A corporate paralegal is a legal professional who supports attorneys in a corporate setting. They typically have a broad range of responsibilities, including preparing documents, conducting legal research, and renewing the company's licenses.
Corporate paralegals are typically hired by large companies that have in-house legal departments whose duty is to ensure the company operates within the law. In this article, we will take a closer look at the definition and duties of this kind of paralegal.
What Is a Corporate Paralegal?
A paralegal, in general, is an individual who assists an attorney. However, you should know that a paralegal differs from a legal assistant in that the legal assistant is focused more on administrative tasks, such as answering calls and scheduling appointments, although they may also proofread and draft legal documents.
On the other hand, a corporate paralegal - or any other kind of paralegal - is a professional who provides legal support to businesses alongside a lawyer. Unlike a legal assistant, this type of professional possesses the relevant legal education to help maintain the legality of day-to-day business operations and ensure compliance alongside corporate attorneys.
Corporate Paralegal Duties
The exact duties of a corporate paralegal will vary depending on the size and type of business. Still, all of them perform several ubiquitous tasks and also have restricted access to other activities.
For example, a law firm paralegal speaks with clients, drafts and proofreads legal documents, assists their supervising attorney in trial preparation, and interviews witnesses.
Their job duties can involve:
- Keeping up to date with laws and regulations relevant to the company
- Helping apply necessary changes to contracts and corporate policies to remain compliant
- Drafting and reviewing organizational documents, such as stock certificates, articles of formation, merger agreements, or dissolution documentation
- Keeping track of and filing corporate records, such as annual reports
- Maintaining and renewing the business licenses
- Renewing and drafting employment contracts
- Handling intellectual property matters
- Attending corporate meetings, taking minutes, drafting memos and other correspondence
- Responding to document requests during litigation
- Assisting the company’s lawyers through all stages of corporate transactions and with corporate governance matters
A paralegal always works in a fast-paced, dynamic environment, and sometimes they might even be forced to work overtime to carry out all their duties.
On the other hand, a corporate paralegal’s duties don’t include tasks related to trials. These legal professionals will likely never set foot in a courtroom, and usually don’t have any trial-related roles.
How To Become a Corporate Paralegal
In this section, we’ll look at educational and skill-related requirements for anyone who wishes to become a corporate paralegal. In addition, we’ll present some interview questions candidates applying for corporate paralegal jobs can expect.
In terms of education, most businesses look for candidates with at least an associate's degree in paralegal studies or a bachelor’s degree in any field, accompanied by a paralegal certificate.
According to the National Association of Legal Assistants, having completed an internship as part of your paralegal education will also help you stand out among the competition, so keep this in mind when making your education decisions.
For example, business administration is a good major choice and educational option for those planning to use their legal education in large corporations.
Naturally, to be able to perform corporate paralegal duties, one needs to possess a set of specific skills. Some of the main skills a paralegal aspiring to work in the corporate sector should have are:
- Multitasking ability
- Organizational skills
- Attention to detail
- Excellent reading comprehension
- Strong written and oral communication skills
- Legal research proficiency, ability to conduct independent research
- Microsoft Office Suite proficiency
After you’ve submitted your corporate paralegal resume to companies you wish to work for and been invited for an in-person assessment, you can expect to be asked questions meant to discern whether you have the above-mentioned skills.
Here are some questions the hiring manager might ask you:
- What skills make you the perfect candidate?
- How do you organize your workload?
- Can you give an example of an instance where you needed to compile and organize relevant information from multiple sources?
- What software have you used in your experience as a paralegal?
- How can you ensure you maintain attention to detail when performing repetitive tasks?
You will also face questions examining your corporate law knowledge, such as identifying specific legal terms. In addition, there may be some questions of the following sort:
- What's the key to ensuring the company complies with all applicable laws, regulations, and standards?
- Has there been a case where your understanding of a problem resulted in the company resolving it?
- If our company wants to expand its business dealings to a new field of law, what would you recommend?
- How would you conduct (a specific type of) securities filing?
- What kinds of things are often included in a share sale agreement?
Some inquiries will deal with your aspirations toward continued improvement. Thus, you may expect to be asked something like this:
- How do you work on improving your legal knowledge?
- What is the one thing you could improve in terms of your document organization and preparation?
- Are you planning to further your education?
Ultimately, you can anticipate questions about your educational background and paralegal experience, as well as some inquiries that assess your critical thinking and willingness to work to further your skills and knowledge.
Corporate Paralegal Salary
The average earnings of a paralegal depend on various factors, including location, years of experience, and level of education. However, generally speaking, paralegals working in big companies earn more than those in law firms - unless the law firm is high-end.
In New York City, for instance, the salary of corporate paralegals ranges from $54,000 to $110,000 annually. At the same time, their law firm counterparts from Queens, New York, earn between $34,000 and $84,000 per year. Overall, the average salary of corporate paralegals in the United States is $71,267 annually.
Corporate Paralegal Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for paralegals and legal assistants is expected to grow by 12% from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for other professions. On average, there are about 43,000 openings for these occupations every year.
Given that this type of paralegal is one of the most sought-after, with an average salary of $71,267 per year, the payment outlook for this profession is extremely positive.
Paralegals with experience in multiple areas of the law, such as corporate law, tax law, and intellectual property law, will have the best job prospects. Additionally, those who have earned a certificate or degree from an accredited paralegal program will also have an advantage when seeking employment.
In conclusion, a corporate paralegal works in a busy environment and has a wide range of responsibilities. From preparing legal documents to conducting research, they play an important role in ensuring businesses operate efficiently within the law. If you are looking for an exciting and challenging position, then this career will be right for you.