Paralegals become more and more popular today. A paralegal is a person who helps a lawyer with some routine tasks, which need only some particular knowledge of procedures and the law. In other words, paralegals do not necessarily need to have a higher education in Law. They can either be employed by any law office or work as free-lancers. If a lawyer or a law office does not have a paralegal, then there is the possibility to commute a paralegal for an attorney who will execute all the paralegal’s duties.
A paralegal provides his or her skilled and experienced services to lawyers. In their work, paralegals often deal with such issues as divorce actions, probates of estates, investigations, bankruptcies, analyzing depositions, procedural motions and many other cases (Currier & Eimermann, 2010). Besides, they also prepare and answer interrogatories. In more detail, paralegal workers usually handle clients’ caseloads, draft letters and documents, take statements, fill case files, etc. In addition, their duty is researching legal information and cases (Hatch & Hatch, 2006). Of course, paralegals have to possess some particular skills that are required for the job. First and foremost, they should be responsible and well organized. Taking into account the fact that the job of any lawyer or his/her assistant demands a serious approach, a paralegal should be also very attentive not only to evident facts, but also to all details. Moreover, paralegals are supposed to deal with a great amount of information. In addition, they are likely to be patient and have respect to confidential information. It will also be appreciated if a paralegal is tactful and have some knowledge and skills in operating computers. Surely, such workers must have proper spoken and written communication abilities and researching skills. Thus, having a qualification in Law is not a necessary pre-requisite for paralegal workers (Miller & Meinzinger, 2011).
However, people attend some courses or trainings in order to obtain at least some necessary basic knowledge on aspects of the law and become a paralegal (Haworth & Cox, 2008). The training is needed in order to either teach future paralegals such aspects of the law as family law, environmental law, commercial law, insurance, bankruptcy, litigation, real estate law, etc. or improve the existing knowledge and skills (Schneider, 2008). However, paralegals have some distinctive limits in their juridical activity. They have no rights to represent a client in a court and set legal fees. Of course, they are not allowed to sign any legal documents concerning courts. Besides, they cannot give a client any legal advice (Miller & Meinzinger, 2013). As in any other job, a paralegal worker has some particular ways to succeed in his or her occupation. These peculiarities make a person a valuable asset to a lawyer. First and foremost, the skills of time managing are the key to effective working not only in paralegal activity, but also in many other jobs. Another essential skill for a paralegal is effective communication. This skill is very important in contacting experts, interviewing clients, discussing any deals, taking the statement of a witness, and so on. Writing is a rather important skill in paralegal job as well since paralegals often face the necessity to write various applications, documents etc. Of course, legal documents should be written by an educated person who can organize his or her thoughts in a proper way and do it with no grammar and punctuation mistakes. Talking about investigative and research skills, paralegals need to make various researches through legal databases on the Internet. Besides, technology skills are very important because those paralegal workers who possess technological skills have a great advantage in the legal market. Being organized will also help a paralegal to succeed in his or her activity. One of the reasons, why lawyers need paralegals is organizing cases, documents and data since lawyers do not have enough time for that. The most successful paralegal workers should be able to cope with several tasks at the same time, which is not easy. Paralegals need to be attentive to details since lawyers are usually focused on the whole case. Undoubtedly, a person who possesses all of these features and skills can obviously be a model for an effective paralegal.
Taking all the above mentioned information into consideration, one can state that a paralegal is not a lawyer, yet his or her role is rather important in lawyers’ work. A paralegal is an assistant to a legal officer or a lawyer, who cannot be a full-fledged lawyer because of the lack of proper education, skills, experience and knowledge. They differ from licensed lawyers in many aspects, such as requirements for a job, duties and opportunities, etc.. Paralegals and significance of the roles they play vary depending on the country (Astl, 2003). For instance, in Canada these lawyers’ assistants are licensed and have all the rights to provide clients with legal services. They are also allowed to appear at courts of lower levels (Cannon, 2010). To sum up, no matter what opportunities paralegals have, one cannot undervalue their role in processes of various legal cases since, without them, lawyers could face a lot of challenges in their work.