4 Career Options for a Paralegal: Which Law Field Should You Choose7 October 2019
The paralegal profession is a high-growth field that offers a wealth of career options for paralegals. There’s a strong demand for highly skilled workers who have the right law-related training and education. These legal professionals provide attorneys with valuable administrative support.
In this occupation, paralegals are expected to handle a wide range of duties. These responsibilities may range from researching case law to interviewing clients. Additionally, you can choose from several career paths based on your interest, expertise, and experience. Here are four specializations worth considering before, during or after graduating from a paralegal academic program.
1. Divorce Paralegal
Divorce attorneys rely on paralegals to help them guide clients through divorce proceedings. Paralegals in this specialty often have a lot of independence. For instance, they may handle all documentation for simple, uncontested divorces. This is referred to as a paralegal assisted divorce. Even though a paralegal may single-handedly manage the uncontested divorce process, he or she must still be under the supervision of an attorney. Common tasks for a divorce paralegal include:
- Educate clients about the divorce process
- Assist with completing alimony and child support request
- Explain to clients how to serve documents to their spouse
- Show clients how to submit paperwork
- Prepare divorce documentation
The law prevents paralegals from dispensing legal advice. Also, state law restricts the types of duties paralegals can perform. When it comes to uncontested divorces, in particular, a divorce paralegal can help couples complete the proceedings in a quick, cost-efficient manner.
2. Family Law
Family law is an area that deals with all aspects of domestic relationships. Specific issues often revolve around child support, child custody, and division of assets. A family law paralegal spends a great deal of time conversing with clients. There’s also frequent interaction with other professionals, such as accountants, bank personnel, financial officers and health care providers. Paralegals working in this sector perform the following duties:
- Prepare discovery packages
- Schedule court appearances
- Draft motions
- Maintain case files
- Perform legal research
Clients seeking family law services are usually dealing with serious emotions. Because of this, it’s important to have strong interpersonal skills. Additionally, these professionals are well-versed in case precedents and statutes related to family law. The combination of effective communication skills and legal expertise are essential attributes for this career option.
3. Criminal Law Paralegal
The role of criminal law paralegals has expanded over the years. Increasingly, they are taking on responsibilities that were normally handled by attorneys. Although they have an expanded role, attorney supervision is still required.
These paralegal specialists work with either criminal defense or prosecuting attorneys. In either instance, they assist in cases involving individuals charged with a crime. In this role, attorneys expect you to perform the following tasks:
- Obtain police records
- Prepare trial exhibits
- Draft motions
- Interview witnesses
- Perform criminal background searches
A criminal law paralegal must have an in-depth grasp of criminal laws. This knowledgebase ranges from court rules and jurisdiction to legal procedures and crime specifications. Success in this career also requires strong communication skills. Interactions with government personnel, court staff and attorneys are common. Paralegals working in this field typically work full-time, but there are situations where overtime is required.
4. Corporate Paralegal
Paralegals who choose this career specialty spend their days working with private companies. They provide support to a company’s legal department. Corporate paralegals need a comprehensive understanding of issues specific to corporations. This can range from having a working knowledge of mergers and acquisitions to an understanding of contract administration. Daily activities may involve attending board meetings, reviewing documents and preparing contracts. These professionals may also be required to do the following:
- Conduct legal research
- Write annual reports
- Create stock certificates
- Update company files
- Respond to requests for information
Keep in mind, your duties can differ from one corporation type to another. For instance, one company may need a paralegal who has a background in real estate contracts. On the other hand, another firm may place more emphasis on intellectual property. There are key skills that are essential to this role. These professionals often have a skill set that includes attention to detail, strong verbal and writing skills, and solid research skills.
Perhaps more than any other specialty mentioned above, these paralegals have room for advancement. Depending on the company, a professional in this sector can become a senior corporate paralegal. This position generally requires an ability to manage others, work with international companies as well as pinpoint possible liabilities and legal risks.
Step Into a Rewarding New Career
The paralegal field is a high-demand sector full of employment opportunities. Law firms and corporations need the support of skilled, well-trained paralegals who know the ins-and-outs of specific areas of law. The best career options for paralegals include divorce, family law, criminal law, and corporate specializations. These are viable paths for individuals seeking a rewarding career in the legal field.
If one of these areas interests you, and you’re looking to pursue a career as a paralegal, contact Pioneer Pacific College about enrolling in one of our paralegal studies programs.