Paralegals and Legal Assistants Job Description video

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Paralegals or "legal assistants" first appeared in the late 1960s. Since that time, they have taken on much of the routine work lawyers once did themselves. Paralegals do almost everything that attorneys do except appear in court or give legal advice. Many spend their time using law libraries or online systems to find the cases a lawyer needs in order to prepare for trial. Paralegals may also draw up contracts, affidavits, and other documents. Or, after researching the facts and analyzing the law, they may write reports to help an attorney determine how to proceed in a given matter. Formal training is not required, although one- to three- year paralegal programs are widely available. Individuals who pass the National Association of Legal Assistants Certifying Board exam earn the title "Certified Legal Assistant," and may use the initials "CLA" after their names. Clearly, working as a paralegal is an excellent way to prepare for a career as a lawyer. But many find it to be a rewarding profession in and of itself. In an increasingly competitive market, paralegals allow law firms to offer clients excellent legal services at a lower cost. That makes a good paralegal a invaluable part of a firm’s legal team.

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