Paralegal

Support Lawyers by doing research and paperwork on their cases.

Quick Stats


Outlook
Very Good

Salary Range
$29,000 – $75,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Paralegals do?

A Paralegal isn’t a Lawyer. It’s close, though. That’s because Paralegals do many of the same tasks that Lawyers do, although they do them without the credentials — or the massive student loan debt — of a licensed Attorney.

A Paralegal to a Lawyer is like a boat to a Captain. Although the Captain’s steering the ship, it’s the boat that’s keeping things afloat.

Indeed, when you’re a Paralegal, or Legal Assistant, you keep your law firm’s head above water. Not with sails, but with skills — including research skills, administrative skills, organizational skills and communication skills. Think of a law firm like a pyramid: The Lawyers are at the top, and you’re the base that’s keeping them there.

In that sense, your job is quite literally a support function. Whether you work for a law firm, a corporation or the government, you’ll spend your days buttressing Attorneys with several tasks. You’ll conduct interviews with clients, for instance, and correspond with them about their cases; you’ll prepare and draft legal documents, including pleadings, motions, contracts and agreements; and you’ll help Lawyers prepare for closings, hearings, trials and meetings by researching laws, articles and court records relevant to their cases. You might even analyze your research and use it to help Lawyers prepare their legal arguments.

The only things you won’t do — because the law prohibits them — are set legal fees, offer legal advice and present cases in court. You might not be Perry Mason, therefore, but you’ll have a front row seat to his show.


Should I be a Paralegal?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Independent: You enjoy flying solo and doing things your own way.

  • Also known as: Assistant Paralegal, Certified Legal Assistant, Certified Paralegal, Child Support Specialist, Contract Preparer See More

    How to become a Paralegal

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