Paralegal Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Paralegal, or Corporate Paralegal, assists lawyers in preparing and organizing various legal documents for upcoming cases and trials. Their main duties include preparing affidavits and correspondence, discussing case details with attorneys and clients and organizing different files for different legal proceedings.

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Paralegal duties and responsibilities

Outline the role and duties of the Paralegal position in your organization. Provide a clear list of your expectations in terms of what a successful candidate will be required to do. Specify who the position reports to and whether there are any special functions associated with the job. Examples of Paralegal duties and responsibilities include:

  • Summarizing cases and preparing reports for attorneys
  • Conducting research, investigating facts and developing legal arguments
  • Drafting legal documents such as contracts, depositions and pleadings
  • Preparing and filing documents with courts
  • Organizing and archiving the documents related to completed and ongoing cases
  • Keeping track of changes in legal framework and providing timely updates on these changes
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Paralegal Job Description Examples

What does a Paralegal do?

Paralegals support Attorneys in law firms by gathering, organizing and preparing various documents and files for court cases. They may also regularly meet with attorneys, clients or other legal professionals to gather helpful details about upcoming court cases. Paralegals will prepare other legal documents, like wills, contracts, briefs, appeals and pleadings. 

They’ll perform investigations to fact-check information for different cases by searching through public records and other resources provided by clients. Paralegals are also in charge of coordinating deliveries of subpoenas and other important legal documents. During the hearings, they’ll call on witnesses to testify.

Paralegal skills and qualifications

This section should contain the skills and qualifications you envision in a successful candidate. Mention the education and training requirements for your position. Include any specific skills and certifications you are looking for. You may also include personality and attitudinal traits required to excel in the job.

Examples of Paralegal skills and qualifications:

  • Certification or associate’s degree in paralegal studies (bachelor’s degree is preferred)
  • A minimum experience of two years in a paralegal role
  • Investigative mind and strong research skills
  • Working knowledge legal database software
  • Experience in preparing legal reports
  • Excellent communication and time management skills

Paralegal salary expectations

A Paralegal makes an average of $50,550 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Paralegal education and training requirements

Most organizations or law firms require Paralegal candidates to have at least a certification or an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. You may also hire candidates with a bachelor’s degree in any field, but an industry-recognized paralegal certificate is desirable. Most of the Paralegal professionals get their training on the job rather than in a classroom setting. You may consider giving additional training to selected candidates in the specific duties your company’s position entails. Some states may require Paralegals to obtain a license or register with the designated authority.

Paralegal experience requirements

Paralegals must have excellent understanding of legal procedures and terminology. They should have good communication skills and be well-versed in documentation and reporting. Except for entry-level positions, you may want the successful Paralegal candidate to have a minimum of two to three years of experience. Since a Paralegal’s area of operation is quite broad and can consist of many different areas, you should look for a candidate with some experience related to your specific industry. Additionally, experience in office administration is highly helpful for Paralegal positions.

Job description samples for similar positions

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Frequently asked questions about Paralegals

 

Who does a Paralegal report to?

Paralegals typically report to Attorneys and Lawyers within a law office. Some Paralegals work in smaller, private firm with just one Attorney on staff. They’ll typically work side-by-side with this Attorney and will complete smaller tasks associated with court cases and other legal duties. This gives Attorneys more time and energy to focus on more big-picture legal items. 

Other Paralegals work in larger law firms with several Attorneys on the team. Paralegals assist several Attorneys at a time, so they may be expected to have effective multitasking skills to properly organize and handle tasks for different Attorneys.

 

What's the difference between a Paralegal and a Legal Assistant?

Though they both share many job duties and some people use their titles interchangeably, there are a few key differences between Paralegals and Legal Assistants when it comes to their education and skill levels. Many Paralegals are required to obtain a two or four-year degree, while most Legal Assistants don’t have to earn an additional degree after high school. This typically means Paralegals have more legal knowledge to handle high-level tasks, while most Legal Assistants stick to more basic administrative duties. 

Paralegals can use their extensive knowledge and skill set to complete responsibilities like researching facts for trials, interviewing witnesses or other Lawyers or writing statements or arguments for Attorneys to recite in the courtroom. Legal Assistants primarily perform more administrative tasks like filing and organizing documents, scheduling client meetings and billing clients. 

 

What are the different types of Paralegals?

There are many different Paralegals who work in a wide variety of environments. Corporate Paralegals assist Attorneys in preparing legal business documents like shareholder agreements, stock option plans, financial reports and employee contracts. Litigation Paralegals gather and organize client documents and perform research for various trials. They’ll also draft settlement agreements and send documents to the courtroom before an upcoming trial.

Some Paralegals may also specialize in a certain type of law, like company in-house counsel, family law, personal injury and real estate law. If they work in a specialized field, they’re expected to have advanced knowledge of it to complete more high-level tasks. 

 

What makes a good Paralegal?

A great Paralegal must be organized to regularly sort, manage and file various client documents. They should also have impressive computer skills as they regularly use different applications to organize information and input data. Excellent verbal and written communication abilities are needed as well to effectively interact with clients and attorneys. They’ll also need these written skills to draft and proofread legal documents. 

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