Different Types of Paralegal Jobs

Got It!

Got It! (Photo credit: polaroid667)

The image that commonly comes to mind when imagining a paralegal at work is one of diligent professionals working in real estate closings, corporate law preparing securities filings or drafting documents, trial preparation drafting discovery or summarizing deposition transcripts, drafting divorce pleadings, bankruptcy schedules, estate inventories and accountings, and more.

However, some paralegals are beginning to use their legal training and skills in settings or jobs they never dreamed of when they set out to become a paralegal.  Sometimes even creating unusual or unique niches in which to apply their legal understanding and skills. Paralegal education develops valuable analytical, research and investigative, and communication skills which can be applied to a number of jobs that do not involve typical law firm or corporate law department work.

Paralegals are similar in their specially trained professional skills but come from many backgrounds, with extremely diverse perspectives on the world and opinions on how to best live their lives and deploy their professional skills.  People trained as paralegals sometimes discover their careers taking different or unexpected directions.  A paralegal career may be as individual and unusual as your personality and imagination allow.

The possibilities are virtually endless for paralegals wanting to take their careers on non-traditional paths.  A background of skills developed in a law office can take you virtually anywhere. The skills gained from a paralegal job, from organizational to technological to professional, provide a firm foundation for a myriad of career opportunities. If you have ambition beyond being a paralegal, a paralegal background is one of the best backgrounds you can possibly have.

The world of health care is blooming with new opportunities daily.  A determined and strong individual is required to keep doctors and health care professionals on task and accountable for their actions. Paralegal training might be applied in the world of health care as a quality and risk management officer or a health care facility compliance officer.  More professional health care organizations become self-insured every year.  A paralegal background is useful in handling anything involving professional liability or medical malpractice.  Paralegals are well suited for managing risks and investigating claims for any self-insured organization.

Another area in the health care arena well suited for persons with paralegal training are the duties of a compliance officer. Compliance can be a lot of different things but will always involve understanding and application of rules and regulations of some sort. In the health care field, it’s usually compliance with billing and documentation.  But the focus could also be on patient privacy and medical records.

The more entrepreneurial paralegal may discover that freelance paralegal services—assisting attorneys and others with basic legal services—fills his or her needs best.  Freelance paralegals fill a need for limited assignments or temp work performed which requires a well-trained professional.  Lots of attorneys don’t need a full-time paralegal.  Freelance paralegal services allow them to hire you as a contract paralegal for specific functions and pay you either a contract or hourly rate.  It’s more economical for a solo attorney to hire a paralegal on as needed or case-by-case basis rather than hiring permanent full-time legal assistants.  Freelance paralegal services can include offering fixed price preparation of many types of business documentation such as management agreements, license agreements, and distribution agreements by doing the legal research and preparing the legal documents for attorneys to review and approve.

The possibilities are virtually endless for paralegals wanting to take their careers on non-traditional paths.  A background of skills developed in a law office can take you virtually anywhere. The skills gained from a paralegal job, from organizational to technological to professional, provide a firm foundation for a myriad of career opportunities. If you have ambition beyond being a paralegal, a paralegal background is one of the best backgrounds you can possibly have.

Visitors entrance to the Utah State Prison in ...

Visitors entrance to the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah, United States. Deutsch: Eingang zum Utah State Prison (Gefängnis) im Draper, Utah, Vereinigte Staaten. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prisoner legal services is an example of an unusual non-traditional paralegal job.  A person doing this provides legal services to inmates, male and female, in prison units and handles a variety of legal matters involving prison conditions and criminal convictions.  This might be done as an independent contractor specializing in the needs of such persons or through a public service organization of some sort whose mission is to make sure inmates in state prisons and county jails receive the basic necessities of life and that the courts accord them the safeguards and guarantees provided by law.  A paralegal suited to enforce societal standards of morality and decency to ensure humane and lawful treatment of people in custody of the state may find rewarding personal fulfillment from a career taking this direction. Prisoner advocates provide the checks and balances that are critical to the criminal justice system.

These are just a couple of isolated examples.  A paralegal with some type of additional specialty knowledge may find profitable and rewarding opportunities in consulting for law firms or businesses regarding law-related projects or issues providing expertise in areas from legal marketing to legal software, trial strategy, or jury consultation depending on the specific expertise combined with paralegal training.

Computer technology and the management of information in the law office have evolved from word processing and spreadsheets to managing huge document databases and creating Hollywood-style productions for courtroom presentations. This evolution of technology opened a new legal career niche merging the skills of a paralegal and computer specialist into a legal technology specialist, also called a litigation support specialist.  The key aspect of this specialty is in the technology expertise; therefore, the description “legal technology specialist” may position your marketing a notch higher than “litigation support” which may be interpreted to involve a host of non-technical functions which may not garner the same compensation level as special technology skills.

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