Attorneys, law firms, legal departments of major corporations, and state and federal governments are currently employing paralegals by the thousands. The benefits to the client by utilizing paralegals, to name a few, are reduced costs, lower legal fees and increased client contact. The benefits to the employer are court-approved paralegal fees, Pro Bono opportunities, acting liaison with court personnel, proficiency in electronic filings, specialized services and being competitive in the legal community. As a result Paralegals have now become an indispensable asset to the legal community and employment of paralegals is projected to grow 8 percent through 2024, according to the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupation Outlook Handbook.

osbaOhio State Bar Association Paralegal Definition: A paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.

What does a Paralegal do?
Paralegals generally work side-by-side with attorneys, judges, prosecutors, or public defenders. They assist with research, preparation and analysis of documents, client and witness interview and investigation.

Many paralegals are joining a growing trend, working independently or freelancing. Freelance paralegals provide support on an “as needed” basis, helping attorneys meet deadlines. Freelance or contract paralegals can help an attorney by offering flexibility and experience! Specifically, they are available to help with preparation of pleadings and correspondence, transcription, file organization, litigation preparation, legal research, and even provide coverage for that person who is on vacation or maternity leave.

What do the courts say about Paralegals?
“We conclude that given the appropriate instructions and supervision, paralegals, whether employees or independent contractors, are valuable and necessary members in the effective and efficient practice of law. In re: Opinion 24 of the Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law, 128 N.J. 114 (1992).

Encouraging the use of lower cost paralegals rather than attorneys whenever possible “encourages cost-effective delivery of legal services…” Source: Missouri v. Jenkins, 491 U.S. Ct. 2463, 2471, n. 10 (9).

What is a Freelance Paralegal?
Freelance paralegals, also known as contract paralegals, are no different than traditional paralegals except that they are not employed by an attorney in a traditional setting such as a law firm, governmental entity or corporation. A freelance paralegal is one that is essentially self-employed. They are available on an “as-needed” basis by many supervising attorneys in these settings to take on short-term or long-term projects.  Freelance paralegals are educated and qualified to perform paralegal work just the same as traditionally-employed paralegals.

Freelance paralegals perform paralegal work under attorney supervision, unless otherwise permitted by statute, administrative regulation or court rule. The paralegal work is legally substantive, delegated and reviewed by the supervising attorney, then delivered to the attorney when completed.