Paralegals play an important role in the legal field. Since attorneys have very demanding schedules when they practice law, they must find a way to pass on some of the tasks on to other professionals. Legal assistants must complete a degree or training program to perform delegated legal work that is assigned by a lawyer. While it is against the law for a paralegal to give legal advice or to perform duties that only a licensed attorney can, the duties that the professional can perform will take several items off of an attorneys plate. Even though an attorney must pay a paralegal to perform legal tasks, attorneys with a heavy workload find that the assistance is beneficial. This is why a majority of attorneys will use paralegals.
How does a paralegal improve a law practice?
As a lawyer, you need to know the law and know how to apply it to get favorable outcomes in your cases. While knowing case law and being argumentative are two important skills attorneys must possess, the best attorneys know how to build effective teams. This includes at least a receptionist and a paralegal. Legal assistants play an important role in a cost efficient team. Here are some of the ways legal assistants who have been licensed and certified can help your practice:
- You can reduce your operational costs
- Your clients will receive better service with contact from your paralegal
- You can lower your legal fees to attract more customers
- You can gain a better reputation in your practice area for easier marketability
- You can free up your time to focus more on your challenging cases for better outcomes
What Tasks Can a Paralegal Perform?
What a paralegal can legally do depends on the state that they work in. There are state regulations that limit the tasks that legal assistants can perform under the supervision of a licensed attorney. If you still are not sold on hiring an assistant to delegate some of your legal duties to, here are some tasks a paralegal can perform:
- Duties normally performed by a lawyer under direct supervision
- Review and organize client files
- Conduct legal research
- Prepare documents for legal transactions
- Drafting discovery documents and pleadings
- Interviewing clients and witnesses
- Help with the closings at trial
- They may not represent defendants in court or take depositions unless ABA guidelines permit
What is the Job Outlook in Legal Assisting?
If you still are not sure how many lawyers hire legal assistants, the best way to see what demand looks like is to look at job outlook. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is expected to grow by 8% until the year 2024. This means that about 21,200 more jobs will be created. Some of these jobs are in government agencies but around 72% of paralegal jobs are in legal offices.
Not all attorneys use legal assistants, but the American Bar Association does recommend that attorneys consider hiring them to improve their bottom line. Consider the benefits and the tasks that paralegals are able to perform and make a decision for yourself.
Related Reading: The 19 Cheapest ABA Approved Online Paralegal Programs