The paralegal industry has changed significantly since the 1970's when paralegals, also known as legal assistants, first emerged as a bona fide career. Client demands, economic necessity and explosive growth have made paralegals a popular career choice and there has never been a better time to be a paralegal. The eight paralegal career advantages below outline several of the highlights of work in the paralegal field (to learn some of the drawbacks to a paralegal career, explore these Eight Worst Things about Being a Paralegal).
1. Rising PayParalegal compensation has risen steadily in the past decade, despite a bump in the road in the depths of the 2009-2010 recession. 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.
hottest non-lawyer jobs in the legal industry.
become a paralegal in as little as a few months of study. Moreover, paralegals do not need to attend a brick-and-mortar institution; you can obtain a paralegal certificate or degree through a variety of online programs. Paralegals with a bachelor's degree in legal studies or related degree or a bachelor's degree in any field and a paralegal certificate from an ABA-approved paralegal program have the most employment opportunities.
4. Intellectual ChallengeParalegal 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 PrestigeAs 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.
practice area. For example, personal injury paralegals help injured plaintiffs receive compensation for their losses; intellectual property paralegals help clients patent and protect their unique ideas; and family law paralegals help clients in conflict-fraught divorce and custody cases. 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.