Paralegal Career Overview
Paralegals research, analyze, and organize information for legal proceedings such as trials, hearings, and meetings. Other paralegal activities include writing contracts, preparing court documents, and assisting attorneys in many aspects of a trial. While paralegals aren't permitted to give legal advice, set fees, or litigate matters in court, they are taking on many of the tasks once performed by lawyers.
Paralegal Degree and Education
The most common education path for paralegals is an associate's degree through a community college paralegal program. Many others pursue a certificate in paralegal studies after receiving criminal justice degrees or related bachelor's degrees. You can also investigate online degree programs in paralegal studies, which have become increasingly common. Some employers will even provide on-the-job training, although your opportunities for advancement and career growth are best if you have formal career training.
Paralegals held about 238,000 jobs as of 2006, nearly 70 percent of them in law firms. Many other paralegals work in corporate legal departments and various levels of government, particularly the federal government. If you're a little more adventurous, you might consider opening your own paralegal business by contracting with local attorneys or businesses as necessary.
Paralegal Job Description
Employment of paralegals is expected to grow much faster than average for all careers: about 22 percent over the course of a decade. Law firms and other employers have realized that they can save money by hiring paralegals to do research and other legwork that attorneys have done previously.
Paralegal Salary Range
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the following mean annual salaries for paralegals. *Salary differences will fluctuate based on factors such as industry, location, education, and experience.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics