Paralegal Job Description
Paralegals assist barristers, lawyers or legal executives with legal matters, however they are not qualified to practice law themselves. Their duties can vary from office administration tasks to more advanced responsibilities which resemble the work of a trainee solicitor. Essentially, paralegals provide support on legal matters to senior fee earners or the organisations they work within.
The role of a paralegal varies depending on the organisation. Paralegals can work in law firms, chambers, public and private sector organisations and charity and non-profit organisations.
What are the typical responsibilities of a Paralegal?
At a basic level, paralegals perform the following tasks:
- Drafting, preparing and proofreading documents
- Carrying out legal research
- Performing general administrative duties, including letter writing, billing and filing
- Scheduling meetings, organising diaries and responding to telephone queries
- Writing reports
More advanced tasks include:
- Taking witness statements
- Meeting with experts / claimants
- Handling a caseload of clients
- Attending court
- Presenting applications to judges
Do you need specific qualifications to become a Paralegal?
There is no minimum qualification required to be a paralegal, however the following may be useful if you’re considering applying:
- Good standard of general education, including good GCSE and A level grades
- A degree in law or a related field may be advantageous
- Qualifications including CILEx (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) or those offered by NALP (National Association of Licensed Paralegals) can be completed alongside employment
- Some employers may require you to complete an HNC/HND or foundation degree in law, legal studies or paralegal practice
- A paralegal certificate, diploma or higher diploma may also be advantageous
What experience is necessary?
With the competitive nature of the legal sector, it is important that you demonstrate your desire to work in law. Useful experience will include:
- Experience in an office environment
- Work experience through shadowing
- Internship at a law firm
- Advanced apprenticeship in legal services
- Attending firms’ open days / ‘insight’ events
- Court marshalling or attending court hearings as a member of the public
- Volunteering for local charities / Citizen’s Advice Centres
Which skills are important in a career as a Paralegal?
- Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
- Strong attention to detail
- Ability to work well under pressure and stick to tight deadlines
- Ability to multitask as you may be managing multiple cases / tasks at once
- Good administration skills – typing, filing, letter writing etc
- Strong interest in law with a desire to develop your understanding of the legal system
- Ability to work well independently and as part of a team – working with other departments
- Demonstrable business acumen
- Strong client contact skills – need to be patient and considerate when dealing with clients and witnesses
- Knowledge/experience of legal database certifications such as Westlaw is advantageous
Becoming a Paralegal is great way to get your foot in the door of the legal sector without being a fully qualified lawyer. Paralegals are involved in a variety of tasks which range from office administration to court attendance. The job can be challenging at times, and although their status is not equivalent to a Solicitor or Barrister, they still play an important role in the legal system. Furthermore, many of our most popular Paralegal vacancies are those that offer training contracts, allowing individuals to qualify as solicitors while working.
Search and apply for the latest Paralegal jobs on TotallyLegal today.