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Paralegal

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What Is A Paralegal?

In today's world where terminology is frequently changing, the terms themselves
and what is associated with them can often be confusing. In the legal field, an
example of this is that while terms such as paralegal, legal assistant, and
legal secretary, are all used on a regular basis, it can leave many people
wondering what these roles consist of, as well as whether or not there is any
significant difference between them. After you have some of the basic facts,
you should not find it all to be so confusing.

A legal secretary is precisely what the term implies. Up until quite recently,
this role was the one which most non-attorneys held in a law office. Legal
secretaries, who were usually female, were not much different from secretaries
of any other type, with the exception that a legal secretary often had
specialized training in order to be more knowledgeable about matters specific
to the legal field, resulting in being more effective and efficient at the job.
While legal secretaries occasionally had a college degree, it was generally more
up to the discretion of the employer rather than due to any professional
requirements.

In contrast, when legal assistants became an everyday part of most law offices,
the entirely different role necessitated more and different qualifications. In
taking a much more active role in the law office, a legal assistant needed to
be much more familiar with all aspects of the legal system in general. While
working as a legal assistant was basically a matter of being a helper to an
attorney, it was a job which consisted of a decidedly hands-on approach.

These days, the terms legal assistant and paralegal are often used
interchangeably. Although many who work in this field tend to prefer the latter
term, there is actually not a difference between the two. While the duties of a
legal secretary consists primarily of a clerical nature, this is not the focus
of a paralegal.

The majority of a paralegal's work consists of legal duties; although it is
usually required that these duties are assigned and carried out under the
direction of an attorney, it is generally a matter of the paralegal lightening
the attorney's workload by taking on responsibilities and tasks for which she
is qualified. For example, interviewing witnesses for a court case is one such
duty. Instead of basic clerical work, a paralegal's duties often include such
examples as researching statistics, case information, and other facts which are
vital to the attorney's ongoing work.

In today's world, the role of paralegal is quite often filled by men. While
there are still more women paralegals, many men have also found this field to
be both professionally and personally rewarding. Although there were very few
male legal secretaries in the past, the widening role and opportunities for
paralegals have led many men to find this line of work to be quite appealing.

In short, a paralegal is a professional in the law office or other business
where he or she works. The paralegal has a distinct role, and the
qualifications necessary to be effective in that role.

Why The Paralegal Field Needs You!

When you are thinking about what you can gain from becoming a paralegal, it is
a good idea to look also at the other side of the picture how much you yourself
can contribute to this field.

As an individual, you have many positive assets which can be a wonderful
influence in the office where you work, the field work that you may also do,
and both co-workers and clients alike. No one else has a personality quite like
yours; and whatever characteristics you possess can go a long way in making your
workplace even better.

You may have the special ability to sense and help with problems, or you may be
outgoing and cheerful, or you may have a unique style of dedication to your
work. All of these assets, and others, will help to create harmony in the
workplace, and will be a great aid in "getting the job done." Whatever your own
unique personality may consist of, you can correctly assume that you have
something special to offer, simply because you are an individual.

You also have your own unique range of experiences. These, too, can be very
helpful in problem-solving, resolving conflicts and other difficulties, and
assisting in the process of your office running much more smoothly. Your
personal, education, or prior work experiences have given you a unique
perspective; and there will be many instances and situations where your
perspective is precisely the one that is needed.

As a good paralegal, you probably have a considerable amount of interest in all
phases and aspects of this line of work; but it is also likely that you have a
special passion about one or more of those aspects in particular. Whether your
passion is for helping people, or for accuracy and efficiency, or for being a
team-player, your enthusiasm will lead you to be much more effective at your
job than someone who does not possess these special traits.

After you have completed your studies and are prepared to begin working as a
paralegal, your status of being well-educated and appropriately trained will
also make you a valuable asset wherever you decide to work. You will bring with
you the freshness of one who is not only new to the field but is also completely
up-to-date in everything that you have learned.

While paralegals who have been working for a long time frequently take on
coursework to keep their education current, you will already have this matter
in hand as a newcomer to the paralegal field. While you will have the chance to
learn a lot from those who have much experience, they in turn will be able to
appreciate the fresh perspectives and the current knowledge which you can
contribute to both them as individuals and the workplace as a whole.

You may already be aware of all of the wonderful opportunities that the world
of the paralegal will offer to you; knowing that you have much that you can
give in return is equally important.

How Can You Become A Paralegal?

These days there are a number of options open to those who wish to enter
specific fields, and the field of paralegal work is no exception. After you
have all of the facts in hand, you will then be prepared to decide which
particular option will work best for you.

One of the first important points to consider before you make this decision is
what the result will be from your paralegal training. After you have
successfully completed your course of study, you will receive either a career
diploma, a certificate, or a degree, depending on the school you have chosen
and the program that it offers.

The reason why this is relevant is that some law firms and other businesses
which hire paralegals have specific requirements regarding which they prefer or
accept. If you have a law firm or business in mind for where you would like to
work, this may influence your decisions.

After you have made the decision about which achievement you wish to attain, it
is then time to explore your options!

For many people, pursuing a paralegal diploma, certificate, or degree, will
begin at a nearby university, community college, or specialized career college.
There are a number of factors which can influence your decision about pursuing
your paralegal course of study in this manner, so it is essential to weigh both
the positive and the negative aspects.

If you elect to do your coursework at a college or a university, one of the
most important benefits is that you will have one-on-one interaction with your
educators in the classroom setting. This factor in itself makes classroom
learning the most appealing to many people. In addition, when you are in this
type of learning situation, you will find it quite easy to request extra help
with your studies if you should need to do so. You will also have the added
benefit of being able to personally interact with other students who are in the
same course of study.

For many, however, the two main drawbacks to traditional classroom study are
the factors of time and cost. While these are generally lesser issues for
younger students, older people who have family and/or job responsibilities may
find it quite difficult to make the time for regular classroom study, as well
as being either unable or unwilling to take on the obligation of student loans
to pay for education in a traditional setting.

The best answer to the time and expense factor is distance learning. If you
need to fit your coursework into the responsibilities of your daily life,
and/or if you would not think it wise to take on student loans, distance
learning is the best way to reach your goals. You will be able to schedule your
coursework as it works the best for you; and you can do so in the most
cost-effective manner.

The bottom line is that whatever your personal situation may be, you can find
the type of paralegal coursework that will best suit your needs.

What Can You ExpectFrom Paralegal Training?

Although there are a number of different types of credentials for paralegals,
and, therefore, variations in the lengths and types of coursework which one
must successfully complete in order to receive his or her credentials, they all
have the common purpose of educating the individual to take on an important role
in the legal field. This education gaining the knowledge necessary to do the
job, and the skills necessary in order to be able to put it into practical use.
Both aspects of one's education are equally important.

