Tag Archives: paralegal

Paralegal Specializations: What is a Corporate Paralegal?

Woman typing on laptopAbout two out of 20 paralegals work as a corporate paralegal. Corporate paralegals are paralegals that work for corporations, instead of law firms. They are still however supervised by lawyers and work under them. The job responsibilities and work setting of corporate paralegals, however, vary significantly from paralegals that work in private law firms.

If you’ve recently completed an online paralegal degree or are about to enroll in one, The Center For Legal Studies notes you need to know about your options, one of them being a corporate paralegal, so you’ll have a plan after finishing your degree.

Basic job responsibilities and work environment

Depending on the type, size, and specific location of the workplace, the work environment of corporate paralegals could be relatively similar or different than that of paralegals who work in law firms. Huge corporations with usually have big legal departments with a couple of lawyers and paralegals, while smaller corporations might only employ two to three lawyers and one to two paralegals.

Aside from assisting lawyers with legal research, administrative tasks, preparing documents, and interviewing clients, corporate paralegals also perform various tasks that are specific to business and corporate law such as:

  • Drafting corporate documents – These documents typically include organizational documents require for forming partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations, as well as stock certificates, license applications, meeting notices, withdrawals, amendments, and dissolution and merger agreements. Corporate paralegals also sometimes help create and maintain corporate minute books.
  • Helping in various corporate transactions – Corporate paralegals work directly with their supervising lawyers to prepare and close corporate transactions including initial public offerings, acquisitions, and mergers. Primarily, they work on due diligence investigation inquiries for these transactions. They likewise conduct SEC filings, prepare audit letters, and draft UCC or Uniform Commercial Code agreements.

An important note on salary

The corporate paralegal specialization is among the most in-demand paralegal professions within the field mainly due to the higher salary. Generally speaking, standard paralegal salaries would differ depending on the size of the corporation or law firm and the location, but corporations and law firms in large cities generally offer higher salaries than those in small cities, and large firms and corporations offer higher salaries than smaller ones.

Also, corporate paralegals would earn more than paralegals who work in a law firm in the same location, that’s about the same size of a corporation. This is something you need to mull over when going the corporate paralegal route.

Unauthorized Practice of Law: What’s a Paralegal-To-Be Got To Do With It?

Books on Law

Your journey toward becoming a paralegal is not without hearing the term “UPL” every now and then. UPL (unauthorized practice of law) may be part of your Introduction to Paralegal Studies classes, law management course, and paralegal ethics course — practically all the courses you take.

Its appearance on all of your paralegal courses online and offline means one thing: understanding of the subject matter is important.

Understanding the UPL

Unauthorized practice of law occurs when an individual does not have the legal license to practice law or even offer legal advice. The policy applies to paralegals, too.

In most states, UPL is a felony case; for others, it is mere disciplinary matter. To get a better grasp of your state’s take on the matter, you can ask the local paralegal association or check the state’s statutes.

As a new or aspiring paralegal, doing research is not the only task you need to perform. You also need to learn about recent changes to the law or have knowledge of local paralegal associations.

How States Define the Practice of Law

While each state has its own definition of authorized law practices, it’s not always clear. In most cases, state law does not explain UPL in detail; what counts as unauthorized or not remains a blur to some practicing paralegals.

Fortunately, the NALA’s Model Standards and Guidelines for the Utilization of Paralegals gives a brief but informative summary of activities paralegals should never do, including:

  • Set your personal legal fees
  • Establish the attorney-client relationship
  • Offer legal advice or opinion
  • Represent clients in court, except administrative courts

Legal Advice: Your Role

Paralegal experience from school and on-the-job provides you with a good grasp of the legal world. Naturally, family, friends, and acquaintances may want your opinion.

To answer them is tempting; after all, you’re just helping out.  But it’s one thing to be the armchair lawyer during light discussions or matters outside the school or firm. It’s another thing, however, to have your advice affect other individual’s legal rights. You’re not only potentially harming that individual, but also putting your career as a paralegal at risk.

As a future paralegal, you will have an important role that affects the lives of others. Avoiding UPL now keeps you from making mistakes that will impact your career, the lawyers you support, and their clients.