Paralegal Job Description

Written by: Ethan Cumming
Published on: 12 Oct 2022
Category:

Paralegal job description

  • Do you want to kickstart a career in the legal profession without spending years at university? Want to get your foot in the door at a law firm but don’t have any legal qualifications? A Paralegal career could be exactly what you are looking for. In this Paralegal job description article, we will be doing a deep dive into Paralegal jobs, covering responsibilities, salaries and more.

  • What is a Paralegal?

    A Paralegal is a type of legal professional who, unlike a Solicitor, Legal Executive or Conveyancer, is not formally qualified. Although traditionally entry level paralegal jobs are administrative and support positions within law firms and in-house legal teams, an increasing number of professionals in Paralegal jobs are taking on complex fee earning responsibilities not dissimilar to those of a trainee Solicitor.

  • What Does a Paralegal Do?

    Paralegals assist Solicitors, Barristers, Legal Executives and other Lawyers with an array of legal work.

    With some Paralegals in purely support positions and others handling caseloads of their own, the responsibilities of the role can vary widely, ranging from administration and filing to taking witness statements and attending court. Although the Paralegal role is evolving to encompass fee earning legal work, it is important to note that these professionals are not qualified to practice every aspect of law themselves.

    Let’s take a closer look at typical Paralegal roles and responsibilities.

    Paralegals in more traditional roles take on certain administrative and support tasks so that the Solicitors, Legal Executives and other Lawyers that they work with can focus on more complex fee earning and business development work.

    Typical responsibilities required in Paralegal jobs include:

    • Drafting, preparing and proofreading legal documents
    • Carrying out legal research
    • Performing general administrative duties, such as filing
    • Letter writing
    • Billing clients
    • Scheduling meetings, organising diaries and responding to telephone queries
    • Writing reports

    Meanwhile, some Senior Paralegals and those with fee earning duties will take on more complex work and may even run a caseload of their own clients and files.

    More advanced Paralegal responsibilities include:

    • Taking witness statements
    • Meeting with experts and claimants
    • Handling a caseload of clients
    • Helping Solicitors to prepare for court
    • Attending court
    • Presenting applications to judges

    According to Gemma Williams, a Paralegal with experience in both law firms and in-house teams, you are more likely to find an advanced Paralegal position in-house.

    “It seems to me that in-house Paralegals often take on a similar role to a trainee Solicitor,” Gemma says, “whereas law firm Paralegals continue the work traditionally associated with the role. Working in-house, my value lies in how integrated I am with the company. My understanding of the business and of the industry allows me to take on greater responsibilities."

    What can a Paralegal not do?

    There are a select number of legal tasks that Paralegals are not permitted to perform. These tasks, reserved for qualified Solicitors and Lawyers, are known as ‘reserved activities’ and include:

    • Representing clients in most courts
    • Conducting litigation
    • The conveyancing process
    • Signing Grant of Probate documents on behalf of clients

    Those in Paralegal jobs can participate in these activities, but they must be assisting an appropriately qualified legal professional.

    Where do Paralegals work?

    The role and responsibilities of a Paralegal are also dependent on the type of business or organisation they work for. Paralegals can work in law firms, Barristers’ chambers, public sector bodies, not-for-profit organisations and the in-house legal departments of commercial businesses.

    Due to the broad and varied nature of the Paralegal profession, these individuals can specialise in any number of legal practice areas. Some popular practice areas for Paralegals include:

    • Residential property
    • Private client
    • Commercial property
    • Commercial contracts
    • Litigation
    • Personal injury

    This list is by no means exhaustive. For the latest Paralegal jobs in all practice areas, click here.

  • How to Become a Paralegal

    What qualifications do you need to be a Paralegal?

    There are no required qualifications for becoming a Paralegal, and as such employers are at liberty to set their own entry requirements. Paralegals with the following education and qualifications may have a competitive advantage:

    • Good standard of general education, including strong GCSE and A-level grades
    • Degree in law or a related field
    • CILEx (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) qualification
    • HNC/HND or foundation degree in law, legal studies or paralegal practice
    • Paralegal apprenticeship, certificate, diploma or higher diploma

    What experience do you need to become a Paralegal?

    With the competitive nature of the legal sector, if you are keen to find a Paralegal job it is important that you demonstrate your commitment 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 or Citizens Advice Centres

    Which skills do you need to become a Paralegal?

    Due to the broad and diverse nature of the role, Paralegal skills include:

    • Excellent communication, both written and verbal
    • Strong attention to detail
    • The 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
    • The ability to work well independently, as part of a team and with other departments
    • Commercial and business acumen
    • Strong customer service skills, patience and consideration for dealing with clients and witnesses
    • Knowledge/experience of legal database certifications

  • How Much Is a Paralegal Salary?

    According to our most recent Audience Insight Report, a Paralegal salary is £28,544 per year on average. However, this figure varies depending on factors such as location, practice area and type of employer.

    How much does a Paralegal earn in-house?

    With average salaries of £35,417, in-house employment can be far more lucrative for Paralegals than law firm roles. By comparison, most law firms offer a Paralegal salary of around £23,000 - £26,000 per year.

    Paralegals working in US law firms are offered an average salary of £35,000 per year, while Magic & Circle firms pay their Paralegals £25,000 on average.

    Paralegal salaries by location

    The table below shows an average Paralegal UK salary in different regions.

    Region Average Salary
    London £32,075
    North East £25,714
    South East (excluding London) £24,286
    North West £25,714
    South West £23,333
    Midlands £25,000
    Wales £19,999

     

    Paralegal salaries by practice area

    The practice area in which a Paralegal works can also have an impact on their pay. The table below shows the average Paralegal salary for some of the most popular practice areas.

    Practice Area Average Salary
    Child Law £26,250
    Commercial Property £29,286
    Company Commercial £28,333
    Corporate £30,000
    Corporate Finance / M&A £40,000
    Criminal £27,500
    Dispute Resolution £25,000
    Employment £28,333
    Family / Matrimonial £27,000
    Immigration £22,500
    Intellectual property £35,000
    Litigation £28,636
    Personal injury £23,000
    Private client £27,222
    Regulatory & Compliance £29,286
    Residential Property & Conveyancing £24,000
    Wills & Probate £25,000
  • Next Steps: Becoming a Paralegal

    A Paralegal job is a great way to get your foot in the door of the legal profession without being a fully qualified Solicitor. Although the status of a Paralegal is not the same as a qualified legal professional, the role is an essential one and will see you dealing intimately with important work in environments that are often fast-paced and exciting.

    If you have reached the end of our Paralegal job description and decided that this is the career path for you, our popular article on becoming a Paralegal with no experience can help you to figure out your next steps.

    Alternatively, if you have decided that you instead want to pursue a career as a qualified legal professional, why not check out our guide on how to become a Solicitor?

    Ready to apply? Browse the latest Paralegal jobs on TotallyLegal today.