Since its founding in 1917, Vinson & Elkins has become one of the world's largest and most respected law firms and employs more than 75 paralegals whose backgrounds, skills, and interests enable them to assist the firm's lawyers in providing an exceptionally wide range of services to clients. With several thousand clients ranging from individuals to multinational corporations, V&E provides paralegals with challenging work involving virtually every aspect of law and business.
The size and diversity of V&E's practice have resulted in the development of three departments within the firm: Corporate, Litigation and Regulatory, and Tax-ECB (Executive Compensation and Benefits). These departments have evolved around substantive legal areas, as well as around particular lawyers and clients, and include virtually all aspects of civil law and some areas of white collar criminal law. Core practice groups include mergers and acquisitions, private equity, capital markets, public finance, infrastructure and project development, finance, regulatory matters, professional liability, intellectual property, complex commercial litigation, restructuring and reorganization, climate change, environmental, labor and employment, energy and electric power regulation, tax, employee benefits and executive compensation, appellate, condemnation, and real estate.
Paralegals are hired for specific positions within a practice group or to join a team of paralegals and attorneys working on large, complex litigation. Both assignments allow paralegals to develop experience and skills that enable them to render the best possible assistance to the firm's attorneys and clients. Our attorneys maintain an open-door policy and are encouraged to provide not only challenging and interesting assignments but all the training, guidance, support, and encouragement necessary for professional growth and development.
Since the V&E's Paralegal Program began in 1973, it has grown to one of the largest and most sophisticated in the country. Paralegals are now involved in almost every facet of our clients' representation.
Vinson & Elkins' paralegals have diverse backgrounds. The minimum requirement for employment in our Paralegal Program is a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and a strong academic background and/or extensive experience in a practice area. Many of our paralegals have completed post-graduate degrees in such areas as business, education, foreign languages, liberal arts, nursing, and political science; some have completed a formal paralegal training program. Most come to V&E with previous working experience that is directly applicable to their positions at the firm. Others are employed immediately upon graduation from college. V&E's size and the support the Paralegal Program receives from the attorneys and the firm's administrative personnel enable us to employ and train people with diverse backgrounds, whose intellectual abilities, education, and previous experience indicate that they will be exceptional paralegals.
Paralegals receive training by working with attorneys in the representation of V&E's clients. Each paralegal is directly supervised by one or more attorneys and, in most cases, has opportunities to consult with the attorneys daily. In addition, each new paralegal is provided a paralegal mentor who is available to give advice, support, and training to assist with unfamiliar tasks or to provide information regarding firm procedures.
V&E conducts in-house training in both basic skills and specific areas of practice. All paralegals receive training in the utilization of computerized research systems. In addition, paralegals are encouraged to attend legal education seminars offered at the firm that will enhance professional competence and their contribution to the firm. More importantly, individual attention and evaluative information are provided to assist in developing skills and knowledge and to identify any problems that may arise so that constructive solutions may be offered.
Formal performance evaluations and salary reviews are conducted annually. Paralegals actively participate in the formal evaluation process and are encouraged to solicit informal evaluations from time to time from the attorneys with whom they work.
Benefits and Salary
V&E provides an excellent, full-range benefit program that includes medical, dental, life, and disability insurance; participation in a 401(k) plan that allows for savings on a "before-tax" basis, with partial matching contributions from the firm; and partial tuition reimbursement for undergraduate and graduate level courses (law school excluded). Salaries for paralegals are competitive with national standards and within the geographic regions in which the firm's offices are located.
The offices of lawyers and paralegals working in each practice group are generally grouped together, providing convenient access to client files and encouraging paralegals and attorneys to work in productive, cooperative teams, while still retaining access to the vast resources and support facilities of the firm. However, cases are often handled by attorneys in more than one office, and this cross-office working environment gives the paralegal the opportunity to meet and interact with attorneys and other paralegals throughout the firm. Paralegals are usually assigned private offices, but occasionally work on-site or in team situations. V&E's size enables paralegals to take maximum advantage of technological advancements in communications equipment, office systems, computerized legal support systems, and legal research techniques.
Our support staff includes professional assistants, project assistants, and document specialists. Paralegals may also rely upon other in-house support services, such as centralized accounting, mail services, human resources, duplicating, practice support, and office technology, as well as messengers, couriers, and travel services. Our law library's collection of 150,000 volumes is the largest among law firms in the Southwest and one of the largest in the country. A professional staff of legal librarians is available to assist with research projects and to provide additional training in legal research, including computer-assisted legal research.
The strength of our program lies in the professional respect accorded to our paralegals by both our attorneys and the clients of the firm. Paralegals are professionals and are relied upon to undertake and complete their responsibilities with minimum supervision and with the assurance to the supervising attorney that the project will be completed in a timely and thorough manner. Career development is assessed on the basis of each individual's ability and willingness to meet the challenges of working in this demanding environment. Paralegals are encouraged to develop their professional competence on a continuing basis by undertaking new and challenging assignments and participating in continuing education programs. We are convinced that our program offers the opportunity for a rewarding long-term career, and we are seeking individuals who exercise the highest ethical standards and good judgment and who will make a career commitment to their profession and to Vinson & Elkins.