Male Paralegals: Is There Really a Glass Elevator?

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<<Experts who study the labor market have hypothesized that an unstable job market may lead more males to seek employment in alternative careers. And does that come as a surprise? Women who cross into traditionally male-dominated professions often do so for financial reasons and end up earning bigger paychecks than they would in traditionally female jobs.

Men who do the reverse may not be rewarded with larger salaries, but they may find more job security. Additionally, men are frequently able to advance further and faster in traditionally female jobs than their female counterparts. This is what is sometimes known as the glass-elevator effect.

Howard Lee is a legal assistant at law firm Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen in Richmond, VA. He said that he feels being a man in a traditionally female profession has its benefits.

"I feel [male] paralegals have great chances of securing final interviews and, ultimately, job placement," said Lee. "Many HR departments are trying to get more diversity in the paralegal workforce."

In addition to contributing to gender diversity, male paralegals may be having other effects on the profession. For example, since men are often paid more than women for doing the same jobs, salaries may begin to increase as more men enter the paralegal profession. Also, the presence of men may increase the perceived status of the job because men are often automatically considered more qualified and more serious about their careers.

"In my opinion, my gender has helped," said Lee. "For example, we had a male client with a major knee injury from a car accident. During the case, I was able to relate to the client [by sharing details about my sports-related injuries and rehabilitative process]. Ultimately, the jury awarded the client $1 million. After the case, the client told me that sharing some of my sports injuries helped him deal with the physical therapy process, and eventually, he wanted to get back to working out at the gym."

Another potential effect is that more male traits and characteristics will be added to the mix. Add traits that are more prevalent among males to the caring and nurturing qualities that are generally considered to be female personality traits, and you have a more complete and well-rounded workforce.

Lee said he believes that being a man in a traditionally female profession has been a positive experience and does not feel that there is any discrimination in the legal profession towards male paralegals.

Added Lee, "I have worked for several male and female attorneys, and the bottom line has always been accuracy, consistency, and work production."

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