5 Civil Law Work Environments For Paralegals
- A Law Firm
- A Government Department
- A Corporation
- Their Home
There are quite a few career settings in civil law for paralegals. Civil law is different from criminal law in that it is often more flexible and varied than criminal law. In other ways, however, the job duties for paralegals working in civil and criminal law are very similar. The following are some of the main work environments paralegals working in civil law may encounter.
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1. A Law Firm
Most paralegals work in law firms, assisting attorneys as an integral part of any legal team. While working on behalf of a law firm, paralegals may travel to perform research, accompany attorneys to trial or do investigative work. They may also interview witnesses. Class action lawsuits, torts, and contract disputes are all types of civil law commonly taken as cases by private law firms. Paralegals who have prior work experience, strong technological skills (particularly in database management) and are certified by professional paralegal organizations will be more in demand.
2. A Government Department
Government agencies hire paralegals to assist in legal matters as well per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This includes government operations at the federal, state and local levels. Complaints and suits against a city or government are a common type of civil case these paralegals may have a hand in handling. They may also assist in bringing suits against private citizens and companies who are in violation of civil law. Their job is to help prepare a case for presentation by an attorney and they may need to interview witnesses, perform research and draft documents to do so.
3. A Corporation
Many corporations are hiring paralegals directly into their legal departments, along with attorneys, to cut costs. This is because it is often cheaper to pay the annual salaries of these professionals than the cost of hiring them for legal work on an as-needed basis. Corporations in all industries hire paralegals to prepare legal documents, perform legal research and advise various departments, such as human resources, on legal issues. For the most part, only the larger corporations will have the resources and need to directly hire paralegals. Insurance is a major industry that often employs paralegals because there are often legal questions about approving or denying insurance claims or coverage.
Paralegals may not only work for the government in government offices but also directly in courthouses. For example, they may work on civil cases that are tied to criminal cases, disputes over property and similar types of work. Even paralegals that work for private law firms or government offices, as covered above, may find themselves spending significant amounts of time in courthouses to deliver documents or accompany attorneys to hearings. Paralegals work in courthouses at all levels of the legal system.
5. Their Home
Some paralegals work for themselves as freelancers. Working from home is one of the most desired career settings in civil law for paralegals. Freelance paralegals may assist law firms temporarily on large cases or simply complete outsourced work as a service. Typically, a paralegal wanting to work on their own must have previous work experience in a law firm, especially in a particular area of civil law. It can be difficult to find work this way due to the reluctance of law firms to allow sensitive client information into outside hands, but experience and perseverance can result in a thriving business providing private paralegal services.
The job duties of paralegals working in these different settings are not markedly different from one another. Paralegals do not have to work in criminal law – in fact, most do not. These professional legal assistants can choose between any of these career settings in civil law for paralegals.