Paralegals – A New Frontier in the Legal Industry

In the legal industry today, more and more career opportunities are becoming available to paralegals all over the country. Paralegals are individuals who specialize in a wide range of tasks; they can be providers of “first aid” to clients who are in need of legal advice, or they can gather substantial facts and information for lawyers to study. Paralegals are in demand nowadays, especially if a task involves translating legal procedures into layman’s terms.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals can earn an average of $43,040 each year, including bonuses, life insurance, leave benefits and reimbursement for continuing legal education. Scholarships are likewise provided to those who wish to study paralegal courses. Other financial aid packages meanwhile are made to support aspiring paralegals with their other needs.

The job of a paralegal used to be restricted within the confines of the legal office. But these days paralegals are needed almost everywhere, since they are also equipped with adequate legal knowledge. Paralegals can assist the media in tackling certain legal issues, provide immediate legal aid to people who need to understand their rights and privileges given a particular situation, or document some legal cases that could be of public interest.

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How to Hire Legal Services

Whether you are preparing for your will, starting a business of your own, buying a house, or filing a case, getting the best legal assistance is very important part of the whole duration of process. An attorney can be of great help especially in advising you your rights under the law and provide you with the information regarding he legislation that may affect you along the way.

It is like selecting a physician when you select for the attorney. Attorneys concentrate into the specific type of cases like what the doctors do. The initial step that you have to do is to first define the very nature of this matter and then try to look for the lawyer that can help you to address all of your needs and the one who can help you with your case. Though there are some attorneys that practices general law, there are also those lawyers that solely concentrate on the areas like criminal law, labor relations, real estate, family law, taxation, and many more.

However, not like the physicians, in most of the states there is no certain specialization exam for the lawyer where they can take to demonstrate their knowledge on that legal field. In most states, the lawyer does not have any board certificates unlike the doctors where they can be board certified. Thus, you may have to take some steps towards being sure that the attorney that you are going to hire will be adequate to handle all of your problems.

It is good to ask your friends or your neighbors for the recommendation so that they can advise you on where to find for the best lawyer.

You can try to also check if you can learn where to check the best lawyer in your state form the lawyer referral service in the bar association that can be listed on the directories of your telephone. You can consult the lawyer over there and ask them about your case and then agreed upon whatever is the necessary service that is needed for your case that will need fees.

If the lawyer you consulted cannot handle the case, then that is the time they are to refer you to the other lawyer they know can best help you. The advantage of going to the referral services is that they can give you another lawyer that can help you with your problem.

Finally, since the lawyers can advertise into their services, you may want to check also the yellow pages of your phone directory. But make sure that you will verify the information that the lawyers put in the yellow pages and make sure that their claims are legit in terms of the services and the amount of the payment for the problem you want to consult.

Continuing Legal Education

Law practitioners have different lines of specialization in the field of law. However, law practitioners from any discipline can pursue their field of expertise through continuing legal education. Continuing legal education helps these professionals update themselves on the latest developments and reforms in their respective fields. Online study material is also available for these practitioners.

Continuing legal education curriculums include specific law topics, skill development, practice management, case studies and ethics. This kind of education is conducted as lectures, workshops, and discussions in audiotape as well as videotape formats. Attorneys who have recently graduated are expected to fulfill their continuing legal education requirement by taking accredited intermediary continuing legal education. Transitional continuing legal education courses are intended to help fresh graduates launch practices based on practical skills, method and events essential to the field of law.

In New York, new attorneys are expected to undergo courses or studies in conventional live classroom settings or attend fully interactive videoconferences approved by the Continuing Legal Education Board. Usually, attorneys are expected to study significant legal cases that have taken place in recent times. This gives them an exposure to methods and skills used by the attorneys of both sides and also understand the various laws applied. They can use the results of the case to analyze how the arguments affected the approach taken by the jury and the judge.

Experienced attorneys may take accredited intermediary as well as non-transitional continuing legal education courses or programs as per their requirements. Continuing legal education is a suggested study option for attorneys, legal secretaries, paralegals, lawyers, litigation support managers, legal support staff in law firms and company legal departments.

Continuing legal education is an absolute essential for growth oriented legal professionals. Continuing legal education eliminates incorrect practices and helps identify people who are not appropriate for practicing the trade. With the help of continuing education courses, a professional can also learn to handle new assignments.

