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Working As A Corporate Paralegal

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Stressful

  • $66,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Corporate Paralegal Do

Paralegals and legal assistants do a variety of tasks to support lawyers, including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents.

Duties

Paralegals and legal assistants typically do the following:

  • Investigate and gather the facts of a case
  • Conduct research on relevant laws, regulations, and legal articles
  • Organize and maintain documents in paper or electronic filing systems
  • Gather and arrange evidence and other legal documents for attorney review and case preparation
  • Write or summarize reports to help lawyers prepare for trials
  • Draft correspondence and legal documents, such as contracts and mortgages
  • Get affidavits and other formal statements that may be used as evidence in court
  • Help lawyers during trials by handling exhibits, taking notes, or reviewing trial transcripts
  • File exhibits, briefs, appeals and other legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
  • Call clients, witnesses, lawyers, and outside vendors to schedule interviews, meetings, and depositions

Paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers prepare for hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. 

Paralegals use technology and computer software for managing and organizing the increasing amount of documents and data collected during a case. Many paralegals use computer software to catalog documents, and to review documents for specific keywords or subjects. Because of these responsibilities, paralegals must be familiar with electronic database management and be current on the latest software used for electronic discovery. Electronic discovery refers to all electronic materials obtained by the parties during the litigation or investigation. These materials may be emails, data, documents, accounting databases, and websites.

Paralegals’ specific duties often vary depending on the area of law in which they work.

Corporate paralegals, for example, often help lawyers prepare employee contracts, shareholder agreements, stock-option plans, and companies’ annual financial reports. Corporate paralegals may monitor and review government regulations to ensure that the corporation is aware of new legal requirements.

Litigation paralegals maintain documents received from clients, conduct research for lawyers, retrieve and organize evidence for use at depositions and trials, and draft settlement agreements. Some litigation paralegals may also help coordinate the logistics of attending a trial, including reserving office space, transporting exhibits and documents to the courtroom, and setting up computers and other equipment.

Paralegals may also specialize in other legal areas, such as personal injury, criminal law, employee benefits, intellectual property, bankruptcy, immigration, family law, and real estate.

Specific job duties may also vary by the size of the law firm.

In small firms, paralegals’ duties tend to vary more. In addition to reviewing and organizing documents, paralegals may prepare written reports that help lawyers determine how to handle their cases. If lawyers decide to file lawsuits on behalf of clients, paralegals may help draft documents to be filed with the court.

In large organizations, paralegals may work on a particular phase of a case, rather than handling a case from beginning to end. For example, paralegals may only review legal material for internal use, maintain reference files, conduct research for lawyers, or collect and organize evidence for hearings. After gaining experience, a paralegal may become responsible for more complicated tasks.

Paralegals and legal assistants often work in teams with attorneys, fellow paralegals, and other legal support staff.

Unlike the work of other administrative and legal support staff employed in a law firm, the paralegal’s work is billed to the client.

Paralegals may have frequent interactions with clients and third-party vendors. In addition, experienced paralegals may assume supervisory responsibilities, such as overseeing team projects or delegating work to other paralegals.

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How To Become A Corporate Paralegal

Most paralegals and legal assistants have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree in another field and a certificate in paralegal studies.

Education

There are several paths a person can take to become a paralegal. Candidates can enroll in a community college paralegal program to earn an associate’s degree. However, many employers prefer, or even require, applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.

Because only a small number of schools offer bachelor’s and master's degrees in paralegal studies, applicants typically have a bachelor’s degree in another subject and earn a certificate in paralegal studies.

Associate’s and bachelor's degree programs in paralegal studies usually offer paralegal training courses in legal research, legal writing, and the legal applications of computers, along with courses in other academic subjects, such as corporate law and international law. Most certificate programs provide intensive paralegal training for people who already hold college degrees.

Employers sometimes hire college graduates with no legal experience or legal education and train them on the job. In these cases, the new employee may have experience in a technical field that is useful to law firms, such tax preparation, nursing, or criminal justice.

Other Experience

In many cases, employers prefer candidates who have at least 1 year of experience in a law firm or other office setting. In addition, a technical understanding of a specific legal specialty can be helpful. For example, a personal-injury law firm may desire a paralegal with a background in nursing or health administration.

Work experience in a law firm or other office setting is particularly important for people who do not have formal paralegal training.

Many paralegal training programs offer an internship, in which students gain practical experience by working for several months in a private law firm, the office of a public defender or attorney general, a corporate legal department, a legal aid organization, or a government agency. Internship experience helps students improve their technical skills and can enhance their employment prospects.

Certifications

Although not required, some employers may prefer to hire applicants who have completed a paralegal certification program. Many national and local paralegal organizations offer voluntary paralegal certifications to students able to pass an exam. Other organizations offer voluntary paralegal certifications for paralegals who meet certain experience and education criteria. For more information about paralegal certifications, see the More Info section.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Paralegals must be able to document and present their research and related information to their supervising attorney.

Computer skills. Paralegals need to be familiar with using computers for legal research and litigation support. They also use computer programs for organizing and maintaining important documents.

Interpersonal skills. Paralegals spend most of their time working with clients and other professionals and must be able to develop good relationships. They must make clients feel comfortable sharing personal information related to their cases.

