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Paralegal Career Types & Training

The paralegal field is a well-compensated industry and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics paralegal or as they are otherwise known legal assistant jobs are expected to grow quickly over the next several years.

The paralegal career is not only a financially rewarding but satisfying career.

Industry Specialities

Day-to-day Work Activities

Paralegals provide:

  • Support to lawyers by researching legal precedent, examine evidence or organize legal documentation.
  • When preparing legal documentation, these also include briefs, pleadings, appeals, wills, contracts and real estate closing statements.
  • They also prepare and proofread affidavits, retain document files and file pleadings with the court clerk.
  • They also collect and analyze research information which includes: statutes, decisions and legal articles, codes and documents.
  • They inspect facts and law of court cases to establish causes of action and get cases ready.
  • They sometimes organise witnesses to testify at various hearings.
  • Direct and co-ordinate law office activity, including delivery of subpoenas.

Paralegal Pay and Career Advancement

Paralegal Career Types

Paralegals can be employed in all types of organizations, but mostly are recruited in law firms, law offices, legal departments of government and corporate legal departments.

Once established in the paralegal field, it is possible to go for more senior jobs and reap higher wages and compensation, such as a Litigation Support Manager which are the highest paid paralegals.

With experience paralegals salary increases to $23,897 - $57,273. High earners such as senior paralegals can earn $80,260 a year. The salary is often made up of basic and compensation, sometimes shares including vacation, paid sick leave, reimbursements for continuing legal education, life insurance, savings plan, dental insurance and personal paid time off.

Entry Routes and Training

There are several ways to train as a paralegal.

Most paralegal occupations in this field require training in vocational schools (community college paralegal program), related on-the-job experience or an associate's degree in paralegal studies.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree but in another discipline you can just do a certificate in paralegal studies to gain entry into this industry.

Job Growth Opportunities

The job prospect for paralegals looks positive and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics “employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow by 8 percent between 2014 and 2024”.

There are two main changes seen – corporations favor paralegals over lawyers to keep costs down so legal services that once a lawyer did can be done by paralegals. 

Second, following the aftermath of the great financial recession of 2007, small and medium businesses including individuals are still battling bankruptcy filings, foreclosures and divorce settlements.

Paralegals, generally provide the same legal services as lawyers but a reduced cost, and are thus inclined to fare pretty reasonably in difficult economic situations.

If you’d like to learn more about a career as a paralegal, and possible paralegal areas of specialty, please check out our other resources.

All salary figures and employment projections are attributed to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) http://www.bls.gov/oco/.