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.
Clients that assert that the federal government is interfering with their personal or professional business are normally referring to actions under federal statutes. Federal statutes may regulate life on the state level, but they are limited in scope specifically by order of the United States Constitutions.
In essence, Congress may only make governmental laws that are within the powers granted to them by the Constitution itself, which are outlined in Article I, section 8 of the Federal Constitution. The governmental laws and statutes set at the federal level by Congress are enforceable under the fourteenth amendment, which provides that all laws and rights granted to congress by the Constitution are enforceable by the Federal government.
The powers vested in the federal government by the constitution include the right to levy and collect taxes from the American public. These rights are granted to congress in government laws under Article I, Section 8 which specifically outlines them. However, Congress does not have the ability to enact legislation that is not called for in the constitution.
For example, there is no part of Article I, Section 8 which deals with child adoption, and thus the federal government is not allowed to impose federal law on child adoption – this is instead relegated to the realm of state laws.
Importantly, the federal government is regulated the power to make all government laws necessary to ensure the execution of the enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8. In famous cases such as McCullough v. Maryland, the Supreme Court of the United States found in favor of the federal government on the issue of the creation of banks.
While the Constitution of the United States did not enumerate the power to create banks to the federal government, it did however enumerate the power to collect and borrow money. Thus, when challenged, the Supreme Court found in favor of Federal Law, creating the loose-construction interpretation of the Constitution known as the "doctrine of implied powers".
In many situations, the federal statutes made under the doctrine of implied powers will attempt to preempt or supersede state law. In cases where this occurs, the court must evaluate the actions of the federal government. If the federal law is found to be a form of execution of an enumerated power, then the courts will uphold the federal government's jurisdiction in the matter.