Did you ever watch the TV show “Suits” and think, wow, that is what I want to do? In this article, we give you the ins and outs of becoming a paralegal, we’ll introduce you to qualifications and work experience which can advance your career. Skills are a must in any paralegal or legal career. Read on! And we will walk you through your salary and the benefits of being a paralegal.
What do Paralegals do?
Being a paralegal means supporting lawyers; as a paralegal, you are tasked with carrying out research either with investigations, statistics or documentary resources. You will draft the research you found into legal documents, pleadings and other correspondence. As a paralegal, your job is to manage documents for cases and the preparation of legal proceedings in the courtroom.
Your interactions with clients consist of locating, interviewing and maintaining contact with said clients or witnesses. During these interviews, you must collect all relevant facts and information to compile for lawyers to use during court. Your case planning and management are crucial to making relevant and effective recommendations for an attorney.
The knowledge you develop from your studies or work experience can help you with your day-to-day roles as a paralegal. Some of your other roles are organising case files, preparing trial notes and preparing legal briefs for the courtroom. You will never be bored being a paralegal; the job is challenging yet rewarding.
Qualifications to become a Paralegal
Becoming a paralegal needs either a degree, a higher national diploma or a degree in legal studies, law or paralegal practice. Courses like these are extremely competitive, and grades that are not good can result in you not getting a place on the course. Paralegal graduate schemes at university typically last three years. However, for those who can dedicate more time, the University of Law offers a two-year accelerated course, a Bachelor of Laws. The entry requirements for the higher national diploma are 1 or 2 A-levels, or for a degree, you need 2 to 3 A-levels to be considered.
If the university is too long of a commitment, there are plenty of different courses at college that are available. You need 2 or more GCSEs between 9 and 3 to enrol in a Level 2 Diploma in Legal Studies. Whilst level 3 courses such as CILEx certificates or NALP diplomas in law or paralegal practice, you need 4 or 5 GCSEs in grades 9 to 4 to successfully enrol.
Apprenticeships in all fields are becoming increasingly popular with the younger generation, so there are paralegal apprenticeships. The majority of these courses are around 24 months. They consist of a mixture of study and workplace training to gain knowledge of legal concepts and develop your skills to a greater level.
Skills needed to become a Paralegal
On the subject of skills, employers are very picky when choosing candidates. Your specialised and transferable skills are vital if you want to be a successful paralegal.
You will find that most paralegals are not as loud or bold as lawyers. As a paralegal, you are not there to dominate an environment. Therefore, you are less likely to notice body language, social cues and other tiny details from people around you.
Your main priority is gathering and managing a wide range of information from various sources. These documents create a case or legal proceedings for attorneys to use. Strong critical thinking skills and the ability to assess risks can impact and improve a case's chance of success, as your approach has covered all possible problems.
Attention to Detail
Missing someone's name, using the wrong date or using the wrong punctuation, all these mistakes can cause many issues for your client and the attorneys you work for. It is essential to show your clients, that you’re professional their case documents are perfect. This demonstrates, to others, that attorneys and paralegals are paying serious attention to detail. If you are a detail-oriented person, you will be just fine.
Salaries of Paralegals in the UK
You can expect to make a starting salary of £19,600, which increases yearly or based on your experience. In the UK, the average salary for a paralegal is £34,800 per year, making this 18% higher than the national average. However, based on your experience, you can expect £40,000. London will have the highest pay, but other major cities in the UK have excellent starting salaries.
Overview of Paralegals
|18 (Start Training)
|Degree in a Related Field
|Law Clerk or Legal Researcher
FAQs about Paralegals
What are the 3 essential qualities of a paralegal?
- Prepare legal documents
- Conduct Research
- Interview Clients and witnesses
What is the difference between a paralegal and a legal assistant?
What are 3 things paralegals shouldn't do?
- Set fee amount for Legal Services
- Represent clients in court
- Provide legal advice or opinions
Paralegals focus on the legal aspects and research to help lawyers with cases. Legal assistants can complete these tasks. However, administrative tasks are also a part of your day-to-day role as a legal assistant.