My Education: AA, Business Administration BA, Business
My Prior Experience: I have worked as a receptionist, administrative assistant, legal secretary, legal administrative assistant and paralegal in the last fifteen years.
My Company: I work at a law firm in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Job/Career Overview: As a paralegal, I conduct 80% of the research my attorneys use to help their clients either win a lawsuit or become aware of how certain laws affect them. Because attorneys are so busy, they tend to rely on their paralegals to complete time-sensitive projects and research they don't have time to do. Paralegals cost less than attorneys and clients often prefer them to carry out these tasks in order to save money. Paralegals bill their time in the same manner as attorneys do but our fees are significantly lower and, when it comes to research, we can do the same things. However, if a paralegal cannot find an answer or solution to a client's problem, we seek the advice of an attorney who will either relay the information or assume responsibility for the case. Paralegals are often well-versed in the law but are limited as to how much of the information they possess they can relay to a client without an attorney's guidance.
More Insights: A surprising misconception of my job is that some think I can provide legal advice. That could not be further from the truth and I make sure to tell this to every client I encounter. I've also found that paralegals are held in high regard as we are as knowledgeable about the legal field as some attorneys. In order to be a paralegal, you have to have either a college degree, a certificate from an accredited paralegal program or several years of on-the-job experience.
I rate this career 7 out of 10.
The best part of being a paralegal, in addition to the pay, comes from knowing you are constantly learning something new and often, you obtain knowledge that can be beneficial to your business and your personal life as well. Every once in a while, I am given a really interesting case that really captures my attention and teaches me just how complicated legal proceedings can be.
If you desire a career as a paralegal, it is to your benefit to attend a certified paralegal program. By obtaining a paralegal certificate, one can earn more than a non-certified paralegal and most employers view you as an asset to their firm as paralegals are responsible for helping firms keep client costs at a minimum while also having the expertise of a qualified paralegal to support their attorneys.