or depositions
  • Coordinate logistics for travel, depositions, audio-video equipment setup, etc.
  • Conduct research on relevant case law, regulations, and legal commentary
  • Draft preliminary legal documents (contracts, mortgages, correspondence, etc.)
  • File court motions, briefs, exhibits and appeals
  • Coordinate case meetings, depositions, interviews and court dates
  • Maintain database systems and other technology resources

Paralegal Skills and Capabilities

People who thrive as paralegal professionals exhibit:

  • Formidable organizational skills
  • Detail-mindedness
  • Mastery of relevant technical skills
  • An ability to multi-task across a wide range of complex assignments.

What’s less tangible (and often underappreciated) is the importance of “soft” skills. Among them are:

  • The ability to facilitate seamless collaboration and teamwork
  • The capacity for empathy with both clients and lawyers in stressful, high-stakes transactions
  • The consistent display of “composure-under-fire”

Requirements & Salary

Job requirements are something of a moving target, as each organization may be looking for different skills (predictive coding, for example), or experience in a relevant industry.

This position typically requires an Associate’s degree or a certificate in paralegal studies. However, Bachelor’s degrees are becoming an expected credential among top law firms. Previous experience as a legal secretary or other legal industry role is also prized.

Salary varies nationwide. However, the median annual wage for paralegals was $58,869 according to our 2017 Salary Guide. A hardworking paralegal is essential to any firm or legal department, and compensation may increase with tenure.

Conclusion

Industry analysts project the need for paralegals will continue to grow at eight percent over the next decade. But the legal industry will always have room for people who can adapt to an ever-changing legal market and work diligently. If you’re up to the challenge, a paralegal career might be for you.

Contact us today to see what paralegal positions we have waiting for you!

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