A Day in the Life of a Paralegal

The day-to-day job duties of a paralegal can vary, depending on the specific industry, the type of law, and the legal environment in which they work. For example, a paralegal who works for a criminal defense law firm will have a vastly different work day compared to a paralegal who works in a law firm that specializes in commercial real estate transactions. Likewise, paralegals that work in corporate offices or for a branch of the government will not complete the same daily work as those who work under solo practicing attorneys.

Essentially, the title of “paralegal” can encompass different professional responsibilities, but all paralegals, no matter where they work, spend their days focusing on legal issues, legal documents, and legal correspondence.

Work Completed by ALL Paralegals

Interacting with clients. No matter the employer, the area of law, or the specific industry, all paralegals work directly with clients. Paralegals are often responsible for talking with clients on the phone, scheduling appointments, and meeting with clients in person (both with and without an attorney present).

Preparing legal correspondence and documents. All paralegals are responsible for drafting legal documents, letters, motions, and all types of legal correspondence. This type of work is done on an every-day basis.

Maintaining client files. Some paralegals are more involved with the maintenance of files than others, and sometimes legal secretaries play a greater role than paralegals do in file maintenance. However, all paralegal have some level of responsibility for keeping client files up-to-date and organized.

Filing legal documents with the courts. For almost every legal case or legal situation, documents must be permanently recorded with the courts. Paralegals are responsible for knowing how to use various computer programs that are utilized to transmit legal documents.

Scheduling meetings and managing calendars. Paralegals are often the main liaison between clients and attorneys, and they are expected to communicate via telephone, e-mail and in-person conversations to schedule meetings and add important dates to calendars. Depending on the employer, clients can range from an individual needing help with something as simple as the purchase of a residential home to the CEO of a large corporation who needs help with a multi-million dollar legal transaction.

Work Completed by SOME Paralegals

Preparing for court. Many paralegals have the necessary responsibility of preparing for all aspects of court cases, including depositions, hearings, and all other events that will take place in front of a judge. However, not all paralegals have this responsibility because some paralegals do not work with attorneys that practice litigation.

Interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence. Paralegals who work for litigation law firms or attorneys who represent clients in court are often responsible for interviewing witnesses who may be called to testify during a trial. They may also be responsible for organizing and documenting evidence.

Transcribing legal documents. Sometimes, paralegals are asked to transcribe legal documents. However, some law firms or attorneys have specific employees (such as legal secretaries or legal transcriptionists) who perform this duty on a full-time or part-time basis.

Preparing for settlements. For paralegals working in a litigation environment, preparing for cases to settle can be an every-day responsibility. A large majority of cases never go to trial and end up settling. A case that settles out of court usually requires mediation, negotiation, and paperwork. Paralegals working in this type of realm help with a great deal of the work that goes into settlements.

No Day is Ever the Same as the Last!

Because no two cases are ever the same, and because clients’ needs can change from one day to the next, the daily job of a paralegal can be unpredictable. While paralegals may be expected to complete similar tasks for various clients, the information and details of each situation are always unique. This can lead to interesting, eventful, and sometimes stressful work days. Work weeks are usually 40 hours long, but can be longer during a trial or a busy time of year. Paralegals sometimes describe their days as “whirlwinds,” while other days are more relaxed. A day in the life of a paralegal can be full of variety and challenges.

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