Career Possibilities: Paralegal

by: Nikki Purington

Do you enjoy organizing, sitting in an office, and dealing with trials? Why not become a paralegal? Becky Purington has been a certified paralegal for eleven years. She absolutely enjoys what she does.

Becky had to go to college for two years, then had to test to become certified, which was not easy.  Certification tests take eight timed hours. The test is similar to the A.C.T. but with only legal questions. Once certified 50 education credits have to be earned every five years. She also said it’s very hard to become a paralegal even with a degree.

Responsibilities of paralegals include drafting pleadings, communicating with clients, organizing exhibits for trials, attending trials, organizing files, requesting records, and interviewing witnesses.  Becky has worked in both a defense-oriented firm and a plaintiff-oriented firm. The differences are a plaintiff-firm represents people who have been injured in accidents, mainly automotive, while a defense-firm represents people who are accused of civil crimes and are being sued.

Being a paralegal is demanding work.  Becky says it’s also very stressful because “there are so many tasks to be done that you have to prioritize daily. New filings from court come in hourly which changes the priority of the tasks you already have to complete.”  As compensation Becky receives amazing benefits from her law firm and is happy with her salary. She receives free medical and life insurance along with a retirement plan which they put 15% of her salary toward. Becky gets four paid weeks of vacation and also 12 paid holidays a year.

Becoming a paralegal is not easy and the work is hard, but the rewards are worth it. Just ask Becky.