First, depending on the area of law a paralegal will be assigned different tasks that are related in the field of law such as corporate law, real estate, intellectual property, etc. Lawyers should not do the tasks that paralegals can do, such as:
- Write or email correspondences.
- Telephone communications.
- Drafting documents.
- Client contact.
- Filing and Administrative work.
Secondly, depending on the type of legal field a paralegal may work on:
- Prepare and file corporate charter documents.
- Create checklists for the proper formation and operation of each of the different forms of entities.
- Organize minute books and stock certificates.
- Draft resolutions and other documents necessary to apply dividends and distributions and stock separations.
- Communicate with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
- Docket IP deadlines.
- Perform trademark searches.
- File copyright filings and notices.
- Proofread technical documents.
- Prepare SEC forms.
- Organize and process securities compliance calendars.
- Conduct interviews with clients to obtain background information.
- Index or brief documents or transcripts.
- Organize and analyze records from courts.
- Draft temporary motions, affidavits, and orders.
- Keep clients informed of the case.
- Order legal file and transcript.
- Drive clients to and from trial and or hearings.
- Draft interrogatories.
Before the paralegal profession was created, the attorney was responsible for conducting all these tasks. At first, paralegals where legal secretaries that were trained on the job to be skilled to take on more legal work. Over time, formal education for paralegals developed, and more paralegals were able to get the education and on the job experience needed to assist attorneys with increasing caseloads. This on the job training for legal secretaries provided low-cost legal help by having non-lawyers to do most of the work that would have been done by a licensed lawyer. These paralegals in the early time were not formally educated but received all the training necessary while on the job. They were not members of the bar, but were members of the legal services delivery team and were supervised by licensed lawyers. Although the paralegal profession is relatively new, there have been many changes done that have differentiated the tasks done by paralegals. There have been more responsibility added for paralegals, and are also expected to have good legal ethics, and not engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. Qualifications have also started specifying technology skills such as online research, using database software for managing files, using graphic presentation programs to create trial demonstrations.
What Paralegals Can Do. By R. Thomas Howell Jr, and Eric G. Orlinsky. (February 2007) American Bar Association. Retrieved from, https://apps.americanbar.org/buslaw/blt/2007-01-02/orlinsky.shtml
What Paralegals Do (and What Lawyers Shouldn’t Do. The Law Cost Management Group. A Division of Abernethy and Richie Inc. Retrieved from, http://www.lawcost.com/paras.htm
A Brief History of the Paralegal Profession. By Susan Mae McCabe. Michigan Bar Journal. (July, 2007) 86-Jul Mich. B.J. 18.