Paralegals take on varied responsibilities, including research, writing legal documentation, and secretarial duties. The details of a paralegal’s duties varies based on the type of type of work their employer handles (bankruptcy paralegal, legal secretary, criminal law paralegal, etc.). Here are some of the major duties performed by paralegals.
Most often, attorneys conduct client interviews. However, paralegals are usually present in order to take notes and observe the questioning. Their presence allows them to be prepared to conduct follow-up interviews with clients and witnesses if necessary. After interviews, a paralegal will prepare a memo summarizing the information and testimony for the attorney.
2. Legal Research
One of the most important jobs of the paralegal is to conduct legal research in order to help an attorney prepare for trial. The paralegal will gather information relevant to the case, as well as other judicial decisions and legal articles relevant to the details of the trial. After conducting the research, the paralegal puts together a written report to help the attorney analyze past cases and determine how to proceed. A paralegal can organize this legal research into a presentation for clientele once an attorney decides how to move forward.
3. Written Documentation
Paralegals draft legal documents in law offices. They may draft documents including complaints, subpoenas and deposition notices. Paralegals may collaborate with others to write legal briefs. Excellent written communication is an essential skill for a paralegal.
4. Administrative Work
In many law offices, a paralegal may handle administrative tasks such as filing, answering phone calls and organization. They may be in charge of scheduling and forwarding calls, as well as making travel arrangements for their attorney. Additionally, the paralegal may schedule themselves at many of the same events as the attorney they work with. The paralegal will attend trials and court hearings along with the attorney in order to observe the process, create memos and create records.
If you are interested in taking the next step in your career, consider the MS in Justice Studies With an Emphasis in Legal Studies degree at Grand Canyon University. At GCU, our Master programs allow you to work while you earn your degree through flexible evening and online programs. To learn more, click on the Request Information button on this page or visit the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.