The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Paralegal: Everything You Need to Know

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  • A paralegal is a legal assistant to the lawyer or law firm they work at
  • A paralegal job helps law students prepare and gain experience for law school 
  • A paralegal helps the lawyer with writing, editing, research, and other subsidiary legal matters 
  • You can become a paralegal through an internship, by completing a paralegal trainee course, or via a Bachelor’s or Associate’s 
  • To become a good paralegal, you need experience from various types of law firms

Becoming a paralegal is the perfect first step if you are considering a career in the law field. You gain valuable experience from working with law firms and lawyers by learning how to navigate through the legal system. Besides assisting real attorneys, your experience will position you above other competitors when applying for law school.

Paralegal jobs are of great importance in the legal industry. Not only do you learn how to apply law principles to real situations, but you also help attorneys with writing, researching, and editing legal documents.

Commonly referred to as legal assistant jobs, a paralegal role is a first-hand insight into a lawyer’s career. This helps aspiring law students determine whether an attorney’s job is the thing for them.

If you’re thinking about a career in law, becoming a paralegal is a beneficial initiative. But before dipping into a career in law, do you know how to become a paralegal?

What is a Paralegal


So, what is a paralegal?

A paralegal is someone trained in subsidiary legal matters that helps out the attorneys or a whole law firm before becoming a lawyer. This apprenticeship is usually completed before entering law school because it ranks the applicant above other competitors. Becoming a paralegal allows the students to see what being a lawyer looks like and what the job requires.

The paralegal meaning has lost substance over the years due to false representations in the media. So, doing a trainee paralegal course is beneficial because it shows you are ready to commit to the law profession.

Paralegal roles involve helping out an attorney with everything they need. This does not mean you need to fetch their coffee, but you help them prepare for trials. A para legal is the link between the attorney and their book of clients.

While a paralegal can help the firm with editing, research and writing, they are not able to represent the clients. Different law firms have different jobs for paralegals. Some allow the paralegal to assist the clients with their wills and mortgages, while others can have them interview criminal case witnesses.

Lawyer vs. Paralegal

Comparing an attorney and a paralegal is like comparing a witness and a personal injury lawyer – they perform different roles. If you compare a paralegal to a lawyer, the only thing they share is the knowledge in subsidiary legal work. 

A lawyer is a graduated law student who studies law and has the authority to practice it. This means that a lawyer can offer counsel, while a paralegal goes through paralegal courses that are much shorter than law school.


In short, a lawyer is someone who studied law and has a law degree, making them qualified to practice law.

A paralegal works for an attorney but is not qualified to practice law. The educational process for both lawyers and paralegals is different. A lawyer has a law degree, while a paralegal goes through a paralegal course.

What Does a Paralegal Do?

A paralegal can help out the attorney, but they cannot replace them while conversing with the client.

Other responsibilities of the paralegal include researching cases, filing documents, and preparing legal reports under the lawyer they are working for. The main difference in obligations between the lawyer and the paralegal lies in consistency. A lawyer knows how their day will be spent, while the paralegal can have different duties every day.

So, what does a paralegal do daily in a law firm? The following are some of their responsibilities:

  • Accompanying the attorney to trials
  • Writing legal documents
  • Finding witnesses
  • Conducting investigations
  • Joining will executions
  • Interviewing clients
  • Doing legal research
  • Composing deposition summaries.

A typical day for a paralegal usually begins with preparing and filing documents with the court. Then they might organize documents of ongoing cases for the attorney.

Also, a paralegal has the responsibility to archive documents related to completed cases. Finally, a paralegal keeps track of changes in the legal framework. Their duty is to provide an update for the lawyer concerning these legal changes. You may not be able to represent criminal defenses , but you can interview the witnesses. 

How to Become a Paralegal

Let’s discuss how to become a paralegal. An apprenticeship in a law firm is the number one way. Although working as a paralegal does not require you to have any licenses or certifications, some firms might ask for specific training or education.

It sure helps to know a lawyer that can help you complete a paralegal course. If not, you’ll have to look for formal paralegal education elsewhere.

To hire someone as a paralegal, law firms require their applicants to complete a certificate program or present an Associate’s degree. Some firms offer trainee paralegal jobs, but reputable ones want their paralegals to possess at least a Bachelor’s degree and a post-baccalaureate paralegal certificate. Those who have a Bachelor’s degree are considered above those who don’t and have a greater chance of getting hired as a paralegal.

The best tip to get a paralegal job is to know an attorney willing to hire you. You don’t have to specifically work paralegal duties, but you will have direct insight into what’s going on in a law firm. You will get hired quickly if you have a certification of a finished course or if you have a Bachelor’s.

