WHAT DO PARALEGALS DO?
With training in the law and legal administration, a paralegal can assist lawyers with their work by taking care of administrative duties such as filing, preparing and writing legal documents, handling correspondence, drafting minutes and reports, organizing meetings, preparing presentations, welcoming clients and doing research.
They can also handle simple legal procedures such as files for Small Claims Court, property disputes, insurance files, amicable divorces and disability appeals. Paralegals can also take care of business procedures when they are not too complex, e.g. name changes, simple incorporations and company registrations.
One or more lawyers oversee and control the work of paralegals. Since paralegals are not lawyers, they cannot handle complex files but must be able to understand the business and assist layers in their work.
Paralegals can be generalists or specialize in a particular field: labour, succession, litigation, corporate and securities law.
Depending on their position, paralegals may be called “legal technicians,” “legal assistants,” or “law clerks.” Paralegals can eventually become “paralegal managers.”
WHERE DO PARALEGALS WORK?
Paralegals can work for independent attorneys, law firms, government bodies or in corporate legal departments.
WHAT QUALITIES ARE REQUIRED FOR PARALEGAL WORK?
Paralegals should be organized, thorough and detail-oriented. They should also have very good oral and written communication skills. Independent and resourceful, they have good teamwork skills, are tactful and take initiative. Paralegals are discreet and loyal, with sufficient maturity to maintain client confidentiality. Finally, they must be able to manage their stress and have the ability to multitask.
Proficiency in office and legal software is essential.
HOW DOES ONE BECOME A PARALEGAL?
Paralegals usually take a college paralegal technology program that has been certified or recognized by a paralegal association. They should master the following fields:
- Family law, administrative law, civil law, criminal and penal law, commercial and corporate law, labour law
- Civil procedures
- Case law and legislation
- Trust accounting
- Management of a law firm or notary office
HOW IS THE EMPLOYMENT MARKET FOR PARALEGALS?
For several years, the employment market for paralegals and similar personnel has seen some growth; this trend is expected to continue in the coming years. Indeed, hiring of paralegals depends not only on the continuous development of legislation and regulations, but also on the rate of economic growth. It is good to know that one point of economic growth leads to a 1.5% increase in demand for legal services and advice.
A good candidate is above all a qualified paralegal who demonstrates adaptability, has solid training and has rock solid ethics.