What is a Paralegal?
Paralegals, also known as legal assistants, are professionals who are employed by attorneys, law firms, and government agencies to handle legal matters that the employer is responsible for. Some tasks that a paralegal performs day-to-day may include:
- Performing investigations on facts and data of a court case
- Researching former cases that may similar to recent hearings
- Typing out comprehensive reports for attorney’s files
- Interviewing current clients
- Preparing tax information
- Maintaining financial records for law firms
- Obtaining affidavits for cases
But then there are things that paralegals are not permitted to do according to law. These include:
- Setting legal fees
- Giving any kind of legal advice
- Presenting cases in the court of law
Five Needed Characteristics of the Paralegal
Because the paralegal is a professional, there are certain qualities, or characteristics, that this person needs to be a successful assistant. All of these traits will not only help you become a better paralegal, but they will also help you to negotiate a much higher paralegal salary than other employees.
The most successful paralegals are those that are naturally bent toward being organized. This quality goes a long way, especially when there is so much on the line. As a paralegal you are required to handle files and to write reports on a daily basis. Without the gift of organization, you will soon find that your employer will lack the patience to keep you around.
Within the legal system there are rules. These rules require that everybody involved in a case must, at times, be able to keep certain situations and rulings private. Being a person of integrity and trustworthiness is key to being a successful paralegal. You learn much of how to keep things to yourself while going through and gaining your paralegal certification. This is taught extensively.
As a paralegal, you will play the role of mediator between your employer and their clients quite often. This requires that you sympathize, if not empathize, with those that you work with. Compassion will keep you focused on what’s best for your client and give those clients the attention they need. It will also give your clients the knowledge that your firm is 100% behind them. This provides for satisfied customers.
Because some court cases and hearings can take months to sort out, you will need to be able to stand the test of time. Patience is also required when you have to study for hours at the local law library and commit to researching past cases for your employer. Patience may be the only key to your sanity.
This profession doesn’t necessarily require that you go through a four-year college, but it does require that you know what you’re doing inside the legal system. Intelligence will go a long way toward making you a successful paralegal. You will be required to memorize many things in this field. If you consider yourself intelligent, good!
Paralegals are like anybody else. But they are required to possess certain qualities for the betterment of society. If you don’t hold true to any of these traits, then it would be best if you chose a much different career path. But if you think you can stand up under these characteristics as if you are these characteristics, then you’ll be a successful paralegal. And we need paralegals like these.