Acting as a support system is the primary role of any paralegal. In a private law office, the paralegal supports the endeavors of the employing attorney. The same is true as a government paralegal even if the employer is a Federal Government department.
The duties of the government paralegal may differ depending on which branch of the government they work for. As an example, working for the Department of Defense may require that they prepare and review an array of legal documents such as official military correspondence, letters, charge sheets, trial documentation, and investigating officer appointment orders.
Working in any government agency often the government paralegal will act also as an educator and editor. They may be required to develop and maintain training materials for legal programs or give presentations and educational seminars. They may also need to review government publications for compliance according to current regulations. Some government positions also require community outreach and legal aid assistance.
As with any paralegal career, there is a great need for attention to detail, organization, and good understanding of legal procedures and documents. Government paralegals also need excellent communication skills as they reach across many sectors of society. These skills can be enhanced through both education and practice.
A government paralegal may have the opportunity to meet with multi-level government officials. They will also interact with different segments of the population with a variety of cultural and socioeconomic differences. They may have to understand military and political protocols. These situations require they have exemplary verbal communication skills. Written communication skills are also necessary to write a variety of letters, training material, articles, and official documents.
The average government paralegal salary was set at $46,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salary range will vary based on many factors including a candidates training and experience and who they work for. It will also vary based on the specialty of the position and the budgets of the employing government entity.
For instance, according to one Federal Government job board, a paralegal specialist working for the Department of Defense can expect $74,000 to $87,000 a year depending on qualifications. This position also included various benefits such as vacation days, sick leave, and holidays.
The need for government paralegals remains steady. There may be openings at any level of government, from local legal aid positions to White House opportunities. The number of organizations is broad. Employers at the federal level can include the U.S. Department of Justice, Social Security Administration, or the Department of Defense. Employers at the state level vary with each state but may be found in state programs that deal with issues associated with agriculture, water, taxes, or insurance. Any government entity that requires a staff attorney will usually hire paralegals as legal assistants.
The level of education as a government paralegal is not mandated at this time. However, they will need certain training that is specific to their role in government in order to succeed. For instance, if a student plans to work in city government, an understanding of city affairs would be helpful to their position. If the choice were federal employment, knowing federal politics or policies would be important. Without a solid educational foundation, finding a position is less likely.
There are several choices in educational plans for the government paralegal student. Many schools offer certification programs as paralegals. Some universities and colleges have degree programs as well as certifications. If a student is considering working in the government, choosing coursework related to government may also prove helpful.
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