Some individuals considering various career possibilities are troubled when they hear about technological advancements eliminating jobs because of automation and artificial intelligence. Many occupations are not easily automated, though. Attorneys, for example, hire support staffers to manage a broad range of duties. This allows the lawyers to focus on more complicated tasks. They hire paralegals as well as clerical staff.
A person can start a paralegal career by completing the educational requirements. People who are interested in the law and legal work may find this job an ideal fit.
Law firms employ most paralegals. Others find work with large corporations and government agencies, such as with a district attorney’s office or the Social Security Administration.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects rapid growth in the occupation until at least 2031. Organizations wanting to reduce costs are hiring fewer legal clerical workers. They fill the gaps with paralegals, who can manage some of the secretarial tasks while also performing higher-level duties.
In addition, many openings occur because of men and women leaving the occupation. Many people in the workforce are reaching retirement age or choosing to retire early. Some paralegals decide to pursue further education and become lawyers.
Paralegals can legally do most of the work of licensed lawyers. There are only a few duties that these employees are not allowed to do by law. They cannot sign legal documents, accept cases, or counsel and represent clients. However, they can interview clients and witnesses, draft pleadings and other documents and conduct legal research. They help attorneys with case planning and management and assist during trials.
Paralegals employed in an office that has minimized its clerical staffing perform some administrative work as well. The same is true for those employed with small law firms and solo practitioners. They may need to do word processing, spreadsheet data entry, scanning and photocopying documents, and billing clients.
The most common route to becoming a paralegal is completing a two-year associate degree in this field. These opportunities are provided at technical schools, community colleges, and four-year universities that offer associate degrees.
Another route to this occupation is completing a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in criminal law paralegal studies. Some universities provide paralegal certificate coursework to undergraduate students or people who have already completed a four-year degree and are interested in the program.
The Chamber Coalition offers an affordable online Paralegal Certificate Program. The Program is highly regarded and has existed for over ten years. Additional certificates include Lexis-Nexis and CLIO. Students have access to CALI, which is in law schools. Included are CALI, CLIO, and a Paralegal Certificate from Lexis Nexis. Visit www.freeparalegal.org
Aspiring paralegals may decide to specialize in a certain area of the law. They might want to work for a family law firm or divorce attorney, for instance. Individuals can choose many other specialties as well, such as corporate, bankruptcy, personal injury, and immigration law.
The median pay for paralegals as of 2021 was about $27 per hour, according to the BLS. That translates to around $56,000 for those who work full-time, which is typically the case. Some receive salaries while others are paid an hourly wage. Candidates considering jobs where more than 40 hours weekly is routinely expected may prefer organizations that pay per hour unless the salary makes the average pay comparable.
Individuals who are interested in the law and the work of attorneys may find the career of paralegal to be an excellent choice. Completing an associate degree or another path to this occupation provides the knowledge and skills needed to become a qualified candidate. An excellent employment outlook means job security and a broad range of possibilities.
For more information about the Chamber Coalition’s Paralegal Certificate Program, visit www.freeparalegal.org. There are free orientations every month. Register at https://paralegalorientation.eventbrite.com