What You Need to Know About a Career As a Paralegal

A paralegal is in many respects a highly trained lawyer’s assistant that has a strong background in working within the legal system. There job is to perform many of the tasks a regular lawyer would do however paralegals are not authorised to give legal advice. This means that much of the lime light is on the lawyer which is what attracts some people to becoming a paralegal.

If, like many, you are looking to get into a career as a paralegal then there are number of things you may want to consider. The first and foremost is the type of work you will be expected to carry out. Lawyers depend on their paralegals to manage a range of activities for their clients including account management. On the other side paralegals can also be asked to perform case investigations and witness interviews under the instructions of a lawyer. This is a part of the job that excites many.

Paralegal jobs also offer a great opportunity for people who are looking to develop their legal skills on streamlining procedures for cases. This skill is one of the things law firms and lawyers look for when hiring a paralegal. They are interested in people who have knowledge of various different backgrounds and who are well rounded. This provides the opportunity for paralegals to work in a range of areas and provides diversity to the job role.

Although paralegal jobs are highly sort after working hours can be long and unsociable. Deadlines are often tight however the salaries are high in this sector and paralegals are highly regarded within society. The varied work and flexible working options are also highly attractive. For example the government is often looking to use freelance paralegals and your options after a career as a paralegal are very strong.

As with any role there are a number of core skills you are required to possess to become a paralegal. One of the most important is good communication skills. You not only need to be able to understand the terminology but also be able to speak and write in an accurate and effective manner. Candidates also need to be proficient computer users and be able to work well with others. As a result a great level of training is required and a degree at a well established university.

These are some of the fundamentals you may want to look at when thinking about a career as a paralegal. It is also worth noting that you will need to continually update your skills and is a job that is more suited to some than others. Having said this it is one that is highly rewarding and provides plenty of challenges for driven individuals

If a paralegal job isn’t for you then you might want to consider the one of many different types of legal careers. This ranges from everything from clerk to high power lawyer with each presenting their own opportunities. Whichever you decide the legal sector is an exciting sector to work within and is thriving in the UK.

Do You Have What It Takes To Become A Lawyer?

Just ask a group of kids about what they want to be when they grow up, and most of them will either say a doctor, a teacher, a fireman or a chef. Occasionally though, you will find kids who will want to become a lawyer and would choose that career either because they would like to help somebody, or because they think of the money, but just what does it take to become a lawyer?

Ask many of the lawyers in good standing about why they became a lawyer, and the same reasons will be given, some started studying this career out of idealism, while others felt it would be a great career with many financial prospects. Either way, the road to becoming a good lawyer who is making a good living, is paved with many thousands of hours of studying and taking many exams in order to finally get to your goal, so you must be really sure that you have what it takes to pull it off. Are you the kind of person that is tenacious and will stick with things until you reach your goal?

You will first need your basic education, meaning finishing your college degree and go to law school for three years. After finishing law school successfully, you will be obligated to pass your bar examination in the state where you want to start practicing law. Passing the bar examination is no small achievement regardless of where you take the exam. We all can remember the record of hapless John Kennedy Jr who took the exam three times before finally passing.

Passing that examination, you are now eligible to become a member of your state bar and remain in good standing. However, if you think your study hours are over, you are mistaken. In order to remain in good standing with the state Bar Association, you will need to pass evaluations every year and follow a certain amount of course, studying new laws and material, in order to stay on top of any new developments in your field of expertise.

If you dream of life as a successful lawyer, litigating in court every day, you might want to reconsider picking this as a career. The truth of the matter is that most lawyers end up spending most of their time working in their office or law libraries, preparing their cases and doing all the investigation needed in order to find loopholes in the law, relevant rulings from the past, or any other material that can help their clients to their favor.

In fact, in actuality, it can be a long time between court dates when you actually get to strut your stuff in front of juries and judges. There are many areas of the law where court appearances are almost non-existent. Patent and some real estate attorneys rarely see the inside of a court room.

All in all, being a lawyer can be a really tough career with a lot of stress, which is why it is also one of the highest paid careers of all.

Paralegal Career: Working Like a Lawyer on a Paralegal’s Salary

What is a Paralegal?

