What Does A Paralegal Do?


You may find yourself asking, "What does a paralegal do?" if you've become interested in this field.

It's a great question. The answer largely depends on the area of law. Generally speaking, paralegals support attorneys by...

  • performing computer research using legal research software;
  • checking citations;
  • drafting basic pleadings and discovery;
  • preparing exhibits for filing or trial;
  • preparing binders for trial;
  • interviewing clients;
  • coordinating production of documents;
  • drafting correspondence to courts, clients or opposing counsel;
  • calling courts or administrative agencies for information; and
  • calendaring deadlines.

All of these tasks are performed under the direct supervision of an attorney. Until you've established a trusting work relationship and even when you have, attorneys always review your work product. Certainly with their names attached to pleadings, they need to be sure that anything you may write for them accurately represents what they're communicating.

The duties of a paralegal are based largely upon the practice area in which they work. If you're a real estate paralegal, you'll be handling real estate transactions, closings, bank account information, title searches, escrow compliance and various other responsibilities.

A family law paralegal's duties will be quite different as they're dealing often with divorce, child custody issues, adoption, separation agreements, child support and various other matters affecting families.

Litigation paralegals deal with all aspects of trial preparation. The work requires the ability to follow instructions and produce a work product under strict deadlines.

The litigation paralegal handles document productions which may be coordinated with a third party vendor, calendaring depositions, coordinating depositions, preparing discovery responses, preparing pleadings and motions pertaining to trial (e.g., motions in limine) and more.

When asked "What does a paralegal do?" it really does depends on the paralegal's specialty. The work is substantive in nature requiring your critical thinking and writing skills.

Your ability to take on tasks as they are assigned is necessary to your role. Often attorneys are facing difficult deadlines and they need your help to get tasks completed.

If you can jump in wherever needed, you'll succeed in your office. Adding value by offering your problem solving skills along with your desire to understand the process, will be beneficial to you over the course of your career.

Ideally you'll support your attorney in whatever capacity he or she needs. Getting the job done well, on time all while keeping costs down, will advance you in this profession.

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