Classifications Law

A Guide to Paralegal Salaries

A Guide to Paralegal Salaries

What does a Paralegal do?
In the majority of jurisdictions, a paralegal acts as a legal assistant to a qualified lawyer or legal professional. As the assistant, the paralegal is responsible for a wide range of tasks within a legal spectrum outside of the practice of law, the delivery of legal advice, and the representation of clientele. A Paralegal will work in tandem with attorneys, to provide the most comprehensive service to their respective clientele. 
The basic paralegal responsibilities entail a variety of duties that are commonly linked to the day to day responsibilities of an attorney or legal professional; a paralegal provide their respective attorney or legal professional with basic duties to streamline an attorney’s work.  Paralegals may assist research and participate in legal processes and procedures; however, they are not permitted to provide any sort of legal advice. 
Typically, a paralegal may provide the following duties: provide case work and legal research for their respective law firm or legal professional, interview potential clients to gauge which legal endeavors are worth pursuing, conduct thorough reviews of case studies and legal precedents for their respective legal professionals, accessing law libraries to reveal pertinent legal matters, organize a lawyer’s schedule to streamline their business and provide information to clients regarding their respective case . 
In a more specific sense, a paralegal is responsible for the collection, arrangement, and organization of legal forms and documents with regard to a court case; a paralegal may be required to fulfill a variety of paper work, claims, forms, text, and statutes with regard to any of all claims or defenses. Furthermore, a paralegal can authenticate the necessary documentation required, as well as the processing of the satisfied forms for their respected lawyer, legal professional or law firm.

Paralegal Salaries:

The majority of paralegals–approximately 70%–work in law firms. A paralegal, in any setting, will perform many duties at a much lower salary then the attorneys they work for. That being said, paralegal salaries are still relatively high; paralegal salaries are especially high considering there are no official requirements to assume the role. 
Paralegal salaries will differentiate based on the location of the law firm as well as the particular law office in which the paralegal works. In most instances, paralegal salaries are higher in more concentrated areas, such as New York or California, when compared to those paralegal salaries in less-densely populated areas such as the Great Plains or Deep South. 
Furthermore, paralegal salaries will vary by industry; for example, a paralegal working for a state government will obtain a different paralegal salary than an individual working for a private law firm. The below table will list the average paralegal salaries for various industries; additionally the below table will provide a range for the highest and lowest paralegal salaries:
Lowest Paralegal Salaries= $27,450-$31,500 per year
Average Paralegal Salaries=$43,040-$45,500 per year
Highest Paralegal Salaries=$67,540-$75,000 per year
Paralegal Salaries for individuals who work for the Federal Government: $56,080 per year
Paralegal Salaries for individuals who work for a Local Government: $42,170 per year
Paralegal Salaries who work for Local Services Industry: $41,460 per year
Paralegal Salaries who work for a State Government: $38,020 per year

What You Must Know About Paralegal Salary

What You Must Know About Paralegal Salary

What is a Paralegal?
In the majority of jurisdictions, a paralegal is a term used to describe a paraprofessional who assists legal professionals, most commonly qualified lawyers, in their day to day legal work. In the United States, paralegals are not authorized by any government body or governmental agency to offer legal services nor are they subject to the government or court sanctioned rules of conduct. 
In the United States a paralegal is in essence, a lawyer’s assistant. The paralegal works under the direct supervision of their coordinating legal professional; the paralegal will provide administrative assistance to streamline the attorney’s day-to-day work. 
In the United States, a paralegal cannot set fees, give legal advice, appear as counsel of record in court or sign pleadings (and other legal or court documents) in a representative fashion. If a paralegal attempts to fulfill any of these roles, which are distinctly reserved for an attorney, they will be in direct violation of the unauthorized practice of law statutes that are present in the majority of states in America. 
That being said, paralegals are found in all areas of law within the United States; a paralegal can aid a lawyer working in a criminal trial, the family court of law, real estate, estate planning, government positions or civil matters. 

