Areas of Paralegal Employment

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Paralegals typically find work in several areas.
  1. Law firms - These are traditional forms of legal practice in which income is generated from the fees of individual clients.
  2. Legal clinics - These are nontraditional private firms that usually charge lower fees and rely on a high volume of cases. They are more likely to advertise and to rely on extensive use of paralegals than the more traditional law firms.

  3. Government agencies - These include the civil service departments of federal and state agencies. Examples of agencies that hire paralegals are the attorney general, legislature, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the civil rights division of government agencies.
  4. Criminal law offices - These are governmental agencies such as the prosecutors, district attorneys or public defender's office as well as private defense counsel.
  5. In-house legal departments - These are law departments within businesses or corporations.
  6. Legal aid or legal service clinics - These are community legal service offices that provide legal services to the poor.
  7. Special interest groups - These include environmental protection groups, consumer protection groups, unions, trade associations, and other such groups that monitor legislation, lobby, and provide legal services for the organization. For more information about freelancing, go to www.paralegals.org/reporter, click on "Summer 2000," and read the article "Freelancing Paralegal Services to Small Firms and Solos."
  8. Freelance paralegals - These are independent paralegals who work as independent contractors for attorneys on special projects, but who are supervised in this work by an attorney; they are sometimes referred to as independent paralegals.

Freelance paralegals can be defined as self-employed paralegals who work as an independent contractor for attorneys on special projects. They are sometimes referred to as independent paralegals or contract paralegals. Others use the terms independent paralegal or legal technician to refer to a paralegal that works directly with the public and is not supervised by an attorney.

Within the wide variety of areas of employment in which paralegals may specialize, some possible areas of specialization include the following.
  1. Administrative law - Paralegals represent citizens and the government before some administrative agencies. They do legal research, assist in preparing for administrative hearings, conduct investigations, draft documents for hearings and for proposed regulations, conduct interviews, and attend rule-making hearings.
  2. Bankruptcy law - Paralegals help clients assemble documents and fill out forms, conduct investigations, prepare documentation, draft bankruptcy petitions, prepare status reports and asset inventories, and coordinate with creditors and bankruptcy trustees.
  3. Collections practice - Paralegals prepare inventories, draft pleadings, conduct investigations, file documents, and assist in collecting judgments and settling claims.
  4. Contract law - Paralegals review contracts, prepare forms, do legal research, and conduct investigations.
  5. Corporate law - Paralegals draft a number of forms and reports (including minutes, bylaws, annual reports, and resolutions), record documents, conduct research, and file documents.
  6. Criminal law - Paralegals conduct legal research, serve as a liaison with other agencies, conduct witness interviews, prepare documents, conduct investigations, and assist in trial preparation.
  7. Environmental law - Paralegals conduct legal and factual research, draft documents, assist in trial preparation, and assist in the preparation of legal briefs.
  8. Family law - Paralegals communicate with clients, prepare and file documents, conduct interviews, draft pleadings and motions, assist in gathering and analyzing financial information, and help prepare for hearings.
  9. Intellectual property law - Paralegals conduct investigations, collect data, help prepare contracts, assist clients in applying for copyrights and patents, conduct patent searches, conduct research, and file applications.
  10. Labor law - Paralegals conduct investigations, assist companies in designing policies, and assist in litigation.
  11. Litigation - Paralegals prepare and organize files, conduct investigations, research records, conduct investigations, file documents, assist in discovery and in trial preparation, serve as liaison with clients and witnesses, conduct legal research, draft pleadings, and assist in obtaining experts.
  12. Probate law - Paralegals collect data, draft documents (such as wills and trusts), perform investment analysis, manage accounting of trusts and estates, file documents, assist in valuation of assets, organize financial data, conduct factual and legal research, draft documents, and assist in litigation.
  13. Real estate law - Paralegals prepare drafts of contracts, research regulations, perform title searches, collect data necessary for closing, prepare and organize documents, record and file documents, assist in closing, prepare a number of forms (such as UCC-1 financing statements), and assist with sale documents.
  14. Water law - Paralegals conduct legal and factual research, communicate with agencies, prepare documents and reports, prepare historic use affidavits, and perform title searches.

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