By 2010, the number of paralegal jobs would rise by 33%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Indeed, as more and more people become aware of legal remedies, the number of clients seeking legal services is likewise increasing.
As a result, the responsibilities of a legal professional have grown wider in range, leading to the opening of more paralegal jobs.
What is the Nature of Paralegal Jobs?
A paralegal, otherwise known as a legal assistant, is responsible for many of the tasks that an attorney engaged in the practice of law would normally perform. However, while paralegals perform many of lawyerly tasks, only lawyers have the ultimate responsibility of legal work – that is, paralegal jobs do not include such tasks as setting legal fees, giving legal advice, and presenting cases in court.
One of the most important tasks that paralegal jobs involve is helping lawyers prepare for closings, hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. To do that, the paralegal engages heavily in research:
* Factual – involves conducting investigations, locating witnesses and interviewing them, and other pertinent facts of a particular case
* Legal – involves identifying appropriate laws, judicial decisions, legal articles, and other materials relevant to an assigned case
* Documentary – papers and other pertinent records that lawyers may use to advance their case in court
After analyzing and organizing all information gathered, the paralegal job is also expected to prepare a report of his findings to the lawyer, who will use this as basis in order to determine how the case should be handled.
In addition to research, paralegal jobs may also include work in preparing a lawsuit. For instance, a paralegal may help the lawyer prepare legal arguments, draft pleadings and motions to be filed with the court. He may also help obtain affidavits and provide general assistance to the attorney during trial.
Where to Find Paralegal Jobs
By its very nature, paralegal jobs are not restricted to working in law firms alone. In fact, paralegals can be found in all types of organizations from law firms to corporate legal departments, as well as various government agencies.
In these organizations, paralegal jobs could include work in different areas of the law, including litigation, personal injury, corporate law, criminal law, employee benefits, intellectual property, labor law, bankruptcy, immigration, family law, and real estate.
As the law becomes more and more complex, lawyers have begun to specialize their work in specific areas of the complex law. Similarly, paralegal jobs are also becoming more specialized. Moreover, within these specialties, the functions of the paralegal are broken down even further to address specific areas of paralegal work. For instance, a paralegal that specializes in labor law may concentrate all his work on employee benefits alone, which is a subspecialty of labor law.