Paralegal Salary:
The majority of paralegals, roughly 70%, work for law firms. A paralegal will perform many duties at a much lower salary then the attorneys who they work for. That being said, the paralegal salary is still relatively high; the paralegal salary is especially high considering there are no official requirements to become a paralegal. 
The majority of paralegals will take care of the day to day duties and tasks for an attorney; the most common functions of a paralegal include the following: meeting with clients and witnesses, researching the laws and aspects pertinent to a particular legal case, drafting legal documents for their coordinating attorney and assisting attorneys with trial preparation during various legal proceedings.  

The paralegal salary will differentiate based on the location of the law firm as well as the particular law office in which the paralegal works. Furthermore, the paralegal salary will vary by industry; for example, a paralegal working for a state government will obtain a different paralegal salary than an individual working for a private law firm. 
The below table will list the average paralegal salaries for various industries; additionally the below table will provide a range for the highest and lowest paralegal salaries:
Lowest Paralegal Salary= $27,450 per year
Average Paralegal Salary=$43,040 per year
Highest Paralegal Salary=$67,540
Paralegal Salary for an individual who works for the Federal Government: $56,080 per year
Paralegal Salary for an individual who works for a Local Government: $42,170 per year
Paralegal Salary who works for Local Services Industry: $41,460 per year
Paralegal Salary who works for a State Government: $38,020 per year

The Ultimate Guide to Classification of the Law

The Ultimate Guide to Classification of the Law

Federal v. State Law:

The United States legislative system operates under the doctrine of Federalism. Federalism dictates that the law making duties of the nation will be shared and divided amongst the federal and state legislatures. This creates a central uniformity but an interstate diversity of laws and statutes. While the state governments have the power to make law to govern the citizens, visitors and residents of their state, they may not impose regulations that conflict with the United States Constitution or the Federal laws thereby created to maintain it’s power.
Federal

Paralegals work in fields of Federal law when their client’s bring them work involving constitutional issues, federal statutes or federal regulations. When a client’s request involves these issues, it is said to involve or raise a federal question. These actions normally concern the reach or scope of the federal governments involvement in a client’s affairs, as paralegals will normally not be involved in larger proactive revisions to federal law or the constitution.


State

While the Federal Government is bound to only make laws that execute the enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, the statutes made by the State governments have a much broader realm of application. So long as state laws and statutes do not violate the guidelines of the Federal Constitutions, they generally are free to govern the well-being of the citizens at the state’s discretion. Policies regulated at the state level include divorce, adoption, gambling, marriage, age of consent and many other crucial issues.


Criminal v. Civil

Any paralegal going to work for an active litigator in the United States will likely perform their job under one of two branches of the law: criminal or civil. Both branches of the law represent two entirely different forms of legal practice, and though they have many similarities, they serve entirely different purposes in the American legal system. Criminal law particularly refers to the field of law that covers crimes that have violated the laws of the state, and therefore must be prosecuted by the state. 
Criminal prosecutions generally seek legal sanctions against accused offenders that are then carried out by the state. Civil law particularly refers to disputes between two parties, where one party is accused of injury the other in a tangible or intangible way (such as through physical harm or financial exploitation), and the injured party seeks some form of financial restitution as a result.

Comparisons
There are many similarities and differences between civil and criminal law that anyone involved with the law, such as a paralegal, should be very well aware of. Both civil and criminal law are based around the decisions rendered by a decisive legal entity, such as a judge or jury of the defendant’s peers. Both categories also require optimal ethical behavior towards the court and in the execution of a client’s interests. 
This includes due respect of the obligations of full disclosure and of the attorney client privilege. The differences perhaps outweigh the similarities though, as civil and criminal law each seek substantially different form of punishment, and require substantially different “standards of proof”. Civil law generally seeks financial restitution on the behalf of an injured party, while criminal law seeks criminal sanctions on behalf of the state.


Type of Harm

Criminal law and civil law are both invoked by injured parties when a particular harm has been done to another by another party in question. In general, these branches of law deal with the type of harm done and the recourse’s available to the injured. For harm done to individuals, the individuals themselves raise civil actions under civil law. These civil actions generally aim to seek financial restitution in the form of legal remedy, for injuries inflicted upon them (financial, physical, or otherwise). 
For harm done to society, charges are pressed by the authorities under criminal law. Punishments for violations of criminal law are implemented by society in the form of incarceration or other penalties of the state.  What determines whether or not a particular injurious action is a harm to society is governed by both federal and state criminal law. It is commonplace for injurious action to result in both criminal and civil charges.


