What is a Paralegal? : The Various Kinds of Paralegals

What is a ParalegalWhen asking, “What is a paralegal?” you will find many answers. While many paralegals share the same type of work or day-to-day activities, their specialities make them different and knowledgeable about various law topics. If you want to be a paralegal, there are many fields that you can work in, based on your interests. From family law to corporate work, there’s a paralegal for every time of law practice. Here are some of the types of paralegals that you could become.

Litigation Paralegal

The most common type of paralegal, a litigation paralegal would to prepare cases going to trial. Duties would include researching and investigating claims, gathering facts, finding, interviewing, and preparing witnesses involved in the case, and drafting important reports, including summons and affidavits. The litigation paralegal would also attend trials with the lawyer, taking notes and copying transcripts. Some secretarial tasks would also be done by the paralegal, such as scheduling meetings and interviews, reserving office spaces in court houses, establishing an itinerary, making copies, and filing important documents. For a civil litigation paralegal, the average salary was $53,000.

Corporate Paralegal

A corporate paralegal works within a corporation as part of their legal team or office. Generally, a corporate paralegal would oversee the corporation’s actions and make they are acting within federal, state, and local laws and regulations. If the corporation does work abroad, the paralegal might also have to review international laws and regulations. Most likely, they will help a team of lawyers with drafting client and employee contracts, reviewing shareholder agreements, and analyzing financial reports or company stocks. They might also research any impropriety happening internally. Overall, they help the corporation and its employees stay within their boundaries, as new laws or regulations are updated.

Most of a corporate paralegal’s work happens within the company’s legal office or department. These paralegals are less likely to help with a case outside the office, such as a court room. In addition, an average salary was almost $59,000 in 2010.

Immigration Law Paralegal

An immigration law paralegal works with an immigration lawyer, who works with clients in various parts of their immigration status. The paralegal and lawyer might work for a large office, small practice, or even as a consultant agency for a non-profit. Paralegals in this field will file many types of immigration-specific documents, such as visa applications, petitions, or asylum grants. In addition, a paralegal might conduct historical and legal research on the state or U.S.’s relationship with a particular country, which might help the lawyer find legal causes for granting asylum or other immigrations statuses. This work involves a lot of interaction with clients and their families, and paralegals in this work are most likely to create bonds and develop a long relationship with particular families dealing with long-standing cases. For many of these positions, an ability speaking a second language can be helpful. The average salary for a paralegal in immigration law was close to $60,000 in 2010.


Family Law Paralegal

Like a litigation paralegal, paralegals in family law practices work on cases involving disputes among or within families. The type of cases a family law paralegal would work on include marriage or domestic partnership, divorce, adoption, child custody, paternity, child neglect or abuse, domestic violence and more. Like an immigration paralegal, this position values great interpersonal skills and tactfully dealing with sensitive materials, information, and personal issues involving the parties. Duties include drafting or filing the appropriate forms and documents related to family court and law, obtaining documents like birth certificates, and also locating involved parties and working with a mediator to come to certain agreements. The average salary for a family law paralegal was $45,000 a year in 2010.

These four position are just a quick sampling of the types of paralegals out there. To learn more about different paralegals, contact us.