What Does a Paralegal Do?

What does a paralegal do? Paralegal duties vary according to the area of law in which the paralegal is employed.

Common types of paralegal employment include:

  • personal injury
  • corporate law
  • criminal law
  • intellectual property
  • bankruptcy
  • labor law
  • litigation
  • insurance law
  • immigration
  • family law
  • real estate

These different areas of paralegal specialization demand certain duties and responsibilities. Select the job tasks and skills that apply to the paralegal job you are specifying.

Criminal Law Paralegal Duties

Assists the attorney with management of criminal cases including preparation for pre-trial proceedings and during the trial itself.

  • assist with client interview
  • obtain background information on client
  • prepare legal documents including pleadings, complaints, motions, briefs and legal memoranda
  • assist with bond or bail arrangements
  • research points of law and factual issues
  • obtain discovery including statements, affidavits, reports
  • prepare discovery logs
  • gather and analyze data for plea bargaining
  • locate and interview witnesses and experts
  • prepare and manage subpoenas
  • review evidence
  • prepare trial exhibits
  • prepare client for trial
  • prepare witness and exhibit lists
  • prepare trial notebooks including jury exhibit notebooks
  • draft jury instructions
  • assist during trial
  • draft appeal documentation

Intellectual Property/Patent Paralegal Duties

Assist attorneys with obtaining, maintaining and protecting intellectual property right of clients.

  • research and organize information regarding intellectual property rights, case law, copyright infringement actions, trade marks, expiration dates
  • prepare legal documents including, pleadings, responses, infringement letters, licensing agreements, complaints
  • review new trademark and patent applications
  • file applications and renewals
  • organize international filings with foreign entities
  • monitor status of pending applications, issued patents, registered trademarks, maintenance fee payments
  • check proper use of client's trademark
  • manage patent, trademark and domain name dockets
  • review dockets for deadlines and actions needed
  • communicate with clients regarding status of applications and patents
  • coordinate and prepare documentation for litigation and patent prosecution

Bankruptcy Paralegal Job Duties

What does a paralegal do in the field of bankruptcy? A paralegal may work for the debtor's attorney, the creditor's attorney or a bankruptcy trustee.

  • interview clients to obtain data for filing petitions, schedules and statements
  • prepare petitions, schedules and statements of finances
  • draft pleadings, motions, complaints, notices and orders
  • obtain documents from debtor including tax returns and list of liabilities
  • organize debt information and asset information
  • co-ordinate asset appraisals
  • prepare disclosure statements
  • set up depositions, hearings and meetings
  • create database of creditors
  • prepare press releases about pending cases
  • send notices of commencement of case to creditors
  • prepare and file pleadings and motions for creditors
  • draft and file proofs of claim and provide supporting documentation for creditors
  • review claims objections and monitor schedules for responses and hearings
  • identify and subpoena witnesses
  • obtain discovery
  • prepare witness lists, trial and exhibit notebooks
  • monitor distribution of funds to creditors
  • draft fee applications
  • act as liaison between creditors, attorneys, debtors, trustee and client

Immigration Paralegal Duties

Assist attorney in handling of immigration-related issues and cases.

  • locate, obtain and review foreign documents including passports, birth records, education records, police records
  • organize translation of foreign documents
  • analyze, check and summarize data
  • research immigration case law and applicable regulations
  • prepare legal documents for visa applications, citizenship, naturalization and work authorization
  • draft applications and petitions for the INS and DOL
  • organize supporting documents including affidavits
  • assemble and file applications and petitions
  • prepare client for interviews
  • prepare for legal immigration trials and hearings

Family Law Paralegal Duties

Focuses on legal processes associated with domestic relationships including divorce, custody, child support, adoption and paternity.

  • interview and collect information on client with supporting documentation
  • research, analyze and organize supporting information
  • create and manage client files
  • locate witnesses
  • uncover assets and organize property appraisals
  • determine spousal and child support requirements
  • prepare pleadings, complaints, petitions, discovery requests, responses, protective orders, temporary orders, decrees, motions, affidavits, subpoenas, agreements
  • monitor dates for hearings, court appearances and depositions
  • maintain ongoing communication with client
  • organize mediations and arbitrations
  • assist in settlement negotiations
  • prepare settlement agreements
  • co-ordinate trial preparation including witnesses, exhibits and trial notebooks
  • assist during trial

Real Estate Paralegal Responsibilities

Duties center around the buying and selling of property, leases, land-use matters, due diligence, closing and foreclosures.

  • prepare legal documents including leases, licenses, management agreements, purchase and sale agreements, service contracts, deeds
  • review lease documents and prepare lease abstracts
  • track lease renewals and inspections
  • negotiate and prepare leases, lease renewal and lease modification documents
  • assist with real estate loan transactions
  • review loan commitments from lenders
  • prepare and process loan documents
  • audit lien cases to determine lien validity, need for referral or case closure
  • conduct due diligence including title searches, reviewing public records and obtaining proof of insurance
  • review title commitments and surveys
  • prepare title summary document
  • review and distribute due diligence process

  • coordinate with title companies to prepare closing statements
  • prepare and manage closing checklists
  • follow up on post-closing issues

Paralegal duties and responsibilities

Paralegal Jobs part 2

For detailed descriptions of what does a paralegal do in the following areas of law -

  • personal injury
  • corporate law
  • labor and employment
  • litigation
  • insurance

go to Paralegal Duties

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