What Is a Paralegal Job Description? (Relevance and Example)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published June 10, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
If you are interested in law, you can consider pursuing a career as a paralegal. These professionals support lawyers by performing various legal processes. Understanding more about a paralegal job description and how you can use it to influence your job applications can help you be more successful when searching for a job. In this article, we explore what this job description means, identify its relevance, discuss how to become a paralegal, highlight some essential skills, and provide an example of a job description.
What is a paralegal job description?
A paralegal job description is a section of a job advertisement that highlights the responsibilities and requirements for the role of a paralegal. It gives candidates an idea of what the hiring manager is looking for, including the qualifications, skills, and experience level needed. Job descriptions usually contain compulsory and supplemental qualifications. Compulsory qualifications are necessary for the hiring manager to consider you, while optional qualifications may give you a competitive advantage. Reading and understanding the job description for each paralegal role you're applying for is essential for the job application process.
Relevance of a job description for a paralegal role
Here are some benefits you can derive from reading a paralegal job description:
Defines your responsibilities
Well-written job descriptions usually contain a comprehensive overview of the role's responsibilities. They include details on your daily duties, work environment, and expected performance. Reading the job description can give you a good idea of what to expect in a workplace to prepare yourself. Additionally, it protects you from receiving tasks or instructions beyond your qualifications once you get the job.
Informs you of relevant qualifications
Job descriptions usually contain extensive details on the qualifications for a role. Typically, a hiring manager specifies which requirements are compulsory and which ones may enhance your application. Understanding the qualifications for a position can help you determine if you're a good fit.
You can use it to assess your performance
A job description contains details of what the employer expects from each candidate. They usually highlight the employee's responsibilities and the standard of work that the employer expects. These can form excellent criteria for measuring your performance if you secure the job. Knowing what the employer expects makes it easier to direct your energy and focus on the right tasks.
Informs career goals
Reviewing job descriptions allows you to see the qualifications and skills that hiring managers prioritize. Even if you don't have them, you can note them for your professional development goals. Seeing what you require to apply for more lucrative or senior roles can give you the necessary motivation and direction to advance your career.
Identifies relevant keywords
Keywords are words and phrases that hiring managers use to describe the qualifications and skills they want in a candidate. Many employers use applicant tracking systems that look for these keywords on resumes. To pass through these systems, ensure that your resume contains enough of the keywords included in the job description.
Highlights relevant skills
The skills employers require for the role of a paralegal vary according to the organization. For example, a law office may prioritize research skills for paralegals while another may prioritize writing. Reading the job description can help you determine what the hiring manager expects so you can tailor your resume to their expectations.
How to become a paralegal
Here's an overview of the steps you can follow to start your career as a paralegal:
1. Research the role
Make sure to research what the role of a paralegal entails before deciding if it's right for you. You can consider details like earning potential, job availability, training requirements, and the work environment. This helps ensure you can prepare adequately. To research the role, consider reviewing job sites or speaking with people who are or were paralegals to gain more practical insights into the role.
2. Obtain the right education
To become a paralegal, you require post-secondary education. The specific type of education needed depends on the province and employer. While some employers require a minimum of a diploma, others accept paralegal certificates. Paralegal certificates are relatively quick and easy to get but aren't as competitive as diplomas and bachelor's degrees.
3. Apply for an internship
An internship is a program where a trainee works under the supervision of experienced professionals. Its purpose is to help you develop the relevant knowledge and skills for the role while gaining experience. In addition to these benefits, internships also make a great addition to your resume, especially when applying for entry-level positions.
4. Obtain the appropriate licence
Most provinces don't regulate the paralegal profession, so you rarely require a licence. One exception is Ontario. If you plan to work in that province, you need a licence from the Law Society of Ontario. You can obtain a licence by completing a certificate, diploma, or bachelor's degree at an accredited college or university, taking the licensing exam, fulfilling all character requirements, and processing your licence within three months of graduating.
5. Apply for a job
Once you have all the requirements for the role, you can search job sites for availabilities in your area. You can also inform your friends and family that you're looking for work. Ensure you prepare a resume and cover letter and prepare for your interview and other job assessment processes.
Related: How Much Does a Paralegal Make?
Essential skills for paralegals
Here are some skills you require as a paralegal:
Paralegals perform various administrative and clerical functions in an office. They're responsible for compiling, sorting, and organizing documents. Depending on the law firm's size, paralegals may also be responsible for monitoring supplies, maintaining its library, and managing internal and external correspondence. They require excellent organization skills to manage these tasks with minimal errors.
Paralegals work closely with lawyers and other legal professionals in a firm. They're responsible for receiving clients and may participate in obtaining relevant facts and training witnesses. Additionally, paralegals participate in writing briefs and other legal documents. They require excellent communication skills to fulfill these duties.
Paralegals work closely with lawyers and other legal professionals. Most of their duties are supportive and usually involve receiving instructions from a lawyer. For example, paralegals usually handle research while lawyers prepare the brief. They require teamwork skills to help ensure that they collaborate effectively with others.
Research is one of the primary duties of a paralegal. They're usually responsible for reading case files, laws, and legal materials and may be responsible for investigating the facts of a case.
Paralegals create and amend documents, including client briefs, contracts, and affidavits. They require knowledge of relevant software, such as spreadsheet applications, document creation, and file-sharing software.
Example of a paralegal job description
Here's an example of a paralegal job description you may encounter while searching for work:
The Brown & Grey Law Office is looking to employ the services of a paralegal. Responsibilities include preparing legal documents, like correspondence and affidavits, compiling and organizing files, and filing relevant court processes. You're also to assist lawyers in preparing for cases by organizing evidence, preparing witnesses, and drafting case briefs.
Candidates for this role require excellent writing skills and proficiency with word processing software. It's necessary that candidates can communicate effectively, work well with others, and manage multiple tasks and deadlines.
Your specific work responsibilities include:
Collaborating with lawyers to prepare briefs, correspondence, affidavits, contracts, and other legal documents.
Using a paper or electronic filing system to organize office documents, allowing for easy retrieval.
Attending client meetings with lawyers to discuss case details and formulate legal strategies.
Filing pleadings and other relevant court processes with the court clerk.
Supporting trial preparations by organizing documents, preparing evidence, and training witnesses.
Collaborating with lawyers to conduct research into relevant laws and cases when preparing a brief.
Investigating facts of the case and collecting evidence to present at court.
Performing various administrative functions to support the smooth operation of the law office.
Preparing detailed research reports on relevant laws, cases, and other legal sources to aid lawyers in their work.
Monitoring and calling witnesses to ensure they testify at court where necessary.
Ensuring proper upkeep of the firm's library by staying up to date on new volumes of law reports and textbooks.
Requirements for this role include:
Minimum of a paralegal certificate from an accredited institution. Candidates with a diploma or bachelor's degree are also welcome to apply.
Adept at the use of word processing applications.
Possess excellent speaking and writing skills.
Skilled at performing clerical functions and organizing office spaces.
Can multitask effectively and manage multiple deadlines while maintaining work quality.
Possess excellent collaboration skills and can function in a fast-paced work environment.
Possess some experience performing administrative functions in an office space.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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