Legal Research – How to Find & Understand the Law

“Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law” by Attorney Stephen Elias and the Editors of Nolo is another book in the huge legal library published by Nolo, a publisher that prides itself on making the law accessible to everyone. I’m an attorney, and I still like the books put out by Nolo, especially the ones on areas I’m not as familiar with, but want a little knowledge. Nolo always delivers.

Not everyone can afford Lexis or Westlaw, the two biggest subscriber based on-line legal resources. In law school we had access to both, because both companies wanted to earn your loyalty for when you got out and started practicing. Many firms have one or the other, and I suppose large firms may subscribe to both. Even with access to one of these, I find that I can often find things faster and easier with free resources. Many states have statutes and such on-line these days. More and more are becoming available all the time.

That’s where the book “Legal Research” comes in. It provides easy to follow research methods to help you answer your legal questions. The book has sections for on-line research as well as information regarding law libraries for those who have access to one.

The book consists of 386 pages divided among ten information packed chapters. The chapters include:

One: Understanding the Basics of the Law. Brief descriptions of what the law is, sources of law, state versus federal law, and the court system. Too basic for an attorney, but for the layperson the book was written for, this is a good introduction.

Two: Finding Legal Resources. This chapter explains where legal information is located, primary and secondary sources, internet resources for legal topics, and legal research websites. It includes Lexis and Westlaw, but also other sites that are free. I like the tips and warnings through out the book as well. Good caution that not every opinion you find is good law. Obvious to someone who had it drilled into them during law school, but probably not known to many laypeople.

Three: Identifying Your Legal Issue. Things to know before you go looking, like is the case civil or criminal, figuring out the area of law you want to research, what resources will help you with what you need to find, and figuring out your legal research question. This is important, you want to know what you’re really looking for before you go searching.

Four: Finding and Using Secondary Sources. This chapter explores sources such as online resources (including a bit about deciding if reliable), self-help legal books, legal encyclopedias, form books, practice manuals, continuing legal education publications, law reviews, and so on. Many law firms will have a lot of these kinds of resources, and you will find even more at a law library. This chapter gives a brief overview of what these sources are.

Five: Finding and Using Constitutions, Statutes, Regulations, and Ordinances. These are the bulk of legislatively or administratively created law. This chapter explains how to find these resources and how to use them. It covers finding and using constitutions, finding federal statutes, finding state statutes, understanding them, finding regulations and other rules and ordinances. All of these are important depending on your particular issue. This chapter is a good introduction to this world of “laws” for those that are charting unfamiliar territory.

Six: Finding Cases. Some of our law is not found in statutes, but in the decisions of cases that have already been decided. These cases interpreted laws and are now the rule until legislature changes it, or another case overrules it. Roe v. Wade is an example of a famous case that is looked to regarding abortion law. This chapter helps the reader learn how to use citations to find cases, find cases on the internet, find cases in the law library.

Seven: Using Case Law. This chapter actually explains what a case is, how they are published, and how cases affect later disputes. If you matter relies on case law, this chapter will help you.

Eight: Validating Your Research. I pointed out the tip earlier, and this chapter goes further to help you make sure you have “good law.” It teaches you how to Shepardize a Case, a process we lawyers use to ensure the cases we are relying on are still good. If you are trying to make a case yourself, you must be sure you are relying on “good law.” These are the kinds of things lawyers know that many laypeople don’t.

Nine: Organizing and Putting Your Legal Research to Use. One thing clerks, legal interns, and associates spend a lot of time doing is research. Once you find the information, you must put what you find in written form for those that asked you to find it. This chapter provides the basics for writing a legal memorandum. Not as thorough as the semester class most first year law students take, but good for the non-lawyer. There is a brief section about going to court and the court process and about a couple pages on finding and working with a lawyer.

Ten: Research Hypothetical and Memorandum. Maybe it is because lawyer learn by case studies and examples that this chapter provides a research problem, how to discover the facts, and then how to approach the question to research. It’s very short, so it will give the non-lawyer a little example of how to look at the law and go about finding your answer.

The book chapters stop here on page 255. The next 100 plus pages is a glossary, which a person would not need if they have a legal dictionary. Nolo actually has a simple legal dictionary that won’t replace “Black’s” but is a good resource. Then there is a short appendix on topics and an index.