What are the duties of a paralegal in a small firm?

by Ellen

Hi, I'm trying to figure out what the duties of a paralegal in a small firm are? I know I can get lots of experience with a small office, but I'm not sure what's involved.

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Jun 11, 2012
Duties depend in a small firm
by: Elaine

Maybe the question should be "What aren't the duties of a paralegal in a small firm?"

Paralegals working for sole proprietors or small firms of 5 or more attorneys are pretty much going to do everything the attorneys need. There will not be the division of labor you find in larger offices. There simply are not enough resources to break out duties.

Small offices may have a receptionist, legal secretary and paralegal. You will be mailing service copies by posting your own mail, logging the amount of postage, running your own copies, answering phones, ordering lunch (if the legal secretary is out), researching case law and statutes, preparing trial binders, preparing Power Point slides, preparing Excel spreadsheets, performing public records requests, and so on.

The list can get extensive. And, depending on the area of law your working in, the duties will be different. Essentially, though, you will be the backbone for legal support for the attorneys. You will be preparing briefs, motions, discovery, calling the court, talking with clients, etc.

The great thing about working in a small office is that you do get lots of exposure to a variety of tasks. This can be a good thing for you! The more exposure you get to different software and procedures will really help you down the road with your career. When you're ready for a raise or to move on to a bigger firm, you'll have a lot more value to offer the law office and to negotiate a better salary.

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