“Paralegal” is a term that can be applied to many kinds of jobs, and while one could venture a guess at what sorts of things a paralegal might do, many people don’t realize the variety of jobs that are available to someone with a paralegal certification. A paralegal is a legal assistant: someone who is trained in law, but without a legal degree. Typically, paralegals can assist lawyers with much of the required work, whether it is contacting clients, handling legal research, or preparing cases. Paralegals are not certified to dispense legal advice, represent clients in court, or any other tasks which only lawyers are authorized to do. But for every type of legal work that is done, from easy paperwork filing to complex court cases, you’ll probably find a paralegal or two handling much of the work! And with so much variety, let’s take a look at the different types of paralegal jobs available.
Most paralegals work in law offices, and handle a specialized area of law. Disability, insurance, estate planning, divorce, and real estate are only a handful of the many areas of law, and while a lawyer may specialize in several types of law at once, a paralegal typically works in only one area. The type of law a paralegal specializes in might have a big effect on the nature of the work. Divorce paralegals may spend lots of time speaking with clients about the settlement, while a patent paralegal might do more research and paperwork.
Corporate Counsel Paralegals
Often, large companies or workplaces have their own legal counsel, often called “in-house counsel,” and these departments may have one or more paralegals on staff. The work of the paralegal, rather than being specific to one area of law, may vary depending on the company and its legal needs. An in-house paralegal job may be a good choice for someone who doesn’t want to be stuck in only one area of law, as well as someone who wants an environment different from the typical law office.
Other Paralegal Opportunities
There are a surprising number of jobs available to someone with a paralegal certification that aren’t actually paralegal jobs at all! Because a paralegal shows competency in many technical and organizational areas, as well as a firm grasp on law, it can often open doors to a variety of jobs. Court clerk, billing assistant, jury consultant, court or municipal clerk are all jobs for which a legal assistant may be qualified. If you’re on the way to becoming certified as a paralegal, but you aren’t sure that a law firm job is right for you, keep an eye on other career opportunities in the world of law. You may find that your dream job is just around the corner, and you’re already qualified!