What is a Paralegal?

A popular career path for those interested in law, being a paralegal offers recent grads the opportunity to learn about all aspects of the legal profession including legal precedents and case management. If you’re considering becoming a paralegal, you might be wondering what this career path entails and whether it could be the right choice for you.

Here are some of the key things you need to know about being a paralegal.

What is a paralegal?

A paralegal is a professional employed by a law firm, corporation or government agency to work with lawyers on various legal issues. Trained to understand legal principles and to take on some of the same tasks as lawyers, paralegals are an integral part of most legal teams and are often directly responsible for helping attorneys research and manage cases.

What does a paralegal do?

Paralegals are able to coordinate most aspects of a legal department’s operations including drafting correspondence, performing legal research, analyzing documents, fact checking case information and keeping track of the firm’s legal calendar. They also provide general support for attorneys and help out with administrative tasks.

What are the challenges of being a paralegal?

Since paralegals are responsible for much of the work that goes on behind the scenes, one of the main challenges of their job is to be able to multitask effectively and to prioritize which tasks need to be done first. Another challenge of this role is that in big firms, paralegals often report to several attorneys at once so being able to keep track of their workflow (and the workflow of their managers) is extremely important.

What are the benefits of being a paralegal?

While being a paralegal certainly has some challenges, it also has a lot of benefits. These include learning about various types of case law, participating in potentially exciting cases and getting to meet interesting people within the legal field and beyond. Another great perk is that paralegals are often eligible for law school scholarships so if they decide to become lawyers themselves, they can receive some help in getting there.

What is a typical salary for a paralegal?

Although paralegal salaries can vary based on location and experience, a typical entry-level paralegal salary is around $42,500 with more established paralegals earning upwards of $68,000.

A stable career path with a lot of opportunity for growth and learning, being a paralegal is a great option for those who are passionate about the legal field. The best way to find out if being a paralegal is right for you is by doing an internship and getting a hands-on feel for the role.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as The Importance of Location in Your Entry-Level Job Search and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?