Paralegal Training and Job FAQ
What Does a Paralegal Do?
The job description usually includes an impressive range of interesting duties. On a daily basis, many paralegals are trusted with tasks like:
- Investigating the facts of a case
- Conducting research on laws and regulations
- Organizing and presenting information
- Maintaining electronic records related to cases and transactions
- Writing reports to help lawyers prepare for trials
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents such as contracts and mortgage papers
- Getting affidavits and other formal statements that may be used as evidence in court
- Helping lawyers during trials
- Corresponding with clients and counsel
- Interviewing witnesses
What Can Independent Paralegals Do?
By practicing on his or her own, a licensed professional in this field can do things like represent clients in small claims court as well as advise clients and take legal action on matters related to issues such as:
- Traffic tickets
- Name changes
- Landlord and tenant disputes
- Real estate transactions
How Can I Benefit from Working in This Field?
Being a paralegal means having the potential to experience many satisfying rewards. Professionals with this occupation often get to help clients through challenging circumstances, but many of them also feel gratified knowing that they enjoy career benefits like:
A Good, Reliable Income
The paralegal field is one of the best professions to enter if you want a chance to earn a comfortable income without a long educational commitment. In fact, the median hourly wage for Canadians with this career was $24.04 in 2011-2012. And some people made more than $35.90.* For experienced individuals in this field, that can equate to a full-time paralegal salary of $50,000 to $74,672 or more. Plus, many law firms award yearly bonuses on top of that.
Widespread Demand for Their Services
People are increasingly seeking out low-cost legal assistance. As a result, many firms have found that utilizing paralegals provides a great way to make their operations more efficient and more affordable for a broader range of clients. In addition, several other types of employers make use of these professionals. So, aside from law practices, possible job settings include:
- Corporate legal departments
- Record and title search companies
- Government agencies
- Federal and provincial courts
- Financial institutions
The Chance to Specialize
As a paralegal progresses through his or her career, opportunities can present themselves to focus on a particularly interesting or enjoyable area of law. Examples include niches like family, corporate, intellectual property, and personal injury law.
Respect and Advancement Potential
Paralegals are valued and appreciated by many of their professional colleagues. That's why many of them are able to grow into leadership roles. For some, that means working in management or as part of a firm's executive team. For others, it means striking out as the owners of their own legal services businesses.
Work That's Intellectually Stimulating
This career can provide a lot of chances to demonstrate abilities related to deep thinking and problem solving. And since laws change and different trends in the legal field often emerge, a paralegal can spend a significant amount of time learning new things. It all makes for a work experience that's consistently interesting and engaging.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Paralegal?
It's possible to get a relevant diploma in a year or less. That's how many successful paralegals have gotten started. Some degree programs do take longer (two to four years), so it just depends on how quickly you'd like to begin generating an income and accumulating experience. In only 10 to 12 months, you could have enough of an education to launch your career.
And keep in mind that most provinces and territories do not regulate this occupation. Only in Ontario are you required to earn a license to practice. In that case, you simply need to graduate from a program that has accreditation from the Law Society of Upper Canada, followed by passing a licensing exam.
Which Schools Offer the Training I Need?
Each school featured above can provide you with the education necessary for getting started. And they will gladly answer more of your questions and send you additional information. So look into their programs today, and submit your request for the extra details that can put you on the path forward!
* Government of Canada, Working in Canada, website last visited on February 25, 2014.