30+ Best Paralegal Interview Questions & Answers

Becoming a paralegal is actually quite an easy career move. Sometimes this role is often called a legal assistant as well. There's plenty of attorneys and attorneys offices located throughout the US. Primarily, you'll see these offices in the rural areas of larger cities as well. So for someone who is looking for a new career path, this is actually quite a good move. A paralegal is in a way, an assistant to an attorney. But they are providing and executing some legal type of work. You will need to have schooling to become a paralegal. But once you do you should be ready for the big show! Here's a few paralegal interview questions and answers to get you prepared for your future job interview. With all the answers, I recommend that you print out this page and try to come up with your own set of confident responses to the questions you might receive during the paralegal interview process. If you are applying and interviewing for a role as a legal assistant, these interview questions will still be applicable. Legal assistant interview questions and paralegal interview questions are roughly the same.

Paralegal Interview Questions & Answers Table Of Contents


Paralegal Interview Questions & Answers

1. How would you describe the responsibilities and work of a paralegal?

In a nutshell, a paralegal’s work is to perform tasks and duties that support lawyers such as drafting documents, organization, and maintenance of files, and conducting research about cases.

2. What is a legal assistant?

Legal assistance is an employee of an organization whose work is to support the CEO, executive, or manager; they have the authority to make decisions that directly affect the company. They perform almost the same duties as administrative assistants such as research, communications, correspondence, and office management. In some organizations, the legal assistant will attend meetings and conferences on behalf of the executive.

3. Is a paralegal the same as a legal assistant?

If either is focused on an administrative task, then it is most likely for legal secretaries rather than secretaries. On the other hand, if ‘legal research’ or ‘drafting legal documents’ then a paralegal is the one for the job.

4. What was the reason you decided you wanted to become a paralegal?

I became a paralegal because I have always had a passion for the law and criminal justice. I am intrigued and drawn to the research process and data entry aspects of the profession. What is more, I enjoy teamwork and fulfilling the role I was meant to play during the working process.

5. What skills do you have that you believe have qualified you to be a paralegal?

My training and skills in law research, legal administration skills, client litigation, and a natural talent for developing and maintaining excellent and functional relationships with clients have qualified me to be a competent paralegal.

6. Can you tell me why you decided to leave your last job?

In my last job I enjoyed the work. It provided me with a lot of opportunities to learn and grow. However, after some time it became limiting, and so I left to seek a new opportunity that will provide me with new challenges and opportunities to improve my craft.

7. Are you sure you are comfortable working for the defense potential criminals?

The profession calls for providing high-quality legal services to everyone without discrimination. Therefore, I believe that every person deserves equal representation despite what alleged charges have been brought against them. I pride myself to be a diplomat, and at the end of the day, my work is what matters; I would never allow personal feelings to get in the way of doing a good job.

8. What tools and methods do you use for the daily planning and organization of your work?

As a paralegal, I have many tasks to handle in a single day; therefore, my work life is a busy schedule. I have learnt that organization is the key to having a smoother workday. I, therefore, incorporate the use of various software such as Case Map and Concordance, to organize my case files and Microsoft Outlook to schedule my tasks and activities through the day. I also keep a notebook at my side for those instances where you need to add an activity unexpectedly.

9. Where else can paralegals work?

Because of the level of knowledge that paralegals possess, they can work in various sectors other than law firms such as credit control, real estate and building societies, insurance, banking, export and retail.

10. What areas of law are you most interested in? Tell me your passions with regard to law.

My primary interest since I became a paralegal has always been in the forensics field. However, this does not mean that I am limited to the field; I can work well in any area.

11. Can you give me an example of a time recently when you had to organize and analyze a lot of data that had to be used within a tight deadline?

In my previous position, my team and I had the chance of representing a plaintiff who had a court date coming in fast. The case involved the purchase of a new house, and during that time, the seller failed to disclose to our client that the house was infested with termites. The issue was whether or not the seller had to share this information with our client before the purchase. I conducted extensive research and found a similar case where the ruling was in favor of the plaintiff; so I suggested that we use the common law system in our favor. My process involved creating a report documenting a condensed case summary, and relevant legal principles that could be used to our advantage.