Basic paralegal training generally consists of an overview of the legal system
as a whole, specialized areas of practice, and the skills which are applicable
to this line of work. Don't make the mistake of letting this brief description
give you the idea that there is anything vague or minimal about paralegal
training, however, because the coursework is very complete, and quite intense.
It is also one of the most interesting and enjoyable types of coursework that
you can possibly put your time into studying!

After you have completed basic paralegal coursework, you will have learned
nearly everything that there is to know about the American courts and justice
system. This includes the history of this system, how it evolved into the way
it is today, and details surrounding how the courts and justice system operates
both in terms of the laws and the roles of legal representation. You will also
learn the fascinating details about codes, procedure, both the criminal and
civil arenas, and how all of these things are applicable to the workings of the
courts and justice system as a whole.

During your paralegal training you will also become very well acquainted with
specialized areas of law. Business, family, corporate, tax, family, and other
specialties are covered in detail. Not only will you learn what these areas are
about, but you will also be taught everything you will need to do on an everyday
basis if you elect to work in any of these areas. You will not simply learn
about the area you may wish to enter, you will be equally prepared for them all.

As working in the paralegal field requires one to be more than competent in a
number of essential skills, you will enhance the skills you do have and prepare
yourself with the others. Working with computer programs, math, written and
verbal communication skills, are all basic parts of a paralegal's everyday work
life. You will need to know how to conduct interviews, use spreadsheets, operate
data bases, and other essentials; all of these skills and many more will be
addressed in your coursework.

Whichever method you choose to begin your studies, whichever specific type of
credentials you wish to work toward, the period of time it will take for you to
earn your credentials, or the individual school that you elect to study from,
you can be completely assured that after you have successfully completed your
training you will be well-informed and well-prepared to begin your exciting new
career as a paralegal!

Why You Might Like To Become A Paralegal

Whether you are young or not-so-young, planning your first venture into a
career or changing careers in mid-life, you might like to consider becoming a
paralegal. This field will open up a world of opportunities, enjoyment, and
personal satisfaction for you!

First, if you become a paralegal you will be taking on a very important role in
the legal field. As one who has begun training for this career is taught, a
paralegal needs to be as aware and up-to-date on laws, procedure, and the legal
system, as the attorneys. Assisting an attorney is no small role, for you will
be providing some very valuable functions-- in short, lessening the attorney's
workload by dealing with many of his or her essential tasks.

Second, working as a paralegal will give you the benefit of meeting many
interesting people. Whether you are working in the office, providing hands-on
assistance with legal cases, or preparing documents, your life will be enriched
by the many fascinating people you get to interact with along the way.

In addition, paralegal work provides a valuable service to the community. As
there are not nearly enough qualified attorneys available to deal with every
necessary aspect of legal work, there are a number of services which can be
dealt with by a trained paralegal instead. While these services vary depending
upon the specific laws in the state where you reside, many states allow
paralegals to serve in some capacity to the community.

The range of benefits to paralegal work also extend to income. Although pay
rates vary in different areas, the general pay scale for a trained, qualified
paralegal is very nice indeed! If you are considering entering this field, you
will also be glad to know that in most locations paralegals are much in demand,
which will make it relatively easy to get a job as well as the all-important
factor of job security once you have been hired for the position.

Another wonderful aspect to working in the paralegal field is that it will
expand your range of knowledge and will keep you up-to-date with the frequent
changes in the courts and legal system. As a paralegal, you will need to stay
well-informed and current with the status of laws and procedure in general, but
especially those surrounding the specific field of law that your attorney deals
with on a regular basis.

As you can see, there are many benefits in paralegal work. After you have
considered all of these exciting opportunities which will be open to you, it is
quite likely that you will decide that it is the career you have been looking
for. What other field can hold so many opportunities for doing a type of work
that is absolutely essential, playing a large role between an attorney and the
public, while giving you job satisfaction, the chance to advance in your career
if you wish to do so, and personal enjoyment, all at the same time? The
paralegal field offers all of this and more to you!

Why The Paralegal Field Is An Excellent Choice For A Career Change

There are many reasons why a person may consider beginning a new career in
mid-life. You may have dedicated many years to raising your family, or you may
have gone into a line of work that you did not necessarily like due to
necessity, or you may have been one of the many who simply did not know at a
young age what type of work was best suited to you. Whichever one of these
categories best describes you, you may now be at a stage where you would like
very much to go into a field of work that you will truly enjoy.

Whether you are in your thirties, forties, or well beyond, the paralegal field
can be an excellent choice for you! This is one field where you will find that
the experience you have gained in life really does count, as well as finding
that you will be able to learn much, much more. In addition, paralegal work is
one field where one's age is not very relevant it it equally appropriate for a
"beginner" of forty as it would be if you were twenty.

If you are considering the prospect of paralegal work, it will be helpful if
you were to first think about the factors that are the most important to you.
If your main purpose for seeking a new career is the element of a good income
and job security, the paralegal field is currently amongst the highest-ranking
in-demand fields. What this can mean for you is that it is not nearly as
difficult to acquire a good job in this field as in many other fields, and
lay-offs and downsizing which is a concern for many lines of work is not nearly
as frequent an occurrence for paralegals. In addition, in most regions the pay
rate for paralegals is much more than satisfactory.

As there are some older people whose main priorities in a career are other than
income-related, this may be the case for you, also. For example, your primary
focus may be on simply doing something that is worthwhile. Even if you have
already retired from a long career in a very different field, or have completed
your child-raising responsibilities, you can gain a high degree of satisfaction
from paralegal work. In this field, you will be doing something important,
something relevant, something significant, and you will find that the job you
do consists of functions that are valuable to the attorney or law firm that you
work for, as well as to the community as a whole.

You may also be a person who would like to enhance his or her life with the
experience of further learning. The paralegal course of study, as well as the
experiences you will have working in this field, will give you wonderful
opportunities for both of these all-important life-enriching needs!

No matter what your own personal reason is for wishing to enter a new career
later in life, you are certain to find that the paralegal field can be the
excellent choice!

Credentials For Paralegals

As there are a number of different credentials for paralegals, you may be
wondering what the difference is and why it is relevant. Especially if you are
now planning to begin your paralegal studies, it is a good idea for you to be
aware of these facts so that you can make the decision that is best for you.

One of the most important factors in deciding what type of credential you
should work toward is your career goal. This factor in turn depends on the
workplace in which you plan to eventually work. Law firms, private practice
attorneys, various agencies and other businesses which hire paralegals all have
their own very specific requirements as to which forms of education and
credentials they will accept when hiring a paralegal to work for them.

