Paralegals and Legal Assistants directly support lawyers and may be required to supervise other legal staff, such as legal secretaries or file clerks. Paralegals may train on the job in some jurisdictions, but they are increasingly required to attain degrees or certifications from post-secondary paralegal education programs.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants should have computer and technical knowledge as well as strong analytical, communication and organizational skills.
Some law firms prefer three to five years of paralegal experience in a law firm or other corporate legal department.
Typical duties of a paralegal or legal assistant
- Assisting lawyers in preparing for transactional closings, depositions, hearings, trials and conferences; completing many administrative tasks, including, working on individual cases or transactions
- Investigating the factual evidence of a transaction or case and preparing exhibits, charts and diagrams to display information
- Drafting legal court documents, such as pleadings, motions, affidavits and subpoenas; transactional documents, such as trusts, wills, contracts and real estate leases; and closing documents
- Conducting routine discovery
- Obtaining due diligence materials, such as corporate certificates of good standing, real estate and title information, and securities filings
- Organizing and tracking files for important transactions or case documents, including pleadings and voluminous discovery documents; creating and maintaining a case-management database