The term "paralegal” is widely understood to describe a person qualified through education, training or work experience to perform substantive legal work and whose work, in the absence of a paralegal, would be performed by an attorney.http://legalcareers.about.com/od/legalcareerb...
Paralegals may be employed by lawyers to perform in many different capacities, including:
- Case planning, development, and management;
- Legal research, fact gathering and information retrieval both via traditional systems such as libraries and computer-based research;
- Interview clients and maintain contact with them, under the attorney’s supervision
- Draft and analyze legal documents including pleadings, discovery requests and responses;
- Draft and sign legal correspondence that is informative in nature but that does not include legal opinion or advice;
- Prepare for and assist at trial;
- Represent clients before a state or federal administrative agency if permitted by law;
- Locate and interview witnesses;
- Summarize documents and proceedings including depositions, interrogatories and testimony;
- Attend legal functions including executions of wills, real estate closings, depositions, court or administrative hearings and trials with the attorney.
Paralegals may also perform clerical and administrative duties as needed, especially in a small office. However, as paralegals typically earn higher wages than legal secretaries, many offices reserve their paralegal’s time for higher level tasks. Often, the time a paralegal spends performing substantive legal work can be billed to the client in the same manner as an attorney’s time.http://www.paralegaledu.org/