If you have ever found yourself in hiring a lawyer, you have likely been introduced to someone that is a paralegal. Of course, a lawyer’s office is not the only place you may run into a paralegal. You may also see paralegals in banks, large corporations, in various public sector positions, and several other places. Perhaps you are wondering exactly what a paralegal is that they can work in so many areas. Or perhaps you know a bit about being a paralegal and want to know how to become one. Either way, you want to know more about paralegals in general. If so, you have come to the right place. Here, you will learn the basics of what a paralegal does as well as how to become one.
To ask and answer the question of what is a paralegal, we must first consider exactly what type of responsibilities a paralegal has on a regular basis. The role of a paralegal is essentially a step down from the role of a lawyer. Here is an analogy to consider. Think of a lawyer as the Facebook app. Most everyone is familiar with the app that you can download into your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Now think of a paralegal as the Facebook lite app. It is essentially the same thing as the original app but has not considered being the same. A paralegal does not require as much education as a lawyer, but they do need to have some basic knowledge of the law and how to handle most law proceedings. Typical paralegal responsibilities within a law office include helping the lawyer prepare for court, perform research, and assist the lawyer in a number of other ways. Of course, there are many other positions for a paralegal to consider. Many large corporations hire paralegals to manage their finances and other important factors. This often leads to management positions. Even within the realm of legal offices, there are several different paths to consider. Specialties include bankruptcy, personal injury, litigation, immigration, corporate, criminal, law assistant, and law secretary.
If you wish to become a paralegal, there is a process that you must follow. First, higher education is required. You can opt for an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. The primary difference is time. An associate’s degree only requires four semesters which equates to two years. A bachelor’s degree, on the other hand, requires eight semesters or four years. More knowledge equals more time. You can get a job with either one. The best thing to do is to weigh the pros and cons of each option based on your specific needs. While taking classes, you will likely be required or at least encouraged to complete an internship. This will allow you to gain more knowledge as well as real-world experience in your chosen field. Some internships even lead to full-time positions after graduation. If you do not know how to find a paralegal course to get you started, consider performing a simple internet search with a few specific keywords. If you do not already have a position after you graduate, this is the point where you will begin to search.
If you are interested in hiring a paralegal instead of becoming one, here are a few basic tips. First, it is important to define exactly what you will expect of the person you hire, what their responsibilities will be. This will aid you greatly when you are interviewing potential candidates. After this, you will need to define how much you are willing and able to pay for your new paralegal. This will be vital information to include in your job posting. Once you have set these basic parameters, you can begin advertising the position. There are a few options to consider. First is the traditional option of listing the position in the local newspaper and posting flyers in public places. This will yield some results, but the best results, you will need to utilize the power of the internet. There are several ways to advertise a job listing online. Some social media platforms now have a specific section for job listings. Employers can post open positions and potential employees can find and apply for those positions. Also, there are several job sites online whose sole purpose is to connect employees with employers. Be sure to include all pertinent information in your listing such as what their responsibilities will be, what their salary will be, what hours they will be expected to keep, where the office is located, and any other relevant information.
Many people find it helpful to have an email that’s sole purpose is to receive applications. If you do not have an email like this, consider setting one up before posting your job opening. Of course, it is not necessary to do this, simply an extra step some people find helpful. Either way, expect to begin receiving applications shortly after posting the opening. Some jobs may get applications almost immediately while others may take a couple of days to get started. If you do not begin getting applications right away, do not be concerned, sometimes it takes a while for your post to be seen.
Once you do begin to get applications, you will need to determine which applicant best suits your needs. Every employer is a bit different in what they are looking for. Some may be interested in applicants with the most experience while others may want someone who just graduated. Some employers are looking for a specific level of education while others concentrate more on skills. Important skills often include the ability to work certain hours, use certain software, work on their own, meet deadlines, take directions, and several others. You must decide what is most important to you. Then, once you begin to narrow it down, you can ask your favorites to come in for an interview which should provide the rest of the information you need. Paralegals play an important part in whatever company they work for, choose wisely.