What It Takes To Be A Paralegal or Legal Assistant

 

3Thinking about a career being a paralegal? This is one fast growing career field and you can be able to get into this field with a few years of schooling and specialized training. After training you will be able to work in a law firm where you will be doing research, interviewing witnesses, and doing summaries for the courts among other duties. It is a career that you will love. The job outlook for paralegals is growing faster than most jobs.

Training Needed

Many colleges will have classes for paralegal studies. You will learn how to conduct legal research, learn legal software and learn legal terms. You can become a paralegal with an associate degree, or you can go further in school and get a bachelor’s degree.

Job Duties

Paralegals or legal assistants will do a variety of duties they are supporting the lawyers and they will do legal research, draft documents, organize files, interview witnesses. They may have to work overtime sometimes when there is a looming deadline that has to be met.

Skills Needed

Customer service skills are needed as they will come into contact with many clients throughout their shifts. They will have to be able to multi-task as they may be working on several different cases at one time and will have to be able to stay organized and be able to file information. They have to be able to research, and have good communication skills to communicate with the clients and the other staff members.

A Paralegal’s Life

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A paralegal is a lawyer’s legal assistant in the law firm. They’re kind of like secretaries, but secretaries get treated so much better than paralegals. I spent 3 years as a paralegal to pay for law school and it was not something that I wanted but I needed to do. Most of my time was spent on reading and researching. Lawyers back then were so busy or lazy to pick up a book so paralegals had to read on briefs and previous cases and write summaries for them. Sometimes, we end up reading tons of books in one day just for one case.

If we’re not researching, we’re typing our findings with a typewriter. No computers back then because they were more of a luxury. Try to let that sink in for a moment. The perks of being a paralegal is that it allows you to hone on your legal skills while under the supervision of the best attorneys in your area. When you’re given the chance to be a paralegal, do not say NO. Some of my colleagues who were offered the job back then regretted not taking them. to this day, the skills that I acquired from being a paralegal came in handy with the way I handle my cases.

What is a Paralegal?

A paralegal is somewhat of an Attorney’s aide. Actually, he may or may not be an attorney at all because due to the very competitive job market in the country, it’s kind of difficult to be hired as an associate so some lawyers start out as paralegals before working their way to the top. I know this because I started out as a paralegal in my old firm and being a paralegal is not an easy job. It’s not even a walk in the park. It’s like walking in hot and burning charcoal with Lego blocks on top of it.

A paralegal does all of the lawyer’s dirty work like researching, creating drafts and briefs, and doing more research. Sometimes, they are even asked to do other things like get coffee, run around from law firm to firm, and even do the laundry. When I was a paralegal, I was so close to get asked to wash the senior partner’s car. But a paralegal is not some measly assistant. They have their own duties and responsibilities, majority of which are centred on assisting lawyers do their work. In the end, they get to experience what it’s like to be an associate and it helps them learn the ropes in the office. Some of the best lawyers I know started out as paralegals and there are even judges that started out as paralegals.