Legal assistants or Paralegals is one of the fastest-growing careers across the world. They provide wonderful support services to government agencies, legal firms and corporate entities. Paralegals perform a range of tasks in challenging legal environment. Considering the large number of lawsuits taking place in different verticals of the business and society; now is perhaps the best time for pursuing a career in law field. They have proved to be a boon for firms who cannot afford the services of a lawyer. Legal assistants are skilled at providing terrific service to the lawyers. Most of the lawyers delegate many of their tasks to legal assistants. That way, most of the tasks performed by paralegals are very much similar to the roles played by lawyers. However, they cannot perform certain tasks like giving legal advice, setting legal fees or presenting cases in court. These are the tasks strictly performed by lawyers.
Some of the important duties performed by paralegals includes, helping lawyers prepare for corporate meetings, closings, trials and hearings. They ensure that all the relevant information have been assembled and considered. It is their job to classify and categorize appropriate laws, legal articles and judicial decisions specific to the particular cases. Paralegals also prepare thoroughly written reports for attorneys. Some of the other responsibilities of legal assistants are preparing legal arguments, draft pleadings and motions to be filed with the court etc. Their assistance to the lawyers during the trials cannot be overemphasized. Often termed in casual language as ‘Man Fridays’ of attorneys, legal assistants truly play a major role in legal system.
Paralegals can choose to specialize in particular fields, such as labor law, litigation, environmental issues, family law, health care, real estate and intellectual property rights. Many paralegals also work as contract employees offering their services to attorneys for particular cases. To become a legal assistant in USA, one needs to get the certificate through the American Alliance of Paralegals, National Association of Legal Assistants, or other qualified association. Better still, many paralegals get an associate degree in law or criminal justice or higher. One can also join a community college paralegal program. Legal assistant programs are offered by more than 1000 colleges, universities and law schools spread across different states of America. The chances of employment certainly increase if one has done the paralegal program approved by American Bar Association (ABA). Many training programs offer job placement services after the course completion.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment rates for legal assistants are going to increase by 22%. Law firms, commercial legal departments and government organizations always seek services of qualified paralegals. They also manage to get handsome salary. With experience, potential earnings increase even more. This is definitely a challenging but growing career field. Law and Criminal Justice program graduates should make the most of opportunities available to them.
Some of the top colleges offering legal courses in India are:-
National Law School Of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore.
University College Bangalore,
Government College Mumbai,
ILS Law College,
Symbiosis college, Pune and
Faculty of Law of Delhi University.