Names of Parties/Prosecutor of the Claim
The parties in a legal action take a variety of designation within the legal system that stipulate their role in the proceedings. In civil proceedings, the party initiates the original action seeking a legal remedy is called the plaintiff, sometimes referred to interchangeably as the as the claimant or complainant. The party required under law to to respond to the plaintiff’s claim before the court is called the defendant.  
The defendant, or someone acting on the defendant’s behalf, is required to present a defense to the plaintiff’s charges before the court. An individual brought before court charged with a crime in a criminal proceedings, sometimes called an arrestee, would also be referred to as a defendant. Individuals who levy criminal charges on the behalf of the state in penal proceedings is called the prosecutor, who is typically appointed by the court or, in the case of District Attorneys, elected by popular vote.


Standard of Proof

The Standard of Proof in the court system is generally the level of proof necessary to satisfy the burden of proof for the case. The Standard of Proof varies from case to case, and is the condition of duty to satisfy the court that the plaintiff or prosecutor’s allegation is true. 
If the standard of proof has not been met, it is generally the duty of the deciding party of the court, whether it is a judge or jury to decide against the plaintiff or prosecutor’s charge. Though the Standard of Proof varies from charge to charge, there are main differences between all Civil and Criminal Standards of Proof. In criminal court, the standard of proof is guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” while in civil and tort, the standard of proof is “preponderance of evidence”.


Judgment

The judgment is the end result of a legal action in either civil or criminal law. The nature of a judgment is entirely reliant on the nature of the case as well as the proceeding. In criminal proceeding, it is the the job of the deciding body, whether it is a judge or jury, to make a determination of guilt about an accused party, which must be made based upon a reasonable doubt. In civil litigation, the deciding body makes a determination based on preponderance of evidence, and based on that preponderance must determine which side of the case they favor.  If they find in favor the plaintiff, than they will require the defendant to make remedy and restitution to the plaintiff. If they find in favor of the defendant, then the defendant is exempted from legal liability in the situation.

Sanctions/Remedies

Sanctions and remedies represent the two major forms of penalties outlined by the judicial system. Sanctions predominantly are the domain of criminal law, representing the punishments that can levied by the state on a guilty party. Sanctions typically take the form of fines remitted to the state, restrictions of individual rights, probation, incarceration, and in cases of the most severe crimes, some jurisdictions can implement a sentence of death. Remedies are penalties that can usually be extracted from an injuring party in civil cases. Remedies usually take three forms: damages, equitable remedy, and declaratory relief. 
Damages represent remittances made to an injured party in restitution for an injuries. They can be compensatory, meaning that they repay for expenditures caused by the injury, or they can be punitive, meaning that they are implemented to punish the offending party. Equitable remedies happen in the case of contract disputes, where services that are designated by contract of legal agreement are required to be completed per that agreement. Declaratory relief effects the legal status of an individual, and usually pertains to civil proceedings that involve divorce, child custody, adoption, or estate management. 
Sources of Law:
Both criminal and civil law have their basis in the original genesis of law, and even of society, but they way in which they evolved into their present forms were entirely different. Each branch of the law developed from their different cultures and through different elements of society. Civil law has its basis back in Roman law, where legal action was codified as enacted between arguing parties.  As the influence of Roman Law spread, the means of legislating laws that handled disputes between parties spread, and through codification through the ages became what we currently know as civil law. 
Criminal law has a basis in the very earliest civilizations, even within the earliest civil codes. However, criminal code really did not become autonomous doctrine until in the aftermath of middle ages and before the formation of nation-states, when the Church still had influence on local law and government. The government would prosecute individuals on behalf of the Church for violations against God and society. As nations developed an the Church lost influence, the central concept of the system prosecuting criminals on behalf of society had taken hold, giving us our modern criminal justice system. 
Criminal Law:
Criminal law represents one of the most important aspects not only of our legal system, but of all civilized society. Criminal law oversees the implementation of the laws that govern conduct in public society, and it is their ability to be enforced accurately and effectively that help lead to a peaceful society. In the legal system, especially for paralegals, it is naturally an area of law that requires strict attention to facts, evidence, and procedure, as lives are sometimes literally at stake during a criminal case, especially the future of the defendant, as well as the importance of justice that any fair society claims as its own.  Of foremost importance is understanding the Types of Crimes
In general, crimes are acts that incur punishment according to criminal statutes that are set forth by a governing body. They may be divided into varying categories depending upon the penalty attached to each crime. Such subdivisions include that of felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions. Rating each category is such an order reveals a hierarchy from most severe to least severe. Within the venue of felonies, serious crimes such as murder, rape, and armed robbery reside, which are most often accompanied by sentences of incarceration, generally of more than a year. 
In terms of misdemeanors, however, we find the gray area in which such offenses are not as serious as felonies, yet also not as minor as infractions. Typically they involve sentences of less than a year. Infractions are minor offenses that usually only lead to fines or public service as penalties for their commission. An additional kind of crime that actually falls within the category of felonies is that of white collar crime. 
Such a crime, though seemingly less grisly when compared to murder, does support quite a basis for its inclusion within such the highest category. White collar crime operates in such a way that it strips individuals of well earned livelihoods, which is akin to that of high scale robbery. Acknowledgment of such differences in criminal acts as well as legal processes attached to them is an important step in the adequate practice of law as a paralegal.
Establishing a Prima Facie Case
When establishing a prima facie case, which translates literally as “at first view,” evidence must be provided in order to prove the adequate existence of facts related to a criminal case. It serves the purpose of providing an adequate basis for which a case may be established, along with setting the groundwork for all subsequent legal proceedings. The strength of such a case composed of witness accounts as well as other significant information will add to a judge and/or grand jury’s shared belief in the need for such a case to come to trial, which would then demand the time and attention of the judicial system. In criminal law, the prosecution possesses the “burden” of setting forth “prima facie evidence.”

