Paralegal FAQs

What is a paralegal?

A paralegal is a person who works alongside licensed attorneys to provide assistance with various duties. They cannot provide legal advice, set rates or appear in court on behalf of clients.

Paralegals are hired to work in all areas of law. Their duties vary, depending on the nature of their lawyer’s practice, but may include drafting contracts and other documents, interviewing witnesses, meeting with clients and conducting research.

What traits are most important for success as a paralegal?

A person working as a paralegal must be mature and reliable. All the information shared by clients is considered confidential, and the paralegal must refrain from discussing it with others who are not working on the file.

The ability to prioritize work appropriately is also essential for success. The paralegal will most likely be required to juggle work on a number of files that are at various stages at the same time. Being well organized is key to making sure that the matter is kept moving forward and deadlines are not missed.

Working in law a be a stressful environment and being able to retain one’s composure when under stress or dealing with coworkers or lawyers who are stressed out is not always easy. A successful paralegal must have a thick skin to handle challenging situations with tact.

Where do paralegals work?

Paralegals are hired by a number of different employers, including law firms, legal departments in corporations and government departments. They can also find work in title companies, banks and insurance companies. Some paralegals work on a contract basis to handle special projects assigned by attorneys.

What is the job market like for paralegals?

The job market for trained paralegals is very favorable. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment prospects for paralegals is expected to increase by 28 percent by the year 2018.

During times when the economy is going through a downturn, the demand for some types of legal services, such preparing wills or voluntary real estate transactions. During those times, lawyers practicing in other areas, such as family law, bankruptcies and foreclosures, see demand for their services increase.

How much do paralegals earn?

The rate of pay that a paralegal can expect to make varies depending on his or her level of education and experience. Location also plays a role, since paralegals working in large urban areas can expect to earn higher salaries than those located in smaller centers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for paralegals is $46,980 per year. The salary range reported to the Bureau ranges from $29,800 to $75,700.

What do employers look for when hiring paralegals?

A job candidate’s formal education is an important consideration for employers. They also look at the candidate’s experience working in a law office. A person looking for this type of work can expect to be asked about his or her computer skills. A stellar candidate will be someone who can communicate effectively in oral and written form as well.

Since part of the paralegal’s job involves meeting with clients, a good candidate will be neat and well groomed. A professional appearance is very important to give the right impression while on the job.

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