Paralegal field offers a good career opportunity for fresh graduates (especially in English) and document drafting specialists. Some of the paralegal professionals have formal training and certification while others do not have any such training. Paralegals also known as legal assistants are from various backgrounds, and as a paralegal they perform various tasks. Therefore in paralegal careers, compensation and type of work change to a great extent. Many paralegals also pursue further education in law.
In paralegal careers, one has to deal with a lot of paperwork mostly related to legal work. Paralegals are responsible for going through legal documents, sorting them, studying them. Paralegals also carry out research work and present their discoveries or findings in reports.
In order to develop a career as a paralegal, one should have good knowledge of law terms and excellent proficiency in research. Sometimes, with the permission of law, paralegals represent their clients in organizational hearings. Thus, a paralegal performs all the functions of a lawyer, other than the practice of law.
Remuneration in the paralegal field varies according to the work performed. Fresh paralegals have low salaries. However, experienced paralegals with higher education enjoy higher salaries. Paralegals working in urban areas earn more money while those working in small towns earn less. Also, paralegals working for reputed or large firms get a higher pay. They also enjoy the facilities like bonuses, vacation period and many others. If someone acquires a degree or certification in the paralegal studies, he may enjoy a greater responsibility and more compensation.
To be a paralegal, there are two certifications available. They are Certified Legal Assistant Exam (CLA) and the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE). National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) organizes the CLA exam, thrice in a year. National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) conducts the PACE exam, once a year. The paralegal is registered after passing any of the exams (CLA or PACE) and known as a registered paralegal (RP).
There are also various paralegal training programs other than certification programs. Most of them are run by various colleges and universities and some of them are independent. Correspondence courses are also an option that is becoming popular with the increased use of the Internet. However, degree programs which are affiliated to the American Bar Association (ABA) and the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAFPE) are gaining more recognition than others.