What Does A Paralegal Do?

What Does A Paralegal Do? (Job Description and Duties)

Paralegals are in high demand nationwide, serving as the backbone of lawyers and the legal system at large. Paralegals undertake numerous responsibilities that contribute significantly to the legal process.

This guide aims to provide a detailed breakdown of the paralegal job description and duties, shedding light on the essential role they play within law firms and the variety of tasks they manage on a day-to-day basis.

Want to learn more about becoming a paralegal? Check out our more recent blog post, “What is a Paralegal? Career paths, average salaries & more!”

Paralegal responsibilities in Ontario

What Does a Paralegal Do?

At its core, a paralegal, also known as a legal assistant, supports attorneys in delivering legal services. This support includes the primary responsibility of conducting legal research, drafting documents, managing multiple cases, and interacting with clients with precision and strong interpersonal skills. 

Given the dynamic nature of the legal field, a paralegal’s role is diverse. It can vary greatly depending on the law firm’s size, the area of law practice, and the specific needs of the attorneys they support. Becoming a paralegal typically requires an associate’s degree or certificate in paralegal studies, though a bachelor’s degree can also be beneficial.

Detailed Paralegal Job Description and Responsibilities Overview

A paralegal’s job description encompasses a wide array of tasks, which include but are not limited to:

Legal Research

Paralegals frequently engage in comprehensive legal research encompassing case law, statutes, scholarly articles, and various documents. This research aids lawyers in diligently preparing for trials, hearings, and other legal proceedings. Paralegals leverage their analytical, critical thinking, and research skills to efficiently locate and analyze information vital to the case at hand.

Both paralegals and lawyers are essential to the legal process, each contributing unique expertise to ensure effective legal representation and proceedings. 

Document Preparation

A primary focus for paralegals is drafting various legal documents, including contracts, wills, pleadings, and motions. With precision and attention to detail, paralegals meticulously structure and validate the accuracy of these legal documents to ensure compliance with stringent legal standards and requirements.

Client Interaction

Paralegals frequently act as the vital link between attorneys and clients, assuming responsibilities such as addressing client inquiries, gathering essential information, and providing regular updates on case progress. Through effective communication and client engagement, paralegals facilitate a seamless flow of information between legal professionals and clients.

Administrative Support

In addition to core legal tasks, paralegals provide crucial administrative support by managing schedules, coordinating meetings, and overseeing various administrative duties essential for the efficient functioning of the law firm. Their attention to detail and organizational skills contribute to the smooth operation of the legal practice, allowing attorneys to focus on more complex legal matters.

Case Management

Playing a pivotal role in the legal domain, paralegals effectively oversee case files, ensuring meticulous document control, tracking critical deadlines, and maintaining methodical organization of case materials. This systematic approach ensures that all case-related documents are readily accessible for thorough review when required.

  • Traffic Court: This court handles cases related to traffic violations such as speeding tickets, impaired driving, and other driving offences. Paralegals assist in collecting evidence, conducting legal research, and preparing necessary documents for court appearances.
  • Small Claims Court: This court deals with disputes concerning minor sums of money. Paralegals are essential in assisting attorneys with filing documents, organizing evidence, and preparing witnesses for trial.

Understanding Paralegal Job Duties in Legal Research and Different Specializations

The specifics of a paralegal’s job can also vary widely based on the area of law they practice. For instance:

  • Corporate Paralegals: Focus on business transactions, maintaining corporate records, drafting shareholder agreements, and assisting in financial reporting. 
  • Litigation Paralegals: Handle tasks related to trials, such as organizing evidence, preparing exhibits, and collaborating with experts and witnesses.
  • Family Law Paralegals: Assist in drafting custody agreements, divorce paperwork, and dealing with sensitive client communication.
  • Real Estate Paralegals: Prepare closing documents, conduct title searches, and ensure compliance with real estate laws and regulations.
  • Immigration Paralegals: Work on filing appropriate paperwork for visa applications, citizenship, and asylum or deportation cases and coordinating client documentation.
  • Intellectual Property Paralegals: Secure patents and protect the legal rights of inventors, artists, and designers in the realm of intellectual property, ensuring that their inventions and artistic works are legally protected.

The Evolving Role of Paralegals in Law Firms

The paralegal profession is evolving rapidly, with technology playing a significant role in transforming how paralegals work. From legal research databases to case management software, advancements in tech enable paralegals to work more efficiently and handle increasingly complex tasks.

Furthermore, as the legal landscape continues to change, paralegals are taking on more substantive legal work previously reserved for attorneys. This shift reflects the growing recognition of the paralegal’s expertise and value and speaks to the versatility and adaptability of the role within the legal ecosystem.


The paralegal job description and duties cover a broad spectrum of activities that are crucial for the effective functioning of law firms and the legal system as a whole. Paralegals play a pivotal role in legal proceedings, exhibiting a blend of legal knowledge, technical skills, and interpersonal abilities. Whether through direct client service, meticulous research, or thorough document preparation, paralegals are indispensable to attorneys and the clients they serve.

Understanding the role’s depth and breadth is crucial for those considering a paralegal career. It’s a profession marked by constant learning, challenge, and the opportunity to make a substantial impact within the legal field.

How Do I Become A Paralegal?

In Ontario, becoming a paralegal requires undertaking a paralegal education from an accredited educational institution, sitting and passing an exam and then becoming licensed.

Cestar College provides one of Ontario’s most comprehensive and respected paralegal courses. Our course combines rigorous studies covering all aspects of paralegal law with a 120-hour real-world co-op placement.

Work experience is a requirement for becoming a paralegal in Ontario, meaning a diploma like the one offered by Cestar College is invaluable in saving time and money for anyone looking to become a paralegal.

Contact us today to take the next step in your career. 

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