A paralegal is a legal professional whose job is to put together legal documents, carry out legal research, interview clients and witnesses, and provide basic legal advice.
While specific training is required to work in solicitor jobs, there are no minimum requirements to work in paralegal positions. Many paralegals gain experience and qualifications on-the-job. Those wishing to enter into paralegal jobs with qualifications may wish to study for a BTEC, HNC, HND or degree in law. Alternatively, they can obtain a qualification from the Institute of Legal Executives or National Association of Licensed Paralegals. In addition to an interest in law, paralegals require good attention to detail, an ability to work under pressure, honesty and integrity, and a willingness to take on a high level of responsibility.
Employment opportunities for paralegals can be found in law firms, councils, trade unions, enforcement bodies, educational institutions and large corporations. Freelance work is also a possibility for qualified and experienced paralegals. The majority of the work for a paralegal is office-based, although time may be spent in the courts of law. Competition for paralegal roles is fierce and employers often use specialist recruitment agencies to find the best candidates.
Newly appointed paralegals may earn around £20,000 a year, increasing to over £40,000 a year for those with experience. Salaries vary between employers, with larger firms offering higher salaries to their staff.