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A paralegal is
someone who does a broad range of legal work but is not a lawyer.
While that description is vague, so are the duties of a paralegal.
The majority of paralegals work in law offices, but many work for
government agencies, corporations or trade unions. All paralegals,
regardless of place of employment, have the education and training
to perform work requiring knowledge of the legal system and legal
A professional paralegal embarking on a career should obtain
certification from the Institute of Paralegals. Such a certificate
is highly valued by employers and will increase an applicant’s
chances of employment and rise in the legal field. When working
toward certification, it is best to concentrate on one area of
interest (litigation, corporate law, probate, etc.). As a
“specialist” in a given legal area, a professional paralegal will
stand out and be in greater demand.
A paralegal may be required to attend to administrative duties such
as telephone work and arranging for meetings. Typical job
requirements also include drafting and proofreading of legal
documents, writing letters and taking notes at court. Some
paralegals do extensive legal research, manage case files and
interview clients. With increased experience, a professional
paralegal takes on a more senior role and greater responsibilities.
Paralegals working for law firms usually specialize in a specific
practice area, such as crime, family law, probate, etc. Law firms
rarely hire a paralegal who has not taken the Legal Practice course
and has a minimum of six months of experience. Getting a job without
experience can be difficult, but generous salaries and interesting
work make the effort worthwhile.
Corporate in-house legal departments are more apt to hire a
paralegal without experience and do their own training. For a
paralegal, that path represents an excellent stepping stone toward a
Local and central government have many employment opportunities for
paralegals, although these agencies usually have different job
titles. They frequently hire inexperienced employees and arrange for
their training. Many offer good salaries and excellent work
With proper certification and training, paralegals face excellent
career choices with some of Britain’s most prestigious law firms.