What Do Paralegals Do?

If you've been considering a career as a legal assistant, you may be wondering what does a paralegal do exactly? What are the key paralegal duties and job responsibilities, and what do paralegals do in and out of the office? Many men and women enter this profession if they have a passion for the legal field but do not want to become attorneys. Paralegals take on many of the tasks and responsibilities of the attorneys they support, but they are not qualified to provide legal counsel or advice, or participate directly in court proceedings. Learning about what paralegals do and reviewing a job description for a position in this field can help you decide whether this is the right career path for you.

What Does a Paralegal Do for an Attorney?

Paralegals are responsible for assisting clients and taking care of much of the research and information-gathering involved when preparing a case. They do more than just provide administrative assistance in the office and are trained to work with different types of legal documents, communicate with clients, conduct interviews and help the attorney stay organized and on top of a case. Paralegal duties can vary based on the specialization or specialty of the attorney, but most paralegals are responsible for handling most of the tasks associated with a case, drafting legal documents, documenting the progress of a case and communicating directly with the attorney's clients.

What Tasks Do Paralegals Perform?

Many people wonder what paralegals do when they are working for a large law firm. In most cases, paralegals serve as assistants to one or more attorneys, and are responsible for ensuring that all paperwork and files associated with a case are organized and ready for use. They must abide by a strict code of ethics and maintain a high level of professional conduct in their position. Paralegals may be asked to participate in a long-term research project, conduct interviews and write up reports of various parts of the case or meetings for review.

General Paralegal Duties

You'll find most of the paralegal duties listed in the paralegal job description, but day-to-day tasks and duties may vary depending on the attorney's area of specialization and expertise. Some of the most common paralegal duties include:

  • Assisting an attorney preparing for a real estate closing
  • Preparing for trials and legal proceedings
  • Participating in business meetings
  • Researching important parts of a case
  • Fact checking details of a case
  • Researching legal databases for supporting laws and statutes
  • Reviewing law reports and judgments
  • Evaluating and arranging results for an attorney
  • Preparing appropriate legal arguments and drafting pleadings or motions
  • Acquiring necessary affidavits as part of a case
  • Using various types of legal software applications and web-based databases for research purposes
  • Accessing, arranging and cataloging different types of documents and resources
  • Drafting legal documents such as divorce contracts, mortgage papers and legal agreements

When you're looking for answers to the question, what does a paralegal do, it's important to remember that paralegal duties typically go beyond the duties of a high-level secretary or an executive assistant. Paralegals take on many of the tasks of a typical attorney, but are not permitted to provide legal counsel at any time.