The Essential Paralegal: Opening Statement: As the Evidence Will Show, Paralegals Have Become a Vital Part of Today's Law Offices

By Gibbs, Hope J. | Techniques, January 2007 | Go to article overview

The Essential Paralegal: Opening Statement: As the Evidence Will Show, Paralegals Have Become a Vital Part of Today's Law Offices


Gibbs, Hope J., Techniques


AS A PRACTICING YOUNG ATTORNEY, Thomas Jefferson once said, "A lawyer without books would be like a workman without tools."

There is no doubt that, if Jefferson were practicing law today, he would have added the word paralegals to the word books in that quote. Today's paralegal is an integral part of an efficient and effective law office. Lawyers are realizing that paralegals are essential to their practice and in keeping legal workloads manageable.

It was in the late 1960s, as the demand and costs for legal services began to escalate, that law firms and individual practitioners set out in search of a way to improve their practices' efficiency and provide a more cost-effective method of delivering their services. That goal was accomplished through the employment of paralegals who could take on a wide range of tasks, such as assisting in the preparation of legal procedures, investigating case facts, analyzing and organizing information, drafting contracts and legal documents, and preparing written reports. This lifted the routine, time-consuming, but necessary, tasks off the shoulders of lawyers, resulting in the reduction of some legal fees, an increase in clients, and the ability to focus on the actual practice of law.

Today, paralegals are viewed as vital and respected members of legal teams around the globe.

Exhibit A: The Paralegal Career Track

The American Bar Association defines the interchangeable titles of legal assistant and paralegal as "a person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible."

Although paralegals may perform many of the same tasks as lawyers, they are explicitly prohibited from carrying out such duties as are considered to be the practice of law, such as setting legal fees, giving legal advice and presenting cases in court.

There are a variety of paths to becoming a paralegal or legal assistant. The most common way would be through a two-year community college paralegal program leading to an associate degree. For those aspiring paralegals who already have a college degree, enrolling in a program that leads to a certification in paralegal studies will do.

Some employers train paralegals on the job, many times promoting experienced legal secretaries to train in that position. There are also a small number of schools that offer four-year bachelor's and master's degrees in paralegal studies.

Working as a paralegal is a true benefit for those individuals who may be considering enrollment in law school. Before the big commitment is made financially and mentally to the law profession, paralegal work offers the opportunity to experience the day-to-day workings inside a law office. Legal work isn't for everyone, and working as a paralegal is a great way to decide upon further pursuit of a law degree.

No matter what path is taken to become a paralegal, this career offers a variety of work, some flexibility and potentially great earnings. Salaries are often based on education and training, experience, type and size of the employer's business, and, as with many occupations, the geographic location of the job. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual earnings for paralegals or legal assistants, including bonuses, were around $39,000 in May 2004, with the top l0 percent earning more than $61,000.

The job outlook for a career as a paralegal is outstanding. The National Association of Legal Assistants reports that this profession is projected to grow by 33 percent during the first 10 years of the 21st century, growing much faster than average for all occupations through 2014. More law offices are hiring paralegals to reduce costs and increase the availability and efficiency of legal services, thus placing these important legal-team players in high demand. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Essential Paralegal: Opening Statement: As the Evidence Will Show, Paralegals Have Become a Vital Part of Today's Law Offices
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.