March 16, 2023

14 Types of Paralegals: Pick Your Passion

By B&SC Blog Team

14 Types of Paralegals: Pick Your Passion

Being a paralegal means you can work in the law field without having to put in the time to earn a law degree and pass the bar exam. As a paralegal, you’ll still have many responsibilities and duties that require legal knowledge and skills. Although you won’t be allowed to give clients legal advice as a lawyer or an attorney would, you’ll play an important role in legal matters, such as handling legal research and gathering evidence for cases.

Paralegals assist lawyers in several ways, whether they work in a law firm or another setting, such as a corporation’s law department or the government. There are several paralegal specialties to choose from, depending on factors such as your interests or job experience. Being a paralegal allows you to build a career around an issue or area you’re passionate about.

Types of Paralegals

From courtrooms and law firm offices to corporate offices and government facilities, paralegals have plenty of work environments to choose from. While some tasks, such as doing legal research and handling legal correspondence, are part of most paralegal jobs, certain specialties come with other responsibilities. The following information can help you learn more about some of the kinds of paralegal specialties that are available.

1. Corporate

Corporate paralegals spend their time working for a company or an organization instead of with multiple clients. This paralegal job involves reviewing business contracts, ensuring companies comply with state and federal rules and regulations, and handling other legal tasks. Corporate paralegals usually don’t spend much time in the courtroom or interacting with clients. If you have a corporate background or an interest in working for a business or an organization, being a corporate paralegal might be the right path for you.

2. Family Law

Family law paralegals assist lawyers who handle divorce cases, child custody cases, and other family law cases. These paralegals gather documents and paperwork, prepare divorce or separation documents, perform legal research, conduct interviews, and prepare court filings. For this job, you’ll need strong organizational skills to keep all records and paperwork properly filed and updated. Keep in mind that working in family law can involve highly emotional cases, so compassion, empathy, and patience are essential.

3. Immigration

Immigration paralegals help attorneys with legal tasks that relate to immigration, such as filing visa applications or gathering paperwork for deportation petitions. Some immigration paralegals work in a law firm, while others work for a large business or organization that employs immigrants. Having strong communication skills and being able to multitask are essential for this specialty. Being bilingual or speaking multiple languages is also an excellent skill to have since you might interact with clients or employees who speak another language.

4. Estate Planning and Probate

Estate planning and probate paralegals focus on estate planning and probate work with individuals who are in the process of making plans for their estate after they pass. This often involves assisting clients with writing wills and other legal documents for estate planning. In some cases, these paralegals assist with probate cases, which involve distributing property and handling other estate tasks for those who died without a will. Being an estate planning and probate paralegal requires having legal skills, administrative skills, and a sense of compassion when interacting with clients.

5. Personal Injury

Personal injury paralegals help lawyers handle cases involving accidents or injuries caused by another party. These paralegals handle multiple tasks relevant to these types of cases, such as preparing clients and witnesses for depositions, preparing for trials, scheduling proceedings, transcribing legal documents, and gathering medical reports and other paperwork. Some cases involve working on the defendant’s side, while others work on the plaintiff’s side. Organizational skills, communication skills, and personal injury legal knowledge are vital for this type of work.

6. Criminal Defense

Criminal defense paralegals assist attorneys with handling criminal law cases. This might involve gathering evidence and discovery information, drafting documents, doing legal research, conducting interviews, and handling other tasks that build these legal cases. Having a solid interest in criminal law and familiarity with crime classifications and legal procedures, such as probation or search and seizure, can make this a good career option for you as a paralegal.

7. Litigation

Litigation paralegal jobs allow you to focus on helping attorneys when legal action is taken, such as when a client sues someone. This work involves assisting lawyers with preparing for trials, conducting interviews with witnesses, and handling other relevant tasks. With this type of job, you can expect to be in courtrooms more often than you would with other paralegal specialties. Keep in mind that you can be a litigation paralegal within a specialty, such as bankruptcy, corporate law, or personal injury.

8. Banking/Finance

Banking or finance paralegals assist attorneys who handle financial or banking matters, such as bankruptcy or banking transactions. While some paralegals work in a law firm’s finance department, others work for a bank or another type of financial institution. Depending on their exact role, they might help lawyers prepare bankruptcy cases, such as filing paperwork or other documents. Others might be involved with handling loan documents, venture capital investments, stock transfers, or other business transactions. Having job experience in banking or finance or an interest in this industry could mean that this is a good career path for you.

