So you’ve been working a position for years that simply pays the bills. Some days are more exciting than others, but your nightly fix of Law and Order on Netflix is generally the highlight of your day.
Maybe it’s time to start considering other options.
The intrigue of law has always tugged at you, but figuring out where you fit best into the field can often feel overwhelming and confusing. Have you ever considered becoming a paralegal?
It’s a field projected to grow by around 17 percent through 2022 and most entry-level positions require an associate degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Whether you’re extremely detailed and organized or you love people and are great at communicating, there is a place for you in the paralegal world! This profession has plenty of options for all sorts of personalities, backgrounds and ages, and there is a type of paralegal position for almost every area of law. And if you already work in the legal field, a paralegal degree could be the most effective step to finally getting that promotion you deserve.
Here is a breakdown of seven different types of paralegals to help keep you informed of your career options. Just click on each specialty for an in-depth explanation of what the job entails.
Corporate paralegals work for an entire corporation rather than a single client at a time. Paralegals working in this specialty review contracts, research regulations and look for business impropriety. Corporate paralegals make sure corporations stay on their feet and don’t break federal laws, state laws, or other important rules.
One of the most notable differences about this type of paralegal is that he or she does not interact with clients, courts, or the public but instead stays behind the scenes. If you can imagine yourself in a 14th-floor office downtown, sipping coffee while perusing a complicated contract, this career might be for you. Excellent research skills and an eye for detail are both skills a corporate paralegal must have, so if you have those under your belt and enjoy working for the greater good of a large group of people, look no further.
Are you comfortable working with people who are grieving or with other types of delicate situations? Are you also great with details and numbers? If you possess these skills, pursuing an estate planning and probate paralegal position might be the path for you.
The legal process may seem overwhelming to someone in their 70s or 80s or for those planning for their own departure, so a compassionate paralegal that is willing to help them along in the complicated process is key.
These types of paralegals help write wills, plan estates, distribute property and work with probate pleadings and deeds. This position also requires a lot of administrative duties such as helping pay inheritance taxes and recording deeds. So if you’re equally comfortable working with people and details, an estate planning & probate paralegal job is for you.
Family law paralegals help attorneys represent parties in a custody dispute. They often prepare pleadings, keep files organized, send files to opposing counsel and draft correspondence to clients, attorneys and the court.
Much of their time is spent corresponding with clients and keeping them up to date with their particular case. Clients are often emotionally distraught due to family circumstances, so empathy is a quality that will serve you well in this position.
This type of paralegal generally works in either a law office or at a large corporation with an immigration lawyer. They work with immigrants to organize and file all different kinds of legal documents including applications for visas and petitions for deportation or political asylum.
An ability to speak more than one language fluently is an added perk as law firms representing immigrants often need bilingual employees. If you’re great at multitasking and communicating and you’re up for a fast-paced job, working as an immigration paralegal would be a great fit for you.
Intellectual property paralegals work heavily with trademarks and patents. They can work in law offices, government organizations or for large corporations. They specialize in cases involving trademark infringement, patent and copyright applications and intellectual property research.
Their primary responsibilities include corresponding with clients, organizing exhibits and researching newly emerging intellectual property legislation.
Litigation is the process of legal action, so this type of paralegal works in the realm of law where any type of legal action is being taken. There is a wide variety of sub-areas within the litigation arena, and some popular ones are bankruptcy, personal injury, corporate or intellectual property. Often this type of paralegal will be working with a client who is suing someone, so the work environment can often be stressful and fast-paced.
Preparing for trial, overseeing discovery, and interviewing witnesses are all actions a litigation paralegal may be expected to execute. He or she also might spend quite a bit of time in a courtroom as well. When a major business goes bankrupt and publicity gets ahold of the story, litigation paralegals along with litigation lawyers play a major part in helping control the public face of the case and finding the evidence needed to destroy the opposing party in court.
A real estate paralegal helps clients wade through the stacks of paperwork necessary for making real estate purchases. They review and file documents, coordinate schedules and deadlines and maintain correspondence between all parties involved in the transaction.
If a case goes to court over a zoning dispute, boundary issue or foreclosure, for example, a real estate paralegal works with clients to make sure they understand their options and their intentions are met. Anyone already holding a real estate agent license is already a step ahead of their classmates and competition.
The justice system needs you
Did any of these types of paralegals pique your interest? Do you have a great attention to detail and enjoy being the person behind the scenes making sure everything is in order? Becoming a paralegal might be the best choice you’ve made in quite some time.
Learn how a paralegal degree can help jump start your career and get you in the courtroom, working with clients and bringing justice where justice is needed!
American Institute for Paralegal Studies
The Houston Chronicle, “Immigration Paralegal Job Description”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2014-15) paralegals & legal assistants