    
Civil Law
Civil law represents legal actions that occur between two parties, and they can be contested for many reasons, with a multitude of desired results. Before any civil action can be undertaken, the plaintiff involved must be able to Establishing a Prima Face Case
Within civil litigation, the “burden of proof” is entirely the responsibility of the plaintiff. In the pursuit, then, of establishing a prima facie case, the plaintiff must establish to the court a basis for which to legitimatize desired civil proceedings. In doing so, they will hopefully eliminate any possibility of the case being dismissed. 
All forms of legal evidence, such as factual evidence, witness testimony, as well as proof of injury, must be presented to the court to ensure that adequate civil process will be put into action. Following the establishment of a prima facie case, then the legal proceedings may proceed onward to an appropriate conclusion, where damages are hopefully acquired in the form of fiduciary compensation.
Defenses

Providing and acquiring an adequate or better defense is significant to the discontinuance of appropriate legal proceedings. This is especially true of a defendant who believes that he or she should not be held liable for claims set forth by the plaintiff. Examples of such particular defenses include that of affirmative defenses. These can be defined as defenses that are based on the presentation of new facts that had nothing to do with the case at the onset.
These facts will not invalidate the actual claims against the defendant, however. They operate with the express purpose of providing the possibility of lessening the severity of such claims by the addition of information that may shed a renewed light upon the circumstances that the case has now created.
                           
Damages
Damages represents the form of remedy that most plaintiffs usually seek as a consequence of civil proceedings. In most cases, the plaintiff may have been injured or caused some type of harm (which may be physical, financial, etc.), for which they then believe they must be compensated for as a means of remedy.  The plaintiff then initiates civil proceedings against the defendant in hopes of seeking such remedies for their injured state, which are referred to as damages. 
Such damages can be divided into distinct categories that include: compensatory damages, future damages, incidental damages, and that of the punitive kind. Though each is representative of their individual circumstances, compensatory damages may be broken down further to categories of general and special. 
Damages may not be the conclusion of the exchange or distribution of monetary considerations, however. One other specific cost is that of the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees, which the defendant may also be obligated to compensate for in certain instances (more commonly outside of the United States).


