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Careers Advice: How To Become a Paralegal

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What is a Paralegal?

As a Paralegal you will perform substantive legal work by supporting solicitors, chartered legal executives or barristers. Paralegals do not typically have a degree in law that grants them the capacity to carry out legal action, they are a key member of any legal team.

What does a Paralegal do?

As a paralegal you can expect to do the following tasks:

  • General administration duties

  • Organising meetings with clients

  • Basic administration and IT skills

  • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written

  • Good organisation

  • Able to multitask

  • Able to flourish under pressure

  • Great research skills

  • An eye for detail

  • Commercial awareness

  • Taking notes in court

  • Writing letters and emails

  • Managing and translating legal documents

  • Legal research

  • Drafting documents and proofreading

  • Liaising with clients

  • Taking statements from witnesses


Responsibilities can differ depending on the area of the law that you specialise in, e.g. Criminal, Employment, Family, Medical etc.

Skills & interests required for a Paralegal

  • Basic administration and IT skills

  • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written

  • Good organisation

  • Able to multitask

  • Able to flourish under pressure

  • Great research skills

  • An eye for detail

  • Commercial awareness

Working hours

Most paralegals have the typical working hours of 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday; however, you may be expected to work longer hours during particularly busy periods.

Work base

You can expect to work in an office, with some work in external settings, e.g. courts and clients’ offices

Travel

Travel will be limited, but you will be required to go to court and meet with clients at their work base.

Salary ranges & earning potential

Non-graduate/junior paralegals can earn between £14,000 and £22,000 per annum. Graduate paralegals can expect £18,000 to £25,000 per annum.

An experienced paralegal will earn £40,000+ after several years of experience.

Education requirements

There are no fixed requirements for this role, however, good GCSEs and A-Levels are desirable. A lot of paralegals tend to be graduates who are training to be solicitors, so a degree is also attractive to employers.

Useful subjects to study at school & university

  • English

  • Law

  • History

  • Politics

Useful resources

National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP)