A career as paralegal (also known as a legal assistant) can be a wonderfully fulfilling profession. Paralegals perform legal, regulatory and business-related research for lawyers working at their organization. Most of the time paralegals work for law offices, corporations’ legal departments or courts. These professionals also provide legal support services to attorneys. They assist lawyers in filing materials such as motions, memoranda, pleadings and briefs in various court systems, as well as accompany lawyers to see clients and/or to go to court. Here are 5 great things about being a paralegal:
1. Rise in Pay
Paralegal compensation has risen steadily in the past decade, despite a bump in the road in the depths of the 2009-2010 recessions. As paralegals perform a broader and more complex range of tasks (paralegals even represent clients in court in certain countries and administrative tribunals), paralegal earnings continue to rise. The average paralegal salary hovers at around $50,000 per year but paralegals often make more through bonuses. Overtime hours can also add significant cash to a paralegal’s paycheck.
2. Explosive Employment Outlook
The paralegal field is one of the fastest-growing professions on the globe. The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, predicts the employment of paralegals and legal assistants to grow 28 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. Among the factors driving this growth is client demand for cheaper, more efficient delivery of legal services. Since hourly rates charged by attorneys are typically double or triple the rates of paralegals for the same task, law firm economics mandates the increased use of paralegals to minimize costs. As a result, a paralegal career is one of the hottest non-lawyer jobs in the legal industry.
3. Easy Career Entry
Unlike lawyers who must complete seven years of formal education and pass the bar exam to practice law, you can become a paralegal in as little as a few months of study.
4. Intellectual Challenge
Paralegal work is intellectually challenging and involves a range of high-level skills. The most successful paralegals are problem-solvers and innovative thinkers. Paralegals must become subject matter experts in their specialty area and master legal procedure, research, drafting and other skills. They must stay on top of ever-changing laws and new legal trends and developments while interfacing with attorneys, opposing counsel, vendors, staff members, clients and others. The work is varied and each day brings new challenges.
5. Rising Prestige
As paralegals perform more complex and challenging work, paralegal prestige is rising. Paralegals are no longer simply lawyer’s assistants; they are assuming management roles in corporations, leadership roles in law firms and entrepreneurial roles in independent paralegal businesses. Over the years, paralegals have transcended the image of glorified legal secretary to become respected members of the legal team.
A career as a paralegal can be rewarding professionally and personally. A career as a paralegal offers a unique opportunity to help others. These opportunities vary, depending on the paralegal’s practice area. Paralegals in the public interest sector help poor and disadvantaged segments of the population with legal issues ranging from protection from domestic abuse to assistance preparing wills. Ready to take the leap?