Other Ways to Become a Paralegal

If you want to have a flourishing career as a paralegal, a good idea is to get experience at a variety of law firms. This includes law firms and organizations that deal with different types of law. This will come in handy when you are applying for a job as a paralegal because you will have a rich skillset.

Besides networking, a good paralegal-to-be can join a paralegal association. Through a paralegal association, the candidate is updated with all the industry news. A paralegal association will also help you understand the role of a paralegal better. By networking within this type of association, you will find like-minded paralegals that might offer you other job opportunities.

Just because you are a paralegal does not mean you must ultimately become a lawyer. You can also choose an alternative career as a contract administrator, legal secretary, banking professional, HR representative, or administrative assistant. A paralegal’s role in another kind of firm may be to assess and process risk mitigation strategies for businesses.

Skills and Qualifications Needed for Paralegal Work

Like lawyers, paralegals need to have a certain set of skills to have a successful career in law. Usually, to start a career as a paralegal, the candidate must gain an associate’s degree. Many law firms look for just an Associate’s degree, while others find a Bachelor’s degree essential. An associate’s degree is pretty easy to earn, and it takes at least two years to complete. You can earn an Associate’s degree in both a university and community college.

What Can a Paralegal Do in a Law Firm?

Some firms require the paralegal to have completed a paralegal course. These are specific types of courses that teach the learning paralegal introduction to law, legal ethics, research techniques, and business communications. Paralegals that specialize in these types of trainee courses can do modules on wills, immigration, trusts, intellectual property, and bankruptcy. For example, a paralegal may receive the question: how to protect your beneficiaries?

Besides certifications and an Associate or Bachelor’s degree, a paralegal needs to have a set of soft skills:

  • Being personable
  • Precise and punctual
  • Pays attention to detail
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Organized
  • Amazing communicator
  • Adaptable
  • Able to use new technology.

How to Get a Paralegal Certificate

Some law firms require work experience to hire you as a paralegal. This means that once you finish the Associate’s program, you need to find a job in a law firm.

You don’t have to work as a paralegal specifically. You can work any type of job as long as you are in an entity that practices law. Some associate courses have their prospective paralegals take internships. These internships can one day transform into future jobs once the paralegal graduates.

A certification is imperative if you want to pursue a job as a paralegal. A paralegal certification is usually issued and granted by The National Association of Legal Assistants, The National Federation of Paralegals, or The American Alliance of Paralegals.

These are the associations that can help you earn a Professional Paralegal certificate. However,  you have to have work experience for several years to qualify for certification. This is why you need to take the offered internships during the trainee paralegal courses.

Career Outlook for Paralegals

This is the best time to become a paralegal, as law firms plan on increasing their efficiency. A paralegal’s job is expected to rise by 12% in the following decade. This is because law firms and other businesses plan on hiring more assistants and paralegals to help unload the workload. Plus, a paralegal salary is not as high as a lawyer’s, so law firms will hire paralegals to cut costs. 

Besides law firms, a paralegal can also work in finance, consulting, healthcare, and insurance. A paralegal can also find many legal secretary jobs in London. For example, if you are a paralegal in London, your salary might be different than in other areas.

A paralegal salary in London is £30,593 a year and can go lower in other places. If you search paralegal jobs Birmingham on Google, the salary is lower than the paralegal London salary, with £22,965 a year.

Following the Path to Becoming a Paralegal

The path to becoming a paralegal is not one to be underestimated. You need the experience to become a paralegal, and this includes working in law firms or businesses as a legal assistant.

After joining a paralegal association, you need to get a Bachelor’s or an Associate’s degree. A paralegal’s job is different from a lawyer’s and they are not limited to working only in law firms.

A paralegal can work as an HR, banking professional, legal secretary, or contract administrator. If you’re looking for a job as a paralegal, just Google paralegal jobs near me, and you’ll get tons of prospective job offers!


What is a paralegal?

A paralegal is essentially a legal assistant that assists a lawyer or law firm. They help the attorney write legal documents, archive completed ones, assist them to trials, interview clients, do research, etc.

How to become a paralegal?

The number one way to get a job as a paralegal is through paralegal apprenticeships in law firms. This includes going through a specific type of training and paralegal course education. You can also become a paralegal through a paralegal association.

What does a paralegal do?

A paralegal finds witnesses, interviews clients, is present during will executions, writes legal documents, does legal research, composes deposition summaries, etc.

Paralegal How To Become?

Some law firms offer trainee paralegal jobs. Usually, once the training is complete, the law firm will hire the trainee as a paralegal. However, the best tip to get a job as a paralegal is to find an attorney that’s willing to hire and work with you.

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