News Release Index
It Pays to Paralegal
Despite the current economic climate and sagging job market, the hiring of paralegals and legal assistants is one area of employment projected to grow throughout the decade.
With many employers attempting to cut costs, balance budgets and do more work with fewer resources, paralegals are increasingly being hired to perform the tasks once handled by lawyers.
As such, employment of paralegals is projected to grow by 28 percent between 2008 and 2018 -- a rate much faster than the average for all occupations.
Paralegals can work in many different types of organizations, but most find employment in law firms, corporate legal departments and various governmental offices.
According to statistics provided by the United States Department of Labor, a certified paralegal in the state of California typically earns a median income of more than $56,000 a year.
Typical activities paralegals perform include: factual and legal research; organization of client matters; drafting correspondence, pleadings and discovery for attorney review; legal calendaring; preparation of databases of documents; interaction with clients, court personnel, and opposing attorneys; the review, evaluation and summarization of medical, business, commercial and other types of records for attorneys; and the review of legal documents (contracts, insurance policies, etc.) to spot controversial issues.
However, a paralegal’s job description can differ widely according to the type of organization for which they work.
Though paralegals often work in many different areas of the law and can be delegated the tasks of lawyers, they are strictly prohibited from carrying out duties considered to be the practice of law -- such as giving legal advice, setting fees, signing legal documents and presenting cases in court.
Competition for paralegal jobs is also expected to continue to grow as people look to move into the fast-growing profession. Such positions often attract many applicants and as a result, formally trained and experienced paralegals will have the best employment opportunities.
Most paralegal applicants hold an associate degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor’s degree coupled with a certificate in paralegal studies. Paralegal internship experience is also a tremendous asset when seeking employment with the legal field.
Although some employers may not require such credentials, graduation from an American Bar Association (ABA) approved paralegal studies program greatly enhances one’s employment opportunities.