Believe it or not, paralegals have greater job security and respect in corporate legal departments than in law firms, as do corporate counsel. The biggest reason is that the ‘revenue model' of the business is ‘protected' by legal support, but does not ‘depend' upon it. So, at the end of the day, a paralegal, or a lawyer, working in a company that creates machinery, is not going to get blamed for lack of sales, and why the company is not making profit. That makes a big difference in peace of mind and work. In fact, in corporate legal departments, paralegals are looked up to as vital components in the structure and most business stakeholders put their trust upon them to know their work, and do not micromanage.
Some common paralegal jobs in corporate departments include positions like “transactional real estate paralegal,” “contracts manager,” “corporate paralegal,” “legal assistant,” “commercial litigation assistant,” “legal analyst,” “subpoena paralegal,” “litigation paralegal,” “intellectual property paralegal,” “securities paralegal,” “executive assistant,” “commercial loan closer,” etcetera. Also, there are several industry sectors like real estate where closing the deal almost always requires the answering of legal queries, and in such industries it is not common for paralegals to work in the jobs of marketing or sales representatives conjointly with other marketing and sales professionals.
In corporate legal departments that are traditional and have big legal departments, the paralegal is usually part of a team led by and supervised an in-house attorney or general corporate counsel. The paralegal is the legal, secretarial, and personal assistant in the workflow of the legal team headed by the corporate counsel. He or she is expected to do all the work that a legal associate might be expected to do in a law firm, and more. A paralegal in a corporate environment would be normally doing:
Primary drafting of documents
Clause analysis of deeds and documents
Legal compliance work
Document work related with transactions
Document work related with litigation
Document work related with pre-litigation
All work related with compliance and submission of required documents to state and statutory authorities
In smaller firms, paralegals would also work as in-house consultants and take part in meetings where their opinion on transactional matters and strategy formation is sought at a primary level before the opinion of attorneys is sought.
Right now, the maximum number of jobs for paralegals is available in the real estate sector, which is ailing, downsizing, can't do without legal work, and trying to substitute in-house attorneys with in-house paralegals. In fact, if one follows the economy, this trend of substituting in-house attorneys with paralegals to do the grunt work is increasing as corporate firms realize that paralegals are people who begin with the mindset of “working under” as opposed to law school graduates, who begin with the mindset of “working independent.”