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Five Reasons Why Paralegals Don’t Want to Become Attorneys

published July 03, 2012

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 181 votes, average: 5 out of 5)
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There may be many articles out there discussing why paralegals want to become attorneys and ways to become an attorney, but this article discusses a few reasons for which paralegals do not want to become attorneys. Although many paralegals like going to a law school to capitalize on their work-experience, there are others who would like to avoid becoming an attorney because they would like to continue working in law firms or businesses as paralegals. What makes a paralegal content with being a paralegal? Usually, the reasons for a paralegal not wanting to become an attorney can be categorized under five heads:
Paralegals do not want to become Attorneys
1. Becoming an attorney after practicing as a paralegal increases liability manifold

While rules of professional conduct or misconduct are applicable to every profession, few professions experience the number of misconduct cases as that of attorneys. Being a paralegal and remaining one, is a lot safer for risk-averse people rather than becoming an attorney where you may be dragged to face malpractice suits because you sneezed at the wrong moment. Paralegals are more aware of the woes of attorneys than other people because paralegals constitute a regular part of the audience of the professional social backyard of attorneys – where there may be more sighs than ties. There are many paralegals who would never want to be attorneys just because of the perceptible increase in liability.

2. Increase in work-stress when you shift from the life of a paralegal to that of an attorney

People think that the life of a paralegal is spent only behind the desks, and it would be better to go out to court and be into the real stuff. However, billable hours and high levels of stress associated with the lives of attorneys act as a sure deterrent for many would-be-attorneys who are paralegals. Since paralegals have the opportunity to observe the lives of successful and unsuccessful attorneys from close quarters, they well know that the number of unsuccessful attorneys is much higher than the number of successful ones. There is little reason why a successful paralegal would want to join a brigade of attorneys unless he or she is very sure and very careful in career planning. An attorney's life is filled with nail-biting crises and most work done is in response to immediate and urgent demands. Paralegals are familiar with that and a number of paralegals would prefer to assist rather than be the primarily responsible party.

3. Irregular hours of work in an attorney's life are unattractive to paralegals

While paralegals, like anyone related with a life of law practice, are compelled to work the odd hour now and then, for attorneys the odd hours are usually regular hours. That is something many people want to avoid. Many paralegals who have no wish to become attorneys make this decision based only due to their love of family life and other personal responsibilities. Even as a paralegal, you cannot avoid the occasional call of duty beyond office hours, but it is not a regular pressure – for attorneys, burning the midnight oil is expected. So, many paralegals do not want to become attorneys due to irregular and stressful work hours.

4. Moving from the life of a paralegal into that of an attorney means increased expenses and financial liabilities

It's official, and it's social. Officially, to become an attorney you incur a great amount of student loan debts, which are non-dischargeable. After becoming an attorney, from clothes to lifestyle, the society has greater expectations from you and to meet them you continually need to struggle for finances. Family and social expectations on the financial front become greater regardless of the fact that as an attorney, the cash balance in your hand may be quite a bit smaller than that of a paralegal after paying all loans and installments. Greater financial stress is one of the reasons why paralegals avoid become attorneys.

5. Many people do not want to become attorneys because they enjoy paralegal work

Many paralegals believe that although they enjoy being a paralegal, they would not like attorney work. However, it seems a good paralegal is a paralegal who loves legal work, and it is beyond me why anyone would love paralegal work, but would not want to become an attorney. Okay, there is a lot of other work handled by legal staff that is routinely called paralegal work, like administrative or secretarial work, and if someone likes that kind of work, it is perfectly fine. Such people do not enjoy hardcore ‘legal' work so it is perfectly reasonable for them to enjoy being a valued and important part of the legal staff team, and refrain from become an attorney. But, for true paralegals, if they enjoy paralegal work – the reason they would not want to become an attorney, would belong to the first four categories in this article, not really, because they love paralegal work so much that they don't want to become an attorney. Nevertheless, every now and then, we do meet paralegals who love paralegal work so much that they would not dream of leaving to become an attorney.

Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

More about Harrison

About LawCrossing

LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit
( 181 votes, average: 5 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.