A Paralegal is a position held by a person, not an area of law. In simple terms, a Paralegal is to a Lawyer as a Nurse is to a Doctor.
That is to say, Paralegals work with and under the supervision of lawyers. Paralegals often handle preliminary and administrative matters in files. If you have ever bought or sold real estate, for instance, it is likely that a Paralegal did most of the work on the file. The Lawyer of course will review the file and “sign on the dotted line,” as it were, but the Paralegal will have handled the details. This benefits clients in the same way the cost of health care is reduced when nurses handle most routine bedside patient care instead of doctors.
There are also some files law firms assign to Paralegals to handle in their entirety. This can include Small Claims and Traffic Court matters, among others. Paralegals may also handle matters such as appearing before a judge to set a trial date or ask to have a matter adjourned for any of a number of routinely accepted reasons.