Status Of Legal Sector Jobs: Should You Become A Paralegal?

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The New York Fed, ''A mayor NYC employment agency, specializing in office jobs, reports that hiring activity has picked up[...]. Demand from the legal sector remains brisk and financial sector hiring has picked up in recent weeks.''

The Fed also said that wages for administrative positions are on the rise. Interestingly, the Fed considered that the relatively small number of recent college graduates searching for jobs as a reason for the surge in salaries.

July’s U.S. Monster Employment Index, which gauges online job demand, reported the largest increase in job demand came in the legal sector. Demand for legal jobs rose 29 percent since July 2009. The growth seems to be continuing through the month of August.

The recession is still far from behind us. Compared to July 2009, there are 17,200 less jobs in the legal sector. However, paralegal positions have been projected for some time to grow immensely. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics made a prediction that the paralegal profession will experience a 22 percent growth between 2006 and 2016.

While there may be a surge in paralegal positions, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also said that a paralegal position, ''attracts many applicants, creating competition for jobs.'' The BLS also notes that during a recession, paralegals have an easier time keeping employed because they are able to offer very similar legal services to those offered by attorneys at a lower cost.

Legal staffers are very positive about prospects for paralegals. Sandy Goldfard, president of Phase II Legal Staffing based in West Palm beach, says ''Paralegal and legal assistants who specialize in real estate, both residential and commercial, are a hot commodity right now, as well as those who specialize in medical malpractice.''
Goldfarb added that, ''experience is the best quality any candidate can possess if they want to land the best job.''

According to data from a 2008 survey conducted by the BLS, the median wage for a paralegal in the United States is about $46,000 annually. That’s thousands of dollars higher than the median income, which is closer to $41,000 annually.

One potential upside to a career as a paralegal is that it does not necessarily require a four year degree. In fact, according to Doris Rachles, chair of legal studies at South University in West Palm beach, ''Most law firms require their paralegal to have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies.'' However, Rachles adds, ''The larger firms require a bachelor’s degree and a paralegal certification. Legal assistants must have their CLA certification.''

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