About Being a Paralegal

About Being a Paralegal

A paralegal is qualified by education, training, or work experience to work for a law office, corporation, governmental agency, or other organizations such as insurance companies, real estate and title insurance firms and banks, performing specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible. Paralegals are also referred to as Legal Assistants in some legal settings.

Except as specifically authorized by the Supreme Court of Arizona, a person may not practice law within Arizona unless they have been admitted to the State Bar of Arizona.



Under the supervision of a lawyer, a paralegal may analyze legal issues; investigate and evaluate facts; prepare pleadings, contracts, forms, legal memoranda, and other documents; interview clients; assist in case management; and perform other duties to assist the lawyer in the delivery of legal services to clients.

Except as specifically authorized by the Supreme Court of Arizona, a person may not practice law within Arizona unless they have been admitted to the State Bar of Arizona.

Paralegals are employed by law firms, corporations, financial institutions, title companies, accounting firms, government agencies and other organizations. The kind of work performed varies tremendously depending on the type, size, and specialties of the employer.

Generally speaking, a paralegal works independently under the supervision of a lawyer or senior paralegal and uses knowledge of legal concepts and procedures. A legal secretary, on the other hand, assists attorneys and paralegals with tasks which do not require knowledge of the law. Many legal secretaries also perform some paralegal duties. An individual must graduate law school and be licensed as an attorney in order to practice law as a lawyer. Lawyers supervise paralegals and legal secretaries and are ultimately responsible to the client for the quality of the legal services delivered.

As a simple example, a paralegal may draft a will based on applicable law and the needs of the client. The attorney reviews the will and makes any corrections. The legal secretary produces a final version of the will ready to be signed by the client.

The terms mean same thing. The title "paralegal" has traditionally enjoyed wider usage, however, the term "legal assistant" is also common.

Successful paralegals have strong reading, writing, and listening abilities, are disciplined workers, and are very attentive to detail. Computer knowledge is a necessity in most legal offices today. A general interest in law and the legal process is also important.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that paralegal will continue to be one of the fastest growing occupations in the new millennium.

For centuries, all law-related work was performed by attorneys. However, as the amount of legal work has exploded in recent times, lawyers have had to become more efficient by using paralegals wherever possible. This process of transferring many legal tasks from attorneys to paralegals is expected to persist indefinitely, continuing to generate demand for qualified paralegals.

Some of the individuals currently working as paralegals began their careers in other fields and through on-the-job training learned the additional skills necessary to be a paralegal. Today, however, employers are often looking for paralegals who have graduated from college programs approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Attending a paralegal program that is approved by the ABA and gaining experience through an internship program can help in launching a paralegal career.

The American Bar Association (ABA) approves those programs that meet its Guidelines for the Approval of Paralegal Education Programs. A paralegal program's curriculum, faculty, administration, academic resources, student services, and library facilities are evaluated as part of the ABA approval process.

Next Steps

Contact the Paralegal Advisor at  law@phoenixcollege.edu to begin the process of enrolling in the program.