Criminal Justice Articles

Where Do Paralegals Work?

A paralegal is a specialized assistant who provides legal work for a variety of entities that need legal help. A large percentage of the duties of a law practice can be performed by a paralegal, short of giving legal advice, charging fees or practicing law. Paralegals can work in different fields, not all them law. The type of duties they perform will depend on where they work.

Where Paralegals Work

Paralegals are often involved wherever there is a need for a lawyer; this means you can find them in a number of different fields. You will find paralegals in corporate legal departments, legal clinics, law firms, mortgage and title companies, insurance agencies, banks, accounting firms and other financial institutions, construction and engineering companies and even government agencies.

In the private business sector, almost 70% of paralegals are employed by law firms and corporate legal departments. Many of these paralegals specialize in specific fields such as wills and probate, litigation, real estate, tax, domestic affairs and even labor disputes. In the public sector, paralegals may be employed by government agencies and nonprofit firms that specialize in health care, social security, welfare, family law, unemployment and disability benefits and even tenant-landlord relations. A small percentage of paralegals operate as independent contractors, taking short term assignments and creating their own work schedules.

Duties and Work Environment Relationship

While the basis of a paralegal position is to provide legal assistance to lawyers and other entities that require knowledge of the law, specific tasks will depend on the job position itself. The responsibilities of the position are also dependent on the education, training and experience of the paralegal.

In the area of wills and probate, a paralegal might have to analyze legal documents, conduct client interviews, arrange appraisals of an estate and administer funds for an estate. They may also perform valuation and asset transfers, prepare tax returns, analyze estate funds for the best tax benefit and anything else dealing with wills and probate.

Paralegals working in the litigation department of a corporation or law firm will likely study and analyze legal documents, perform research, draft briefs, memos and pleadings, interview witnesses, and assist in trial preparation and the appeals process. On a slightly different note, a paralegal in a corporation's legal department may work on benefit plans for employees, draft contracts and agreements, and conduct research into legal facts regarding trademarks and patents.

You'll find paralegals specializing in real estate working in a real estate office or mortgage and title company. These specialist paralegals will be well-versed in researching property titles, preparing contracts for home sales and purchases, drafting mortgage agreements along with researching property laws and restrictions. Employed by the government in legal aid, a paralegal might work for a citizen seeking help with unemployment benefits or facilitate labor disputes.

Almost 250,000 paralegals are employed in the United States with the majority of them working within law firms or attorney practices. A paralegal with specialization in a particular area will more likely be able to pick and choose their work environment. For those with an altruistic side, they might work in community legal aid offices under the government umbrella within a city, town or village. Those with an eye on the big bucks might choose a position within a large law firm in a metropolitan city. There are many options in regards to where paralegals work.

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