Paralegal Job Description: Top Duties and Requirements

A Paralegal, or Legal Assistant, works to help Attorneys with their delivery of legal services under the supervision of a certified Lawyer. The duties of a Paralegal include completing administrative work related to trial preparation, drafting legal documents, and performing legal research.

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Paralegal duties and responsibilities

Throughout their daily work, a Paralegal is responsible for a variety of duties. Some of the most important duties and responsibilities for the job include:

  • Drafting legal documents including deposition notices, certifications, contracts, briefs, complaints, subpoenas, motions, and pleadings
  • Conducting legal research into case law, and interviewing clients and witnesses
  • Creating summaries of depositions and testimonies
  • Providing additional support to Attorneys during real estate closings, court hearings, depositions, trials, and will executions
  • Organizing and maintaining legal files
  • Filing documents with any applicable court systems

Paralegal skills and qualifications

To fulfill their duties, Paralegals must possess several important skills. Some of the most important skills every Paralegal should have include:

  • Organizational skills to maintain hundreds of files and exhibits for multiple cases at the same time
  • Communication skills for relaying information to Lawyers, and when interviewing clients and witnesses
  • Research skills when looking into case law and evidence
  • Ability to work under pressure and within strict deadlines

What does a Paralegal do?

Paralegals serve as assistants to Lawyers to help ensure their Attorney duties are carried out efficiently and effectively. Paralegals are part of the support structure that helps manage the mountain of work that goes into most legal cases. This support comes in many different forms, as a Paralegal may be asked to do research into legal precedents for a case or draft legal documents like depositions for others. Put simply, Paralegals do anything they can to help Lawyers win their cases within the confines of the law without needing to be a licensed Attorney.

Paralegal experience requirements

Although it is an asset for candidates to have specific Paralegal experience, with the proper education and motivation, candidates can learn necessary skills on the job. Employers often find success with candidates that have experience working in a related job such as a File Clerk or Legal Secretary.

Paralegal education and training requirements

A Paralegal will generally have an associate’s degree at minimum. However, some positions may require a bachelor’s degree in paralegal or legal studies, as these programs involve information and training that prospective candidates won’t get otherwise. Additionally, a Paralegal can get officially certified and licensed in Canada to increase their ability to operate independently, but a Paralegal will not have the same free rein as a licensed Attorney would. For the vast majority of paralegal positions, candidates don’t have to have any kind of official licence at all. Licensure is only really a requirement for paralegals operating independently. For positions in which a paralegal is helping an attorney at a firm, they aren’t typically required.

Paralegal salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for a Paralegal is $52,384 per year. However, the actual salary for any Paralegal position can vary based on a candidate’s experience, the location of the position, and the company in question.

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Paralegal job description FAQs

What's the difference between a Paralegal and a Legal Secretary?

While both Paralegals and Legal Secretaries work to help Lawyers, the nature of their roles are distinct. A Paralegal is an educated legal professional who can help with the details of a case in researching the law, conducting interviews, and writing and filing documents. Meanwhile, a Legal Secretary is responsible for clerical work that doesn’t require specific extensive legal knowledge. When a Paralegal interviews a client, for example, the interview is often scheduled by a Legal Secretary.

What are the day-to-day duties of a Paralegal?

A Paralegal has many responsibilities to take care of, but actual day-to-day duties can vary quite a bit. Depending on where they work, Paralegals may have days in which they work on just a single case, while other days may require them to alternate back and forth between multiple cases. What matters most is being able to prioritize and handle all the work promptly, regardless of how much there is to do. Put simply, the vast majority of Paralegal work involves preparing and maintaining documents, even if this work is sometimes broken up by other duties like interviews or research.

Are there different kinds of Paralegals?

Paralegals have varying responsibilities across different industries. For example, a Paralegal working at a private law firm will function a bit differently than a Paralegal who works for a corporation. In the latter’s case, they’ll only ever have one client (the corporation) and they’ll handle all the contract drafting and filing efforts in addition to researching regulations to avoid impropriety.

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