Contracts
Disputes concerning contracts represent an area of civil law that often leads to legal proceedings. This is due to the fact that the drawing up of a contract is a legal process in and of itself, and thus violations of contracts entail a de facto violation of the law. The usual consequence that leads to eventual civil litigation occurs when one party breaks such an aforementioned contract. In cases where judges do rule in favor of the plaintiff, the remedies that may be called for may not necessarily take the form of damages or punitive actions toward the defendant. 
The main agenda of a court in such a case, is to ensure that such a contract is fulfilled in any way possible, which is called an equitable remedy. If, for any reason, the defendant is unable to abide by the terms of the contract, then the court may then seek remedies from the defendant in lieu of being unable to render an adequate completion of the contract. 

Understanding Criminal And Civil Law

Understanding Criminal And Civil Law

 

Any paralegal going to work for an active litigator in the United States will likely perform their job under one of two branches of the law: criminal or civil. Both branches of the law represent two entirely different forms of legal practice, and though they have many similarities, they serve entirely different purposes in the American legal system.

Criminal law is the branch of law that pertains specifically to violations of the laws of the state.  Cases contested under criminal law will almost always involve a representative of the state taking legal actions against an individual or group based upon the latter having violated a criminal statute. Criminal statutes are laws in which the behavior of society is restricted within civilized parameters. To put it more simply, it enforces good behavior, and punishes bad.  Prosecutors in a criminal matter represent the state and its citizens; while by proxy that may include a wronged party, generally speaking the prosecutor is not a legal representative for any victims of a criminal violation. Contact a civil lawyer to review your case.

In criminal cases, the purpose of the prosecution's case is to see that sanctions

What You Don’t Know About Sanctions Remedies

What You Don't Know About Sanctions Remedies

Sanctions and remedies in legal actions are two legal terms that every paralegal should be aware of that correlate to the end results of legal judgments.  Sanctions are usually the result of a criminal proceedings, though they can exist in some civil procedures.  
Remedies are usually the result of decisions that are made in civil actions.  In both cases they are commonly enacted when the action in question meets a positive outcome for the one undertaking it.  This can mean a guilty verdict for a prosecutor, or a finding of favor on the behalf of a civil litigator. 
Sanctions in legal terms refer to a judgment that implements a restriction on a party based on a violation or an injury to another party.  In criminal cases, sanctions are specifically called criminal sanctions, and usually refer to the punishments levied against criminal violators.  
A prison sentence given to a criminal found guilty would be a criminal sanction, as would be a severe fine given to the government.  An implementation of a restraining order would also be considered a form of criminal sanction. 
Sanctions can also happen in civil procedures, but they are usually not associated with positive outcomes of the case.  Usually, they take the role of fines or decisions levied against a participant in the proceedings for misconduct.  A fine or brief prison sentence for contempt of court would be an example of a civil sanction.  
Throwing a case out entirely when it is determined to have been improperly made (through something like falsified evidence), would also be a civil sanction.  It should be noted that many of these scenarios can also occur in criminal cases, as well. 
Legal remedies occur exclusively in civil actions, and they represent the decisions, levied by the court, where one party has to “remedy” their legal violation to the other party.  Remedies generally take three forms.  The first is commonly damages, where one party makes a payment to the other due to the settlement of the court.  Damages take two forms: compensatory and punitive.  
Compensatory damages compensate an injured party for the loss their injuries (which could by physical, financial, social, etc.) have caused them.  Punitive damages are compensations where the injuring party has been determined to have acted with such negligence or malice that they deserve punishment in the form of making additional restitution.  
In both cases, the restitution’s go to the injured party.  Many civil cases often seek both compensatory and punitive damages, they do not require exclusive proceedings for each.
Another form of legal remedy is equitable remedy, which is usually rendered in cases that involve violation of a contract or legal binding agreement.  When an equitable remedy is levied against a party, it essentially means that they legally required to fulfill the terms of their original agreement.  
Equitable remedies may be accompanied by compensatory and/or punitive damages, depending on the nature of the case. The final form of remedy is declaratory relief, where the court makes a determination on a group or an individuals legal status based on a civil suit.  Declaratory remedies, more commonly known as declaratory judgments, are not always decisions based on injury.  
Usually, they serve the purpose of settling a legal dispute between parties, or determining legal status of an individual.  Decisions in adoption proceedings or over child custody can be declaratory judgments, as can divorce decisions.  Like other remedies, declaratory judgments can be coupled with other forms of remedy, depending on the nature of the proceedings.