According to the American Association for Paralegal Education, a paralegal “…performs substantive and procedural legal work as authorized by law, which work, in the absence of the paralegal, would be performed by an attorney. Paralegals have knowledge of the law gained through education, or education and work experience, which qualifies them to perform legal work. Paralegals adhere to recognized ethical standards and rules of professional responsibility.”
Textbook definition aside, the work of a paralegal is filled with new challenges and tasks, and every day brings something different in a career like this.
If you’re considering studying to become a paralegal, then you may be wondering what sort of work you’ll be expected to complete over the course of your studies. Let’s take a look at some of the most common tasks that are typically performed by paralegals.
Creating Summaries of Client Interviews and Testimony
Typically, the attorney conducts the initial client interview, but they are often called upon to take notes and observe subsequent interviews and depositions with witnesses and clients. Once these interviews are complete, the paralegal is often tasked with creating a summary of the testimony of the deposition, which the attorney will rely upon for information during legal proceedings.
Performing the Necessary Legal Research
Once the relevant information about the case has been gathered, it often falls upon the paralegal to perform the legal research. Paralegals identify applicable laws, research precedents set by past cases, and gather relevant legal articles, among other things.
This information is then summarized for the attorney’s benefit. Particularly astute paralegals are highly prized by attorneys, as their diligence and analytical skills can help tip the scales in the direction of a successful outcome in court or before a judge.
Case Management and Filing Briefings
Legal proceedings adhere to a strict schedule, and paralegals are often responsible for making sure all the appropriate steps are taken in a timely manner. These steps may include filing legal briefings ahead of deadline, scheduling depositions, drafting pleadings and discoveries, and documenting responses well before the required submission dates.
Trial Assistance in the Courtroom
Paralegals may also assist attorneys in the courtroom by keeping relevant documents and deposition summaries organized and close at hand, allowing the attorney to concentrate on the important work of winning the case and convincing the jury.
A Day in the Life of a Paralegal
As you can see, paralegals handle a wide array of duties. The specifics vary by employer, and it goes without saying that different law firms delegate paralegal work differently. For example, smaller firms may require paralegals to perform a variety of functions, such as legal secretary tasks, whereas larger law offices might require a more specialized set of duties from their paralegal staff.
Regardless of these minor differences, it’s clear that the career of a paralegal can be challenging, rewarding, and exciting. If you’re ready to begin pursuing a career as a paralegal, take a look at our Paralegal Studies program and get in contact with MTI College today. Our admissions counselors are standing by to help you get started.