Whether you have a specific workplace in mind yet or not, it is a good idea to
check into whichever ones you are considering in order to find out as early as
possible the type of credentials they will require you to have. You will find
some law firms that will not hire a paralegal who has anything less than a
college degree for a specific type of paralegal coursework, businesses which
are willing to provide on-the-job training for someone who does not yet have
any credentials at all, and virtually everything inbetween.

Even if the business where you wish to work does not have strict requirements,
it is a very good idea to consider becoming certified anyway. In addition to
providing you with better standing in the workplace, becoming certified will
open up many new possibilities for you.

Although you may be quite satisfied with your job, certification will not only
give you the chance for newer and better opportunities, but can also help you
in gaining a higher salary where you do work. In the paralegal field, becoming
certified is one of the most important examples of how putting a small amount
of time and your serious effort into something will benefit you in the longrun.

When you are thinking about what form of credential you wish to work toward, it
is also in your best interest to keep in mind your thoughts regarding career
advancement. Even if you have a specific place in mind where you plan to work
after you have completed your studies, you may later decide that you want a
better or different job.

This possibility in itself is a good enough reason to not settle for the least
that your prospective employer requires you to have, for it will prove to be
much easier, less costly, and far less time-consuming in the longrun if you
gain the highest credentials that you can in advance. In other words, even if
your prospective employer does not need you to have anything more than a career
diploma, it can very well be in your best interests to aim for a degree-- or, at
the very least, certification so that you will have the opportunity to get an
even better job later on if you decide to do so.

Knowing the requirements of the place where you want to work is important; but
assessing your own future goals and the possibility that those goals may change
is a very important, additional factor.

Would Becoming A Freelance Paralegal Be A Good Option For You?

When you are thinking about a new career as a paralegal, there are a number of
options which you can consider. You might decide that being a freelance
paralegal is the way that you wish to pursue this field. You can begin by
weighing the pros and cons of this exciting new way of working in the paralegal
field; and you may decide that it is the best option for you.

If you are the type of person who is less than thrilled with the prospect of
working in the same office, day after day, eliminating this form of routine is
one of the most important highlights that you can receive from freelancing.
When you hire yourself out as a freelancer, each and every job assignment that
you take on will be a new adventure. Not only will the work environment vary,
but you will also have the opportunity to meet many more interesting people.
This factor alone is one of the main reasons why many paralegals prefer
freelancing over committing themselves to one specific workplace.

Freelancing can also result in a big "plus" regarding your income. Instead of
having to settle for the specific salary that is offered by the one law firm
that you work, you have a great deal of leeway in setting your own pay rates.
This factor can result in considerably more money for you.

When you elect to freelance, you will also be in charge of your own schedule.
Instead of being bound to the nine-to-five work day of most law offices, both
your daily schedule and your calendar as a whole will be largely up to you.
Whether you need to take time off, or whether you wish to take on a heavier
workload, freelancing will meet your needs.

There are, of course, some negative points to freelancing. One important point
is that if you work as a freelance paralegal you will not be eligible for the
types of benefits that you would have in working for a law firm or a private
attorney.

If you feel that such "perks" as general health insurance and other such
benefits are essential, freelancing will not give you these benefits.

If job security is high on your list of priorities, this is another factor that
is not provided by freelancing. Many people need to be assured of steady income,
at a rate that they can count on, in order to keep their bills and everyday
living expenses up to date. Freelancing will not provide the job and income
security that you would have from being on the staff of a law firm.

In order to be successful with freelancing, it is necessary to be
self-disciplined, motivated, and organized. If you elect to take the route of
freelancing, you will need to be able to seek and obtain prospective jobs, be
very effective in scheduling your time, and have good math skills for the
purpose of billing and taxes.

Working as a freelance paralegal has factors in its favor, and factors that are
negative to some people. If a sense of adventure and excitement in your work
life is what would suit you the best, freelancing could be a great option for
you!

Considering Specialized Fields Of Law As A Paralegal

One very important fact that you may not have thought of in your preparations
to become a paralegal is that while attorneys have a number of wonderful
options in specialized fields of law, so will you! This will be an excellent
opportunity for you to work in the specific area which interests you the most
and your personal interest will help you to develop your talents, so that you
can bring even more enthusiasm to your job!

When you are thinking about this, the first step you should take is to check
into what is available in the location where you plan to work. You will
probably find a number of law firms and private practice attorneys who deal in
general law, some who deal with a combination, and some who specialize in
specific fields. While all of these have positive aspects, wouldn't you gain
much more satisfaction from your job and your everyday work experiences if you
decide to choose the one that appeals to you the most?

There are many options, but you should not find it difficult to focus on the
one which peaks your interest. There are private practice attorneys and law
firms which specialize in criminal law, business law, family law, tax law, and
a variety of others. Your initial decision to become a paralegal likely had
some degree of bearing on interest in the legal field, so you will probably
find it quite likely that one specific type will catch your eye almost
immediately.

There are some very good reasons to think about selecting a speciality. One
reason is that your job will give you the unprecedented opportunity to learn
first-hand nearly everything that there is to know about that specific field.
When you are working on an everyday basis, you will not only have hands-on
experience in the area of law that interests you the most, you will also have
the benefit of working with the attorney who practices solely in that area.
There is very little that has the potential to give you so much satisfaction as
working at something in which you are truly interested.

Another reason for considering a speciality is that the enthusiasm that you
generate will be very positive to your attorney and anyone else who works in
your office. As enthusiasm is contagious, the fact that you have a significant
interest in what you do will lead your entire work environment to be much more
pleasant. Even the most routine tasks which you conduct on a daily basis will
not seem like dreary or boring chores when you truly love the work that you are
doing; and this enthusiasm will have a very good effect on your supervising
attorney and co-workers alike.

When you choose a specialty, you will also rightly feel that you are making a
very important contribution. Instead of simply doing a job, you will be
actively promoting your field just by doing it well. If you wish for your job
to contain a wide range of basic experience, general law can be perfect for
you; but if you have a particular interest in mind, working as a paralegal in a
specialized field of law may be the right decision for you!

Where Can You Find Good Resources For Paralegals?

As a paralegal, it is essential to have good resources. This is true whether
you are still studying, or whether you are already working in the field.
Everything from the regions which offer the most jobs, particular hiring
processes, salary information, and regulations surrounding educational
requirements, are all topics that it is wise to keep up-to-date with their
current status.

There are a number of good resources which will help you to stay well-informed
on every aspect of the paralegal field. All you really need to do is make a bit
of effort in making them an ongoing part of your life. One form of resource is a
discussion group. You may wish to form or join such a group in your own locale;
but branching out to the types of discussion groups that you can find online
will provide you with a much wider range of perspectives from paralegals all
over the United States.

