So what is a paralegal? And what does a paralegal do? Most people confuse a paralegal with a lawyer. To answer what does a paralegal do we need to look at the definition. It is a ‘paraprofessional’. They will work to assist a licensed lawyer. He or she is an associate. The prefix ‘para’ means “side by side”. A paralegal job description differs depending on where you practice. In the US paralegals are not allowed to practice in the same way as lawyers. In Ontario however this is slightly different. Here they are permitted to provide legal assistance to the public the same as lawyers . However, it is limited to within the lower courts and administrative tribunals.
So the duties of a paralegal depends on the country and / or state. Usually they will have a wide knowledge in the legal field. However they are not licensed by any regulatory commission. Take filing for bankruptcy for instance. If you use the services of a paralegal you are still filing under pro se. This means that you are representing yourself.
A crucial part of a paralegal ‘s duties is working hand in hand with a lawyer. What they do is prepare the papers that would be needed for a case. They may perform a search of precedents and past judicial decisions. They are very aware of the law. But they still work ‘under the wing’ of a lawyer. It tends to be up to the paralegal to prepare written reports. These would be referred to by an attorney to handle a case properly.
What does a Paralegal do: Specializations of a Paralegal
The duties of a paralegal are slowly getting wider. There are now more and more areas to specialize in. For instance, a litigation paralegal is trained to prepare for discovery and disclosure. What does this mean? This is the practice of preparing + presenting your ‘list of documents’. Or all the material relevant to your case. These are duties that a lawyer would take some time organizing without help. But legal knowledge is still required. Aside from being involved in court cases paralegals are also hired by large companies or conglomerates such as ITT. They research on the latest laws in the country or state. This could affect the overall operation of the business.
What does a Paralegal do regarding education?
Some of the most commonly asked questions involve training. If you have limited resources you may simply learn as you work. But you will earn a future higher salary level through your studies. There are various options. But most certificate programs get similar results. This may involve taking a paralegal degree online. Or a two year college degree paralegal program. In fact any form of paralegal studies program so as to get your paralegal certificate.
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