Paralegals or legal assistants are the backbone of law firms and corporate legal offices; they practically perform a lawyer’s job – save for the handshaking with clients and the word-sparring in court. This article details a paralegal’s scope of work, compensation, and education and training options to start a career in the legal services.

Paralegal Job Description

Paralegal job duties include the following routine duties that are traditionally part of a lawyer’s responsibilities:

– Assist lawyers in preparing for trials, hearings, closings, corporate meetings, etc.;

– Check facts for verification and complete all necessary research work to ensure the correctness and accuracy of all data that lawyers use in their cases;

– Assist lawyers in preparing legal arguments, in drafting motions and pleadings, and in obtaining affidavits; – Assist lawyers in the actual court trials;

– And other administrative and clerical duties as seen fit by the employer. This may include coordination of the activities of law office employees, maintaining financial records, maintaining legal archives and records, preparing tax returns, etc.

Paralegals basically perform many of the duties of a lawyer, but with certain limitations. Paralegals are prohibited by law to perform any of the following:

– Dispense legal advice to clients;

– Appear in court in the capacity of a lawyer or present a case before the court;

– Set legal fees, etc.

Paralegal Earnings

Average paralegal salary is currently pegged at $46,120 per year, according to the Occupational Employment Statistics’ latest data, with the top earning legal assistants bagging as much as $73,450 annually. The differences in earnings is directly related to training and education, experience on the job, and the size and type of employer. Employment can be found in federal, state, and local government offices, as well as courts of law, and insurance companies; according to OES data, legal offices hire the most number of paralegals, owning 71% of the employment opportunities for trained paralegals.

Paralegal Training Options

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 260 American Bar Association (ABA)-approved programs for paralegal studies. If you are seriously considering a career in the paralegal, here are some options you can take to start on this path:

Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies

Look for community colleges that offer paralegal programs which can be expanded into an associate degree given that you have completed all the necessary coursework for an associate degree certificate.

Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies

You can take your associate degree a notch further by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. If you are a bachelor’s degree-holder in a different field and wish to jump overboard, you can sign up for graduate studies in paralegal studies.

On-the-job Paralegal Training

Yet another option is to look for a law firm that would hire to train their own paralegal. Make sure to take advantage of paralegal programs while you are on the job to ensure that your knife is sharp and you get to advance in this career.

To further advance your training, you can seek for paralegal certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Certified Paralegals or Certified Legal Assistants enjoy better employment opportunities and advancement in the paralegal career.

The Lawyers’ Guild Meets The Modern Age

It has become a cliche to say that we live in a globalized economy. But that doesn’t make it true – at least not for all of us.

For instance, the legal profession still operates in some respects as though we live in the 19th century, when new practitioners hung their shingles after merely “reading the law,” and judges and counselors alike served rural America by “riding the circuit.”

Granted, we do not have self-taught lawyers anymore – though the Internet may eventually change that. And only one state, Wisconsin, retains the diploma privilege, in which graduates of the state’s two accredited law schools are eligible for admission to the bar without first having to pass the much-feared bar examination.

But in most states, the legal profession still operates more like a preindustrial guild than a postindustrial industry. As an example, only lawyers are allowed to own law firms, on the dubious theory that outsiders’ capital, and the resulting increase in competition, would compromise the interests of clients. And individual lawyers may ply their trade only in states where they have secured individually state-issued licenses, though there are special provisions in which a court can grant limited permission for an out-of-stater to appear in a particular case.

Historically, each state has tied its licensing to its own individual bar exam. A lawyer wishing to relocate or to practice across state lines had to sit for multiple examinations in order to do so, except in cases where two states granted some form of reciprocity. Taking a new test requires not only a significant investment of time, but also significant additional fees.

That arrangement is slowly beginning to change, however.

Given the large body of federal law that applies in many situations, along with the large and growing body of uniform state laws that are based on a model statute and often adopted by state legislatures with little change, a national law credential would make a lot of sense. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist. Nor is one on the horizon.

But the next best thing is a uniform national bar exam. That does exist, and New York recently announced plans to become the 16th, and so far the largest, state to implement it as of next year.

