There’s a way to work in the field of law without going to law school. Paralegals and legal assistants organize legal documents, gather information about cases and assist lawyers during trials and hearings. Their research and organizational skills help lawyers prepare for trial.
Their skills are needed in all areas of law, from personal injury to corporate law. Most work for law firms and some work for government agencies. The smaller the law office, the more varied a paralegal’s daily routine is likely to be. Employment in this job is expected to grow by 10% from 2019 to 2029.
- Conduct client interviews
- Locate and interview witnesses
- Do research and track down information
- Draft legal documents
- Get affidavits and other formal statements that may be used as evidence in court
- Summarize depositions and testimony
- Attend legal hearings
- File exhibits, briefs, appeals and other legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Organize and maintain documents in paper or electronic filing systems, often using specific legal software
There are several paths to becoming a paralegal. Students can earn an associate degree in paralegal studies from a community college, which takes about two years. Some employers require a bachelor’s degree, though that degree can be in another subject. In that scenario, a certificate in paralegal studies from a program approved by the American Bar Association is needed. Additional training may be needed for electronic database management.
- Have excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Have excellent computer skills
- Have good interpersonal skills
- Have excellent research skills
- Have the ability to work well in a team environment
- Are very organized
- Are good with time management