Paralegals are law firm or legal department employees who work on cases with lawyers. They handle different activities, usually administrative or clerical, such as organizing and maintaining files, updating records, and managing correspondences, among others. Paralegals also handle different activities directly related to active cases being worked on by lawyers in the firm or department. They assist lawyers on cases by preparing materials needed for trials, conducting legal research, verifying trial facts, helping during interviews, getting statements from those involved in the case, and creating presentation materials. Paralegals should have knowledge of laws and should be familiar with landmark cases.

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Paralegal Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real paralegal resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Manage client expenses and prepare billing and financial statements using PClaw and reconcile attorney's escrow and general accounts using QuickBooks.
  • Manage discovery process of lawsuits by preparing pleadings and subpoenas for records and answering requests for production and interrogatories.
  • Manage large volume of documents, enabling attorneys to easily identify key documents that are critical for mediation and arbitration.
  • Prepare H-1B petition with supporting evidence and supplementary forms for attorney review and filing with USCIS.
  • Conduct legal research on Lexis and factual inquiries regarding pending litigation.
  • Review Lexis Nexis for any and all relevant documents regarding hormone replacement litigation.
  • Provide legal support for mediation and family settlement conferences to resolve issues without the necessity of litigation.
  • Prepare final drafts of pleadings and assist home equity foreclosure and bankruptcy attorneys in determining litigation and settlement strategies.
  • Provide outstanding support with litigation file preparation for a specialize law firm focusing on residential foreclosures by delivering essential paralegal duties.
  • Assist in-house and outside counsel in coordination of mediation or arbitration proceedings, including preparation and production of documentation and evidence.
  • File documents electronically using the CM/ECF filing system.
  • Handle single-touch specialty cases in addition to standard H-1B petitions and filings.
  • Draft, redact & proofread correspondences, motions, briefs, & misc.
  • Conduct legal and asset search using county civil docket, property search and pacer.
  • Confer with experts on cases and work closely with an in-house consultant/expert on malpractice cases.

Paralegal Job Description

When it comes to understanding what a paralegal does, you may be wondering, "should I become a paralegal?" The data included in this section may help you decide. Compared to other jobs, paralegals have a growth rate described as "much faster than average" at 12% between the years 2018 - 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the number of paralegal opportunities that are predicted to open up by 2028 is 39,000.

On average, the paralegal annual salary is $49,943 per year, which translates to $24.01 an hour. Generally speaking, paralegals earn anywhere from $35,000 to $70,000 a year, which means that the top-earning paralegals make $31,000 more than the ones at the lower end of the spectrum.

Once you've become a paralegal, you may be curious about what other opportunities are out there. Careers aren't one size fits all. For that reason, we discovered some other jobs that you may find appealing. Some jobs you might find interesting include a litigation assistant, summer associate, law internship, and executive legal assistant.

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12 Paralegal Resume Examples

Paralegal Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 15% of Paralegals are proficient in Litigation, Legal Research, and Law Firm. They’re also known for soft skills such as Communication skills, Computer skills, and Interpersonal skills.

We break down the percentage of Paralegals that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Litigation, 15%

    Position: Litigation Paralegal/Paralegal Coordinator.

  • Legal Research, 12%

    Performed legal research and prepared correspondence to congressional offices and consulates abroad related to the preparation of immigration interviews.

  • Law Firm, 9%

    Provide paralegal support to law firm concentrating in plaintiff representation for personal injury, premises liability, and wrongful death litigation.

  • Discovery Responses, 9%

    Interpreted legal documents; summarized discovery responses; reviewed, indexed, and summarized pleadings and correspondence produced by opposing parties.

  • Subpoenas, 5%

    Drafted subpoenas, organized discovery material, coordinated all discovery sessions with defense attorneys, and inventoried all case documents.

  • Trial Preparation, 5%

    Managed approximately 20 trial groups for local Westinghouse asbestos defense counsel - Assisted with trial preparation for national asbestos defense counsel

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Most paralegals list "litigation," "legal research," and "law firm" as skills on their resumes. We go into more details on the most important paralegal responsibilities here:

