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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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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!