Paralegal Career Information

Paralegal Job Description

Paralegal school graduates provide many different kinds of support for law offices, attorneys, corporations and all levels of government. Typically under the direction of an attorney, a paralegal is prepared to resolve routine legal issues. A Paralegal will research and analyze law sources such as statutes, recorded judicial decisions, legal articles, treaties, constitutions, and legal codes to prepare legal documents, such as briefs, pleadings, appeals, wills, contracts, etc. Paralegals should be familiar with a variety of legal concepts, practices, and procedures so as to help the attorney when needed. Paralegal graduates will rely on their experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals and to perform a variety of tasks set forth by an attorney or legal department.

Paralegals are found in all types of organizations, but most are employed by law firms, corporate legal departments, and various government offices. In these organizations, they can work in many different areas of the law, including litigation, personal injury, corporate law, criminal law, employee benefits, intellectual property, labor law, bankruptcy, immigration, family law, and real estate. As the law has become more complex, paralegals have responded by becoming more specialized. Within these specialties, functions often are broken down further so that paralegals may deal with a specific area. For example, paralegals specializing in labor law may deal exclusively with employee benefits.

The duties of paralegals also differ widely based on the type of organization in which they are employed. Paralegals who work for corporations often assist attorneys with employee contracts, shareholder agreements, stock-option plans, and employee benefit plans. They also may help prepare and file annual financial reports, maintain corporate minute books and record resolutions, and prepare forms to secure loans for the corporation. Paralegals often monitor and review government regulations to ensure that the corporation is aware of new requirements and it operates within the law.

Legal Secretary Job Description

Legal Secretaries perform secretarial and administrative duties at a law office and/or for a private attorney. A Legal Secretary will have responsibilities that may include typing legal documents, memos, reports, answering phones, and filing legal briefs. Legal Secretaries may also prepare correspondence and legal papers such as summonses, complaints, motions, responses, and subpoenas. They also may review legal journals and assist in other ways with legal research, such as by verifying quotes and citations in legal briefs. Graduates of a Legal Secretary program will have knowledge of commonly-used concepts, practices, and procedures within the legal field. Legal Secretaries typically work under the direct supervision of an attorney.

Career Paths

  • Paralegal
  • Legal Secretary
  • Legal Clerk
  • Legal Assistant
  • Estate Planner
  • Legal Positions within Local Government
  • Legal Positions within State Government
  • Legal Positions within Federal Government

Earnings Information

The earnings of Paralegal School graduates vary depending on their experience, skill level, and location. According to a 2003 salary survey, most starting Paralegal positions ranged from $45,000 to $55,000 annually depending on their responsibilities. More experienced Paralegal’s can earn up to $75,000 or more. Annual salaries for positions such as a Legal Secretary ranged from $35,000 to $45,000 annually depending on their responsibilities.

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