In this type of discussion group, you will also have the opportunity to get to
know many people who are in different stages of their paralegal careers-- from
students to beginners to those who have worked in the field for many years. You
will see that each person has his or her own very unique experiences, feedback,
and viewpoints to contribute. If you take part in a discussion group on a
regular basis, it will be a very positive experience.

On a wide scale, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations and the
National Association of Legal Assistants are excellent resources. As most
states have at least one and usually more associations for members of this
field, most of these groups are connected with either one or the other of these
nationwide Associations. In addition to providing a wealth of information
regarding the essential aspects of the paralegal field, you can also find
assistance in continuing your education and gaining a higher tier of
certification. Becoming a member of either NFPA or NALA is one of the best
decisions you can possibly make toward enhancing your career.

In addition to these interactive resources, subscribing to a trade magazine
will also help to keep you well-informed and current in your field. "Legal
Assistant Today" is one which you might like to consider. Although this
widely-circulated magazine is available in print form, you can also find it
online, which will give you the opportunity to check into the prior issues in
the archive, as well as the current edition.

As the paralegal field is not an isolated type of work, seeking out all of the
resources which are available to you will be a wonderful aid to your career. As
this is a field where the more you know the better your chance of success, as
well as the need to stay updated with all of the changes in the field, it is
unwise to try to navigate all of the necessary information without electing to
use a number of relevant resources. Whether you choose magazines, Association
membership, or a combination of resources, you will find that they are a very
positive influence on your career.

A Paralegal's Workday

One of the most interesting facts about becoming a paralegal is that one work
day is never like another. There is always different tasks to perform,
different information to deal with, different people with whom to interact.
This fact alone makes working in the paralegal field a very appealing prospect,
for a paralegal's workday is not a boring one, not a routine one at all.

This is the case regardless of whether you work in a specialized area or with
general law, and regardless of whether you work for an individual attorney in
his private practice, a large law firm, a community agency, or another type of
business.

In a paralegal's work day, there is always something to do, and even tasks
which would appear to be basic are all important. Depending on the place where
you work and the area that it covers, you may find yourself doing anything from
taking statements from someone in a capital-murder case, assisting in the
process of someone who is buying a new home, doing the paperwork for clients
who are forming a new business partnership, or operating spreadsheets for tax
purposes.

If you work in a firm which specializes in a specific area, the focus of cases
may be much more concentrated than one which deals in general law, but even if
the cases are specialized you can be assured that you will never find your work
to be boring or routine. The basic facts that every case is different and each
person you will deal with is unique will make this obvious to you from the very
beginning.

The wide range of experiences which you will encounter in your work day is
highlighted by your paralegal studies. Rather than placing focus on any one
particular aspect of paralegal work, you are provided with broad yet detailed
information so that you are adequately prepared for nearly anything that you
may encounter in your job.

After you have begun working in this exciting field, you will see how quickly
and how regularly this will benefit you. In short, the more you know and the
more prepared you are, the more effective you will be; and this includes your
ability to do the job well, the ability of your daily work to keep your
interest and hold your enthusiasm, and, ultimately, your success.

Whether you intend to work as a paralegal for a short period of time while
furthering your career, or if this is the job you wish to do on a longterm
basis, it is one of the best choices that you can make. There are few other
fields in which every work day will feel like a new adventure, bringing some
unique experience and sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

You can work as a paralegal for a year, or you can choose it as your lifetime
career; but whichever prospect suits you the most, you can be assured that when
you have begun working as a paralegal, every work day will present positive
experiences for you.

Paralegals And Notary Public Services

If you are a paralegal, or are planning to enter this career field, you might
also like to consider becoming a Notary Public. Although states vary in their
requirements for this, if you live in an area where your paralegal training
also qualifies you to carry out the duties of a Notary Public, you will be
providing a very valuable service to your community.

Whether you live in a large city or a rural location, you may have had the
experience of not being able to find a Notary Public when you needed one. In
addition, many Notaries are located in banks, post offices, and within other
such businesses which often do not have business hours that are as convenient
as many people need them to be. If you are qualified to provide this service,
it can be both a very helpful way of assisting others, as well as a rewarding
experience for you yourself.

Although the classifications of Notaries vary, also, providing this service
generally includes the basic duties of administering oaths, being witness to
the signing of a variety of legal documents, and placing your Notary Public
stamp on each document to verify that you have personally carried out these
tasks.

As each state varies in its laws regarding qualifications necessary in order to
become a Notary Public, as well as differences in the processes for doing so, if
you are interested in providing this service it is essential that you first find
out the facts specific to your state. To illustrate how important it is to make
certain of your state specific laws well in advance, it is interesting to note
that while some states require nothing more than an application and an
accompanying fee, others require a licensure examination, and yet others
require a prospective Notary Public to be bonded before becoming able to
practice. If all of this appears confusing, it need not be; all you really need
to do is find out where your state laws stand, meet its requirements, and follow
its procedure.

Although it is not likely that you can earn a comfortable living solely by
providing Notary Public services, it is a great option to consider in addition
to your regular paralegal job. If you are currently working for an attorney, he
or she will probably be more than willing to help you get the information that
you need regarding the requirements, regulations, and process for becoming a
Notary.

If you have ever needed to get an important document notarized on short notice
as most of us have! you are already well aware of the need for more people who
are willing to provide this service, and willing to provide it at convenient
times, in convenient places.

If you are considering taking on the duties of a Notary Public in addition to
your regular job as a paralegal, you may be further spurred toward making the
decision to do so when you realize exactly how essential this service is to the
community.

Networking: An Excellent Tool For Paralegals

In many fields, networking is a wonderful tool. This is especially true for
those in the paralegal field. If you have tried networking in the past, or with
other lines of work, you may have thought that it was little more than asking
people about prospective job leads. Networking provides not only this, but
much, much more!

When you decide to network, it is one of the most excellent ways to find a good
job. Not only does the more people that you know result in a better chance to
find the job that is best suited to you, it is also one of the easiest ways to
find jobs as soon as they become available. When you network, you can get tips
about prospective jobs even before they are open. This is certainly a better
method of job-seeking than having to rely on classified advertisements.

In addition to being made aware of jobs, good networking can also help you to
land the job that you want. If you know someone who is already working for a
specific law firm, the person may be able to put in a positive word for you, or
at least serve as a reference. Having a reference who is with the firm where you
wish to work is definitely a "plus" toward landing that great job! You will have
a much better chance of getting hired than if you had merely filled out an
application or requested an interview completely on your own.

Networking, however, can give you other benefits that are not directly
associated with finding and getting hired at a job. Networking can give you
many opportunities for positive interaction with others who are in your field.
Comparing notes with other people who are in the same line of work will help
both you and them to stay up-to-date with such all-important factors as changes
in paralegal regulations, hiring trends, and opportunities for further education.

