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British Law >> Jobs Area >> Paralegal

Not all legal work requires a law degree, and many lawyers are assisted in their work by paralegals (also called unqualified legal assistants). A paralegal (sometimes referred to as a legal assistant) is a person who is either qualified through education in legal studies, training and/or work experience in a law environment, or who is employed or retained by a solicitor in private practice, law office, corporate or in-house solicitor, government agency or other entity. Paralegals work under the ultimate direction and supervision of a solicitor, and performs substantive legal work. This is work requiring sufficient legal knowledge that, without the assistance of a paralegal, it would be performed by a solicitor.
Since lawyers work in various areas and specialisations, paralegals also work in a variety of areas:

- Paralegals who work for law firms may specialise in one area of the law. This can include any area such as property conveyancing and estate agency, tax planning, family law, labour law, litigation, and corporate law. Within specialties, functions may be broken down further so that, for example, paralegals who specialise in industrial law may deal exclusively with employee benefits.

- Paralegals who work for companies support lawyers with matters such as shareholder agreements, share options, employment contracts, and employee benefit plans. They may also help in preparing and filing annual financial reports, maintaining company minutes and resolutions, and helping secure loans. Paralegals may also review government regulations to make sure that the company operates within the law.

- Paralegals employed in community legal service such as Citizens' Advice Bureaux help those in need of legal aid, file legal forms, conduct research, and prepare documents. When authorized by law (specific circumstances), they can represent clients at administrative hearings.

- Paralegals working in government analyse legal material for internal use, maintain reference files, conduct research, collect and analyse evidence for hearings, and prepare informative or explanatory material on the law, agency regulations, and agency policy for general use by the agency and the public.

The professional development of paralegals is overseen by:
- The National Association of Paralegals
. . and . .
- The Scottish Paralegal Association

Both of the above provide information, advice, FAQs, and training courses.
Further courses are provided by:
- ILEX Paralegal Training