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Paralegals: Today and Tomorrow

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Essay title: Paralegals: Today and Tomorrow

You probably know someone who drives as if speed limits and road signs didn’t exist. They just carry on unobservant of others, hoping they don’t get caught. What if there were no laws? What would happen? Where would we be today? Laws are an important part of our lives and our communities.

Our legal system includes statutes, also known as laws, enacted by Congress legislatures, and decisions handed down by higher power courts (Law, 2005).

Law professionals are not just employed in courthouses as one may think. They are also employed in all types of government agencies including the Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security, and the Federal Drug Administration, just to name a few (Law, 2005).

Although the most popular professions in the field of law are judges and lawyers, the legal system has not always been as structured as we know it today. In the early days, almost anyone could be a lawyer or a judge (Fins, 1999). Judges and lawyers aren’t the only ones to make the field of law run so smoothly. Supporting the lawyers are paralegals.

Paralegals began to organize in the late 1960’s (Fins, 1999). The first paralegals were given a limited number of duties. Many of them started as legal secretaries who gradually just learned from on-the-job training (Miller & Urisko, 2004).

Since the development of paralegals they have taken on many duties lawyers once did themselves. The paralegal helps to assist the lawyer by doing some of the following tasks; interviewing witnesses, conducting legal research, and examining documents. The most important tasks a paralegal has are that of helping the lawyer prepare for hearings, trials, and meetings (“Paralegals”, 2005).

Figure 2: Paralegal Research. Retrieved July 24, 2006 from: www.anwalt-moser.de/paralegals.bmp

Paralegals are found in all types of places, not just law firms. They can also be found in corporate legal departments and government agencies. In these places, they can then specialize in litigation, personal injury, criminal matters, and real estate (“Paralegals”, 2005).

The use of paralegals used in the practices mentioned above did not occur without struggles. The growth of large law firms brought about the need for office support (Fins, 1999). Lawyers wanted to start making legal services affordable to everyone. With the help of the Office of Economic Opportunity, lawyers were able to start employing paralegals (Fins, 1999). This assistance then made legal help affordable to even the poorest of the poor.

As you can see, since the development of the paralegal profession, lawyers are now able to direct more of their practices and attention to their clients needs. Lawyers can also concentrate on more technical aspects of providing legal services. Thanks to lawyers having a growing desire to make legal service affordable to everyone, paralegals are now accepted as a part of the legal profession. The history of paralegals will continue long into the future.

Being a paralegal brings about many rewards and choices. One of those choices is the area of law that one chooses to specialize in. There are many career paths to take. A paralegal could work in a small firm, a large firm, or many government agencies. Within the company, a specialty can be focused on and pursued.

One career path a paralegal may choose is that of family law. Family law is the law relating to family matters such as marriage, divorce, child support, and child custody (Miller & Urisko, 2004). A family law paralegal is not limited to just law firms though. Family law paralegals can also work for government agencies. A family law paralegal is estimated to make $38,150 average salary a year (Miller & Urisko, 2004).

A family law paralegal should have some knowledge of custody and divorce laws and sometimes social services knowledge is helpful (TOPS, 2006). Some job responsibilities of this area of law include filing motions or pleadings, researching similar cases, drafting documents, and performing investigations. In my opinion, anyone with a background or interest in social work would be a great family law paralegal.

Another career path one may choose is that of a corporate law paralegal. Corporate law is the law that governs the formation, financing, merger and acquisition, and termination of corporations (Miller & Urisko, 2004). A paralegal that specializes in corporate law may work for a corporation or a law firm that specializes in corporate law. A corporate law paralegal makes an average yearly salary of $45,410 (Miller & Urisko, 2004).

A corporate law paralegal should have some knowledge of stocks and bonds, stock certificates, and how to set up corporations. Some tasks performed by a corporate law paralegal are filing documents with

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