9. Insurance

Insurance paralegals handle duties related to insurance claims, investigations, and other insurance matters. This often involves being comfortable working on cases for different kinds of insurance, such as auto insurance, homeowners’ insurance, and health insurance. Paralegals with this specialty might work for a law firm or in an insurance company’s legal department. Some tasks they handle might include gathering evidence for cases, preparing documents, preparing for trials, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing insurance company policies. This might be a great specialty to choose if you have experience in the insurance industry.

10. Real Estate

Real estate paralegals are involved with the legal aspects of real estate purchases and transactions. In some cases, these paralegals handle legal tasks for real estate matters that involve the courts, such as foreclosures or zoning disputes. Keeping track of correspondence between parties, reviewing and filing documents, and performing other relevant tasks are part of the job for these paralegals. If you have an interest in real estate or experience as a real estate agent, this can be an excellent option to consider.

11. Intellectual Property

Intellectual property paralegals spend their time handling legal tasks related to patents, trademarks, and other types of intellectual property. Some of these paralegals work in law firms, while others work for a corporation or government organization. As this type of paralegal, you might work on cases involving trademark infringement, copyright applications, or other intellectual property issues. These paralegals research existing and new legislation on intellectual property, interact with clients, and draft documents, such as patent applications. Since this specialty often involves working with marketing firms, having previous experience or an interest in marketing is helpful.

12. Government

Government paralegals work for federal, state, or local government law offices. The exact duties they perform can depend on the type of role they have. Some mainly handle research, such as reviewing regulations, while others focus on preparing and processing government contracts. For some government paralegals, community outreach is part of their job description. Having an eye for detail, being highly organized, and being able to multitask are essential skills when you work as a government paralegal, no matter which branch of the government you work for.

13. Labor/Employment

Labor or employment paralegals focus on labor law matters, such as collective bargaining agreements, for union or nonunion workplaces. These paralegals have a vital role to play in employer-employee issues, such as health and safety, benefits, wages, discrimination, and workers’ compensation. Some of their duties include drafting contracts, pleadings, and other documents; tracking case documents; scheduling depositions; preparing trial exhibits; and handling other tasks to prepare for trials. Relevant work experience or an interest in labor law can make this specialty a good career option.

14. Healthcare Paralegal or Nurse Paralegal

Healthcare paralegals or nurse paralegals handle tasks related to healthcare or medical cases, such as medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, healthcare laws, or health insurance claims. The duties and responsibilities these paralegals handle can vary depending on the type of case they’re working on. These duties might include reviewing medical records, preparing depositions, and assisting with on-site investigations. Some work for law firms, while others work for insurance companies or medical organizations. Having job experience as a nurse or another type of healthcare worker could make this specialty an ideal fit for you.

Other Paralegal Specialties

Several other types of paralegal specialties are available for you to consider as a career option. These include freelance, disability, juvenile, human rights, military, maritime, and environmental.

How to Choose Your Paralegal Specialty

With so many paralegal specialties to choose from, how can you choose the right one for your career? You can go about this in different ways. Gaining an education in paralegal studies is a great way to learn the skills you’ll need for a paralegal job, no matter your chosen specialty. You can also determine the right specialty based on your interests or passions. The following can help you select your paralegal specialty.

What Do Most Paralegals Major In?

When you decide to become a paralegal, you might consider earning a paralegal degree or starting as a legal assistant. A paralegal degree, such as an associate degree, provides you with the training you need to perform the duties and responsibilities of this career, such as legal writing and correspondence, legal research, law office management, and more. You might take certain courses that cover a specialty, such as corporate law, contract law, or environmental law.

Starting as a legal assistant is another path you can take to becoming a paralegal. This might involve earning a legal assistant diploma, working as a legal assistant, and then earning a paralegal degree or a paralegal studies certificate.

Pair with a Personal Interest or a Previous Job

When exploring different options for your paralegal specialty, consider your personal interests and previous job experience. Your interests might help you decide what you want to focus on as a paralegal. For example, you might have a strong interest in environmental issues, immigration issues, or human rights issues. You can choose your paralegal specialty based on what you’re passionate about.

Your previous job experience offers another way to choose a paralegal specialty. For example, if you have experience working as a nurse, you might decide to become a healthcare or nurse paralegal. This paralegal job allows you to put your nursing or healthcare knowledge to use along with your paralegal skills. If you have previous job experience as a mechanic, you might choose a paralegal specialty in car accident personal injury law or car defect or liability law. If you have experience working as a banker or in another financial role, you might choose a finance or banking specialty, such as bankruptcy.

Start Your Journey Today

Bryant & Stratton College has programs to help you build the skills you’ll need as a paralegal. We offer a Legal Office Assistant diploma, and the credits earned with this diploma can be applied toward our 60-credit Paralegal Studies associate degree program. Both degree programs are available online and at our campuses in New York, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Request more information on these programs and find your program today!

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