How to Get Started as a Freelance Paralegal

A freelance paralegal is not very different from a salaried paralegal in terms of responsibilities handled. The only difference is that freelance paralegals is hired by a law firm, attorney and government organization as and when the need arises. To put it in a nutshell, a freelance paralegal is a non-attorney, who assists an attorney or a firm that hires him or her, with all the legal work related to a specific case or a specific issue. If you are willing to develop a strong knowledge in areas of law and interested in doing extensive amount of paper work, then this profession might just be the one for you. Follow the below mentioned guidelines to get started as a freelance paralegal.

Obtain the Qualifications:

To qualify as a freelance paralegal you need to hold some type of post-secondary course be it a 2 year or four year degree in a paralegal study. Here are some guidelines that will help acquiring the necessary training to be a freelance paralegal.

  • Pursue paralegal courses that are of 2 or 4 years duration.
  • If you are law school student who has discontinued the studies halfway, then this might be your ideal job to gain experience and move forward.
  • Short term certificate courses are also available.
  • As the subfields in law are numerous, choose your area of expertise and specialize in it. Be it corporate law, criminal law, business law or real estate, make your choice.
  • Get yourself well acquainted with computers. Like any other profession, a freelance paralegal has to make use of computer for completing major parts of the task assigned.
  • Excellent research skills are required to be a freelance paralegal. Access and knowledge on how to use certain databases like Westlaw and LexisNexis is an added advantage.
  • In some states, certification is compulsory to work as a paralegal whether as a freelancer or a salaried one. It is usually authorized by National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
  • Being a freelancer, you require a basic office set up with necessary supplies, a computer with a fast and reliable internet connection to kick start your career.

Understand the Job

As a freelance paralegal, you need to work in close association with the attorney or the firm. You might be able to do major part of your work at your office. However, for completing certain tasks, you will have to travel to the court and your client’s location. Typical tasks of a freelance paralegal are:

  • Finding the right kind of assignments through various sources and negotiating the deal.
  • Understanding the requirements of the job.
  • Drafting and summarizing legal documents.
  • Researching the case background.
  • Gathering information from people related to a specific case.
  • Filing papers in the court.
  • Checking with the client for any changes required.
  • Managing administrative side of the business on own.

Perks

If you are dreaming about eventually becoming an attorney or establishing a full-fledged career as a legal assistant, then this is the best place to start. This is because the job will introduce you to all aspects of the field you will be working on later. Salaries of a regular and freelance paralegal differ due to obvious reasons. As an entry level freelance paralegal, you can expect to make from $25,000 to $35,000 per year. This will however increase with experience.