Career Paths in Paralegal Studies
Paralegals work in a variety of legal settings such as a law office, courthouse, administrative agency, corporate in-house counsel office, or insurance company. In these organizations, they can work in many 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.
Regardless of where you are employed, you need to be able to gather and analyze facts relevant to legal disputes, perform legal research, draft legal documents, and prepare witnesses and evidence for presentation at legal proceedings. An effective paralegal must have a firm grasp of both substantive and procedural law, excellent communication skills, and the ability to think analytically and logically.
Because employers are trying to reduce costs and increase the availability and efficiency of legal services by hiring paralegals to perform tasks formerly carried out by lawyers, the job outlook for paralegals is very good. Employment for paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow much faster than average for all occupations through 2014.
Our paralegal studies post-bachelor’s certificate is also a great way to prepare for graduate or law school.
In some cases, paralegals may act as specialists. These individuals possess specialized industry experience in a related field, with the ability to assist lawyers in complex matters and exercise significant independent judgment and discretion. Specialists typically possess strong writing skills and the ability to conduct fact gathering and analyze information.
Corporate paralegals often help lawyers prepare employee contracts, shareholder agreements, stock-option plans, and companies’ annual financial reports. Corporate paralegals may monitor and review government regulations to ensure that the corporation is aware of new legal requirements. Additionally, corporate paralegals may also assist with SEC filings, prepare/conduct UCC filings/searches, and work with the Internal Revenue Service.
Litigation paralegals maintain documents received from clients, conduct research for lawyers, and retrieve and organize evidence for use at depositions and trials. Depending on the law firm, litigation paralegals also participate in discovery process, trial, investigation, international arbitrations, and white-collar criminal defense matters.
Transactional paralegals regularly participate in large deals, transactions and active matters in a variety of areas in the corporations and law offices. Depending on the setting, transactional paralegals may assist with corporate/financial restructuring, financial transactions, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, real estate, securities, tax and employee benefits, or intellectual property.
Handle complex work at a high level of competence, requiring the exercise of significant independent judgment and discretion. Senior paralegals will often have experience in both delegating work to those in lower tiers and managing others’ work product.