Increased demand from corporate clients for law firms to deliver affordable legal services has resulted in more paralegal vacancies being made available and paralegals now play an integral part within a legal team not least because some of their work is comparable to trainee solicitors work. Also, the shortage of available training contracts versus the number of aspiring solicitors means a considerable number of graduates now end up in these jobs after their studies. But what does a paralegal do? what are their duties? What skills are required?
1. The role of a paralegal
A paralegal is part of the law support team which supports junior and senior lawyers on a variety of matters including fee earning and non-earning. The National Association of Licensed Paralegals is advocating the profession to be recognized as a key part of the legal profession. Paralegals have been categorized by the law society as a fee earner.
2. Paralegal work
Depending on the level of experience and seniority paralegal work can vary considerably. For example, an entry-level paralegal would probably carry out more admin work but a senior paralegal could be drafting legal documents, therefore, fee earning. Broadly speaking the work will involve the following:
3. Areas of practice
The specialization may not be limited to a specific area or defined category. Indeed it's not uncommon to see a paralegal assisting across various departments in a law firm. As a result of new regulations paralegals also expand their specialization in other new areas and a prime example of that would be the recent GDPR enactment.
4. What it takes to become a paralegal
While there are no specific or official skills a paralegal must have, there are, however, a number of core skills that law firms would typically expect from prospective paralegals. These skills include but not limited to the following:
5. Jobs options for paralegals
Law firms are naturally the biggest employers of paralegals. However, you are not limited to law firms only and indeed there a number of other options available to you, which include:
6. Can You Become A Solicitor From Paralegal?
Any paralegal can effectively become a solicitor so long as you have completed your degree, LPC and you have obtained a training contract. In fact, is estimated that 60% of young lawyers undertake some form of paralegal work immediately after their studies, so, therefore, is not an uncommon route to become a lawyer. Some smaller regional firms even prioritize its internal paralegals over external candidates when recruiting for trainees. For top tips how to progress from to a trainee solicitor make sure you read the article on how to convert a paralegal job into a training contract.
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Legal recruiter and blogger @purelegaljobs