10 Good Reasons to Become a Paralegal
by Douglas May
Paralegals free up a lawyer's time so that he or she can more efficiently and profitably provide legal services. This is the primary reason that employment of paralegals is anticipated to grow much faster than average, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There are currently about 90,000 paralegals in the US, and the BLS expects that number to double between now and 2014.
2. You'll have a stable job.
CNN Money magazine ranks the paralegal profession as the 27th best job in the US. The magazine states that the paralegal field is one of the fastest-growing and highest-paying professions in the country.
3. You can work in a variety of environments.
The possibilities are varied and wide for paralegals who want to expand their careers to other fields. The skills gained on the job, from organizational to technological to professional, afford a solid foundation for numerous career opportunities. Paralegals are employed by law firms, government agencies, corporate legal departments, insurance companies, real estate and title agencies, trade associations, the armed forces, financial institutions, and educational institutions. Paralegal training and education also ensure excellent preparation for many other professions such as healthcare, politics, the movie and music industries, and more. Some paralegals are even self-employed and contract their services out to law firms.
4. You can master a specialty.
If your interest is in a certain area of the law, you can pursue it without the hassle and expense of law school. Once you find your specialty, you can become a freelancer and offer your services to law firms.
5. Your work will be diversified.
No day or job will be the same. You'll constantly learn new things and be stretched in new ways. Paralegals are usually involved in disclosure and discovery work, locating and contacting witnesses, investigative research, and all aspects of trial preparation and support. During the course of a typical week, you'll most likely spend your time researching legal precedent, investigating facts, preparing legal documents, and conducting research to support a legal proceeding, to formulate a defense, or to begin a legal action. Paralegals generally deal with more of the practical and procedural aspects of law than lawyers.
6. You'll most likely be promoted — quickly.
Paralegals who are experts at their jobs and who do good work are usually acknowledged and rewarded for their efforts. Success is common in the paralegal profession, and there are many opportunities for advancement.
7. You'll become an expert in the law.
As a paralegal, you'll keep up with the constantly changing laws and regulations of your specialty. Continuing education and training such as advanced and specialty courses and continuing legal education seminars are always being offered. Paralegals generally continue their legal education to further their careers and stay abreast of any changes or addendums to the law.
8. You'll be an asset to any company or firm.
Paralegals are trained to assist attorneys so that the attorneys can provide the best legal advice and services to their clients. This allows more clients to be served, with more personal and cost-effective service for each client.
9. You'll be well prepared should you decide to go to law school.
The background and experience you gain as a paralegal will give you an enormous practical advantage in your law school studies if you ever decide to go to law school.
10. You can work anywhere.
Paralegals are needed wherever there are lawyers — and they're everywhere in all kinds of businesses. Paralegals gain a wide variety of skills, such as research, writing, assisting clients, preparing and drafting contracts and agreements, and obtaining financial information. These skills are valuable in any work environment. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, private law firms employ seven out of 10 paralegals and legal assistants; most of the rest work for corporate legal departments and various levels of government, such as the US Department of Justice, Social Security Administration, and US Department of the Treasury.