In a law firm, paralegals are one of the most important, yet least recognized members. Because most of a paralegal’s work is done behind the scenes, many often do not realize how crucial their role in the legal industry really is. You may find yourself asking: What exactly is a paralegal? What do their daily tasks look like? Or, how do I become a paralegal? Keep reading to find the answer to these questions and many more!
A paralegal is an extremely important member of a legal team that possesses substantial knowledge of the law and legal matters, however, they are NOT a qualified lawyer. Though a paralegal often has ample legal knowledge through their own experience, because they are not a licensed attorney, they cannot give legal advice. A paralegal’s responsibility is to ensure that attorneys have all of the information they may need regarding a client’s case before the attorney even looks at it. To do this, paralegals communicate with courts, manage and file paperwork, and draft basic legal documents in support of attorney activities.
A paralegal is also one of the main forms of communication between a law firm and its client. After the client has chosen to hire an attorney, their information will be passed over to the paralegal, who will then file and prepare all starting documents for the client in regard to the case. When the client calls the office with basic questions about court appearances, specific motions, or what they can do to help the attorney best, they will most likely speak with the paralegal who is assisting with their case. The paralegal will be there to guide the client through the process and answer any questions that are not about legal advice. Again, paralegals cannot give clients any form of legal advice.
A paralegal plays various roles when dealing with cases. Some other things they will do besides filing paperwork includes: giving updates to the client, making court calls, administrative support, and keeping the attorneys informed.
If you’ve made it this far, you may be considering a career as a paralegal yourself. So how do you get started? It’s actually a simple process. There is no required certification or education required, though courses can certainly equip you with useful knowledge and skills. However, though it is not a requirement imposed by the state, law firms do have the choice to require certification. In the long run, much of what you will learn about being a paralegal will be learned on the job in practice.
Interesting in applying to work as a Paralegal at The Greening Law Group? Check out our Careers page to see open positions!