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How to Become a Legal Consultant

How to Become a Legal Consultant
Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm / Unsplash

A legal consultant is an individual who provides legal advice to their clients through services such as consultations, research, and document review. Legal consultants work in a number of settings, including private law firms, corporations and government agencies. The nature of the work performed by a legal consultant varies depending on your expertise, interests and career goals.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about being a legal consultant: from the responsibilities associated with this role to how you can transition into one if it's your desired profession.

A legal consultant is someone who provides legal advice to their clients. This might include:

• Providing a range of legal services such as drafting, reviewing, and researching documents for clients. These services can include:

• Drafting professional letters or documents on behalf of the client (such as "confidential information" letters).

• Reviewing and editing of client documents (such as contracts).

• Providing legal advice to clients regarding a range of legal issues, such as:

• Estate planning

• Dispute resolution

• Contracts

• Corporate law

You can work as a legal consultant in a number of different ways. For instance, you could have a university degree in law, become an attorney, take the bar exam and then set up your own law practice. Alternatively, you might have worked as a paralegal or worked closely with an attorney on specific tasks such as legal research and drafting. You can also pursue your career as a legal document reviewer or paralegal while continuing to work closely with an attorney.

What Are the Requirements?

Depending on the services you will provide as a legal consultant, there are a number of different education and experience requirements that you must meet. For example, those who want to become a corporate legal consultant often need at least two years of experience specializing in business law.

The International Association for Legal Professionals (IALP) has identified the following requirements for those who want to become a legal consultant:

· Complete an associate's degree or higher in paralegal studies or other related field.

· complete additional paralegal education and training through professional school or college.

· complete law school or equivalent level of education and training.

· earn legal experience in the field of law licensed by the state bar association.

Legal consultants are a diverse group and each have unique career paths. But even so, there are some general pathways that you can follow to show your value as a legal consultant:

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median salary of $66,870 for paralegals and legal assistants in May 2011. The middle fifty percent made between $49,470 and $80,120. The lowest ten percent earned less than $38,970 while the highest ten percent earned more than $100,000. The BLS reported similar earnings for legal secretaries

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, paralegals and legal assistants earned a mean of $46,500 per year. The median annual salary was $42,600.

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What Is the Job Outlook?

The BLS estimates that employment for paralegals and legal assistants will increase 27 percent between 2010-2023. This is much faster than the average for all occupations projected by BLS at 14 percent over the same period.

The increased demand comes from a growing number of businesses filing lawsuits as well as a need to implement new federal regulations. In fact, the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) reports that the U.S. Department of Labor projects that employment of legal assistants will grow 20 percent between 2010-2030, much faster than in all occupations. The OOH indicates that there should be a greater demand for legal secretaries, lawyers' assistants and paralegals because of the increase in small businesses hiring attorneys.

What Skills Do you Need?

Pursuing a career as a legal consultant will require you to have excellent writing skills, as well as the ability to work on your own with minimal supervision. In fact, the International Association for Legal Professionals (IALP) indicates that, in order to be successful, you need to:

• Be detail oriented and have good organizational skills: Since you will need to research, write and make recommendations in a number of different setting, you need to have the ability to maintain good records.

• Be able to work without supervision: You will be required to make critical decisions about summaries and documents, even though you are not an attorney. In fact, the IALP indicates that those who provide legal services but do not have law degrees might not be considered legal professionals and cannot claim professional privilege for any communications with clients. In addition, you will be required to work without supervision, which means you cannot be monitored.

• Have a drive for perfection: A legal consulting career requires that you make critical decisions about the law with minimal supervision and that you document those decisions appropriately. Because you will be responsible for your own work product and its reputation, it is essential that you learn how to make good judgments about what constitutes legal advice and what does not.

• Learn to negotiate: This can be one of the most challenging aspects of a legal consulting career, since the advice you provide will often be dependent on the decisions made by those with more power than you. For example, you must be able to show why your recommendations are sound and willing to show how they could be applied in difficult situations.

• Be articulate: As a legal consultant, you will make recommendations about issues such as wills, estate planning, estate administration and business planning. Those who are not articulate are unlikely to be successful in their career.

• Become a quick learner: Since you won't have the benefit of working under an attorney, you must be able to quickly learn how to apply law to specific situations.

• Accept responsibility: You will be responsible for your own work product and its reputation in the industry and community. This means you must take responsibility for your actions and decisions, even when they are questioned.

What Are the Risks?

One of the risk associated with a legal consulting career is that you may be on your own in providing legal services. While this can be good for those who are self-motivated and enjoy working alone, it can also lead to mistakes or misunderstandings if you do not work closely with an attorney. You should always check with the attorney that you are working with to ensure that you understand their specific instructions.

Another risk is that you might be sued for providing bad advice. In fact, many legal consultants have been sued for providing bad advice, which has led to a decline in this type of career.

You should also be aware that the profession of legal consulting has been affected by several changes:

• The federal government has increased the number of federal regulations that businesses and other organizations must follow. These regulations have increased the work load and decreased the amount of time lawyers have to spend on one case at a time. In order to remain competitive, legal firms have decreased the number of hours worked by attorneys and increased the number of hours worked by other staff employed to meet the increased demand.

• The Internet has led to many people being able to obtain legal advice at a price they can afford. This has resulted in many people needing legal assistance without realizing that they do not have a lawyer. Many of these people have been arrested, sued or otherwise dealt with unfairly as a result of their inability to take advantage of an attorney's services.

• Many businesses have started to employ paralegals and legal assistants to fill the gap created by the reductions in jobs for attorneys.

• The price of a legal consultant's services has increased because of increased competition among attorneys. In some cases, you may need to provide more than one service in order for your client to be satisfied with your advice. For example, if you do a will, you may need to also provide estate planning services.

To become a legal consultant, you should start by networking with other professionals who are involved in this type of career. Join professional associations such as the National Association for Legal Professionals (NALS) and the International Association for Legal Professionals (IALP). These organizations can help get your name out there and can provide opportunities to meet clients and learn more about different aspects of the field. You can also join the International Legal Consultant Association (ILCA), which focuses on supporting legal consultants and attorneys who provide services to them.

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