Who are Paralegals?
Simplified, paralegals assist lawyers in the delivery of legal services. NALA is your one stop shop for all things paralegal — careers, networking, courses, etc. We are committed to making sure paralegals have what they need to succeed. Throughout our site you will find multiple resources for before and after becoming a CP.
Paralegals assist lawyers in the delivery of legal services. The career began to develop in the late 1960’s when law firms and individual practitioners sought ways to improve the efficient and cost-effective delivery of legal services. Utilization of paralegals in a law firm ultimately reduces the cost to the client and frees time for attorneys.
Paralegals are qualified by education, training or work experience and are employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity to perform specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible. In a law firm setting, paralegal’s time spent on substantive legal work is billed to clients at market rates, similar to other professional staff, but often at a lower rate. This distinguishes paralegals from other non-lawyer staff members. As a general rule, paralegal time spent on administrative or clerical functions is not billable.
Only licensed attorneys may give legal advice to consumers of legal services, and paralegals are prohibited from doing so. The work product of the paralegal becomes the attorney’s work product. Paralegals also are prohibited from accepting a case, setting a fee, or representing a client in court (unless authorized by the court). All states require attorneys to be licensed and most have statutes imposing penalties for those found to be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
Private law firms are the largest employers of paralegals. Businesses, corporations and government are also large employers of paralegals. Paralegals work in a variety of legal practice areas, ranging from litigation and trial practice to tax, real estate transactions, and estate planning.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, as fast as average for all occupations. The terms “legal assistant” and “paralegal” are used interchangeably, much like the terms attorney and lawyer.
Paralegal Education Studies
Paralegal education programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Generally, paralegals are graduates of two-year associate degree programs.
Paralegal Resource Directory
The Paralegal Resource Directory is a quick and convenient way to find legal support services for any paralegal role. The directory included process servers, corporation, deposition servers, and many more.
What do Paralegals Do?
Working under the supervision of an attorney, the paralegal’s work product is merged with and becomes part of the attorney work product for a client.
Research and Survey Findings
NALA National Utilization & Compensation Survey
About every 2 years, NALA conducts a national survey of paralegals. Paralegals invited to participate in this survey include members of NALA, non-members, and members of NALA affiliated associations. This inside look into the paralegal profession has produced some interesting and valuable data through the years. The survey analysis includes reviews of current findings in comparison with findings of previous surveys. Economic data is presented in terms of such factors as the size of the city, size of the firm, educational backgrounds, years of experience, and specialty area of practice.
Members can access the 2020 survey results by logging in to their NALA Account and purchasing the Utilization & Compensation Survey at no cost. Non-members need to log in to purchase the report. If you don’t have an account you will need to create one.
2020 Summary of findings or Report:
The latest nationwide study of paralegal duties was conducted by NALA and results reported in the Job Analysis released in December 2016. This report provides detailed information about on-the-job duties and responsibilities of paralegals, and the skills needed to perform their work. Survey findings are utilized by the NALA Certifying Board to ensure the Certified Paralegal examination focuses on the skills and knowledge required of working paralegals in today’s environment. The job analysis study is conducted approximately every 6 years.
Wolters Kluwer x NALA
NALA and Wolters Kluwer have collaborated in a study aimed at exploring how corporate paralegals and corporate legal departments select, roll out, and leverage contract management solutions.