12. Do you take criticism well? What if it is from a senior partner?

I always strive to first listen to what the other person is saying attentively; I try to understand what about me or my work has gotten them so upset. Over the years, I have managed to develop a tough skin when it comes to criticisms especially form my seniors. Therefore, rather than let the criticism affect me too profoundly or personally, I take it as an opportunity to improve myself by correcting my mistakes. Even when it is a senior partner, I will do the same reminding myself that the criticism is not a personal attack and that the senior partner is thinking about the organization just as I should. Therefore, if they deem my work to be insufficient or standard, I will respond in a respectful and honest manner letting them know that I will improve and then work to do just that.

13. How Do You Handle Disgruntled Clients?

I understand that people are human and it is a human characteristic to get angry or impatient every once in a while especially when dealing with legal matters. I would handle this situation as I would handle any confrontation or angry friend. I would first listen carefully to what the client is saying because behind all the anger there is a real concern that I should be addressing. I would then provide a reasonable explanation as to why the issue is an issue. Empathy and patience is my way of dealing with any client especially with disgruntled clients.

14. Can you multitask?

I am well aware that a law firm is a busy environment where I will be required to perform multiple activities as the same time. I am well capable of performing many tasks at once while making sure that each task has received the necessary attention. This ensures that I complete many tasks at once with great detail.

15. What are the main components of a case file?

The key components of a case file are as follows:

• The Parties- these are the names of the people who are involved in the case. The parties can be identified by name, but they are also given titles. In this segment, you should write both the names of the parties and the roles that they play in the case.
• The court- the courts are different in that sometimes it can be in a federal court or state court. In the case, brief, one should include the court.
• The citation- the citation is where the case was published. It creates a quick way of finding the original version of the situation.
• The date- It is always important to make a note of the date that the case was decided. The dates will allow you to trace different instances.
• Procedural History- this is the history of the case; it includes what the court case has covered, what has happened in different proceedings, and how the case ended up in the current court.
• The Issues- What are the big legal questions that the court is considering? What has to be resolved or answered? The issues are important and have to be included in the case file.
• Facts- there are two types of facts, necessary and context facts. The necessary facts are the legally relevant facts they are the facts that re given to the court. The context are facts that aid our understanding of the necessary facts—they're not essential to the court's decision but give a complete picture of what's going on in the case.
• The Holding- this is the answer to legal questions that were asked in the court case. The holding is the judging of the case.
• The Reasoning- this is one of the most important components of a case file. The court’s reasoning or rationale is a key element that should be written in your own words.
• The Judgment- always make note of the judgment in the case; this is the action the court took as a result of the holding.

16. What types of bail are available to convicts in the U.S.A?

There are seven types of bail that are available to convicts in the USA. The first is the cash bail, which is a cash-only payment that is granted by a judge if the judge is sure that the convict is sure to re-appear in court again. The second is known as recognisance where somebody who has been released on their recognisance is bound or required to attend their court date and cease any further illegal actions. If the individual does not follow the set rules by the judge, then they would have to pay a certain amount that is determined by the judge.

Another type of bail is the immigration bond which is a bond offered to convicts who are immigrants. This is one of the simpler sureties together with the property bond where a convict or someone who is acting on behalf of the convict sets up their property as collateral. The property has to be twice the amount of the bail that was set initially.

The citation release bail is where a citation release is released by an officer on duty who made the arrest. The officer informs the convict on when and where to appear in court. The Federal bail bond is another type of bail that is issued outside the local or state’s court jurisdiction. This is a unique type of bail because unlike other forms of bail, there is no collateral that is required. Instead, the third party takes full responsibility if the convict fails to appear on the court date.

The last type of bail is the security bond; this is where a third party is responsible for the convict. They pay their bail and ensures that they show up in court; it is what is known as a bail bond.

17. Can you tell me what an affidavit of domicile and debt is?

Affidavit of domicile and debt is the legal proof that outlines the taxes, claims, and debt against the estate or property is satisfied by the deceased person. Usually, this is used when a property owned by a deceased person requires to be transferred to the new legal owner or descendant of the dead.

18. What are many different types of Affidavits?

There are many types of affidavits depending on the circumstances at hand. One example is an Affidavit of Heirship; this is executed by the person who is attesting that the deceased left certain descendants behind. They are the person who is listing them by name and relationship. The document is used when a spouse or close family member dies, and their assets must be distributed to the right individuals.

Another example is the Affidavit of Support, which is applicable in immigration proceedings. During these proceedings, the applicants are required to provide proof that someone else can provide them with financial support during the period of gaining status as a permanent resident alien or citizen. This affidavit completed by a person who can be able to support the applicant and ensure that they do not become a financial burden to the country.

