A Day in the Life of a Paralegal
If you're wondering 'why should I become a paralegal?' or 'what do paralegals do?' then let's talk about the job functions, salary and career potential that's in store for those who become qualified. While there isn't a set education path for those who work as paralegals, the job for this occupation is fairly consistent in most types of law offices.
In general, your day will be busy and your to-do list will be long. This can be true whether you work with a small group of attorneys, or in a large corporate setting. During the day, you will probably research legal precedents that are relevant to the cases your office is pursuing. When forming every legal argument, attorneys will always look for precedents they can use to strengthen their case before the courts. This is where good paralegals come in. Since attorneys generally do not have the time to perform this research, it will be up to you.
Writing documents and reports will be another large part of being a paralegal. Your work in this area is critical, since lawyers will use your findings and opinions to form their own opinions about the cases you are working on. Paralegals are truly a critical part of every law team. This is not just an administrative role that doesn't carry any professional leverage in the organization. When you work as a paralegal, you will need to get in the mindset that you are in many ways as important as the lawyers you serve.
Learning to manage the lawyers you work for will also be in your best interests, if you want to stay sane. This means that you will have to work to set boundaries for communication, while making sure you can remain nimble in your role and shift when the unexpected occurs. But, be sure you stay on task as much as possible. It will help your office remain focused if you don't get scattered in your role, which can be a challenge in the nature of the law business.
Administrative duties will be a natural part of the paralegal role, but this is part of most office jobs. As part of your document preparation, you may have to file and record your findings into a particular system, or perform other data entry tasks. Paralegals the work for government agencies report the most data entry type work, but these types of duties are just part of having effective and efficient forms of storage and communication for complicated legal matters that usually involve a large number of heavily worded documents. Helping stay organized should be part of everyone's job description in a law office.
Fortunately, paralegal careers are pacing as fast as the national average for this occupation. However, you should note that this 'day in a life' can extend into a 'night in a life' of a paralegal – as many report working more than 40 hours per week, sometimes up to 80. Yes, you read that right. But… if you have a passion for working in law and want to become a lawyer, this is an excellent way to start. You'll want to check out the American Bar Association website to learn more about becoming a lawyer. And be sure to check out the NALA website, which is the leading national association for paralegals. They have resources that can help you better understand what to expect in a day-to-day paralegal role.
If you are looking for Paralegal programs, you can search for schools here.