Paralegals, often referred to as legal assistants, perform a variety of tasks in the legal profession. They aid lawyers to prepare for closings, hearings, and trials. Paralegals often conduct research and interviews to discover facts, laws, judicial decisions, and published articles relevant to cases. Paralegals frequently analyze materials and then create reports that attorneys utilize in law suits. These reports can assist in the preparation of legal arguments, pleadings, affidavits and motions filed with the court. Indeed, paralegals may assist attorneys in court during trials and hearings. Paralegals are frequently charged with creating and maintaining client and office files. Paralegals often assist in the drafting of contracts, mortgages, divorce decrees, alimony, child support, adoption, wills, tax returns, trust funds and estate planning.
Paralegals are expected to possess general knowledge in the law and legal ethics. They must have excellent skills in research, critical thinking and written and verbal communication. In addition, paralegals can gain specialized knowledge at Saint Francis in the fields of litigation, family law, personal injury/tort litigation, criminal law, real estate law, corporate law, cyber law; and wills, trusts and Estate law. In addition to law offices, paralegals can find employment in business, government and non-profit organizations.
Paralegals are not lawyers. Legal assistants cannot perform certain duties, such as arguing cases in court, offer legal advice and establishing legal fees.
Students who have majored in the liberal arts should have the sufficient skills and knowledge to be successful in the paralegal field. Some paralegals eventually attend law school and become practicing attorneys. The paralegal program and the interdisciplinary pre-law concentration share some classes in common making it possible for students to complete both simultaneously. Some pre-law students may choose to complete the paralegal program to test their interest in the legal profession before making the commitment to attend law school.