When you network, sharing your experiences with others can be beneficial to all
concerned. What you and they like the most about the job, or the line of work in
general, problems which need to be resolved, the variety in courses of paralegal
study, and future goals within the field are all aspects of a paralegal's
everyday life which can be greatly enhanced from discussions with other
paralegals. You may be able to offer your objective input or opinion on
something that another person has been struggling with; and you will find
others who can do the same for you.

Networking does not have to be limited to interacting with other paralegals.
The wider of a range of people whom you know is a great asset. You may find job
opportunities, information about education, and wonderful new friendships, in
places that you had not even considered before. Whether you are still in the
process of your paralegal studies, looking for or already in a job, networking
can open up a whole new world of possibilities.




Paralegal Study Through Distance Training

While many traditional colleges and universities now offer distance learning
programs, there are many find schools which deal only in this type of
education. If you are thinking about doing your paralegal program through
distance learning, it is a good idea to consider some facts in advance.

You may be one of the many people who will consider distance learning to be the
answer to your further-education dilemmas, especially in regard to time and
expense. Distance learning will be quite a relief to you in both aspects not
only can you work around your own time-frame, distance learning will usually
cost much less money than traditionally-based education. Non-traditional
schools which provide distance learning only are very reasonably-priced; some
will give you the added bonus of being able to pay your tuition on the basis of
monthly installments, which is quite preferable to having to pay tuition in one
lump sum.

If you believe that distance learning is the way you wish to pursue your
paralegal education, there is another extremely important factor which you must
consider. Before you make a commitment to doing your program through a specific
school, it is essential to first find out if the school you are considering is
accredited. The fact is that there are many schools which advertise various
types of distance learning programs and methods, but are nothing more than
"diploma mills."

If you are not familiar with this concept, what it means is that you would be
buying your credentials rather than actually earning them. In turn, these
alleged schools are not accredited you will find yourself with useless
credentials that is not worth the money you paid.

In order to avoid such disappointment and a waste of your money, it is
important to check into the school you are thinking about before signing an
agreement or sending any money. The main points that you will need to know are
that the school you are considering is accredited usually by the state in which
it is actually located-- and that you will be expected to complete the full
program of coursework in order to receive your credentials.

There are two ways in which many people often fall for the scams of
non-accredited diploma mills. While some people may actually wish to possess
credentials that they did nothing to earn, the majority are those who are
simply so eager to reach their goal that they do not investigate the status of
the school before sending money and signing agreements. Either way, the result
is a diploma or degree that was quite expensive to receive yet will be
completely useless.

Distance learning can be the best choice of method toward becoming a paralegal.
As long as you check the facts in advance and select a school that is
accredited, you should not encounter any problems. This non-traditional
alternative to classroom study can be a great first step in working toward your
goal of becoming a paralegal and finding a rewarding career in this field.

Paralegal Training For Young People

If you are a young person with an interest in the legal field, but not yet
certain about your life's goals, becoming a trained paralegal may be the answer
for you. There are two main reasons for considering this possibility. First,
paralegal work is a great career in itself. After you have begun this type of
work, you may decide that the number of options open to paralegals contains the
job that you truly want.

Also, once you have started working as a paralegal, you will have had more than
a headstart if you later decide that you wish to pursue an even more advanced
degree in the legal field. Even if you have already made this decision, or are
thinking about it as an option, paralegal study and work will be a very good
investment of your time.

Whichever decision you eventually conclude, as a paralegal you will be at the
heart of the legal system. In this line of work, you will be familiarizing
yourself with the current status of laws and procedure, and take on a very
important role in your attorney's specialized field. If you are thinking about
becoming an attorney yourself, paralegal work is a most excellent opportunity;
you can think of it as being like an internship, but with significantly more
important functions and very good pay!

If you think about paralegal work in this manner, you will see that you will
not only be working "for," but actually working "with," the most qualified
professionals in the legal field; and this is a very important factor in both
learning and experience that you would not be able to gain from classroom study
alone.

If becoming an attorney is a possibility in your future, you will also be
interested to learn that many schools which offer higher legal degrees will
count both your paralegal training and your work experience in this field to
credit toward your advanced degree. In this way, not only have you gained
education and work experience, you have gained education and experience that is
relevant to your future goal.

Once you have begun working as a paralegal, you may decide that all of the
opportunities and benefits offered by this particular line of work are
precisely what you want. It does not need to be a "stepping stone" to a
different career in law, for it is a highly prestigious career in itself. If
performing essential functions, having job security, and gaining a deep sense
of personal satisfaction are what you are looking for in a career, the
team-player role of a paralegal is certain to meet and exceed your expectations.

Either way you look at it, beginning your steps into your future with paralegal
training is a great start. Whether you are fully certain as to what your
eventual goal will be, or if you are still at the stage of having some doubts,
both the knowledge and the hands-on experience that you will gain from
paralegal study and training is the best introduction that you can have to this
fascinating field.

Paralegals And Conflict Of Interest

Conflict of interest is a very serious subject for attorneys; it is a very
serious subject for paralegals, as well. Unfortunately, problems can sometimes
occur if a paralegal is not aware that she is bound by the same regulations as
an attorney-- including the regulations surrounding this subject. It is very
important for a paralegal to know the facts, so that she will be much less
likely to make these mistakes.

For an attorney, conflict of interest is the term that is usually used in
reference to representing two or more opposing parties in any legal proceeding.
An example would be representing both the husband and the wife in a divorce
case, or both the buyer and the seller in a property transaction. While a
paralegal is not in the role of representing a client in a proceeding, there
are a few ways in which conflict of interest can occur.

One mistake a paralegal can make is conflict of interest when working for more
than one attorney. Sometimes this occurs within one law firm; in other
instances it can happen if the paralegal is working for more than one law firm.
Although it is not usually done intentionally, the problem can occur if she is
working for two or more different attorneys who are representing the opposing
parties. The primary reason for such strict regulations against conflict of
interest is that it is assumed unfair for the attorney, the paralegal, or
anyone else who is working on a case on the behalf of one client to have access
to the confidential information of the other client.

Although this problem can occur within a single law firm, it is even more
important that a paralegal make certain to avoid it if she is working for more
than one firm. The easiest way to go about this is to simply inform the
attorney that she cannot assist with a case because it would be conflict of
interest. It is imperative that the paralegal who finds herself in this
situation not discuss one supervising attorney's case with another attorney.

For a paralegal who elects to work by freelancing, it is of the utmost
importance to keep this in mind at all times. Not only can a paralegal who
either willingly or unintentionally makes this mistake face losing her legal
capacity to practice, the attorney who has knowledge of this can also lose his
license if he either promotes or allows it.

