Paralegals are like stagehands, with the lawyers the actors on the stage. They are mostly unseen, but without their invaluable work, the entire act would collapse.
The paralegal field has no licensing body like the American Bar Association, but paralegals usually undergo training in accredited schools. Just recently, online schools now offer paralegal courses.
Certification is optional, although it does boost your chances of succeeding. Do not tell this, however, to the following people, whose sheer hard work instead paid off – and now we see them on TV!
1. Erin Brockovich
Her name became synonymous with Julia Roberts, after the actress portrayed her in the 2000 feature film. Brockovich filed the infamous case against Pacific Gas and Electric in California in 1993. This was after studies found that the company used hexavalent chromium as an anti-corrosion method for their cooling tower in the town of Hinkley, California.
Brockovich made headlines when she and her attorneys won the case 3 years later, with damages amounting to $333 million. Brockovich is now an environmental activist and the president of her own consulting company, Brockovich Research & Consulting.
2. Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen DeGeneres is ubiquitous, from her talk shows to her stand-up comedy and her endorsements. But, did you know that before she had her big break as a comedienne, Ellen once worked as a paralegal?
Ellen’s paralegal work came after she left the University of New Orleans in Louisiana, circa 1976. Here she worked as a less known “paper pusher” in a world of clerical duties. On the sides, Ellen even worked as a waitress and a bartender.
3. Richard Schiff
Taking cue from Ellen, the star of The West Wing Richard Schiff also worked as a paralegal early in his career. Like Ellen, Schiff did not finish school and instead worked part-time in various jobs, one of which is a legal clerk.
Richard Schiff played Toby Ziegler in the TV series, and even directed an episode of the show. His next project would be “Ted 2”, due 2015.
While becoming a celebrity (or a celebrity acting your life) is far-fetched, everything is possible, as they say. Still, it would not do to open a path to stardom using this career, so for those uninterested with fame, you would do well to obtain a certificate to bolster your chances of success in this field.