  • The most important skills for a paralegal to have in this position are communication skills. In this excerpt that we gathered from a paralegal resume, you'll understand why: "paralegals must be able to document and present their research and related information to their supervising attorney." According to resumes we found, communication skills can be used by a paralegal in order to "coordinate multi-faceted office functions, such as scheduling appointments, court meetings, and client communications. "
  • While it may not be the most important skill, we found that many paralegal duties rely on computer skills. This example from a paralegal explains why: "paralegals need to be familiar with using computers for legal research and litigation support." This resume example is just one of many ways paralegals are able to utilize computer skills: "managed intake of new and transferred arbitration matters entering matters into prolaw computer system. "
  • Paralegals are also known for interpersonal skills, which can be critical when it comes to performing their duties. An example of why this skill is important is shown by this snippet that we found in a paralegal resume: "paralegals spend most of their time working with clients and other professionals and must be able to develop good relationships" We also found this resume example that details how this skill is put to the test: "secured interpersonal relationships with other firms/counsels to guarantee documents are executed prior to confirmed foreclosure sale dates. "
  • A paralegal responsibilities sometimes require "organizational skills." The responsibilities that rely on this skills are shown by this resume excerpt: "paralegals may be responsible for many cases at one time" This resume example shows how this skill is used by paralegals: "court filings and other organizational tasks. "
  • As part of the paralegal description, you might find that one of the skills that might be helpful to the job is "research skills." A paralegal resume included this snippet: "paralegals gather facts of the case and research information on relevant laws and regulations to prepare drafts of legal documents for attorneys and help them prepare for a case." This skill could be useful in this scenario: "support litigation including legal research, factual investigation, medical records review, and document management. "
  • See the full list of paralegal skills.

    After discovering the most helpful skills, we moved onto what kind of education might be helpful in becoming a paralegal. We found that 50.7% of paralegals have graduated with a bachelor's degree and 4.8% of people in this position have earned their master's degrees. While most paralegals have a college degree, you may find it's also true that generally it's possible to be successful in this career with only a high school degree. In fact, our research shows that one out of every six paralegals were not college graduates.

    Those paralegals who do attend college, typically earn either legal support services degrees or business degrees. Less commonly earned degrees for paralegals include criminal justice degrees or political science degrees.

    Once you're ready to become a paralegal, you should explore the companies that typically hire paralegals. According to paralegal resumes that we searched through, paralegals are hired the most by Robert Half, Iron Mountain, and Pearson. Currently, Robert Half has 234 paralegal job openings, while there are 88 at Iron Mountain and 47 at Pearson.

    If you're interested in companies where paralegals make the most money, you'll want to apply for positions at Arnall Golden Gregory, Microsoft, and Kane Russell Coleman Logan. We found that at Arnall Golden Gregory, the average paralegal salary is $110,405. Whereas at Microsoft, paralegals earn roughly $107,501. And at Kane Russell Coleman Logan, they make an average salary of $97,078.

    View more details on paralegal salaries across the United States.

    Some other companies you might be interested in as a paralegal include Law Office, Fragomen, and Skadden. These three companies were found to hire the most paralegals from the top 100 U.S. educational institutions.

    The industries that paralegals fulfill the most roles in are the professional and finance industries. But the highest paralegal annual salary is in the professional industry, averaging $55,416. In the manufacturing industry they make $51,239 and average about $49,718 in the hospitality industry. In conclusion, paralegals who work in the professional industry earn a 39.3% higher salary than paralegals in the government industry.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious paralegals are:

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    What Litigation Assistants Do

    Litigation assistants are professionals who provide administrative support as well as perform tasks such as filing legal documents, communicating with clients, and conducting legal research for law firms or legal departments. These assistants are required to draft and prepare a variety of court and legal documents that include expert witness designations, motions for preference, and complaints. They must receive many phone calls from clients they are handling as well as examining information about the cases they are working on. Litigation assistants must also work closely with bookkeepers to ensure that all invoices are paid.

    In this section, we take a look at the annual salaries of other professions. Take litigation assistant for example. On average, the litigation assistants annual salary is $3,940 higher than what paralegals make on average every year.

    Even though paralegals and litigation assistants have vast differences in their careers, a few of the skills required to do both jobs are similar. For example, both careers require litigation, legal research, and law firm in the day-to-day roles.

    These skill sets are where the common ground ends though. A paralegal responsibility is more likely to require skills like "affidavits," "real estate closings," "legal support," and "due diligence." Whereas a litigation assistant requires skills like "phone calls," "proofreading," "defense counsel," and "office equipment." Just by understanding these different skills you can see how different these careers are.

    Litigation assistants really shine in the construction industry with an average salary of $63,516. Whereas paralegals tend to make the most money in the professional industry with an average salary of $55,416.

    The education levels that litigation assistants earn is a bit different than that of paralegals. In particular, litigation assistants are 0.0% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree than a paralegal. Additionally, they're 3.1% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    What Are The Duties Of a Summer Associate?

    Summer associates are law students hired seasonally by law firms. The aim is for future lawyers to be exposed to the practical aspects of a firm. Typically, this program lasts for nine weeks, beginning in May and running through July. Summer associates are expected to be friendly and kind to people, preserve company reputation, support other associates, and perform legal tasks appropriately.

    The next role we're going to look at is the summer associate profession. Typically, this position earns a lower pay. In fact, they earn a $7,594 lower salary than paralegals per year.

    While the salary may be different for these job positions, there is one similarity and that's a few of the skills needed to perform certain duties. We used info from lots of resumes to find that both paralegals and summer associates are known to have skills such as "litigation," "legal research," and "law firm. "

    While some skills are similar in these professions, other skills aren't so similar. For example, several resumes showed us that paralegal responsibilities requires skills like "discovery responses," "affidavits," "real estate closings," and "legal support." But a summer associate might use skills, such as, "first hand," "client facing," "team work," and "financial models."

