The title, a paralegal, is given to individuals with a particular education and experience that qualify them to work as legal assistants. Certified paralegals need to undergo certification exams to earn the title. A paralegal works in a law office as a legal administrative assistant under a lawyer’s direct supervision. He or she is tasked with filing motions, drafting documents, preparing retainers, and interviewing clients and witnesses.
On average, paralegals work for 40 hours a week. However, in the event of a trial or emergency, they may work for 70 to 80 hours a week. Their salary is determined by the level of seniority; low-level paralegals earn from $14.13 per hour while senior paralegals make up to $36.25.
Three main things distinguish a lawyer from a paralegal. Their roles, functions, and responsibilities form the primary basis of their differences. These include the following:
Giving Legal Advice
A paralegal does not provide legal information to clients; this role is reserved solely for lawyers. If a client asks a paralegal for counsel, the paralegal should refer the client back to the lawyer.
Appearing in Court
At no time can a paralegal appear in court on behalf of a client. The paralegal is prohibited from taking and defending any depositions and signing pleadings or papers filed in court. They may appear in court but only as an observer.
A paralegal may not establish the attorney-client relationship. Anything that a client tells a paralegal doesn’t fall under attorney-client privileges.
A career as a paralegal is just as justifiable as a lawyer. All you’ll need is to earn a certificate or degree in legal studies from an accredited program. Next, you’ll need to build your experience at a job, firm, or organization. Lastly, get paralegal certification through an approved association. It’s that easy. The Center For Legal Studies recommends checking out famous schools for paralegal studies in NYC.
The paralegal profession is a suitable alternative to becoming a lawyer if you are after cutting time and costs in your education process, but it will limit your duties. However, you can always set up your practice.