What are the skills that distinguish paralegal and attorney?
All the facts about the job description, training, salary and application as a paralegal assistant
Communication, organization and diligence are your talents? Are you interested in legal matters? Then this job might be right for you.
The majority of paralegals are women. In 1995 this profession emerged from the previous training as a legal assistant, which is still a common term today.
For many, the job is very interesting because it is varied. At the same time, however, it is very bureaucratic and requires a lot of administration. Workplaces are the office with a PC, the courtroom as well as visiting the client in the client's own four walls.
The place of work of a paralegal is usually in the private office of a notary or a lawyer. There are many joint law firms with multiple notaries or lawyers and multiple employees.
The job offers deep insights into the personal fate of clients, but at the same time there is an extensive obligation to maintain confidentiality. Private conversations about clients in the family environment or elsewhere should therefore not be held.
There are very often secretarial tasks, which is why the title of legal secretary is not uncommon. The area of responsibility includes, for example, arranging appointments, observing deadlines, keeping files or creating briefs and invoices.
Depending on the focus of the law firm, for example criminal law, tenancy law or labor law, the clients and the activities to be carried out are different. The day-to-day work for paralegal can vary from case to case.
Looking after clients, keeping the firm's bookkeeping, external correspondence and calculating deadlines are some of the tasks that take up the majority of the working time.
Video on job and training as a legal assistant
Salary as a legal assistant
The salary of a trained specialist depends of course on age, skills, qualifications, etc. The German Lawyers' Association assumes the following remuneration for young professionals: approx. 1,400 to 1,800 euros gross per month.
For an experienced paralegal, the salary can be significantly higher.
In addition, it is of course relevant to the earnings in which region the profession is practiced. Furthermore, factors such as vacation pay, Christmas bonus or a company pension plan can supplement the salary.
Requirements and characteristics as a legal assistant
The most important aspect here is the reliability and care in the way of working. It is not uncommon for clients to be concerned with a lot of money or personal fate, for example a stay in prison. The wrong calculation of deadlines or a forgotten appointment can have far-reaching consequences for clients.
A legal assistant should therefore be familiar with responsible behavior and a precise way of working. Virtues such as punctuality, neatness but also respect for other people help a lot here.
Telephone contact with people is part of day-to-day business in this profession, which is why sociability should be present. As a rule, employers are required to have a somewhat fancier dress code, which is common for professions with customer contact.
Aspects of physical labor in this job are limited to the transport of heavy law books and files.
Training as a legal assistant
The training as a paralegal lasts three years, but can be shortened by 6 months if the application is justified. It is a dual training course and is not subject to any admission requirements. The law firms choose the trainees themselves. As a rule, they have an intermediate level of education or a university entrance qualification.
The training teaches, for example, how to properly conduct discussions with clients, how to handle and process payment transactions, what different types of contract there are and how they are differentiated, etc.
The training remuneration as a legal assistant can be as follows (source: RENO Bundesverband):
€ 320 to € 650
€ 435 to € 750
520 to 850 €
One advantage of this job is the relatively clearly regulated working hours. Legal clerks are in the office from Monday to Friday. As a rule, there is seldom overtime, shift work is a foreign word here, only with tight deadlines it can be a little later in the evening.
Application as a legal assistant
The application as a paralegal in a law firm should be designed very conservatively. Anyone who says "I'll try something completely different" should have gotten to know the lawyer or notary beforehand in order to assess whether a conspicuous application has a chance of success.
As a rule, this industry is more interested in structured, tidy and standardized application documents and not in creative, emotional presentations. With a view to everyday working life, this seems logical.
However, online applications have also become standard in this profession. Applications by post are now rare.
A résumé in tabular form with a friendly application photo is recommended. The structure of the career can be arranged chronologically (American form). Means that the career begins with the last job and ends with the first school education.
Feel free to find personal contact before you apply. In a small practice in particular, the personal impression is more decisive. For the lawyer and for you, it is ultimately important whether you can “smell” each other. In addition, you can leave a lasting positive impression, which can be helpful when reviewing the application.
Lawyers have a talent for dealing with people. You have a well thought-out conversation style, which can often be confusing. So don't let yourself be unsettled in the interview and stay natural.
Example and tips for applying!
Trends and employment numbers as a paralegal
The profession of paralegal is hardly subject to general economic conditions. So if the economy is doing badly, it doesn't necessarily mean that lawyers are going to be bad.
There has been a significant increase in procedures in recent years. The area of requests for legal assistance against the Hartz4 notices alone employs thousands of law firms.
But also in other areas outside of criminal law, the Germans have become more willing to litigate, which is due to the cheap legal protection insurance, which can sometimes be used for 200-300 euros a year without a personal contribution.
The career prospects for the paralegal can therefore be rated as relatively stable and good.
Source: Employment and unemployment statistics from the Federal Employment Agency (IAB Research Group on Vocational Labor Markets).
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