What Does a Paralegal Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More


Paralegals are trained to help lawyers inside the shipping of prison offerings. They may paintings for law corporations, corporations, the authorities, or in other practice environments, but continually under the supervision of a legal professional. Paralegals can't provide prison advice. They can't represent customers in court, establish criminal expenses, or signal files in order to be filed with the court docket.

Approximately 285,600 paralegals had been employed in the U.S. in 2016, with seventy three precnt of them employed by law corporations and businesses providing criminal services.

Paralegal Duties & Responsibilities

Not all paralegals assume the exact same duties. It depends largely on who they work for and what kind of felony services their company offers. Some obligations are not unusual, however:

  • Arranging mediation or expert mental reviews in circle of relatives regulation divorce and custody topics
  • Contributing to trial guidance in litigation practices
  • Providing at the back of-the-scenes aid in the courtroom at hearings and trials, or in arbitration, mediation, administrative proceedings, and closings
  • Drafting legal documents and pleadings, along with deposition notices, subpoenas, motions, certifications, contracts, briefs, and court cases
  • Investigating the statistics of a case by using interviewing clients and witnesses and performing felony research into case law and precedents
  • Handling discovery—the alternate of positive records among opposing parties to a lawsuit
  • Organizing and dealing with documents, documents, and reveals
  • Filing documents with federal and country courts

Although what a paralegal can't do is mounted by way of law, what they can do is incredibly dependent on their employers. Some attorneys discover delegating responsibilities easier than others do. A paralegal's high motive is to loose up legal professionals' time so the attorneys can do the ones things only attorneys can do, like recommend customers and appear in court docket. 

Paralegal Salary

Paralegal salaries can hinge on many factors, consisting of experience, education, practice environment, and geographic vicinity. Those who paintings for the federal government tend to be the maximum tremendously compensated.

  • Median Annual Salary: $50,940 ($24.forty nine/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $82,050 ($39.forty five/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $31,four hundred ($15.10/hour)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

Paralegals who work for corporations positioned in metropolitan areas usually earn greater than folks who paintings in smaller cities and more rural locations. Some skilled paralegals with unique talents or control duties can earn within the six figures yearly in large cities, whilst entry-stage paralegals in rural regions would possibly earn within the community of $25,000 a 12 months.

Education, Training, & Certification

Some paralegals possess no formal education. They examine at the activity beneath the supervision of legal professionals, often assuming the placement of paralegal and extra responsibilities after serving as a felony secretary or in any other guide role for a time frame. This is not the case, but.

  • Education: Many paralegals have two-year companion stages or four-12 months bachelor’s levels. Many junior faculties offer courses closer to a paralegal certificate.
  • Training: Even if they do not get it in a classroom placing, paralegals should have a stable know-how of felony terminology, federal and state regulations of felony system, and significant regulation. Paralegals can gain this knowledge by means of operating their way up from an entry-level function with a law organization or in different prison offerings.
  • Certification: This career isn't pretty regulated, so having professional certification can genuinely assist a process candidate stick out from different applicants.
  • Licensing: Very few states have licensing or registration requirements for paralegals.

Paralegals with bachelor’s ranges in paralegal studies, or a college diploma in any field combined with a paralegal certificate, typically have the best career possibilities.

Paralegal Skills & Competencies

Not everyone is capable of being a paralegal. Some inherent skills and developments could make all of the difference among success and burning out.

  • Organizational competencies: Paralegals ought to own fantastic organizational talents to manipulate voluminous documents and well-knownshows, which can variety inside the hundreds for a unmarried case.
  • Communication abilties: Paralegals ought to have interaction often with customers, specialists, courtroom employees, and legal professionals apart from their employers.
  • Strong research and writing abilties: These competencies are vital for drafting pleadings, research memorandums, correspondence, and different files. 
  • Nerves of metal: An ability to address strain and looming cut-off dates can be crucial in a few specialties that involve a exquisite deal of litigation.
  • An capability to multitask: This is a deadline-heavy profession, and more than one instances can call for motion within the equal restricted time intervals. You might should carry out diverse obligations on more than one case report almost simultaneously, taking a cellphone call on one remember at the same time as sorting through trial famous on some other—and making errors due to the fact you are beaten or distracted isn't always an choice.

Job Outlook

Increasing caseloads have recommended attorneys to delegate duties previously reserved for attorneys, growing extra possibilities for paralegals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that paralegal positions will increase by using 15 percentage from 2016 via 2026, that is lots quicker than average.

This task growth may be as a minimum partly attributed to the reality that legal professionals can skip off extra paintings to their paralegals at a lower hourly price than they might for my part fee for their time as clients withstand high prison fees.

Work Environment

Paralegals have a tendency to work in tandem with different employees, along with legal professionals and guide body of workers, so being a paralegal is some thing of a people profession. Client interaction is likewise very not unusual in positive regions of the law.

The big majority of this paintings is carried out in offices, however paralegals can once in a while be called upon to wait court docket lawsuits with their lawyer employers, or to travel for other reasons, such as to report documents or collect facts.

Work Schedule

Being a paralegal is usually a complete-time position finished at some point of everyday business hours, however overtime and nighttime hours are regularly essential when closing dates loom and trials are drawing close, requiring giant coaching.

How to Get the Job


Take the National Certified Legal Assistant/Paralegal Examination (CLA/CP Exam) after you've acquired your associate diploma or earned a certificate.


It's not unusual for a paralegal to establish a area of expertise or a place of information after becoming a member of a corporation in an access-stage potential. She might emerge as proficient in sure areas thru on-the-task schooling. In the cease, it could come down to what interests you and what kind of regulation and obligations you're maximum snug with. You can then observe for jobs in that region.


You can touch the National Association of Legal Assistants or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations for greater facts on paralegal careers.

Comparing Similar Jobs

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Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018