Paralegal Career For Dummies
eBook - ePub

Paralegal Career For Dummies

Scott A. Hatch, Lisa Zimmer Hatch

Share book
ePUB (mobile friendly)
Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Paralegal Career For Dummies

Scott A. Hatch, Lisa Zimmer Hatch

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents

About This Book

Your career as a top-notch paralegal starts here

The demand for paralegal professionals is exploding, and Paralegal Career For Dummies, 2nd Edition explains the skills and requirements needed to pursue this rewarding career. Inside, you'll discover the ins and outs of paralegal skills, from preparing documents and performing legal research to obtaining certification, job hunting, and understanding legal concepts.

Use this hands-on guide to help in your career considerations, bolster your paralegal training, or as an everyday on-the-job reference. Paralegal Career For Dummies will be your trusty assistant through all phases of your life as a paralegal, taking you forward with tips on networking and joining professional organizations that will enhance your career.

  • Discover the job skills required for success as a paralegal
  • Learn important legal concepts you'll need on the job
  • Access forms, templates, and examples on the companion website
  • Develop strategies to manage time and advance your career

Complete with a companion website containing a wealth of valuable information, this book covers everything you need to become a top-notch paralegal.

Frequently asked questions
How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is Paralegal Career For Dummies an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access Paralegal Career For Dummies by Scott A. Hatch, Lisa Zimmer Hatch in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Law & Law Theory & Practice. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.


For Dummies
Part 1

A Snapshot of the Exciting and Lucrative Paralegal Profession

Explore the wide variety of jobs in the paralegal profession and sample those jobs where paralegals are most in demand.
Discover the skills and education necessary to succeed in a paralegal career.
Amplify your networking success through joining paralegal associations and decide whether certification makes sense for your path.
Prepare killer cover letters and effective resumes for securing a paralegal position.
Set up your freelance paralegal business and advertise your skills to law firms and other potential legal employers.
Chapter 1

Discovering the Paralegal Profession

Looking into what paralegals do
Familiarizing yourself with the kinds of workplaces paralegals encounter
Getting the proper training to work as a paralegal
With so much media coverage for attorneys and so little for the equally important paralegals, you may not be entirely familiar with what a paralegal career entails. In this chapter, we tell you what paralegals do, where paralegals work, and what it takes to become a paralegal.

Almost a Lawyer: What a Paralegal Does

Both paralegals and lawyers are legal professionals. The difference is that an attorney must supervise a paralegal’s work, and a paralegal can’t do certain things, like give legal advice and represent clients in court.
But there are many things paralegals can do. Because using a paralegal instead of an attorney can save a lot of money, law firms and corporations are increasingly relying on paralegals. As a paralegal, you’ll likely be doing many of the tasks that in past decades were accomplished only by licensed attorneys. We cover some of these important tasks in the following sections.

Researching and analyzing the law

Courts make decisions about current cases based on the decisions made in past cases. So, to effectively prepare a case, you have to know what the courts have decided in similar circumstances and evaluate them to figure out how they apply to the case you’re working on. You find prior cases and relevant statutes through legal research.
Performing legal research can eat up gobs of time, so attorneys often count on competent paralegals to take up this duty. No matter which area of law you enter, you’ll have to do legal research. If you work in areas that frequently require litigation, you’ll do lots of research, but even other areas like domestic law, trusts and estates, corporate law, and entertainment law are going to require you to hit the books.
Of course, legal research has increasingly moved away from books and into computer technology. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be doing less research, just that you may be doing more of it from your desk rather than heading to a law library. (Chapter 13 shows you how to research the law in texts and on a computer.)
Your job doesn’t stop with the accumulation of research. You also have to analyze the information by applying law to facts and probably draft memos that present your analysis for the lawyers in your firm. You may need to apply the information that you find to a corporate contract, will, or other legal document. In many cases, you may even be asked to do initial writing on motions that will actually be filed in court. So although you may not be speaking in court, your work will be.

Playing Sherlock: Interviewing and investigating

Cases aren’t only about relevant statutes and case precedents; they’re also about the facts. As we discuss in Chapters 11 and 12, you may interview witnesses and collect evidence in your paralegal career. Evidence gathering is especially important in any kind of litigation. Litigation results in many areas of law. For example, corporate law may involve litigation stemming from contract disputes or product liability; patent and trademark law may lead to trials over intellectual property rights; and family law features frequent litigation, especially stemming from divorce and child custody issues.
For each of these kinds of lawsuits, there are witnesses to interview and evidence to gather. For example, if your supervising attorney were working for a plaintiff in a product liability suit, you would need to gather information on the harm caused by the product, interview other people who may have been adversely affected by the product, work to determine what the company knew of the danger and when, and collect information from any additional witnesses.
Even if you aren’t working in litigation, you may still need your interview and investigation skills. For example, when you help prepare a prenuptial agreement for a family law practice, you need to determine the client’s assets and investigate the background of the future spouse. If you’re working for attorneys in entertainment law who are reviewing a record deal for one of their clients, you may have to investigate the details of the deal or the record company. Whatever the area of law you become involved in, you’ll use your interview and investigation skills.

Convening with clients

Without clients, the practice of law wouldn’t exist. Tasks like legal research and document preparation may seem to be the main duties of legal professionals. But, you only engage in these and other legal tasks because you’re working on behalf of a client. Establishing good relationships with clients is essential to open communication and good legal practice — and it’s also important to strengthening your career.
During your paralegal career you may find that you’re often the liaison between the client and the attorneys you work for, which may be one of the most important duties you have. As the liaison, you keep the client informed of how the case is progressing and work with the client to get all the relevant case information. Then you accurately relay what the client tells you to the attorney who represents the client.
As a paralegal, you generally aren’t allowed to have your own clients. If you tell clients that you’re representing them in a legal matter, you’re probably guilty of the unauthorized practice of law. So, in every case, clearly communicate to the client your status as a paralegal. All your duties are supervised by a licensed attorney, which means that you communicate everything the client tells you to your supervising attorney. Attorney-client privilege doesn’t require or even allow you to keep any secrets from your client’s lawyer. (You can find more on these and other ethical concerns for paralegals in Chapter 15.)

Administrating the legal environment

In some offices, you may work as a case administrator. An administrator handles the case details for a client and the attorney. For example, law firms have special accounts where they keep money that belongs to clients rather than to the firm. If a client wins a judgment or if money included in a will is being dispersed, that money passes though the accounts of a law firm. Or, you may keep track of the money bequeathed through a will if you work for a probate attorney.
In a small law office, your paralegal duties may also include administrating the entire operation, including the filing system, the calendar, and the billings. (For more on how to manage these tasks, turn to Chapter 18.)

Table of contents

Citation styles for Paralegal Career For Dummies
APA 6 Citation
Hatch, S., & Hatch, L. Z. (2019). Paralegal Career For Dummies (2nd ed.). Wiley. Retrieved from (Original work published 2019)
Chicago Citation
Hatch, Scott, and Lisa Zimmer Hatch. (2019) 2019. Paralegal Career For Dummies. 2nd ed. Wiley.
Harvard Citation
Hatch, S. and Hatch, L. Z. (2019) Paralegal Career For Dummies. 2nd edn. Wiley. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Hatch, Scott, and Lisa Zimmer Hatch. Paralegal Career For Dummies. 2nd ed. Wiley, 2019. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.