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Career profile Paralegal

Also known as Certified Paralegal, Corporate Law Assistant, Law Associate, Legal Analyst, Legal Assistant, Litigation Paralegal, Paralegal, Paralegal Assistant, Paralegal Specialist, Real Estate Paralegal

Paralegal

Also known as Certified Paralegal, Corporate Law Assistant, Law Associate

Interests Profile
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$32,900 - $85,160 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Writing
Knowledge Areas
  • Administrative
  • Law and Government
  • Customer and Personal Service
Core tasks
  • Prepare affidavits or other documents, such as legal correspondence, and organize and maintain documents in paper or electronic filing system.
  • Prepare legal documents, including briefs, pleadings, appeals, wills, contracts, and real estate closing statements.
  • Prepare for trial by performing tasks such as organizing exhibits.
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What does a Paralegal do?

Paralegals assist lawyers by investigating facts, preparing legal documents, or researching legal precedent.

In addition, Paralegals conduct research to support a legal proceeding, to formulate a defense, or to initiate legal action.

What kind of tasks does a Paralegal perform regularly?

Paralegals are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Prepare affidavits or other documents, such as legal correspondence, and organize and maintain documents in paper or electronic filing system.
  • Prepare legal documents, including briefs, pleadings, appeals, wills, contracts, and real estate closing statements.
  • Prepare for trial by performing tasks such as organizing exhibits.
  • Investigate facts and law of cases and search pertinent sources, such as public records and internet sources, to determine causes of action and to prepare cases.
  • Meet with clients and other professionals to discuss details of case.
  • File pleadings with court clerk.
  • Gather and analyze research data, such as statutes, decisions, and legal articles, codes, and documents.
  • Direct and coordinate law office activity, including delivery of subpoenas.

The above responsibilities are specific to Paralegals. More generally, Paralegals are involved in several broader types of activities:

Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.

What is a Paralegal salary?

The median salary for a Paralegal is $52,920, and the average salary is $56,610. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Paralegal salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Paralegals earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Paralegals earn less than $32,900 per year, 25% earn less than $40,640, 75% earn less than $67,080, and 90% earn less than $85,160.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Paralegals is expected to change by 12.0%, and there should be roughly 43,000 open positions for Paralegals every year.

Median annual salary
$52,920
Typical salary range
$32,900 - $85,160
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
12.0%

What personality traits are common among Paralegals?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Paralegal are usually higher in their Conventional, Investigative, and Enterprising interests.

Paralegals typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Also, Paralegals typically have strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Lastly, Paralegals typically have moderate Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Paralegal tend to value Relationships, Working Conditions, and Support.

Most importantly, Paralegals strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Paralegals moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Lastly, Paralegals moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Paralegals must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, integrity, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Paralegals, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Paralegals need?

Paralegals often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Paralegals usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Paralegals

  • 0.7% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 10.6% completed high school or secondary school
  • 22.8% completed some college coursework
  • 19.6% earned a Associate's degree
  • 36.0% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 7.2% earned a Master's degree
  • 3.1% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Paralegals

Paralegals may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as administrative, law and government, or customer and personal service knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Paralegals might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Administrative
Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Important Abilities needed by Paralegals

Paralegals must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Paralegals need abilities such as written comprehension, oral comprehension, and oral expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Paralegals, ranked by their relative importance.

Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Critical Skills needed by Paralegals

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Paralegals frequently use skills like reading comprehension, active listening, and writing to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Paralegals, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Writing
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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