A corporate paralegal provides support to attorneys in a corporation's legal department. This position differs from law firm paralegal jobs because he or she deals specifically with business legal matters. This job's duties are very specialized and often require a great deal of education and experience to perform. A paralegal within a corporation has many responsibilities but still cannot perform the duties of a lawyer.
A corporate paralegal's duties require highly technical skills set that can be acquired only through years of work and education. Most positions require a bachelor's degree, usually in pre-law, political science, history or another focus that requires research skills and an understanding of the law. In addition, individuals in this position frequently need several years of corporate legal experience, often as legal assistants.
The primary responsibility of a corporate paralegal is to support the attorneys on the staff. Frequently, this includes drafting corporate documents pertaining to contracts, real estate and business partnerships. A paralegal also must have a sharp eye for proofreading, because attorneys frequently will ask the paralegal to look closely at other documents to check for things such as spelling errors and reference mistakes and to ensure that the legal terminology is correct. This requires an understanding of corporate laws and the terms most frequently used. The paralegal does not need to be an expert on the law, as a lawyer would, but the paralegal still must be familiar with the law and frequently used legal terms.
The corporate paralegal also must be strong in understanding corporations and partnerships. There is a great deal of paperwork and research required to create or dissolve these relationships, and attorneys rarely have the time to focus on them. Not all corporations deal with this area of corporate law, but the ones that do frequently ask a paralegal to create and file all of the appropriate paperwork.
A corporate paralegal is given a great deal of responsibility within the corporation's legal department. However, there are limits to what the paralegal can do. The biggest restriction is that a paralegal cannot give legal advice, even though he or she is well versed in the law, because only attorneys can give a legal consultation. Also, many of the paralegal's jobs, such as filing paperwork, still must be signed off by a supervising attorney in order to ensure that everything is up to legal standards. Failure to follow these rules can result in heavy fines or legal action if violations are discovered.