The test, called the Uniform Bar Examination, includes questions about general principles of law, along with six essay questions and two “skill tasks,” such as drafting a client letter or creating a memorandum. In New York, students will also have to pass a shorter multiple-choice exam with questions specific to New York state.

The major advantage of the Uniform Bar Exam for test-takers is that the score can be transferred across jurisdictions. So in the future, a lawyer who passes the bar in New York and who later relocates to Seattle can have her official transcript sent to Washington; if she meets Washington’s criteria, she can simply fulfill a few requirements instead of sitting for the entire test again. The more states that adopt the standardized test, the more attractive it will become.

The three states with larger populations than New York – California, Texas and Florida – do not offer the Uniform Bar Examination so far. Nor does Delaware, a state whose legal influence is outsize relative to its population because the state is home to many corporations. (Delaware lawyers do very well by this fact.) But many hope that New York’s adoption of the test may push other big states in that direction.

New York’s move has very little to do with serving the interests of the broader public. It has a lot to do with serving the interests of the state’s law schools, who – like everybody else these days – struggle to fill their classes. Jonathan Lippman, the chief judge of New York State, made this clear when discussing his decision to adopt the Uniform Bar Exam. “Law school enrollment for first-year students has declined 30 percent in the past four years,” he said, “and is at the lowest level since 1973.” (1) New York’s law schools would love to attract candidates who ultimately hope to practice elsewhere, where prospects for economic growth are better.

But just because New York is thinking of its schools and not its populace as such doesn’t mean this isn’t a useful step. Young Americans are no longer likely to spend their entire working careers in states where they grow up or go to school. Nor are they well-served by having their professional practice limited to just one state. A universal bar exam would recognize this new reality.

The legal profession remains about as far from the globalized world as young Abe Lincoln was from the jet age. The trend toward the Uniform Bar Examination is at least a small step in the right direction. It is also a sign that the people who set the rules for the legal community may have at least a vague awareness of the world around them.

Source:

1) Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “Brooklyn Law School dean reflects on NY adoption of uniform bar exam”

In This Economy the Best Career Choice Is to Be a Bankruptcy Attorney

In today’s economy, people are struggling to keep their jobs. It was recently reported that only 24.6% of all jobs in the United States today are actually good jobs. Working at Mickey D’s or other fast food restaurants does not constitute a career choice by any means. The unemployment numbers were released in the beginning of August and with no surprise, are worse than the previous month at 8.3%. One thing the government is not telling us is the number of people that have fallen off the radar because their unemployment insurance has run out and they still are not working. Over 51% of Americans are now on government assistance. It seems that the number of Americans filing bankruptcy is soon going to take another rise. The number of Americans filing bankruptcy continued to rise to a high of close to 1.6 million back in 2010. Since then, the numbers have dropped a little or stayed flat. Many experts have been predicting that this might be the calm before the storm.

In this economy we should be instructing our children to go to law school to become a bankruptcy attorney. This is one of the only careers that thrives in a bad economy. Recently, many bankruptcy lawyers have diversified and started defending clients that were in foreclosure. When the foreclosure numbers started climbing back in 2010, attorneys noticed that the banks that were foreclosing warrant even doing diligence to prove to the court who actually was on title of the property. Because of the derivatives market, many loans that were taken out back in the boom time were sold and resold many times over. This happened due to the deregulation of the industry. Many banks could not even prove that they own the paper free and clear, angering the judges causing the bank to lose the property entirely. Now, a foreclosure takes approximately one year from beginning to end as banks are making sure that their I’s are dotted in their T’s are crossed. Real estate experts are predicting a continued decline in real estate prices nationwide and the economy continues to wallow.

With all this going on this makes it a prime time for young adults in law school to begin practicing as a bankruptcy attorney. This economy will not recover any time soon and over the next 10 years we will see many Americans filing bankruptcy. People having financial trouble should consider consulting a bankruptcy attorney to look at different options. For someone with a large amount of unsecured debt, filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy is King. If it’s more about protecting one’s property Chapter 13 bankruptcy is probably better. Americans that are buried under a mountain of debt shouldn’t wait around until they hit rock bottom, but save any assets they have now by using a bankruptcy filing. Bankruptcy will break the bondage of debt and send the consumer on the road to becoming debt free.