The specifics regarding conflict of interest are not very difficult to
understand; and, with the facts in hand, the regulations surrounding this
subject are also not very difficult to adhere to. Even though conflict of
interest is one of the most serious breaches of professional conduct, and can
result in severe penalties, the problem would not occur as frequently if every
paralegal is knowledgeable about the facts. This does not simply mean the facts
about this particular subject, but also that most regulations which an attorney
is bound to adhere to are equally applicable to paralegals.

Paralegals And Document Preparation

If you live in one of the states which allow non-attorneys to work in document
preparation, you have an exciting way in which you can put your paralegal
knowledge to work. It is essential, however, for you to know in advance your
particular state laws regarding this subject.

There are a number of positive aspects to working in document preparation.
While you may have the option of either working for a document preparation
service or having this as your own business, the latter has the potential to
help you earn a very nice income, as well as being able to set your own
schedule.

If you have a passion for the field you are working in and the job that you are
doing, this is the most wonderful way to ensure that every day and every
assignment is a new adventure. As each assignment that you contract will be
different from the previous assignment, your enthusiasm and interest will
continue to grow, and you will never need to be concerned that boredom will
ever be a part of your work life.

Even in the states which do allow for document preparation to be done without a
supervising attorney, there are a couple of very important facts which you must
know and keep in mind. One point is that you can never misrepresent yourself as
being an attorney if you actually are not one. This means that whether you work
for a service or are in business for yourself, you must be honest with your
clients regarding your status, as well as what functions you can and cannot
perform.

Another important point is that if the law in your state allows you to do this
type of work, you cannot solicite, offer, or provide these services outside of
the jurisdiction. What this means is that you cannot take on clients who live
in a location where this practice is deemed Unauthorized Practice of Law.

If you have a love of the legal field and also enjoy helping people on a
one-to-one basis, working in document preparation can be a great option for
you. In addition to the paralegal coursework which you have already taken, you
can find resources on your own and even take classes to learn how to do this.

The two main factors in being able to do this type of work are having the
knowledge of the necessary types of documents, and knowledge of procedure in
your specific location. For example, if you are producing the documents for an
uncontested divorce case, you will not only need to know what documents are
required for such a case, but also the specific format for each one. Second,
you must also know when, where, and by whom a document must be filed.

Although these days it is becoming more and more common for people to deal with
their own documents, it is generally not in the best interest of an untrained,
unqualified individual to attempt to produce his or her own legal documents
from a template in a book or an online source. Many people do so simply because
they cannot afford the high cost of consulting an attorney. You can provide
these services at a much lower cost to them and a good income for yourself.

How Working As A Paralegal Can Enrich Your Life

If you have made the decision to become a paralegal, you may be interested in
hearing about how your life can be enriched by working in this wonderful field!
Your paralegal job will come to mean much more to you than just where you spend
eight hours of your day.

First of all, you have made the wise decision of selecing a career in which you
will be financially secure. Working as a paralegal will not make you wealthy,
but if you wish to earn a comfortable living, this line of work will assist you
in doing so. Depending on the specifics in the area where you live, paralegals
usually enjoy a nicely competitive rate of pay. You will also be glad to know
that most law firms where you may eventually decide to work will also offer
good benefits.

Second, the paralegal field is currently one of the most in-demand fields that
you can find. As not only law firms and private practice attorneys but also
more and more agencies and businesses of many types are electing to use the
services of paralegals, when you have successfully completed your schooling it
is very likely that you will be equally successful in finding and getting hired
at the job that you want.

However, the ways in which your life can be enriched by working as a paralegal
go considerably beyond those all-important, basic factors. You will be
delighted when you discover how rewarding your new career will be in your life.

If you have a passion for learning, for the legal system, and for people, your
paralegal career will highlight your life more than you can imagine. Your
everyday work life will be filled to the brim there will always be exciting,
new things to learn! You will play a vital role in the legal system, regardless
of which particular form of paralegal work you choose to undertake. Your passion
for caring about and helping people, and concern for the community at large,
will find a very significant place in your daily work life when you work in the
paralegal field.

In addition to all of these important assets which you will gain from both your
job and the work that you do, you cannot afford to discount the importance of
all of the people with whom you work on an everyday basis. When you share the
same work space and occasionally the same workload the people in your office
can become new friendships, enhancing your social life. The people with whom
you work can also be of much assistance in helping you to advance your career.

Working as a paralegal is much, much more than just a job! Everything that you
do on a daily basis, and everyone you get to know in the process, will quickly
help you to see that the life of a paralegal consists of much more than simply
earning a living it will present you with a wonderful range of opportunities
that will greatly enhance every important aspect of your life.

How To Decide If You Really Want To Become A Paralegal

You may be thinking about becoming a paralegal, but are not entirely sure if it
is the right field for you. Before you make the commitment to take on this
intense course of study, how can you know for certain that it is what you will
want to do? There are some questions which you can ask yourself beforehand,
that will help you to get a clearer view of this line of work and will also
help you to make the decision as to whether or not it is the field that you
wish to pursue.

Logically, becoming a paralegal should first include a significant amount of
interest in the legal field. Although this is certainly not the only factor, it
is by far the most important. Regardless of which field of law you will be
eventually working in, you will be dealing with the subject in all of its forms
on a daily basis. To be enthusiastic about your job is the number one key to
being successful at it in the longrun.

If you have not yet considered it, your degree of interest in dealing with
people is also an important factor. As a paralegal, you will not only be
expected to get along well with the attorneys and your co-workers, you will
also be expected to show an honest interest in the clients and the general
public. This does not necessarily mean that you must be a very outgoing type of
person, but rather that having the personality characteristics and people-skills
of cooperation, concern, and helpfulness, are essential to this line of work.

Being a "team player" is also a necessary asset in doing well in your paralegal
job. An effective paralegal cannot be the kind of person who has the desire to
take the center stage for attention or credit, nor one who has the habit of
expecting other people to perform her duties for her.

A good paralegal is also a fast learner. This is necessary in terms of being
able to know what you need to do and how you need to do it without frequently
having to go to others for assistance, as well as possessing a good memory
which can accurately recall case facts, communications, and all of the other
details which are a part of a paralegal's everyday work life.

Basic skills are also important. While you do not have to be an expert, you
will need to have a reasonable amount of math skills, know the basics of
computer use, and be considerably above average in both written and verbal
communication.

As working in a law office consists of a great deal of confidential information
and communications, it is essential that you be the type of person who not only
understands the importance of confidentiality, but are also prepared to abide
by it.

A person who enjoys gossip, or sharing everything she knows about everything,
is not a good prospect for paralegal work!

