What is ”Paralegal” definition according to legal dictionary?
The North American paralegal definition in the legal terminology is “a person trained in subsidiary legal matters, but not fully qualified as a lawyer”. Simply put, this means that a paralegal is a person who has knowledge or work experience pertaining to legal concepts and substantive legal work much like that of a lawyer.
This definition of paralegal will also vary by country. In the United States, they are unauthorized to offer legal service in the same manner of lawyers. They are illegal by the government and government agency entities to perform said service. Paralegals may also work freelance as opposed to working in a law office. If a paralegal is unlicensed, they will have to be supervised by a lawyer and cannot engage in practice of the law.
Paralegal Work Explained
A paralegal is a professional that has been trained in order to assist lawyers in a variety of legal capacities. Some of their job duties do tend to land in a broad range of legal work. They are also responsible for conducting factual and legal research, draft legal documents, work with the clients and also manage some of the lawyer’s cases. It also goes without saying that the paralegal job is a people-oriented profession.
One important thing to know is that paralegals are not lawyers. While it is true that they can add value to a legal practice, they are not able to practice law. The agent that they work for is ultimately responsible for any of the professional activities of the paralegal. After all, they are performing those services under the direction of a lawyer. Therefore, it is up to the lawyer to ensure that the conduct of the legal assistant is consistent with the legal obligations of a lawyer.
Because they use paralegals, lawyers can deliver their legal services in a more efficient and economical manner. Paralegals are also known as legal assistants. Legal assistants help with gathering and managing large volumes of data in order to assist the lawyer and be able to give quality work under pressure. However, they are not able to give legal advice to any client for any reason at any time. That is the job of a lawyer.
What is a paralegal and is it a good career?
In order to be a successful paralegal, it is critical that you attend an American Bar Association approved program. Doing so will help you gain the required skills and the education you will need in order to perform successfully. In order to become a certified legal assistant, you will have to keep up effectively with your studies and excel.
The type of work that a paralegal will perform as far as branch of laws will depend upon the field of expertise of the law firms. Paralegals can work for either a particular branch of the law or a more generalized one. They could work with family law. Some of the job duties they can expect to perform on a daily basis includes petition preparation, discovery, motion practice, client communication, witness location, and investigation.
As far as communication, the process starts with answering the phones and talking with the potential clients. They will need to answer the questions the clients have, gather the necessary information and then schedule a consultation with the attorney. Once someone decides to hire an attorney, the paralegal will then need to create a file for that client. Paralegal assistant will also provide them with the attorney fee agreement and any welcome letters. Documents and evidence will be collected from the client and then an explanation of what to expect next will occur.
The paralegal supports every aspect of an attorney’s work and quite frankly performs duties that the attorney does not have time or a desire to achieve. Having paralegals perform these tasks are also better for the client because it saves them money to have a paralegal do them at $100 per hour than have an attorney do them at $300 per hour. Let’s take a look at some of the functions that paralegals assist attorneys doing.
History of Paralegals
In 1967, the American Bar Association (ABA) endorsed the use of paralegals in law firms, government agencies, private companies, etc. Then in 1968, the ABA created the first committee on paralegals and began writing and establishing rules and regulations for this profession.
Starting in 1975, the ABA began providing approval of individual state and national paralegal courses and programs. But any of these paralegal programs must pass through the inflexible standards of the ABA Guidelines for the Approval of Paralegal Education Programs.
In 1991, the ABA Model Guidelines for the Utilization of Paralegal Services (UPDATE: these guidelines were revised in February 2004) was adopted and many practices and firms have utilized these principles for better professionalism and practice.
Many states have adopted these guidelines for their revisions for paralegal services. These states include:
• New Hampshire
• North Dakota
• Rhode Island
• South Carolina
• New York
• New Mexico,
• West Virginia
• North Carolina
How does ABA define paralegal?
According to the American Bar Association, the meaning of paralegal or legal assistant is “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 and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.”
As long as the attorney supervises the legal assistant, these responsibilities of the paralegal include anything that a lawyer can do, except that which is directly prohibited by law, which is found in the ABA Model Guidelines for the Utilization of Paralegal Services.
Paralegals are required to avoid any practice that is prohibited by law, which may include:
- • Representation of clients in a court of law,
- • Taking depositions,
- • Giving legal advice,
- • Setting fees to be charged,
- • Establishing the attorney’s relationship with any client,
- • Or signing pleadings.
Some activities and responsibilities that are normal for any paralegal are:
- • Reviewing and organizing client files and documents,
- • Conducting legal and factual research and inventory,
- • The preparations of legal documents for transaction,
- • Interviewing clients and witnesses,
- • And assisting at closings and hearings.
There is much more information found throughout this website about the paralegal job description. Feel free to browse around for the most up-to-date information regarding a legal assistant’s practices.
The Ways Paralegals Improve Business
To hire a paralegal or legal assistant can be a sagacious thing to do. Not only are you receiving help for many tasks to free up much of your time, paralegals can also help to:
• Reduce basic costs and legal fees,
- • Create more contact with clients through your paralegal,
- • And create more profit by adding a profit center of paralegals to handle other duties and responsibilities while you gain more clients.
Well, as you can see, a paralegal is a crucial part of any law firm, a government organization or company. Not only do these professionals allow for more growth and impact in your area of business, but they also provide a way to release much of the pressure and time you put in at the end of the day.
Paralegals are a much-needed resource that is in a growing industry. If you’re considering becoming a paralegal, you are putting yourself in a great position to be a successful help to many people and businesses. It is an honorable vocation, and one that is worth the effort.