Becoming a successful paralegal starts with understanding legal principles and practices, and mastering the skills needed to effectively support attorneys in their work. Generations College’s Paralegal Studies associate degree program, started in 1973, is the oldest two-year paralegal studies program in Illinois. With decades of experience preparing paralegal students for the rigors of various paralegal careers, we know there are as many differences in paralegal job responsibilities as there are similarities.
In general, most paralegal jobs involve working under the supervision of one or more licensed attorneys, helping the law firm or corporation serve its clients. The paralegal job description often involves conducting legal research and leveraging written and verbal communication skills when sharing information with clients, or when drafting reports or court filings. Specific paralegal responsibilities vary, depending on industry, size and type of employer.
PARALEGAL ROLES AVAILABLE TO QUALIFIED PARALEGALS
- Corporate Paralegal. Corporate paralegals generally work in the legal departments for public or privately held corporations — or other business entities. Some of the tasks corporate paralegals handle involve mergers and acquisitions, divestments, corporate litigation, board meeting preparation and minutes, and filing reports with government regulators or other agencies.
- Estate Planning and Probate Paralegal. Estate planning law firms generally help individuals, families and business owners with things such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney for health care and finances. Paralegals supporting attorneys in these firms may meet with clients, help draft legal documents, conduct research and manage client correspondence.
- Family Law Paralegal. Law firms that handle family law cases typically deal with divorce, child custody, child support, adoption and/or parentage matters. Paralegals working for attorneys who practice family law are often called on to handle client communications, research case law, draft and file motions with the court, and other tasks in support of the firm’s clients’ cases.
- Government Paralegal. Various federal government agencies, as well as state and local government offices, rely on qualified paralegals to help support attorneys. Tasks often include transactional matters, helping to draft and maintain policies and procedures, supporting attorneys handling government litigation, and preparing correspondence and reports.
- Immigration Paralegal. Immigration paralegals often get involved in helping attorneys handle cases involving U.S. citizenship as well as assisting clients in obtaining visas to work and live in the country legally. Paralegals must stay on top of developments in the immigration legal landscape so they can effectively support attorneys’ efforts to serve clients.
- Intellectual Property Paralegal. Intellectual property law refers to copyrights, trademarks, patents and unfair competition. Paralegals who work in this area may support attorneys in law firms, government agencies or corporations. Specific responsibilities depend on whether the firm specializes in prosecution or defense, but paralegals in this field can expect to conduct research, gather information and help their supervising attorneys handle caseloads.
- Litigation Paralegal. Attorneys who handle litigation defense rely on qualified litigation paralegals to support their work. Litigation paralegals help research relevant case law, prepare motions and other legal filings, assemble materials and exhibits for the attorney to use during trials, and help gather and organize evidence and trial-related documents.
- Real Estate Paralegal. Real estate paralegals may work for law firms handling commercial or residential real estate matters, or they may work for title companies. Typical tasks involve helping clients with the purchases or sales of their homes or business properties, preparing lease agreements and communicating with all parties in real estate transactions.
- Freelance Paralegal. Freelance paralegals enjoy the freedom of working for who they, when they want, and in the field they want to work in. This can involve short term contract work for a law firm, a corporation, or a single lawyer who need help handling legal matters.
- Bankruptcy Paralegal. Bankruptcy Paralegal – Having to file for bankruptcy can be a daunting, scary, and emotional ordeal to have to deal with. Bankruptcy paralegals help clients through the legal process of declaring bankruptcy. Providing direction and helping ease clients minds as they move through the process. Bankruptcy paralegals are involved in research, preparing bankruptcy documents and other tasks involved in and around the bankruptcy process.
CAREER PATHS FOR PARALEGALS HAVE ATTRACTIVE GROWTH AND EARNINGS POTENTIAL
Qualified paralegals are in demand in law firms and corporate legal departments across the country. Employment of paralegals is expected to grow by 10% between 2019 and 2029, which is must faster than the projected growth for all occupations taken as a whole.
Paralegal salary is also attractive. Of course, wages vary depending on geography and on the industry or specialty paralegals choose. As of May 2019, the median annual wage for all paralegals across the U.S. was $51,740, with the top 10% of earners making more than $82,500 per year. Paralegals working in Illinois earned a median annual wage of $60,390.
Generations COLLEGE’S PARALEGAL STUDIES PROGRAM PREPARES STUDENTS FOR EXCITING CAREERS
Since 1973, Generations College has been educating paralegals, arming graduates with the knowledge and hands-on skills needed to succeed in any type of paralegal career. Today, our accredited and approved Paralegal Studies degree program draws on this rich history while providing students with current legal industry information, access to top internships in a variety of settings, and instruction by licensed attorneys who practice in the fields they teach. Please note that paralegals may not practice law or otherwise provide legal services directly to the public except as permitted by law.
To learn more about how earning your Associate of Science degree in Paralegal Studies at Generations College can help prepare you for future career success, call us in Chicago today at (312) 922-1884 — or contact us online. When you’re ready, take your first step toward working in one of these exciting paralegal positions or in any other type of paralegal role, and apply online.