A paralegal should have the quality of commitment to the community. In this
line of work you will be providing a service to the community in which you
live, either directly or indirectly. Concern for justice, and concern for the
community at large, is an important asset for anyone who is thinking about
beginning a career as a paralegal.

If you see yourself in these descriptions, becoming a paralegal may be the
career you have been looking for!

CLE: Continuing Legal Education For Paralegals

You may have heard of CLE, but are not sure of what it is or why it is
important. It is not difficult to find the answers to everything you need to
know on this subject. For a paralegal and, for that matter, anyone in the legal
profession. Continuing Legal Education is indeed important! Whether or not you
are actually required to earn CLE credit on a regular basis due to such factors
as it being a requirement for the job that you hold, mandatory where you reside,
or based on a term of your certification, Continuing Legal Education should be
considered essential for every paralegal, even when it is not required.

The main purpose of Continuing Legal Education is not so much to gain more
education in general, but to keep your knowledge and information updated on a
regular basis. In turn, the main reason for this is for the paralegal to always
be as current as possible regarding all of the important aspects of the legal
field. As most people who have any part in the legal field are well aware,
there are frequent changes in many aspects of the field, and it is essential to
stay current in order to do one's job effectively.

There are a number of ways in which you can earn your CLE credits. If you wish,
you can take classes at a college or university in your location. Most good
schools offer these classes. However, if your job or other everyday
responsibilities make time a factor for you, you can easily earn your CLE
credits even within your time limitations. Many paralegal associations and
groups that you can easily find online offer you the option of taking the
classes or seminars. When you elect to earn your credits through this online
method, you will find that it is not difficult at all to fit it into your busy
schedule.

In addition to providing you with the most up-to-date relevant information, CLE
will also give you the opportunity to brush up on your basic knowledge and
skills. Especially in the instance of skills which you do not use on a
consistent basis, this is a good way of ensuring that you do not fall behind in
things that you need to know how to do. For example, even if you do not use a
specific office program on a regular basis, it is important to keep your skills
polished for when you will need to use it.

Whether earning CLE credit is required for you to continue in your job or not,
everything that you will learn from these classes or seminars make Continuing
Legal Education a very relevant part of a paralegal's work life.

Both in terms of keeping your basic skills in ready shape and being current
with the frequent changes in the legal field, Continuing Legal Education is
well worth the time and effort that you will put into it. It is by far the best
way for a practicing paralegal to be the most effective at his or her job.

Paralegals And Standards

Although negativity and popular opinion may suggest otherwise, attorneys are
expected to abide by some basic standards both in their professional and their
personal lives. A paralegal is expected to adhere to the same standards as an
attorney.

The reason for this is based on general common sense: when a person in the
legal field upholds high standards, both individuals and the public as a whole
are much more able to place their trust in him. In the legal field, such trust
is essential.

Whether one's practice involves the sensitive subject of criminal law, the
financial importance of tax or corporate or business law, or any other
specialized or general law field, both the attorney and the assisting paralegal
have the potential to effect significant change in a person's life, either for
the better or for the worse.

While professional competence is undeniably important, the standards which the
legal professional adheres to is also a factor. In addition to upholding
professional standards in the workplace and when doing field work, the person's
standards in his or her personal life are expected to be above reproach. The
character points of integrity, ethics, and basic standards of morality, are not
only required by the legal field but expected by the clients whom they serve.

As each and every client deserves not only competent representation but
representation by those who take their role seriously, acceptable standards of
behavior and lifestyle, absence of illegal drug use or abuse of alcohol,
absence of prior criminal history, and the highest standards of both
professional and personal ethics and integrity, are prerequisites and ongoing
requirements for those who wish to be accepted into the paralegal field and
continue to do well in it.

There is simply no legitimate place in the paralegal field for someone who is a
recreational drug user, or someone who does not adhere to the laws in his or her
jurisdiction, or other negative qualities which would not only diminish the
person's capacity to conduct her job duties effectively but would also diminish
both the client's and the public's trust in her.

As a practicing attorney is expected to follow the professional code of
standards, so is a paralegal equally bound to it. While the direct wording of
this code is quite clear, it is actually common sense for a person who wishes
to not only do the best but also be the best that she can be, both in her
professional and personal life.

The paralegal field will give you many interesting, positive, exciting
opportunities. A very important part of it is the professional status that you
will have in this line of work. You must, however, be completely willing and
completely able to maintain the highest possible standards not only on the job
but in all of the other areas of your life.

The legal field is not for everyone; before making the final decision as to
whether it is the right one for you, you should first assess your attitudes and
priorities in order to establish that the high standards set forth for this
field are not a sacrifice but your chosen way of life.

Why Pro Bono Work Is Important For A Paralegal

Although you probably love your job as a paralegal, there is something else
that you can do in addition to your regular job. Pro Bono work is a way in
which you can use your knowledge, skills, and experience, to benefit others.
Not only does Pro Bono work provide a much-needed service to people who would
not otherwise be able to have the benefit of legal assistance, it can give you
a great deal of personal satisfaction at the same time.

When you do Pro Bono work, you will not merely be donating your services, you
will also be donating your time. Even if you are inclined to feel that you do
not have any extra time to spare, it is quite likely that you will be able to
make the time when you consider that it is truly a worthy cause.

In Pro Bono work, you will be furthering your own skils and widening your own
range of work experiences also. There is much that you can learn in the process
of a Pro Bono assignment which you simply would not have in your everyday office
life. Even the factor of assisting people whom you would not ordinarily have the
chance to meet can be quite a bonus to you.

If you would like to do Pro Bono work but do not know where to start, a good
way to begin is to assess the specific needs of your community. Depending on
the area where you live, it should not be very difficult to find a number of
agencies, organizations, and businesses which would be glad to have your
assistance. Most will welcome your offer of help, especially those which are
understaffed in general, or experiencing a heavier than usual workload during a
specific period of time. You can check in advance to find out when your help
will be most needed.

You may also be able to be directed toward Pro Bono work that is the most
appropriate and suitable to your specific skills by requesting this information
from your attorney. While some attorneys do not like the idea of "lending out"
their staff, if you are clear that you wish to do this work on your own time
you will decrease the likelihood of your attorney's objections.

You can also check with the other paralegals who work in your law firm. If they
have done Pro Bono work in the recent past, they may be able to advise you as to
who to contact directly for information and possibly an assignment also.

The only actual drawback to doing Pro Bono work is that you will not get paid
for your services. However, the combined benefits to both you yourself and the
people whom you serve will be much more than an adequate compensation. However
long you have been working as a paralegal, the knowledge, skills, and
experience that you can bring to Pro Bono work will be a very valuable
contribution to both the specific people whom you serve and the community as a
whole.

A Paralegal Does More Than Make Coffee!