Organizational skills. Paralegals may be responsible for many cases at one time. They must adapt quickly to changing deadlines.

Research skills. Paralegals need good research and investigative skills to conduct legal research.

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Corporate Paralegal Career Paths

Corporate Paralegal
Senior Paralegal Paralegal/Office Manager Office Manager
Administrative Director
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Paralegal Paralegal/Office Manager Owner
Board Of Directors Member
8 Yearsyrs
Contracts Administrator Office Manager General Manager
Managing Partner
9 Yearsyrs
Contracts Administrator Office Manager Controller
Finance Vice President
10 Yearsyrs
Contracts Administrator Contracts Manager Project Manager
Managing Director
11 Yearsyrs
Contracts Manager Project Manager Vice President
Vice President And Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Contracts Manager Project Manager Business Manager
Finance Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Paralegal Case Manager Owner
Assistant Vice President
7 Yearsyrs
Contractor-Paralegal Contract Attorney Partner
Senior Partner
9 Yearsyrs
Contractor-Paralegal Contract Attorney Attorney
Managing Member
8 Yearsyrs
Contractor-Paralegal Contract Attorney Compliance Specialist
Compliance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Contract Analyst Business Analyst Operations Manager
Manager, Assistant Vice President
7 Yearsyrs
Contract Analyst Business Analyst Program Manager
Portfolio Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Contract Analyst Manager Property Manager
Asset Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Contracts Specialist Team Leader Customer Service Manager
Collections Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Contracts Specialist Purchasing Manager President
Commissioner
5 Yearsyrs
Contracts Specialist Team Leader Chairperson
Trustee
6 Yearsyrs
Paralegal/Office Manager Owner Operations Director
Compliance Director
12 Yearsyrs
Immigration Paralegal Litigation Paralegal
Legal Specialist
5 Yearsyrs
Attorney Legal Counsel
Legal Department Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Corporate Paralegal Demographics

Gender

Female

71.7%

Male

19.4%

Unknown

8.9%
Ethnicity

White

60.4%

Hispanic or Latino

17.1%

Black or African American

11.6%

Asian

7.6%

Unknown

3.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

36.3%

French

20.1%

German

5.6%

Mandarin

5.0%

Portuguese

5.0%

Italian

4.5%

Russian

3.9%

Chinese

3.9%

Hindi

2.2%

Korean

2.2%

Arabic

2.2%

Urdu

1.7%

Catalan

1.1%

Cantonese

1.1%

Tagalog

1.1%

Czech

1.1%

Japanese

1.1%

Vietnamese

0.6%

Dutch

0.6%

Igbo

0.6%
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Corporate Paralegal Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

12.2%

Roosevelt University

8.7%

New York University

8.4%

Kaplan University

6.7%

University of California - Irvine

5.8%

Santa Clara University

5.2%

University of San Diego

4.9%

Saint John's University - New York

4.7%

American University

4.4%

Northeastern University

4.1%

University of California - Los Angeles

3.8%

Boston University

3.8%

University of Miami

3.8%

Villanova University

3.5%

Fairleigh Dickinson University

3.5%

Georgetown University

3.5%

Florida International University

3.5%

University of California - Berkeley

3.2%

DePaul University

3.2%

Suffolk University

3.2%
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Majors

Legal Support Services

34.8%

Business

13.5%

Law

12.2%

Political Science

6.5%

Legal Studies

5.6%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

4.2%

Criminal Justice

4.0%

English

3.0%

Finance

2.1%

Management

2.0%

History

1.6%

Liberal Arts

1.5%

Human Resources Management

1.4%

Sociology

1.3%

Psychology

1.3%

Economics

1.1%

Public Administration

1.1%

Marketing

1.1%

Communication

0.9%

Real Estate

0.9%
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Degrees

Bachelors

34.0%

Certificate

18.6%

Masters

15.1%

Other

12.3%

Doctorate

10.0%

Associate

9.0%

Diploma

0.9%

License

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$66,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$36,000
Min 10%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$123,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Sidley Austin
Highest Paying City
Minneapolis, MN
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
3.9 years
How much does a Corporate Paralegal make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Corporate Paralegal in the United States is $66,973 per year or $32 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $36,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $123,000.

Real Corporate Paralegal Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Corporate Paralegal WEX Inc. South Portland, ME Feb 01, 2014 $58,000 -
$68,000
Senior Corporate Paralegal Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP New York, NY Sep 29, 2013 $57,000
Corporate Paralegal Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP New York, NY Sep 28, 2010 $47,900
Corporate Paralegal Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP New York, NY Sep 28, 2010 $47,800
Paralegal-Corporate and Commercial Freudenberg-NOK General Partnership Plymouth, MI Oct 01, 2012 $46,000

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Top Skills for A Corporate Paralegal

  1. Legal Documents
  2. Ensure Compliance
  3. Due Diligence
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Create and administer document management systems for all Company legal documents and contracts.
  • Reviewed legal documentation (including credit agreements, covenant monitoring schedules and confidentiality agreements) to ensure compliance with deal-specific requirements.
  • Analyzed and constructed corporate due diligence compliance documentation for multiple international vendor firms.
  • Provided lawyers with assistance in the preparation for closing various corporate transaction, including mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings.
  • Assist with implementation and maintenance of legal entity governance tools and templates for corporate governance control and economic ownership analysis.

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