Paralegals usually work under the supervision of an attorney. Often they help lawyers with document preparation, as well as with research. Some may be asked to help with duties in specified areas such as immigration, labor laws, criminal proceedings, and more. In some cases, paralegals may practice on their own, but only in certain capacities.
Becoming a Paralegal
One option for those looking to become a paralegal is to go to a community college. There you can obtain an associate degree that will allow you to become a paralegal. Usually this degree will take two years to complete. There are also some programs available for those who have college degrees in areas other than this field that will offer a paralegal certificate to you. No matter which option you choose, you will need to have some kind of education behind you to be able to perform this job.
As mentioned before, paralegals do a great deal of research, so research skills are also necessary. Additionally, good paralegals must be self-motivated, since much of the research will be done without supervision. Motivation is especially important for those who choose to work at home. Finally, people skills and positive communication skills are also important, because most paralegals will do quite a bit of work with the public along the way. Being able to communicate is imperative, and learning to work well with people will make a paralegal excellent in their line of work.
The National Association of Legal Assistants is a one of several large associations that has been developed for paralegals. They actually have particular standards that must be met by those who practice as paralegals and they also have an exam that must be taken in order to become a certified paralegal. Not only is this organization used for standards and exams, but they work to help paralegals keep up with their educational needs as well. In order to be successful as a paralegal you must keep up on the laws, since practices and laws change on a regular basis. This association and other similar associations help to ensure that paralegals are on top of important changes in the legal field that can affect their line of work.
For paralegals that are well qualified and equipped with good skills, there are many great benefits. One of the great benefits that a good paralegal can enjoy is the ability to work from home. This is a job that can be carried-out from home, which many people find beneficial, especially those who happen to have families. Another benefit is the nice salary that can be earned with this job. Usually a good paralegal with top quality skills can make $30-50K per year, and many make even more than that. The better a paralegal is at their job and the more skills they have, the more they may be able to make in this line of work.
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