What Are the Duties of a Paralegal?

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Sometimes known as legal assistants, paralegals assist attorneys in most areas of their practices. Although paralegals are not permitted to give binding legal advice, they often perform complex legal work, including research and document preparation.


Paralegals are responsible for performing clerical tasks such as filing, typing, answering phones, making copies and processing mail.


Paralegals often conduct legal research using law libraries and electronic databases.


Paralegals may be responsible responsible for drafting court documents, correspondence, legal briefs and research summaries.

Trial Preparation

Often, paralegals assist attorneys with trial preparation, which includes preparing exhibits, monitoring filing deadlines and proofreading documents.

Client Contact

Paralegals may be responsible for contacting clients to update them on the status of their cases, and to answer simple questions about the legal process.

Supervisory Duties

Some paralegals may be responsible for monitoring the work of lower-level administrative staff such as receptionists or file clerks.

2016 Salary Information for Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Paralegals and legal assistants earned a median annual salary of $49,500 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, paralegals and legal assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $38,230, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $63,640, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 285,600 people were employed in the U.S. as paralegals and legal assistants.