There is also the Affidavit of Residence, which is used if a person needs to verify the home of someone. Scenarios of this type of affidavit include the need to establish that a child belongs to a specific school district or the need to prove your home address for business or tax reasons.

The Financial Affidavit is applicable in divorce proceedings; spouses are required to reveal all the assets that is owned both individually and jointly. This is to ensure that the court makes a fair determination of dividing property. This information is also useful in determining child and spousal support. Through executing a Financial Affidavit, the signer is swearing under oath that he or she owns the assets listed.

Another type of affidavit is an Identity Theft Affidavit; if your identity has been compromised either online or offline, then you are instructed to notify creditors and credit bureaus of the compromise. Some companies will require you to swear under oath through an Identify Theft Affidavit regarding the unauthorized use of your personal information.

There is also the Affidavit of Death where if you require notifying a bank, organization, or business, that someone has died you would need to present a death certificate. This document is difficult and even impractical to obtain; therefore an affidavit of death can be used as proof that the person has passed away. Another one is the Affidavit of Name Change, which is used mostly when a person gets married or divorced and has to change their name. In the affidavit, you will state your current name, your new name, and the jurisdiction where you changed your name. Finally, there is the Affidavit of Service; it is different than other types of affidavits because it stands as sworn testimony that you delivered specified documents to another individual. There are certain notices that are required, mostly involving court matters that must be attested to by an Affidavit of Service as proof of that you gave required paperwork to the individual listed.

19. What is a litigation paralegal?

Litigation is the process of taking a case to court; therefore, litigation paralegals provide support and assistance to lawyers who are engaged in lawsuits (cases in a court of law involving complaints or claims). Litigation paralegals have the duties of performing legal research, conducting client interviews, assisting in the documentation of cases, and organizing documents. They also help lawyers to prepare for trials.

20. Are paralegals allowed to create legal documents?

Yes, paralegals are allowed to create legal documents, but they are limited to what type of documents they can create. Paralegals are allowed to create legal documents such as litigation documents, wills, communication documents, trusts, and contracts. The documents of course need to be checked and signed off by the lawyer before the clients take a look at them or sign.

21. What are the key elements of these legal documents?

Any legal document should contain the name of the executor, who is the person is looking into when and how the terms of the wills are fulfilled. It should also include the name of the guardians who will be looking after the children before they turn legal age. These documents should also include a detailed explanation of how taxes and debts should be paid. Finally, it should include detailed information of how personal property should be distributed.

22. What is a trust?

A trust is an agreement where the trustee (the third party) holds the assets such as property and money for one or more beneficiary of an individual. Many people create a trust to avoid probate.

23. What are the different types of trusts?

There are many different types of trusts; one type is Revocable Trusts. They are created during the lifetime and are popularly known as a living trust. In this trust, the trust maker transfers the title of a property to a trust, which is the initial trustee and has the power to remove the property from the trust during his or her lifetime. The revocable trusts are useful in preventing probate; if the ownership of certain assets are transferred to revocable trust within the lifetime of the trust maker such that it is owned by the trust at the time of the trust maker’s death, then the assets will not be subject to probate.

The second type of trust is the Totten Trust; this is the one that is created during the lifetime of the grantor by depositing funds into a bank account at a ban or other financial institution in their name as the trustee for another. It is a type of revocable trust where the gift is not done until the grantor dies or an unequivocal act reflecting the present during the grantor's lifetime. Here, an individual or entity is named as the official beneficiary. When the grantor dies, the Totten assets are not subject to probate. A Totten trust is mostly used with securities and accounts in banks and other financial institutions like savings accounts, certificates of deposits, and bank accounts. This type of trust cannot be used with real property; it provides a safer method to distribute assets on to family than using joint ownership. A Totten trust has come to be known as a ‘poor man’s trust’ because a written document is not involved and it has no establishment fee. The third type is the irrevocable trust, which as the name suggests is a trust that cannot be revoked, changed, or altered after it has been created. When property is transferred to an irrevocable trust, nobody, not even the trust maker can take the property out of the trust.

The next one is the tax by-pass trust, which is a type of trust that is made to give one spouse the ability to leave money or property to the other while also limiting the amount of federal estate tax that is to be paid when the second spouse passes away. The assets do pass to the spouse tax-free, but when the other spouse dies, then the remaining assets over and above the exempt limit will be eligible for tax to the children of the couple at the potential rate of 55 per cent. A tax by-pass trust helps to prevent this situation and will save the children a potential hundreds of dollars in federal taxes; this is entirely dependent on the values of the estate.

