As a paralegal, you play an integral role in the realm of law. While these professionals are valuable assets to many legal operations, the role and responsibilities of this profession is often misunderstood. Although daily tasks and responsibilities vary according to industry and section of law, the foundation scope of practice is universal, as explained here.
Primary Paralegal Duties
In basic terms, paralegals assist lawyers and other legal professionals. Specific duties obviously vary; however, the following details the most common of responsibilities:
As a paralegal, you may spend a good portion of your workday investigating the specifics of a case. In fact, fact-checking and gathering occurs throughout many paralegal specializations. The most successful paralegals are highly-skilled researchers and carry a natural desire to investigate beyond the surface.
Beyond the more exciting research duties, paralegals are often charged with clerical and/or administrative duties. Common employer expectations include organizing and maintaining documentation. It’s not uncommon for paralegals to schedule and track client meetings and important dates on behalf of their employer.
Within the realm of paralegal careers, legal writing is one of the most common job requirements. The scope of such writing may slightly vary upon industry and practice concentration. Generally speaking, a paralegal will draft and review a variety of contracts. For example, those employed within the real estate industry are often charged with the task of compiling mortgages and related documents. Other writing responsibilities include drafting legal letters to clients and writing reports/summaries to assist a lawyer within an ongoing or upcoming trial.
Perhaps one of the more exciting job responsibilities for a paralegal is gathering evidence for legal proceedings. This is generally undertaken during the preparation phase of a case/trial. Along with physically gathering evidence, a paralegal may also be charged with task of arranging and cataloging evidence. The exact requirements for executing this responsibility may vary; however, a high attention of detail and a solid understanding of the legalities of handling evidence is paramount. As a paralegal, you may be responsible for obtaining affidavits as well as other formal statements from clients that are to be used as evidence within court.
For paralegals who work with trial lawyers, assisting a lawyer during a trial is by far the most common responsibility. The exact expectations of a paralegal within this job duty typically includes filing exhibits with the court. Exceptional note taking is required for this position as is a keen eye for reviewing trial transcripts. Other levels of assistance involve actually communicating with persons involved in the trial. This may include contacting other lawyers, witnesses and other clients to schedule meetings, interviews and other legal procedures.