The litigation paralegal works with trial attorneys and will perform many tasks during the litigation process. They are a valuable part of the legal team often working on all phases of the trial from beginning to end.
Litigation paralegals may be required to perform routine office duties such as photocopying and scanning documents, and helping prepare them for court filings. They may also maintain litigation files, reviewing and preparing material for storage or disposal once a case has closed.
Beyond routine office duties, the litigation paralegal is often called on to assist in depositions, witness preparation, and research. The paralegal is typically the one who prepares and handles all exhibits. They will also attend trials acting as an assistant to the attorney during the court proceedings. When the trial is over, they will be responsible for closing out the case documents.
In order to succeed as a litigation paralegal, there are certain skills needed in this demanding profession. One of the primary day-to-day tasks a paralegal performs is document handling. Because of the amount of document preparation and maintenance, a litigation paralegal must be highly organized. During the trial an attorney will look to the paralegal to have all documents kept in an orderly manner and made readily available for retrieval.
Another important skill is communication. The paralegal acts as a liaison between departments. They will need to have direct communication with clients, witnesses, and court officials. Stellar communication skills can enhance the success of any trial they are involved with.
Litigation paralegals will also spend a great amount of time drafting correspondence, pleadings, motions, briefs and many other documents needed in preparation for court. Because of this, excellent writing skills and attention to detail is crucial.
The education for the litigation paralegal takes several forms. Many paralegals learn their profession on the job, gaining experience and working their way up the ladder in larger law firms. The skills needed to be an effective paralegal can also come through formal education and certification. Some will seek certification as an adjunct to an existing degree. Other students will pursue a paralegal associates degree.
For students seeking a certification as a litigation paralegal, online and vocational schools may offer specific niche courses in their paralegal programs. The litigation paralegal will need certain courses that prepare them for the unique aspects of the trial atmosphere. Some of the specific topics include:
The average litigation paralegal can expect an annual income of $54,000 (CBsalary.com). Unemployment for litigation paralegals, according to CBSalary.com is relatively low when compared to other industries.
Growth in this field will continue in an upward trend according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They report the growth of the paralegal career field in general is 18% over the course of the next several years. Cbsalary.com places the litigation paralegal even higher at 22%.
Many factors will affect the job outlook for litigation paralegals. One primary factor is the preparation a job candidate made prior to entering the workforce. Law firms hiring litigation paralegals will often look for highly qualified candidates due to the importance of the position. This includes those who have achieved the highest education, have prior experience in the industry, and participate in continuing education.
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