Another one is an asset protection trust; it is a type of trust that is designed to protect a person’s assets from claims of future creditors. These types of trusts are often eligible in countries that are outside of the USA; however, the assets do not always need to be transferred to the foreign jurisdiction. The use of the asset protection trust is to insulate assets from a creditor attack. These types of trusts are usually built in a way that they cannot be revoked for a specific term of years; therefore, the trust maker is not a current beneficiary. It is also structured in a way that the undistributed assets of the trust are given back to the trust maker when the trust is terminated. This reduces the risk of creditor attack and will permit the trust maker to take back complete control of the assets that were protected before.

The spendthrift trust is a trust that is made for a beneficiary where the beneficiary is prevented from selling or pledging away the interests in the trust. It is protected from the beneficiaries' creditors until the time when the trust property is distributed out of the trust and finally given to the recipients. Another is the charitable trust which is a trust that benefits a given charity or in general, the public. Usually, philanthropic trusts are made as part of an estate plan in order to lower or prevent the imposition of estate and gift tax. A branch of this trust is the charitable remainder trust that is funded during the lifetime of the grantor and can be a financial planning tool. It provides the trust maker with great benefits for the lifetime; together with these financial benefits, they get an intangible benefit of rewarding the trust maker's altruism as charities. They usually honor the donors immediately who have named the charity as the beneficiary of a CRT.

The special needs trust is another type that has many aspects and so is very important. This type of trust is established for a person who is eligible to receive benefits from the government so that they do not disqualify the beneficiary from such government benefits. This is a legal proceeding and is protected under the Social Security rules as long as the disabled beneficiary is not able to control the amount or number of times of trust distributions and cannot revoke the trust. Normally, when a person is able to receive governmental benefits, then their inheritance or a gift could remove their eligibility to receive the said benefits.

Through establishing a trust which provides for luxuries or other benefits which otherwise could not be obtained by the beneficiary, the beneficiary will be able to get benefits from the trust without taking away their governmental benefits. Typically, a special needs trust terminates the trust in the situation that the trust could be used to make the person ineligible for government benefits through the use of a provision.

The legal definition of special needs is the requisites for maintaining the happiness and essential comfort of a disabled person when the said requisites are not being provided by the public or private agency. Special needs include equipment, dental expenses, education, rehabilitation, eyeglasses, insurance, maintenance, electronic and computer equipment, dietary needs, athletic contests, payments for companions, spending money, and transportation that includes vehicle purchase. The parents of a child with disabilities have the authority to establish a special needs trust as part of their estate plan and have not to worry that their child will be prevented from receiving benefits when they are no longer there to provide care for their child. For disabled people who are expecting an inheritance or any other large amount of money are able to set up a special needs trust them as long as another person or entity is given the role of the trustee.

24. What does probate mean?

Probate is a legal procedure where the WILL of a deceased person is screened by the probate court for its validity before the distribution of the money or property.

25. What are the duties of a paralegal in Real Estate?

Regarding Real Estate, a paralegal has several duties such as drafting deeds, preparing legal descriptions, arranging for title insurance, preparing title abstracts, ordering title searches, drafting leases, and lease agreements, reviewing plots, and surveys, calculating amortization tables, developing, distributing, and administering landlord consent letters.

26. What does ‘Eminent Domain’ mean?

This is a right that is given to the government that allows them to take private property for public use without the owner’s consent. The catch is, however, the government has to provide ‘just compensation’ to the owner.

27. What is the ‘writ of Certiorari’?

This is when the Supreme Court agrees to listen to an appeal from a lower court. It is a process that requires the losing party to file a petition of writ of certiorari to the upper court or Supreme Court, requesting them to review the decision of a lower court.

28. What does the term ‘Hearsay’ mean?

This is a term that is used to describe a testimony from a witness concerning the vents that he or she has not indeed witnessed but instead heard about from a third party. Depending on the rules of the evidence, it may be admissible.

29. What does the term ‘Garnish’ mean in legal?

Garnish is a word that is used to describe a procedure; it is the procedure where a section of the property or salary is sent to the party who owns the debt.

30. Why should we hire you for this job?

I am confident and reliable, and so I believe that I will be a valuable asset to the organization. I possess the legal education background, skills, and experience that the position calls for. What is more, I possess excellent research skills that are a vital requirement for any good paralegal.

31. Do you have any questions for us?

Yes I do. Is there anything about my resume or attached documents that you have concerns over? When can I expect a response from you concerning the position?

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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