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About Paralegals

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 17 percent between 2012 and 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Review this area and the links below to learn more about the paralegal profession and NALA's role in leading the field.

Click here to read about the Paralegal Profession in the
Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15

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A legal assistant or paralegal is a person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible. (Adopted by the ABA in 1997) 

What do paralegals do? What are their typical duties and responsibilities across the various specialty practice areas. Check out this article:  Typical Paralegal Duties  published in the 2009 Career Chronicle edition of Facts & Findings!

Facts & Findings for all paralegals!

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2012 Job Analysis Report
A report summarizing results of a major job analysis for the paralegal profession was released June 15, 2012.

Since 1986, NALA has conducted nationwide utilization and compensation surveys every two years.  A portion of the survey looks at the duties and responsibilities of paralegals and later surveys have included a section used by the Certifying Board which presents the major areas of the Certified Paralegal examination and topics included within those areas.  Respondents are asked to rate the importance of each skill/knowledge to their work and frequency of use of the skill/knowledge in their day to day work environment. The job task analysis study is conducted to:
  • Validate, and update as needed, the Certified Paralegal examination content specifications
  • Ensure that NALA has current information about the roles and responsibilities of paralegals

The survey was conducted by NALA in consultation with psychometric consultant Dr. Kurt Kraiger, Colorado State University, and Janice Moore, CEO, SeaCrest Consulting Company, LLC, Charlotte, North Carolina.

In February of 2012, an updated survey was released to NALA members and non-members who are included on our mailing list.  The survey was sent electronically to more than 10,000 NALA members and non-members. There were 1,484 respondents for a 14 percent response rate, typical of surveys of this nature.

The survey consisted of three sections:
  1. Demographic information
  2. List of general skills and knowledge in the following categories:

    Legal research
    Judgment and analytical ability
    American legal system
  3. List of skills and knowledge specific to the following practice areas:

    Administrative law
    Business organizations
    Civil litigation
    Criminal law and procedure
    Estate planning and probate
    Family law
    Real Estate

to download the entire survey report, in pdf format.

The report includes tables summarizing findings for each exam section.


Respondents were instructed to complete the importance and frequency ratings only for those areas in which the respondent has worked or has knowledge. In addition to the ratings of each item, respondents were asked to include comments about the exam subjects and suggest additional skills/knowledge the board may consider including in the tests. The board compared the importance and frequency ratings with the number of questions on each section of the examination, and reviewed the comments from respondents.

Extensive analysis of the 2012 Job Task Analysis data continued through 2012 and early 2013 with the Certifying Board working in consultation with PSI Psychometric Consulting Services. As a result of this analysis, the Certifying Board announced a change to the exam specifications, specifically to the Substantive Law examination section. The changes are described in an earlier section of this description. The new examination specifications are effective with the September 2013 examination.

The next detailed job tasks study is planned to be conducted in six years unless there are fundamental changes in the nature of the job such as changes in state laws that affect paralegal responsibilities.