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So You Want To Be A Paralegal?

Joshua Hurtado has been driving for Uber Eats since August 2018. Joshua has also graduated with an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studie

What Is a Paralegal?

To start, let's talk about what a paralegal is and what they do on a day to day basis.

A paralegal is someone who assists an attorney concerning the legal aspects of their practice. Think of a paralegal as an assistant to the attorney. They will basically assist the attorney with anything they may need. Paralegals are an essential addition to any lawfirm and a good one can prove to be indespinsible to their attorney(s).

What Kind Of Work Does A Paralegal Do?

As we discussed above the paralegal is basically an assistant to the attorney. They will all handle different things depending on the field of law the attorney is practicing. For instance, if you go to work for an attorney who specializes in criminal defense you will likely spend a good amount of your time drafting subpoenas, submitting requests for experts, calling clients on a very regular basis to reminding them of their court dates (particularly if the attorney is a public defender), as well as sorting through and reviewing video footage, as well as drafting pleadings. But if you are working int he field of unlawful detainers you will likely spend the majority of your time drafting pleadings from beginning to end, scheduling hearings with the court, obtaining bonds from the local Sherrif so that they can break and enter the property as necessary to remove the evicted persons from the premises, as well as drafting and filing all of the necessary paperwork for rent lien sales.

All of this will of course be done under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney who will have to review and signoff on your work before it can be sent out.

Paralegals Are Not Attorneys

Perhaps the most important thing to remember as a paralegal is that you are not an attorney. Attorney's are licensed through the state bar to practice law and they have to be licensed in each state they practice in. It is very important to remember that as a paralegal, even if you have certification and licenses unless you are licensed as an attorney you are not allowed to provide legal advice to anyone. Yes, this also means friends and family.

There are considerable consequences for anyone who is found guilty of the unauthorized practice of law including jail time. Do not give into any pressure to provide legal advice to anyone!

The Job Is Different Than Expected

I was taken by surprise once I got my first paralegal job with a law firm in my area. In school, I learned about the law, which is great and can definitely assist you in your professional career. However, this does not really prepare you to do the work that a paralegal does.

I was taught about what torts are, as well as how to apply the law concerning torts, contracts, criminal law, immigration, and more. Then I get my first job and discovered that my schooling to receive my degree in paralegal studies did not do much at all in terms of preparing me to work in the field.

The actual work of a paralegal revolves around drafting and preparing documents and when I was in school we did a lot of legal research (which I enjoyed) which consisted of the majority of our assignments. This is all well and good but, in the real world, this would generally be done by the attorney (there are of course some expectations), and the paralegal would focus more on drafting and preparing documents, managing calendars, taking phone calls, doing client intake, etc...

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my schooling. But, if we focused more on the document preparation aspect than we did the legal research I would have been better prepared for the real world.

All in all, I find the job rewarding on a personal level. I enjoy the actual work as I feel that I was actually making a difference in someone's life. And if you are a detail-oriented person who is good at multitasking and performs well under stress/pressure you may find this to be a very rewarding job. This article is not meant to discourage anyone from pursuing this as a career, but to shed more light on the reality of the job.

Comments

Joshua Hurtado (author) from Washington State on December 05, 2020:

Thank you, Umesh.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on November 30, 2020:

Nice article. Well explained.