A real estate paralegal assists an attorney who practices in the area of real estate law. This area of law involves the right to own, use, and enjoy land and the permanent man-made attachments to it. She assists her supervising attorney by accompanying him to legal proceedings, preparing legal documents, and by researching applicable local, state, and federal law.
Real estate paralegals commonly have a degree in paralegal studies and may or may not be certified. They usually possess an associate or bachelor's degree, although some obtain their training through on-the-job experience. They may seek certification through various paralegal organizations and can choose to be tested on real property, civil procedure, and contracts as well as general legal principles. Certification in these areas is often helpful to a paralegal with an interest in real estate law.
Real estate paralegals are typically required to work under the supervision of a licensed attorney. The legal work she does is substantive, meaning that in their absence, it would be performed by a licensed attorney. Substantive legal work can be billed to a client.
As with all paralegals, the work of a real estate paralegal must be supervised by an attorney. They cannot give legal advice, represent clients in court, accept a case, or set legal fees. Even so, there are many ways in which a person in this position can be utilized by an attorney. She will often be involved in an entire real estate transaction, from the initiation of contracts through the closing of the deal. They frequently draft and help prepare documents related to real estate law, such as purchase agreements, contracts, leases, and deeds.
Utilizing the services of a real estate paralegal is commonly considered good practice for several reasons. A paralegal performs substantive legal duties under the supervision of an attorney, but their work is commonly billed at a lower hourly rate. Therefore, the use of a paralegal is an effective way to provide high quality legal services at a lower cost. Delegation of duties can also make an attorney's workload more manageable.
Real estate paralegals may work in a number of different settings, including private law firms, real estate agencies, and title companies. Some paralegal students who want to work toward a specialty in real estate may complete an internship with an attorney who practices in that area. This can provide the specialized "foot-in-the-door" experience often helpful when trying to obtain a job as a real estate paralegal.