Types of Paralegals

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There are many different types of paralegals or paralegals specializing in specific areas of the law.  As you are probably aware, attorneys and law firms will often focus on a particular field or niche so that they can become authoritative experts and demand a premium for their services.  These attorneys and firms need paralegals that also specialize in these areas to assist them with their workload.

Although we have presented an extensive list of paralegal specialties below, the truth of the matter is that any niche subject matter may need a paralegal and there is nothing to prevent an entrepreneurial attorney and paralegal from developing their own specialty.

Bankruptcy Paralegal

The bankruptcy process is exceedingly complex and subject to the whims of Congress and state legislatures.  Individuals and business entities seeking bankruptcy protection must satisfy certain rules and provisions before they can ask the court to help them keep their creditors at bay.  A bankruptcy paralegal would most likely be sought after by an attorney or firm specializing in clients seeking assistance with filing bankruptcy.

Corporate Paralegal

Corporate paralegals are well-versed in matters of corporate law.  Given the breadth and depth of corporate law, there are even subspecialties within this category.  Some law firms specializing in investment banking or mergers and acquisitions, while others may focus on intellectual property rights issues associated with copyrights, patents and trademarks.  Even more exotic sub-specialties might include corporate espionage and environmental regulations and their impact on operations.

Paralegals engaged in this field may be asked to:

  • Draw up necessary documents to create a corporate entity
  • Prepare documents for board meetings
  • Maintain corporate minute books and resolutions
  • Work on an initial public offering (IPO) of stock
  • Ensure securities laws and reporting requirements are met
  • Prepare annual reports
  • Prepare shareholder agreements, stock option plans and shareholder correspondence
  • Conduct trademark and patent searches

Employment & Labor Law Paralegal

Employment and labor law paralegals specialize in human resource matters specific to the individual as well as labor laws governing how employers must treat their employees and interact with bargaining units and unions.  The most common issues a paralegal may run across on a daily basis would be hiring and firing actions by employers and supervisors, sexual harassment, workplace discrimination issues of various types, workplace safety matters as well as labor unions and contracts.

Not only will a paralegal need to study up on federal laws, but each state has its own provisions and regulations.  Additionally, paralegals may specialize in corporate employment and labor issues or concentrate on public agencies and governments and their unique challenges.

Paralegals engaged in this field may also be asked to:

  • Participate in unemployment and workers compensation claims
  • Participate in organized labor negotiations
  • Draft employee manuals outlining policies and procedures

Estate Planning and Probate Paralegal

Estate planning paralegals assist in the creation of legal documents addressing individual, family and corporate assets.  Wills and trusts stipulate how assets will be transferred to heirs in the event of death.  In the event that an individual passes away without drafting a will, their assets must be disposed of in accordance with state law in a procedure called probate.  They may also work on conservatorships and guardianships which are legal arrangements addressing adults and children who are unable to make decisions that are in their own best interest.

Paralegals engaged in this field may also be asked to:paralegal8

  • Interview clients to ascertain specific estate planning needs
  • Interact with grieving and angry clients or family members
  • Oversee the valuing and transferring of assets
  • Research different types of trusts for different client needs
  • Administer estate accounts

Immigration Paralegal

Immigration paralegals must be familiar with all facets of the immigration process and will need to be bilingual or multilingual to succeed.  They assist individuals and families seeking to become Americans or become residents of the United States.  They also help corporations fill human resource needs when it  comes to securing work visas for prospective employees.  Immigration paralegals may also represent an individual facing deportation.

Paralegals engaged in this field will be asked to:

  • Assist in the filling out of citizenship applications
  • Assist in obtaining green cards and visas
  • Understand international adoption rules and policies
  • Understand international treaties and laws governing      extradition of individuals

Insurance Paralegal

Insurance paralegals participate on cases involving suspicious claims and insurance fraud.  Insurance paralegals are required to understand the ins and outs of insurance policies, types of coverage and what types of claims are covered in specific circumstances.

Litigation Paralegal

Litigation paralegals assist in the research and development of criminal and civil litigation cases and will require mastery of the criminal and civil codes in the jurisdiction they work.  More often than not, criminal and civil matters are settled before going to trial.  However, the work done by a paralegal will be instrumental in evaluating the strength of the case.

Paralegals engaged in this field may also be asked to:

  • Interview witnesses
  • Prepare appeals
  • Support in trial preparation and at trial
  • Monitor and track court dates and deadlines
  • Investigate facts and statements
  • Draft pleadings and briefs
  • Perform legal research

Nurse Paralegal

A nurse paralegal assists attorneys on cases involving bodily injury, assault, illnesses and even death.  Their medical background and familiarity with medical jargon and terminology, medical records and how they are handled and laws governing health patient privacy information add tremendous value to a firm.

Patent Paralegal

Patent paralegal specialization was mentioned above in the corporate section.  Patent paralegals are highly compensated because patent laws are incredibly complex, difficult to understand and businesses risk losing tens of millions of dollars if they do not protect their assets properly.  To be a competent and successful patent paralegal, you will need to engage in rigorous study of patent laws and rules.

Real Estate Paralegal

A paralegal specializing in real estate matters will need to understand laws governing real estate transactions and the conveyance of title, researching title information, familiarity with quit claim deeds and deeds of trust.  Paralegals will also need to understand the different types of financing vehicles, state laws governing foreclosure, short sales, loan modifications and reverse mortgages.

This is just a short list of the paralegal specialties available to you.  There are many more that may interest you.

If you are interested in learning more about how to become a paralegal, please visit our paralegal hub page.

If you are interested in learning more about other fantastic and rewarding careers that do not require a traditional four-year college degree, please visit the Ditch College career portal.

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