Paralegals are the right hand of the attorney and perform a variety of functions in order to assist with clients and litigation. Paralegals conduct research and manage the flow of documentation and paperwork that is necessary with any case. They work with clients, prepare legal documents, assist with research, and maintain order and organization for the attorney. Because they do not sit for the bar exam, they are not able to provide clients with legal advice and they often do not need to attend court proceedings.
Paralegal Career Facts
- Most paralegals have earned a bachelor's degree; however, a large percentage have a bachelor's degree in a completely different subject, then later supplemented it with an associates degree or paralegal certificate. Approximately 30% of paralegals have associates degrees.
- 70% of paralegals work for law firms and the other 30% work in government offices and corporate legal departments.
- Paralegal's make an average of $46,980 - 60,620 in the United States.
- Paralegal's who specialize in patents and intellectual property law tend to have higher salaries.
- Paralegal jobs are expected to grow by 28% through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Q&A For Paralegal Careers
Is a Paralegal Career Right For Me?
Those who pursue a career as a paralegal generally have strong writing, reading, and communication skills due to the large volume of researching, paperwork, and communication with clients. In the modern legal environment, computer skills are also a must as forms, procedures, and processes become increasingly Internet based. Below, you can learn about the basic duties of a paralegal and get to know what a typical day on the job would be like.
Should I become a general paralegal or specialize?
Many paralegals begin as general paralegals and then become specialized through on the job training at the law firm they are employed with or through taking supplemental courses and training on specific topics such as real estate law or patent law. If you know that there is a specific type of law firm that you want to work for, you may want to contact those potential employers and inquire about educational requirements for specific niches. For example, patent and copyright law can be complicated and requires a special set of knowledge that would require that you supplement your traditional paralegal training with courses in patent laws. Pursuing a particular paralegal specialization is not a requirement for securing employment as a paralegal in today's job market, but in some cases, it can give your resume a boost.
What is the Demand for Paralegals in Today's Job Market?
Job growth for paralegals is expected at rates of 28% through 2018, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which means demand is sure to remain high. This is considered a growth rate that is significantly higher than the national average. Attorneys are increasingly relying on the help and expertise of paralegals and legal assistants to assist with what can be an overwhelming number tasks.
What type of degree do I need to become a paralegal?
Most paralegals in the current workforce have earned a bachelors's degree; however, there is still a large number who have an associates degree. Check with job postings and employers in your area and read the paralegal degree requirements to determine the educational program that will give you the best chance at being hired right out of school. If you already have a degree in another subject, you can obtain a paralegal certificate, which has become a very popular option.