Shanna: Paralegals are legal assistants who pick up office tasks for lawyers helping them prepare for trials and hearings.
Joanne Sorentino [assumed spelling]: I monitor the process. I, I, I greet with, I greet the parties and the arbitrators when the hearing begins. I make sure that they have everything they need for the hearing itself. I can't give legal advice, but I can certainly give procedural advice.
Shanna: Joanne Sorentino says a lot of her time is spent in her office reviewing legal articles, writing reports, and drafting motions to be filed with the Court.
Joanne Sorentino: What I can tell you is that it's not as glamorous as you might think. It's not exactly what you see on TV. Not every paralegal is running to court behind their attorney. Many paralegals spend a, a great deal of their time in their office, researching, on the phone with parties, on the phone with other paralegals or attorneys.
Shanna: About 7 out of 10 legal assistants work for a law firm. It's not unusual for these paralegals to stay at the office working long hours to meet a deadline for a case. If you're up for the hard work, Joanne says networking is the key to starting your career.
Joanne Sorentino: I, I believe it's important to join a paralegal association because with that you meet other paralegals who are working in the field, who are able to get you into, get your foot into the door, and also, and at many of their meetings you meet legal staffing companies that have positions available.
Shanna: In this competitive field, most graduates have an Associate's degree in paralegal studies or a Bachelor's degree with a certificate in paralegal studies.
Joanne Sorentino: There is this paralegal degree, a four-year degree in legal assisting. There is also, I mean, you can also get your two, two-year degree in legal assistant and then get your four-year degree in a number of areas that d, depending on what type of paralegal you are. I mean, if you are a criminal, working for a criminal firm, you might want to get your four-year degree in criminal studies.
Shanna: Paralegals can work in many different types of law. Bankruptcy, immigration, personal injury, the list goes on.
Shanna: So what kind of salary can be expected for recent graduates?
Joanne Sorentino: Well, I can't give you an easy answer to that because that would depend on where you lived, what part of the country, and what type of law you would be specializing in.
Shanna: If you want to get an idea of what your salary range could be, visit the National Association of Legal Assistants' website at nala.org. So if you're aiming to take charge in the legal field, a career as a paralegal could be for you. Case closed.
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