If you’re ambitious about a career in law, becoming a paralegal creates a direct pathway from the classroom to the courtroom. Paralegals are the unsung heroes of legal teams, assisting lawyers with a variety of tasks and responsibilities to support legal teams. Unlike a lawyer, paralegals usually do not have law degrees. The day-to-day life of paralegals can be unpredictable and dependent on the type of lawyer they are assisting. As the #10 Best Social Service Job of 2022 by U.S. News and World Report, a career as a paralegal is both in-demand and fulfilling.
For a better idea of what a career as a paralegal would look like, you should familiarize yourself with the kinds of lawyers you’re working with and the styles of law you’ll be practicing.
Criminal Defense Law
Supporting a criminal defense attorney isn’t exactly like what you see on TV, it’s more than lively court proceedings and dramatic investigations. Criminal defense attorneys analyze the facts, investigate the case against their clients, and attempt to reach agreements with their opponents. As a paralegal, you’ll help prepare lawyers for court through research and planning. It’s not uncommon for criminal defense paralegals to draft documents like indictments, briefs, pleas and motions.
Child custody, divorce, tax and finance laws, adoption, social services, and any other matters affecting families are handled by family law lawyers. Family law paralegals conduct interviews with parties involved in domestic disputes, divorce, or child custody. These paralegals may also acquire and prepare evidence for hearings and trials, conduct research and prepare written reports for cases.
Personal Injury Law
Those who have been involved in an accident resulting in injury will seek a personal injury lawyer. Personal injury attorneys assist plaintiffs in earning fair compensation for their losses, which include lost earning capacity due to inability to work, medical bills, legal costs and attorney fees. Paralegals can assist personal injury attorneys with client communication and scheduling. They also play a large role in documentation management, which is extremely important for high-caliber cases.
For tax attorneys and paralegals, every season is tax season. Legal tax teams use their expertise to interpret and apply policies involving money. Individuals and corporations who are being audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are represented by tax attorneys before federal, state, and taxation authorities. In addition to knowledge about law, tax attorneys and paralegals must also have strong math skills. For tax paralegals, being detail-oriented is a must. To support their legal team, tax paralegals must organize and interpret an onslaught of tax forms every day.
While the specialties of paralegals may vary, the value paralegals add to their teams is consistent. Paralegals play a huge role in keeping things running smoothly during stressful cases. Their strong organizational skills combined with a thorough understanding of the law enable them to support legal teams from the time a case has been assigned to the time a final decision is made. Whether you’re working for a private firm, a government agency or even freelancing, your career as a paralegal will never be dull.
How to Get Started
Deciding which specialty of law to pursue may be overwhelming, but earning a degree in legal assisting is a great way to gain a better understanding of what a career in law would look like, as well as which specialty you enjoy the most.
A successful career in law is closer than you think, and Herzing University has the educational pathways to get you there as efficiently as possible.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.