Paralegals and Legal Assistants

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Also known as:  Assistant Paralegal, Legal Aide, Legal Assistant, Paralegal, Summer Associate, Summer Law Clerk

ABOUT PARALEGAL OR LEGAL ASSISTANT CAREERS

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT Expand
Paralegals, or legal assistants, first appeared in the late 1960's. Since that time, they have taken on much of the routine work lawyers once did themselves. Paralegals do almost everything that attorneys do except appear in court, set legal fees, or give legal advice. Many spend their time using la ...
w libraries or inline computer systems to find the information a lawyer needs in order to prepare for trial. Paralegals may also draw up contracts, affidavits, and other documents.

After researching the facts and analyzing the law, they may write reports to help an attorney determine how to proceed in a given matter. Formal training is not always required as some employers provide on-the-job training; however, a variety of paralegal programs are widely available. Individuals who pass the National Association of Legal Assistants Certifying Board Exam earn the title, "certified legal assistant," and may use the initials CLA after their names.

Working as a paralegal is an excellent way to prepare for a career a lawyer, but many find it to be a rewarding profession in and of itself. In an increasingly competitive market, paralegals help law firms offer clients excellent legal services at a lower cost. That makes a good paralegal an invaluable part of a firm's legal team.
SNAPSHOT Expand
Assist lawyers by investigating facts, preparing legal documents, or researching legal precedent. Conduct research to support a legal proceeding, to formulate a defense, or to initiate legal action.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
LOW
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
MED
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
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DAILY TASKS Expand
File pleadings with court clerk.
Prepare for trial by performing tasks such as organizing exhibits.
Gather and analyze research data, such as statutes, decisions, and legal articles, codes, and documents.
Prepare legal documents, including briefs, pleadings, appeals, wills, contracts, and real estate closing statements.
Meet with clients and other professionals to discuss details of case.
Prepare affidavits or other documents, such as legal correspondence, and organize and maintain documents in paper or electronic filing system.
MAIN ACTIVITIES Expand
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
Communicating with Persons Outside Organization Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE Expand
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Law and Government Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Clerical Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Communications and Media Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
KEY ABILITIES Expand
Written Comprehension The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Expression The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Expression The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Speech Clarity The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Near Vision The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Speech Recognition The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
Information Ordering The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
TOP SKILLS Expand
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Time Management Managing one's own time and the time of others.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Service Orientation Actively looking for ways to help people.
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