Almost everyone has heard of paralegals, yet many don’t really understand what a paralegal does. Some think a paralegal is a lawyer, or a legal aid type of worker. Neither of those are true. A paralegal is NOT a lawyer and CAN NOT give legal advice. They have nothing to do with legal aid or any type of government programs. However many paralegals work for attorneys, or render their services to attorneys.
A paralegal is a person who has vast knowledge of all the standard legal forms that must be used with many different legal matters. All legal suits, petitions, cases and so on use standard legal forms that MUST be used in each case, and must be filled out correctly. Some examples are forms for bankruptcies, wills, divorces, adoptions and so on. They all require specific legal forms and documents that must be filled out and filed with the court. Paralegals are the ones who do all this work, not the lawyers.
A paralegals job is a combination of bookwork, secretary, accountant, data entry, transcriber, investigative reporter and writer! They gather up all the information, receipts, paperwork and so on for each case and fill out the required legal forms with the correct information. There are two types of paralegals, although each does the same type of work. One works closely with lawyers, doing all their paperwork and even going to court with them. They can actually be employed by a lawyer or several lawyers.
The other type of paralegal is independent paralegal services. They work for themselves and often do no work for lawyers at all. These are the type of paralegals who often help people file for bankruptcies when they don’t want to hire a lawyer. They do all types of legal documents, tax returns, notary services, bookwork, accountant services and more. They can give you legal suggestions, but not real legal advice, even though they often know as much about some types of legal matters as most lawyers.
Most people can save a lot of money by using a paralegal to fill out their legal forms and not use a lawyer. However it is up to each person to make sure they understand what they are doing and what their legal rights are. A paralegal just fills out the correct legal forms, they DO NOT give you legal advice. Many normal legal functions can be done without the use of a lawyer. Examples are bankruptcy, wills, adoptions, name changes, divorces and so on. An independent paralegal can save you thousands of dollars by using them instead of a lawyer.