Career in Law | Blog

What Does A Paralegal Do

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:

  1. Filling
  2. Attending court hearings
  3. Proofreading
  4. Document management
  5. Legal research
  6. Attending meetings with clients
  7. Drafting Letters and case notes
  8. Administration work
  9. Notes taking
  10. Network with clients and other stakeholders

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:

  1. Organizational skills
  2. Interpersonal skills
  3. Time management skills 
  4. Excellent communication skills
  5. Attention to detail skills

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:

  1. Barrister Chambers
  2. Banks & Financial Institutions
  3. Government Departments
  4. Insurance Companies
  5. Large Corporate Companies

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.

We hope you find this article useful and as ever feel free to comment or share the article with friends and colleagues.


Joe Simmons

Legal recruiter and blogger @purelegaljobs

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