    On average, summer associates earn a lower salary than paralegals. There are industries that support higher salaries in each profession respectively. Interestingly enough, summer associates earn the most pay in the professional industry with an average salary of $86,415. Whereas, paralegals have higher paychecks in the professional industry where they earn an average of $55,416.

    On the topic of education, summer associates earn higher levels of education than paralegals. In general, they're 7.0% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 3.1% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    How a Law Internship Compares

    A law internship is a program that is designed for law students to give them valuable insight into the professional lives of attorneys and judges. Law interns need to understand and observe what being a lawyer involves. They are required to conduct research and present it to their superiors for case preparations. They must assist their senior lawyers in organizing all of their legal paperwork that includes case files, evidence records, and legal documents. Law interns are also required to be present in the courtroom to assist lawyers and experience actual courtroom proceedings.

    The third profession we take a look at is law internship. On an average scale, these workers bring in lower salaries than paralegals. In fact, they make a $10,549 lower salary per year.

    By looking over several paralegals and law interns resumes, we found that both roles utilize similar skills, such as "litigation," "legal research," and "law firm." But beyond that the careers look very different.

    Some important key differences between the two careers are a few of the skills necessary to fulfill responsibilities. Some examples from paralegal resumes include skills like "discovery responses," "affidavits," "real estate closings," and "legal support," whereas a law internship might be skilled in "legal memos," "real estate," "legal intern," and "intellectual property. "

    Law interns typically study at similar levels compared with paralegals. For example, they're 2.5% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 12.3% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    Description Of an Executive Legal Assistant

    An Executive Legal Assistant provides comprehensive support to lawyers and legal offices. They start as entry-level assistants before specializing in a field after a few years with experience; litigation, criminal law, family law, international law. Their duties include performing legal research by gathering case information for presentation, writing legal reports based on research and interviews, scheduling meetings, organizing travel arrangements, and organizing documentation for easy accessibility. An Executive Legal Assistant must be well organized, analytical research skills, and experience in case management. They typically spend long work hours spent in libraries and offices, requiring occasional travel.

    Now, we'll look at executive legal assistants, who generally average a higher pay when compared to paralegals annual salary. In fact, the difference is about $3,499 per year.

    While both paralegals and executive legal assistants complete day-to-day tasks using similar skills like litigation, legal research, and law firm, the two careers also vary in other skills.

    While some skills are shared by these professions, there are some differences to note. "discovery responses," "affidavits," "real estate closings," and "litigation support" are skills that have shown up on paralegals resumes. Additionally, executive legal assistant uses skills like expense reports, real estate, calendar management, and administrative tasks on their resumes.

    In general, executive legal assistants make a higher salary in the telecommunication industry with an average of $64,232. The highest paralegal annual salary stems from the professional industry.

    Executive legal assistants reach similar levels of education when compared to paralegals. The difference is that they're 1.1% more likely to earn a Master's Degree more, and 2.1% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    What a Paralegal Does FAQs

    Do Paralegals Make Good Money?

    Yes, paralegals make good money. The average paralegal makes an average of $50,940 a year. The range, however, can start from as low as $31,400 a year to as high as $82,050 a year. Factors such as location and years of experience impact the earning potential of a paralegal.

    How Many Hours Do Paralegals Work?

    Paralegals work 40 hours a week on average. This is pretty typical for a professional career, but unlike other professional careers, paralegals often work overtime and on weekends to finish various projects. Because of this, the range of hours can be between 31-50 hours, depending on projects and deadlines.

    Is It Hard To Be A Paralegal?

    Yes, it is hard to be a paralegal. Being a paralegal is stressful, and burnout is a real issue. Although paralegals are highly sought after, the competition for paralegal positions is fierce.

    Is Paralegal A Good Job?

    Yes, being a paralegal is a good job. It is a job that does not require much formal education but pays well. It's a good job for someone who enjoys working in a fast-paced, ever-evolving industry where laws and policies are constantly changing.

    What Are The Pros And Cons Of Being A Paralegal?

    The pros of being a paralegal are high demand and growth opportunities, while the cons are stress and constant learning.

    Here is a more detailed look at the pros and cons of being a paralegal:

    What's The Difference Between A Lawyer And A Paralegal?

    The main difference between a lawyer and a paralegal is training, licensing requirements, and relationship with the client.

    While some paralegals, acting under the supervision of an attorney, become very knowledgeable in the law, a paralegal cannot represent a client in any legal proceeding and cannot generate legal documents or give legal advice to a client without the oversight and approval of a licensed attorney.

    Legal Analyst Vs. Paralegal

    A legal analyst provides support to attorneys for legal proceedings including preparing documents and inspecting evidence for trial, while a paralegal conducts factual and legal research and manages cases.

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