Paralegal Law and Legal Definition
A paralegal is someone without a law license who performs routine tasks requiring some knowledge of the law and procedures. Paralegals perform substantive and procedural legal work as authorized by law, which work, in the absence of the paralegal, would be performed by an attorney. Paralegals have knowledge of the law gained through education, or education and work experience, which qualifies them to perform legal work. Usually paralegals have taken paralegal courses in law and legal processes, but others acquire their knowledge through on-the-job training. Paralegals adhere to recognized ethical standards and rules of professional responsibility. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) has created a Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility for its members. Any violation of this code is cause for removal of membership. Also, NALA affiliated associations must adopt the NALA Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility as their standard of conduct. Other standards for its members apply, for example, requirements for a paralegal to take either tier of PACE include work experience and education. The paralegal cannot have been convicted of a felony nor be under suspension, termination, or revocation of a certificate, registration, or license by any entity. However, a paralegal is not required to be a member of NALA.
Paralegals are employed in various settings, such as law offices and government agencies. Paralegals often handle much of the paperwork in probates of estates, divorce actions, bankruptcies, investigations, analyzing depositions, preparing and answering interrogatories and procedural motions and other specialized jobs.