For many who are not familiar with the paralegal field, the general consensus
is that the person's role in the law office consists primarily of menial tasks.
These are people who have never worked as a paralegal, and probably do not know
anyone who has been in the field.

Although a paralegal's role is considered to be in terms of assisting the
supervising attorney, there is quite a wide range of responsibilities and
duties that actually fall into the category of "assisting"! As the main purpose
of a paralegal is to lighten the workload of the attorney, it is more a matter
of delegating important, relevant tasks, rather than doing the meaningless
tasks that the attorney himself simply does not want to do.

One example is in a case process. It is often the paralegal who has the task of
locating the most current codes of law and procedure that are the most relevant
to the case the attorney will be working on. As many of these are subject to
frequent changes, the paralegal must determine not only what is relevant but
what is the most up-to-date.

Interviewing clients and prospective clients is another task common for
paralegals who work in a law firm. She is also often given the task of
interviewing witnesses. In addition to successfully completing paralegal
coursework, it is essential that the paralegal have excellent communication
skills, in both written and verbal forms.

In specialized fields, the paralegal may also be present in court. Whether she
is directly dealing with witnesses in a court case, or simply taking care of
all of the necessary paperwork, it is easy to see that a paralegal has a vital
role in the legal system. As you can see, the role of a paralegal consists of
much more than simply keeping the law office running smoothly. While this is a
part of it, of course, it is by far not the largest part of a paralegal's
average work day.

Thinking a paralegal to be little more than a glorified secretary or a "go-fer"
is quite a disservice and quite untrue. Both in overall knowledge and the duties
one is expected to perform on a routine basis should make such a person's
professional standing very clear.

First, the qualifications of assisting an attorney means a paralegal must have
a full overview of the legal system, including the specifics, in order to carry
out these responsibilities without having to turn to others with questions about
what is needed and what must be done.

Second, she must also be able to carry out all of the necessary tasks, often in
the attorney's absence. Even though a paralegal is working for an attorney,
there are many duties that she must fulfill without his actual presence.

Whether a paralegal is working for an individual attorney in his private
practice, or whether she is a part of a large law firm, it should be clear that
her role is that of an essential function, both inside and out of the office.

Paralegals And Unauthorized Practice Of Law

UPL or Unauthorized Practice of Law is often one of the most dreaded terms for
paralegals and attorneys alike. While the logical reason for this is that
Unauthorized Practice of Law frequently results in the individual losing his or
her credentials to practice, the additional factor is that states radically
differ in what they deem Unauthorized Practice of Law.

In order for a paralegal to avoid potential repercussions, it is essential that
she familiarize herself with the term as it is defined by the particular state
in which she lives. Most states in America conclude that Unauthorized Practice
of Law covers any legal advice or legal services which are rendered by anyone
other than a practicing attorney. Such states require that any work or duties
which are carried out by a paralegal must be done under the supervision of a
practicing attorney, or acting on his knowledgeable behalf.

There are very few states which take a more lenient view of this subject. For
example, California is one of the few states which allows for document
preparation by non-attorneys. As long as the paralegal is not wrongfully
misrepresenting herself as an attorney, or taking an attorney's role in court
proceedings, she can earn a very comfortable living providing such basic
services as preparing the documents for divorce proceedings and similar types
of cases. Most states in America, however, do not go this far, and can legally
prosecute a person who does this type of work for being Unauthorized Practice
of Law.

The best way of finding out what the status of UPL is in your particular state
of residence is to thoroughly investigate the facts. While preparing court
documents, Wills, and other such services to the community can be an excellent
business, obviously that is not the case if the state where you live considers
it to be a crime. Some states are very clear as to what constitutes UPL, while
others are vague enough in their definition that you in turn must be very clear
in finding the facts. As there are serious penalties for UPL, it is in a
paralegal's best interests to be completely knowledgeable about her state's
specific laws on the subject, and to adhere to them one hundred percent.

If you work in a law firm or in an individual attorney's private practice, it
is also wise to be aware of UPL. While the job consists of doing many tasks
which are delegated to you by the attorney, you must be aware that his
discretion does not include crossing the very fine line into Unauthorized
Practice of Law.

Actually, in many cases, the responsibility for this falls more on the
paralegal herself than on the attorney. In other words, if he is asking you to
carry out a task in his behalf, you must know for sure in advance that a
paralegal has the authority to do it. It does occasionally happen that an
attorney loses his own license to practice law simply by assigning a task to a
paralegal that she does not actually have the authority to do.

Whether you plan to work for an attorney, a law firm, or investigate the
possibility of providing services, it is essential that you get the facts
beforehand.

Paralegals And The Professional Code Of Ethics

Although many paralegals work under the supervision of an attorney, paralegals
are professionals in their own right. As many people still have the common
misconception that a paralegal's place in the law firm consists of little more
than being an underling to a superior, it might be a good idea to get a clearer
view of the facts, and possibly set this misconception to rest.

The paralegal's professional status can at once be underscored by what is known
as the Professional Code of Ethics. A paralegal is as equally bound to this Code
as any attorney in the law firm. He or she is expected to adhere as strictly to
the policies set forth in the Code of Ethics, and can face suspension or even
termination from both the job and loss of credentials if he or she does not do
so.

For example, one of the most significant points set forth in the Code of Ethics
is that of privileged communications. A paralegal, no different from an
attorney, a doctor, or a minister, is bound from disclosing information that he
or she is told, has read, or learns, regarding the case and the client. As a
paralegal who works in a law firm or for an individual attorney routinely has
access to such information in general, and, in many situations, is the person
who actually receives the information directly, the information can go no
further than the attorney who is actively working on the case.

If someone does not recognize the paralegal in her professional regard, the
person may assume that the paralegal is free to talk about a case. This is not
true; for whether a paralegal is your best friend, your spouse, or a family
member, she is never at liberty to disclose privileged communications. This is
a fact which paralegals and the people in their lives must take seriously; for
even talking about a case or a client in a vague manner can lead a paralegal to
lose not only her job but her credentials to practice in the field.

One of the best ways to keep this in its proper perspective is to keep in mind
that while you are working for an attorney, you are basically working for the
client as well. The trust that the client places in his attorney, he also
places in you. This is true whether you have had personal communications with
the client, or whether everything you know about him and the case has come from
the paperwork that you have been dealing with on a regular basis in the office.

In the legal field, violating a client's confidentiality is something which
simply is not allowed, and cannot be allowed. Regardless of the specifics of
the case, privileged communications is the client's right, and it is the
responsibility of the paralegal as well as the attorney to ensure that this
right is not violated.

Even for this reason alone, it is essential for anyone who plans to enter the
paralegal field to not only be fully aware of her responsibility for
professional conduct, but also be fully willing to adhere to it at all times.





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