by Gladys Mae
Gladys serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute.
The area of law is a vibrant and constantly growing area of employment. Opportunities within the Legal and Justice arena are not simply confined to lawyers who have completed law degrees. In fact, for many a great start to your career in law can include working as a paralegal or a legal secretary. This article briefly sets out how to become a paralegal.
A paralegal is an employee who is hired to assist a lawyer or a team of lawyers in the preparation or settling of legal documentation.
You may choose to be a paralegal in a litigation firm, in which case your role may be to prepare legal briefs for court, compile witness briefs, and collate material to instruct senior counsel. You will often be substantively involved in the preparation of all material for court, and will be as much a team member as the lawyers. This may provide you with an opportunity to observe the matter in court, and be a part of the dynamic litigation process.
Or perhaps you may choose to work in a local solicitor’s practice. Again, because of the nature of the practice you will likely be heavily involved in the legal process, such as attending to property settlements or exchange of contracts.
Paralegals are given opportunities to work in any type of law practice. You may be a paralegal in a large commercial firm or boutique medium-sized law firm. Or you may wish to be a paralegal in a sole solicitor’s practice. You could work in a practice that specifically targets one aspect of law, such as environment law or taxation law.
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Wherever you work, the benefit of being a paralegal is exposure to a variety of legal matters, the opportunity to learn from others, and the prospect of developing your career in a myriad of ways within the employment area of the law.
As a paralegal, you may attend to matters such as drafting letters of service on behalf of the solicitor, answering client calls, filing court documents or registry material (such as documents for registration at Land Titles office). The work may involve being the central point of contact with regular clients, legal research, or organising the evidence in a litigation matter.
As a paralegal is not licensed, you tend to work under the supervision of a qualified lawyer. This can provide useful opportunities to learn from a lawyer, which may in turn interest you to further your career as a lawyer one day.
To give you the edge above other paralegal applicants there are courses available. For example, The International Career Institute has a specific course aimed at providing training, targeting the skills required for becoming a highly qualified paralegal.
Fulfilling a course designed to teach you the industry will not only provide you with an advantage in your future job applications, but also gives you the confidence in the job interview as well as when you commence work.
There is a growing need for paralegals, as the demands on lawyers grows and their capacity to attend those demands diminishes. Paralegals are becoming vital members of a legal team. Even if you are not a lawyer, you can become a part of this dynamic industry and you never know where it may lead you.