Paralegal Careers and Job Options
Not all paralegals work in litigation. Read this list of other rewarding paralegal careers to decide which one is best for you.
Paralegal Careers That Suit You
If you’re thinking of becoming a paralegal, you already know that most paralegals work in litigation support for large law firms. But there are some paralegal specialties outside of strict litigation, and many paralegals prefer to specialize in different areas of the law. According to a 2010 paralegal survey by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the following paralegal careers were among the most common specialties:
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Paralegal Specialty Careers in Litigation
Three of the paralegal careers above are actually subgroups of the litigation paralegal. If you decide to work in personal injury, medical malpractice or environmental law, you’ll do work similar to other litigation paralegals. Paralegals in these fields help lawyers draft pleadings and interrogatories, organize depositions, and gather and organize discovery responses.
The difference is in the specialization. If you work in personal injury, you may focus on slip-and-fall cases. If you work in medical malpractice, your lawyer might focus on negligence in hospitals. If you work in environmental law, you may work on pollution or natural resource cases.
Other Paralegal Careers and Specialties
The following is a brief overview of non-litigation paralegal careers:
Bankruptcy paralegals are in increasing demand. In bankruptcy law, lawyers and paralegals develop plans so that debtors who are unable to pay their creditors can resolve their debts through the division of their assets among their creditors. Bankruptcy paralegals also sometimes help lawyers with litigation surrounding bankruptcies.
Family law paralegals work behind the scenes to help people go through divorce or child custody proceedings. Paralegal careers in this field might seem difficult, but many family law paralegals wouldn’t think of doing anything else.
Immigration law paralegals help foreigners gain residence or citizenship in the United States. Companies that employ legal aliens often use the services of lawyers and paralegals to make sure their employees can legally work in the U.S. Immigration law changes frequently, so if you become an immigration paralegal, you’ll constantly be updating your knowledge of the law.
Probate paralegals work with lawyers to oversee the distribution of the assets in wills, or distribute assets if people die without a will. If there is litigation over the contents of a will, probate paralegals help their lawyers in all aspect of the litigation. Probate paralegals often also do tax work for their clients.
Real estate paralegals help lawyers with all facets of real estate transactions and litigation that arises from real estate disputes. Real estate transactions are governed by both state and federal statutes and common law. Cases may cover discrimination claims prohibited in the Federal Fair Housing Act or contract breaches between buyers and sellers.
Tax law paralegals work with the tax code. They often help people save on their income, capital gains or inheritance tax, and they help individuals or corporations comply with IRS regulations. If you work in tax law, you might also perform other probate paralegal duties.
For information on other top paralegal careers, see our paralegal specialty page.
Sources: National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
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More Paralegal Information
Learn about being a paralegal across the U.S., from New York to California, and Minnesota to Florida.
Knowing where you want to practice can help you make the most of your paralegal training and certification.