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So You Want to be a Paralegal?

July 30th, 2010

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Paralegal career information is constantly changing within the legal world.  Paralegals are now considered as having anywhere from secretary status to near-lawyer status, depending on the law firm and lawyers who work with them.  As a result, the qualifications for paralegals vary according to the city, type of law practiced, and lawyers who hire paralegals.  However, the most vital qualifications for most employers are a college degree, or equivalent work experience; additionally, knowledge of a foreign language is helpful for many lawyers who work in immigration law or international law.  There is no need for lawyers to learn a second language if they can simply count on paralegals to relay information to them!

Paralegals typically handle much of the grunt work that lawyers are too busy to sift through or work which does not need a “JD” to complete.  As a result, once again depending on what type of lawyer you work with, you can have mountains of work a day or simply a manageable stream of work.  Entering the paralegal world typically requires some understanding of the basics of law, maybe a background in criminal justice or past experience working with a lawyer.  While many assume that ‘paralegal’ is just a fancy word for legal secretary, the underlying truth is that paralegals are responsible for the bulk of work for most law firms.  The ability to easily sift through important court documents, lawyer schedules, and revise important documents are only a small part of the life of a paralegal.  They have to be ready to go to court on a moment’s notice and to ensure that each lawyer has the necessary paperwork for their cases.

Other paralegals must be highly trained in legal memorandums and can easily handle the stress of an impending deadline along with increasing volumes of work that seem to pour in endlessly.  Despite the possible stress that a paralegal career entails, many people have found the fast-paced atmosphere to be soothing and well worth it.  Not every person can begin a career as a paralegal, but it offers quite an insight into the legal world and can leave you with plenty of resources should you choose to continue a career in law.  Paralegals are truly the brick and mortar that hold much of the legal world together and while some lawyers take advantage of their paralegals, most recognize the important role they serve in the criminal justice system. 


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