In today’s competitive legal job market, many law graduates are choosing to become paralegals. Some opt for paralegal work due to the demanding schedules of solicitors, and then there are those who see it as a stepping stone to getting a training contract in the future.
But what does a paralegal do and what career prospects do they have?
Paralegals are legal professionals who typically work in law firms or chambers, but they can also be found in the public and private sectors, as well as not-for-profit organisations. Although they are often referred to as lawyers’ assistants, their duties can be similar to those of a trainee or newly qualified solicitor depending on their level of expertise.
A paralegal’s daily tasks will vary depending on their area of specialisation and experience level. However, they can generally expect to prepare legal documents, conduct research, and perform general office tasks like word processing or filing. More experienced paralegals may also interview clients and witnesses, provide legal information to clients, and even bill clients.
To become a paralegal, you do not need specific qualifications, but you should have a good understanding of the legal system and a good standard of education. Work experience in a legal setting, such as pro bono work, open days, or insight events, can also make you more attractive to employers.
Law graduates and those who have completed the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or Legal Practice Course (LPC) are often strong candidates for paralegal positions. However, you can become a paralegal without a degree, and legal apprenticeships are becoming a popular and less expensive route into the profession.
As for career prospects, many paralegals choose to specialise in a specific area of law and work towards a senior paralegal position, which can pay as much as £50,000 per year. The many options available to paralegals and their better work-life balance make this a very appealing career path. Some paralegals eventually try to become solicitors, and their paralegal work experience can be excellent preparation for the responsibilities of a solicitor.
While competition for training contracts is exceptionally high, paralegal work experience can be an advantage when it comes to securing one. Some paralegals have the opportunity to progress within a law firm, and networking within your firm or organisation can increase your chances of success. Paralegal work is both a diverse and stimulating professional field, and a great option for those wishing to progress.
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