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What is it like to work as a paralegal for an employmwnt lawyer?

I have an interest in employment law, but do not want to be a full fledged lawyer.

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James Constantine’s Answer

Dear Jenna,

Embarking on a Career as a Paralegal in Employment Law

Delving into Employment Law: Choosing a career as a paralegal in the realm of employment law can be a fulfilling and stimulating journey. It's an ideal pathway for those who are intrigued by the legal world but don't wish to become fully-fledged lawyers. In this capacity, paralegals are indispensable allies to employment lawyers, assisting in a myriad of tasks related to employment law cases.

What Does a Paralegal in Employment Law Do?

Legal Research: A significant part of a paralegal's role involves conducting thorough research on employment laws, regulations, and past cases. This aids lawyers in crafting solid cases and offering sound legal counsel to their clients.

Building a Case: Paralegals assist in crafting legal documents such as briefs, pleadings, motions, and other court-related paperwork necessary for employment law cases.

Client Interaction: Paralegals often liaise with clients, witnesses, and other relevant parties to collect case-related information, always under the watchful eye of their supervising lawyer.

Support During Trials: Paralegals offer vital support during trials by organizing exhibits, recording notes, and helping with courtroom logistics.

Administrative Duties: Paralegals also take care of administrative duties like scheduling appointments, managing calendars, and keeping case files in order, ensuring the legal team operates smoothly.

Essential Skills:

Legal Acumen: A robust understanding of employment law principles and procedures is a must for success in this role.

Research Prowess: Being adept at conducting legal research using online databases and other resources is crucial.

Organizational Abilities: The capacity to efficiently handle multiple tasks and maintain detailed records is important.

Communication Proficiency: The ability to communicate effectively with clients, colleagues, and other stakeholders is key.

Attention to Detail: Accuracy in preparing legal documents and maintaining precision in all tasks is vital.

Work Setting: Paralegals serving employment lawyers usually work in law firms specializing in employment law, corporate legal departments, government agencies, or nonprofit organizations focusing on labor rights.

Career Prospects: The need for paralegals in the field of employment law is projected to rise as businesses increasingly require legal advice on intricate labor regulations and compliance matters.

In summary, a career as a paralegal in employment law provides a rewarding path for those passionate about this field but not interested in obtaining a law degree. It encompasses a range of responsibilities that significantly contribute to the successful resolution of legal cases in this specialized law area.

Top 3 Authoritative Sources Consulted:

American Bar Association (ABA): The ABA offers valuable insights into the roles and responsibilities of paralegals across various legal specialties, including employment law.

National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA): The NFPA provides resources and information on the skills and qualifications necessary for paralegals working in specific law fields, such as employment law.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): The BLS provides data on job outlook and growth projections for paralegals across different legal sectors, including those specializing in employment law.

These sources were invaluable in providing accurate and current information on the topic of serving as a paralegal for an employment lawyer.

James Constantine.
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Kim’s Answer


After spending 5 years as a Plaintiff in an Employment Law case, I started doing freelance work for the attorney, so, I did not do everything a paralegal did. I also took some of the Paralegal Courses, and, helped many paralegals write resumes while working at the Workforce Office. So, I can give you some background.

Paralegals do almost everything an attorney does. A new paralegal of course starts out with the easy things, but, as your career progresses, they will possibly have you doing legal research and writing. If you want to be a paralegal, I strongly encourage you to find a program approved by the American Bar Assn.

Paralegals handle much of the communication with the other party, and, they file documents with the court. They keep the calendar, which is extremely important as a missed deadline can cost you the case! They work with the client to gather all relevant documents. They produce these documents to the other party upon request. They are responsible for due diligence - is the client telling you the truth? Are they hiding something? - so to that end you are a bit of an investigator. They interview the client and assist with answering interrogatories (questions) presented by the other party. They request documents from the other party, and follow up when they are not provided in a timely manner. They review documents provided by the other party. They work with the attorney in creating a proof chart (what do we need to prove, how do we intend to prove it), deposition questions (questions to be asked of the other party in a legal hearing), and the trial notebook. When the two parties need to meet, or have a telephone conference, they schedule it. They keep meticulous notes, and always keep track of their time for billing purposes. When the case is over, they close out the case and put everything away in storage.

Additionally, especially in the office of a solo practitioner, they may handle billing, ordering supplies, getting equipment repaired, reviewing and ordering new software. A senior paralegal may supervise other office staff, conduct interviews, handle payroll.

I enjoyed my time doing freelance legal work. I can tell you the down side - personalities! Clients will lie to you. Your supervising attorney will get all stressed out over things. The opposing counsel can be easy to work with, or total jerks. When a case goes to trial, everything else stops, including your outside life. Hours are long, assignments unpredictable. Again, in a solo office, the paralegal was asked to pick up the attorney's children from school, pick up his suit from the cleaners, etc. She would drive him to court in another city, so he could work on the case while she was driving. The job clearly requires flexibility, and the ability to stay calm under pressure.

Minnesota Paralegal Association:

There are 5 ABA approved paralegal programs in Minnesota:

Hope this helps!