Family law paralegals are in demand. They provide support to attorneys dealing with families in crises. Often divorce and custody issues are at the heart of family law practices.
A paralegal working in this role will be effective keeping cases on track, following up as needed and keeping clients informed of ongoing developments.
The nature of this work can be emotionally demanding, however, because of the type of matters you'll handle.
Family law paralegals have specific training and use software programs unique to their practice area. It's challenging to get into this specialty if you don't have experience. But if you get into a family law internship you'll increase your employment opportunities when you graduate from your paralegal program.
Some of the tasks expected of you...
receive and make telephone calls to courts and clients;
draft internal office memos;
photocopy, fax, scan, sort mail, schedule appointments and office filing;
assist in preparation of various legal documents under attorney supervision;
provide superior customer service to clients;
maintain case files;
correspond effectively, politely, and efficiently with clients and the courts;
prepare disclosure statements, discovery responses and document productions;
prepare family law pleadings, financial disclosure forms, discovery and motion/OSC (order to show cause) forms;
complete Judicial Council forms;
file pleadings with courts;
docket court hearings and maintain office calendar;
type 55 wpm.
These are some of the basic requirements for entry to this practice area.
Bachelor's degree and/or Paralegal Certificate (compliance with CA Business and Professions Code);
experience with family law discovery and disclosure statements;
experience with dictation and dictating equipment;
attention to detail and excellent communication skills both written and verbal;
ability to interact with clients on the phone and in person;
self-motivated with initiative and exceptional follow-up skills;
ability to work independently and as part of a team;
multilingual (may include Spanish or Chinese).
Of course every firm has their "ideal candidate". Some qualities on the office wish list include:
willing and able to 'jump into' ongoing family law matters;
work under minimal attorney supervision;
keep cases moving forward towards successful resolution;
ability to multi-task;
sense of humor;
work well under pressure;
highly organized and detail-oriented;
enthusiastic about the work while outgoing;
and strong communication and computer skills.
It would help you to know or become knowledgeable about the following software: Word; Excel; Adobe Acrobat; Westlaw or Lexis; Word Perfect; Essential Forms; DomainWeb; Dissomaster and Abacus.
Family law paralegals are the glue that keeps everything moving along smoothly. With this specialization you'll have lots of responsibility and client interaction. This role in the law office can be personally and professionally rewarding.